My 2018 Calendar

To begin, a slight word of caution. There has been much discussion and debate about how the various calendars are formed because the Anglo-Saxon year was based on a Luni-Solar calendar. The year was separated into a number of months based on the phases of the moon, however it was aligned to the Solstice’s marking Midsummer and Midwinter accordingly. In reaching the dates for my calendar, I have taken note of the fact that the New Moon was only considered such once the first slither of light from the Moon appeared in the night sky, which is normally considered to be approximately one to two days after what we consider to be the New Moon in today’s society (Which is actually a dark moon). What this means, in short, is that the first slither of light in the night sky signalled the beginning of a new month, and that is reflected below in my calendar. Now calendars will vary according to the location of the relevant hearth so the calendar should be tweaked accordingly. A great resource for finding out the new and full moons for 2018 and beyond can be found on MoonPhases.co.uk

I should also point out that some have disputed where the Winterfylleð full moon fell in 2017. Some have it as 3rd into 4th of November 2017, whilst others celebrated it on 5th October. However, that would mean the Blōtmōnað full moon would be on 3rd into 4th November and Ærra Gēola full moon on 3rd December, with Æfterra Gēola commencing on 19th December, which is actually before Yule itself on 21st December when it should be after it! The clue is in the name, as Æfterra Gēola means “Following Yule” or even more directly, “After Yule”.

Consequently having Winterfylleð on 5th October 2017 throws out the whole calendar for 2018 by making the subsequent months start too early. By that reckoning, Winterfylleð in 2018 would actually start on 11th September which is far too early for a Winter full moon, as it is before even the Autumn Equinox would be! Now I know that Bede suggests that Winterfylleð fell on the first full moon after the Equinox, however whilst that may usually have been the case, it would not be unusual for it to land on the second full moon after the Equinox in an intercalated year, which is what 2017 is by the reckoning of the vast majority of interested parties.

In any event, the below calendar is relevant to my hearth and may not be relevant to others. It is set to UK time; hence the full and new moons are set to GMT making the calendar more accurate than my previous version and slightly different to that of the Ealdríce calendar who have used similar principles when devising their calendar. People may use it as a guide or verbatim, it matters not. I will be celebrating Blōstmfrēols this coming year and it is a relatively new reconstruction from the excellent article on the Lārhūs Fyrnsida website, written earlier in 2017. You can find the original article here

It helpfully suggests a date towards the end of April and beginning of May as a possible place for this festival, viewing it as a fine ending to the Ēostre period. Now because I follow the Anglo-Saxon calendar as opposed to the Gregorian, for me this would not sit on a set date each year. I have decided, therefore, to set the festival at the very end of Ēostremōnað on the very last day that a slither of moon would appear in the night sky. For 2018, this will be on 14th May in the UK. Þrimilcemōnað will begin on 16th May so it sits well with me to use the 14th as the date for this new and very welcome festival.

Also, some of the more eagle-eyed may note that I don’t celebrate Hærfest on 1st August each year as for me I again align that festival to the full moon which is normally in Weodmōnað or Þrilīða depending on the year.

And so, my calendar for 2018 is as per the below. Please do feel free to use and reproduce as you deem fit:

Calendar 2018

 

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Wōden & The Mead of Poetry

The below myth has been adapted from the Norse myth regarding the origins of the mead of poetry. I have, where possible, attempted to adapt the names from the Norse to Old English equivalents or “near-as-dammits” as I call them. I am not traditionally a big fan of adapting in “like for like” fashion but this is one that I particularly enjoyed, removing such items that have no obvious cognates in Fyrnsidu (Such as Ásgarðr, the Aesir/Disir war etc.) and I have substituted some of the locations and other details to reflect a more “Englisc” feel to the story that hopefully comes across in the reading.

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Wōden & The Mead of Poetry

There did come a time when the gods and goddesses sealed a truce by spitting into a great cauldron. From their spittle they formed a being that they named Hæcine (Grape Water). Hæcine was the wisest human that had ever lived. Indeed, none were able to present him with a question for which he didn’t have a satisfying answer. He became famous and travelled throughout the world giving counsel to many kings and leaders.

Hæcine was soon invited to Hwītdolg (White Scar), the cave home of two dwarfs named Beswīcend (Deceiver) and Fryccea (Herald). For all his wisdom, Hæcine was unsuspecting of the true purpose of the dwarfs. Upon his arrival, the dwarfs slew Hæcine and brewed mead with his blood. This mead contained Hæcine’s ability to dispense wisdom, and was appropriately named Æteōwedniss (A Revelation). Any who supped of it would become a poet or a scholar.

When the gods questioned the dwarfs about Hæcine’s disappearance, Beswīcend and Fryccea told them that Hæcine had choked on his wisdom. The gods were suspicious, yet none intervened.

The two dwarfs found that they delighted in murder. Soon after this incident, they took the giant Gētla out to sea and drowned him for sport. The sounds of Gētla’s weeping wife irritated them and so they killed her as well, this time by dropping a millstone on her head as she passed under the doorway of their house.

But this last mischief got the dwarfs into trouble. When Gētla’s son, Druncen (Saturated), learned of his father’s murder, he seized the dwarfs and, at low tide, carried them out to a reef off the coast of Scotland that would soon be covered by the waves. The dwarfs pleaded for their lives, and Druncen granted their request only when they agreed to give him the mead they had brewed with Hæcine’s blood. The dwarfs retreated back to their cave dwelling and were not seen again. Druncen hid the vats of mead in a chamber beneath the mountain Scafell Pike, where he appointed his daughter Cempestre (Female Warrior) to watch over them.

Now Wōden, the chief of the gods, who is restless and unstoppable in his pursuit of wisdom, was displeased with the precious mead’s being hoarded away beneath a mountain. He bent his will toward acquiring it for himself and those he deemed worthy of its powers.

Disguised as a wandering farmhand, Wōden went to the farm of Druncen’s brother, Bēag (Ring). There he found nine servants mowing hay. He approached them, took out a whetstone from under his cloak, and offered to sharpen their scythes. They eagerly agreed, and afterwards marveled at how well their scythes cut the hay. They all declared this to be the finest whetstone they had ever seen, and each asked to purchase it. Wōden consented to sell it, “but,” he warned them, “you must pay a high price.” He then threw the stone into the air, and, in their scramble to catch it, the nine killed each other with their scythes.

Wōden then went to Bēag’s door and introduced himself as Wēstend (Destroyer). He offered to do the work of the nine servants who had, as he told it, so basely killed each other in a dispute in the field earlier that day. As his reward, he demanded a sip of Druncen’s mead.

Bēag responded that he had no control of the mead and that Druncen guarded it jealously, but that if Wēstend could truly perform the work of nine men, he would help the apparent farmhand to obtain his desire.

At the end of the growing season, Wōden had fulfilled his promise to the giant, who agreed to accompany him to Druncen to inquire about the mead. Druncen, however, angrily refused. The disguised god, reminding Bēag of their bargain, convinced the giant to aid him in gaining access to Cempestre’s dwelling. The two went to a part of the mountain that Bēag knew to be nearest to the underground chamber. Wōden took a bore made of silver out from his cloak and handed it to Bēag for him to drill through the rock. The giant did so, and after much work announced that the hole was finished. Wōden blew into the hole to verify Bēag’s claim, and when the rock-dust blew back into his face, he knew that his companion had lied to him. The suspicious god then bade the giant to finish what he had started. When Bēag proclaimed the hole to be complete for a second time, Wōden once again blew into the hole. This time the debris was blown through the hole.

Wōden thanked Bēag for his help, shifted his shape into that of a wyrm, and crawled into the hole. Bēag stabbed after him with the silver bore, but Wōden made it through just in time.

Once inside, he assumed the form of a handsome young man and made his way to where Cempestre was guarding the mead. He won her favour and secured a promise from her that, if he would sleep with her for three nights, she would grant him three sips of the mead. After the third night, Wōden went to the mead, which was in three vats, and consumed the contents of each vat in a single draught.

Wōden then changed his shape yet again, this time into that of a raven, and flew off towards his great hall with his prize in his throat. Druncen soon discovered this trickery and took on the form of a red kite before flying off in pursuit of Wōden.

When the other gods spied Wōden approaching with Druncen close behind him, they set out several vessels at the rim of Wōden’s great hall. Wōden reached his abode before Druncen could catch him, and so the giant retreated in great anguish, whistling with rage and thus giving the red kite their haunting call to this day.

As Wōden came to the cauldrons, he regurgitated the mead into them. As he did so, however, a few drops fell from his beak to Middangeard, the world of mankind, below. These drops are the source of the abilities of all poor and mediocre poets and scholars. However, the true poets and scholars amongst mankind are those to whom Wōden gifts his mead personally, and with care. Such a gift must be met with an equally precious gift and many are those whose wyrd dictates that their lives be notably shorter, though the richer in talent for it.

 

Ielfe

Elves are commonly referred to throughout Old English and Old Norse myths and legends. They are often inferred to be negative beings of numinous origin. Indeed, the Norse believed them to be descended from the Vanir, a family of deities that is not referred to by that name in Anglo-Saxon custom. For beings that are feared and respected in equal measure, it is perhaps surprising that many Anglo-Saxon children were given elf-based names such as Ælfmær, Ælfræd, Ælfric and Ælthryth. There is some disparity between the Anglo-Saxon and Norse traditions concerning elves but the relation to the gods is an idea they do share.

Elves, like dweorgas (dwarfs) are associated in Old English tradition with causing illness or harm and Beowulf lumps them in with other anthromorphic beings as follows: (1.112) “eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas”, therefore with ettins/giants and orcs which are similarly considered to be negative entities. The passage in full reads:

From there all monsters arose –

Etinns and elves and orcneas

Likewise the giants who strove against god

For a long time – he gave them their reward for that

In Scandinavia, they have an Álfablót or “elf-blessing” as a custom which appears to be intended to secure the blessings of the elves. Evidence from the sagas indicate this involved the sacrificing of a bull, reddening the outside the dwelling of the elves with the blood and making an offering of the meat. Elf-dwellings may have been considered to be what we now refer to as barrows, thus indicating an association between elves and the dead.

Elf is a sort-of parent species from which we have such off-shoots as Woodland Elves (Wuduelfen), Mountain Elves (Dunælfen), naids, dryads and from the Lacnunga Manuscript we have a specific reference to Water Elves (Wæterælfen). Land wights are also linked to Elves in that they were considered to be powerful natural beings whose goodwill was necessary for the well-being of society as a whole.

In a study by Hall, he found that elves were originally a class of powerful male-gender beings associated with the gods who could harm humans through provoking illness, connected with transgressive behaviour and its consequences – I.E. those behaviours of moral or social violations. Consequently, they can be viewed as a means of maintaining and upholding moral and social values. Sometimes transgression could bring benefits, however, to spirit-healers and the like and the Ielfe were thus connected to hallucinogenic substances, sudden pains, prophetic speech and trances.

In Britain today, you will still commonly find flint arrowheads in and around sights of historic significance where man has known to have lived for thousands of years. This are associated with Neolithic or Bronze Age hunters but are often referred to as “Elf-shot” and believed to be physical evidence of the psychic attack of an Elf as per the “lytel spear” or little spear of the Wið Færstice charm when it was “shot into” the body of a person and thus causing a malady.

Old Norse Seiðr, or Old English Ælfsiden is a form of divination associated in name with Elves and translates as “Nightmare or magical apparition”.

Whether friendly or nefarious, elves were considered dangerous as men could not expect to deal with them on equal terms. This placed them as potentially on the same side as hostile forces. Indeed, by early mediaeval times they were also linked to succubi, female elf-beings of astounding beauty that would tempt men in order to extract their seed for fiendish reasons known only to themselves. Elf-fair or “Ælfscienu” particularly relates to these dangerous beings and indicated an otherworldly beauty.

Despite their sometimes negative associations, Elves are said to be fair to look at and thus not “monstrous” in their countenance. This leads many to feel that they were not automatically deserving of aggression or hatred, and instead should be respected and mollified. Yet they were not said to be necessarily friendly with men, and therefore for some they became worthy of worship and engagement in terms of sacrifice and gifting.

Welund the Smith is said to have been a prince of the elves and is associated with metalworking; something that would later become linked to dweorgas as opposed to elves. In modern fiction, this is perhaps represented well by JRR Tolkien where he presents both the dwarfs and the elves of Middle Earth as being exceptional smiths with wildly differing conceptions of weapon and armour smithing and the qualities those items should expound.

Elves are also intrinsically linked to the Norse god Freyr (Ingui / Ingui Frēa) who is said to be Lord of the Elves and thus connected with both fertility and death.

Elves are characterised as being either invisible or extremely difficult to see, characterised in Anglo-Saxon art as the Nordendorf motif where the face of the elf is not shown clearly but must be pieced together from the form presented, thus explaining the sudden sighting of a face in bark, or in stone formations or glimpsed in the water of a running river. These faces can also often be found woven into metalwork on swords, scabbards and jewellery.

In short, “Ælfe” is a catch-all term for beings of the Other, that are powerful, natural entities linked with death, illness and protection. Elusive and yet sometimes seductive, they are not to be dealt with lightly. The protection they can offer may come at a severe price, though for many they will consider this a price worth paying. Respect, deference and propitiation coupled with honest intent may well be the order of the day, for those of us not seeking confrontation with these powerful entities.

(Adapted from the entry on Ilfe by Pollington, “The Elder Gods – The Otherworld of Early England”)

Se Hræfngod

5-hugin

A distinct black shape, tumbling in the updrafts of a mountain crag – a raven at play. The ‘gronking’ call of a raven is one of the most evocative sounds of Britain’s uplands. The raven is probably the world’s most intelligent and playful bird. In the world of myth, it is a bird of paradox, and something of a dark clown. Its association with playful intelligence is perhaps exceeded by its image as a bird of death. Its harsh call, and its presence in remote wild places and at scenes of death, has earned it a reputation as a bird of ill-omen. After all, the old collective noun for a group of ravens is an ‘unkindness’. Yet there is so much more to the raven.

An old Scottish name for the raven is ‘corbie’, which is thought to have been derived from the Latin ‘corvus’. One Scottish legend reflects the dark beliefs about this bird. It tells of an evil hag called Cailleach who appeared in the form of a number of birds, including the raven, and feasted on men’s bodies.

This large crow appears again and again in Celtic lore. In Welsh folklore, Bran the Blessed (Bran is Welsh for raven) is a kind of primordial deity and guardian of Britain whose totem is a raven. Bran ordered for his own head to be cut off, after which it could still speak words of prophecy. Eventually it was said to have been buried beneath Tower Hill, at the Tower of London. The presence of ravens at the Tower is an echo of this legend and the prophecy says that if the ravens ever leave the tower, Britain will fall (hence their wings are clipped, just in case!). Interestingly this Welsh word appears in Scotland, and Strath Bran, in the north translates as ‘Strath’ or Valley of the Raven. They are still present there today.

Arthur, another legendary guardian of Britain, is also associated with ravens. In Cornwall, which is also steeped in Celtic lore, it was believed that Arthur didn’t really die, but was magically transformed into this bird.

The Celts were a warlike people, and the presence of ravens on the battlefield would have been very familiar to them. The Irish goddess, Morrighan, had a number of different guises. In her aspect as bloodthirsty goddess of war, she was thought to be present on the battlefield in the form of a raven.

Odin (Wōden), the chief of the Norse gods, was accompanied by a pair of ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory/mind), who would fly far and wide to bring news to Odin. One of Odin’s names, Hrafnagud, means the ‘Raven God’. I refer to these two spiritual raven companions to Wōden as Þōht (thought) and Gemynd (memory/mind).

In the Old Testament, the raven is the first bird Noah sent to look for land, and Elijah is described as being provided for by ravens. They are used as a symbol of God’s providence in both the New Testament and in Christian art.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have observed the keen intelligence of this bird. It has a well-documented habit of deliberately revealing the whereabouts of deer, so that wolves can find their quarry, and leave spoils, which the ravens could eat. Even some modern deer-stalkers report that ravens will help them to locate deer, as the birds know that they will receive the ‘gralloch’ or guts after the deer is killed. However, there was apparently a belief among some stalkers that three ravens was a bad omen.

The indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest of North America were well aware of the raven’s multifaceted nature, and Raven was revered as a major deity and something of a trickster. He features frequently in the distinctive artwork of these people.

There is probably more folklore concerning the raven than any other bird in Britain. While some of this is somewhat sinister, the more we get to know this playful and intelligent bird, the more respect we might realise it deserves. To make an offering to a raven, even in passing, is to show these fascinating birds that you are open to their interaction. Ravens can and have been tamed, even learning to speak words of human speech and to use tools to reach food.

Thought and Mind/Memory are often considered to be one and the same. Indeed the word Gemynd means both “memory” and also “thought” and gave rise to the modern English word “mind”, however there is a distinction between the two that offers a unique perspective on understanding the riddle posed by the Poetic Edda sonnet, Grímnismál which reads as follows:

(From 1866 Benjamin Thorpe in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða “The Lay of Grimnir” 1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson in Corpus Poeticum Boreale “The Sayings of the Hooded One”)

20 Hugin and Munin fly each day over the spacious earth. I fear for Hugin, that he come not back, yet more anxious am I for Munin

In this translation (And in many others), Odin talks of fearing for Hugin (thought) and yet is more anxious for the return of Munin (memory/mind). Thought and Mind are clearly therefore different concepts and some have linked these to shamanism. I am not a shaman and have no knowledge or understanding of the full shamanic process, however some do ascribe shamanistic features to Wōden in that he seeks knowledge all over the world and may arguably use shamanic practices in order to achieve this on some level.

Most people only ever use “Thought” to get them through life. They think about something (Even if only for a split second, unless acting entirely on instinct), and then they act. This may be because generally modern man is not even aware of the existence of “Mind” as they think that “Mind” and “Thought” are one and the same. Mysticism, amongst other practices has taught us, however, that the mind clear of all thought is in fact the greatest steer for us through life and is best able to give us true sight, much further through relative time and space than “thought” will ever carry us. One of the prime rules of meditation is to try and empty your mind of thought – to send “Thought” out and then you will allow “Mind” to be free also. From that moment on the calmness that inhabits us and the sudden greater awareness that many describe from the process can only really explain the sheer amazing possibility of using one’s mind over using one’s thoughts.

Mind is also known as Memory and this is a key concept in heathenry and particularly to the Fyrnsidere when considering the principles of remembrance and ancestral worship and how that ties in so strongly to hearth practice. The raven is therefore a hugely symbolic bird and one that I revere. These beautiful birds deserve our consideration and thanks whenever the opportunity arises.

It is perhaps understandable, therefore, that Wōden is more concerned about the return of Mind than he is of Thought, because he knows that Mind is more likely to find you the successful way through life itself and is therefore to be considered of greater importance overall.

Food for Thought… Or is that Mind?

 

 

(N.B. Some of this article is directly quoted from TreesForLife.org.uk)

Hærfest Part 2

Somewhat predictably in my last blog post I completely failed to mention one of the largest parts of my Hærfest celebrations, namely the offerings and gratitude expressed towards my ancestors during a separate ritual. I find it is important to reserve one ritual for my ancestors and one for the gods, because the reasons for contact and ritual are entirely different. I tend to conduct rituals to my ancestors on a far more frequent basis than I do the gods for reasons outlined in my Ancestral Worship post.

Needless to say, my previous post appeared to suggest I was conducting a ritual solely for the gods and nothing could be further from the truth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hærfest

Wesaþ ġē hale!

It has been a little while now since my last update. Midsumor has come and gone and we are now well into Þriliða with Mōna reaching his height in just a few days time whereupon I will celebrate Hærfest by breaking bread and offering the first fruits of the season. This celebration is for the start of the Harvest season which will run through until the first Winter full moon (Winterfylleð) in October. Many celebrate Hærfest on the 1st of August but for me, that makes little sense as the luni-solar calendar doesn’t allow for this, therefore I am content to make my offerings and celebrate on the full moon of Þriliða this year, being the first full moon after the start of August. All of my ritual practice follows the full moon with the obvious exceptions of Yule and Midsumor. Next year, the Hærfest full moon will be on 26th August and falls within the month of Weodmōnað and therefore my personal ritual and celebration will be aligned to that date accordingly.

The offering will be made to Bēowa, the God of the agrarian cycle and who has long been associated with farming from the start to the very end of the cycle. He is held dear by many associated with brewing and farming for obvious reasons. I myself have wanted to brew my own mead for some time but have yet to be afforded the time for the pursuit. I am now a father of two and my responsibilities to home and hearth outweigh my personal desire to tinker and experiment with homebrewing! I certainly will look into attempting such in the future, however. For now, I must content myself with acquiring my mead from the local supermarket and pray that the Gods see no slight in this when it is offered to them.

Bēowa will be offered bread, beer and seasonal fruits by me. Whilst the physical fruits of the season should be presented in gratitude, it is also a time to reflect on the fruits of our labours in other pursuits. In this modern world, productivity is no longer measured in simply what is grown from the soil, but also what is grown within our hearts and hearths. I will take a moment in ritual to reflect upon my achievements this year, I.E. the sowing of the seeds I have planted in a very literal sense. I have become a father again and I have also achieved an examination pass which will allow me to pursue promotion in the coming years, both things for which I am extremely grateful. I will be taking the time to thank Ingui for blessing me with virility, Frīg for the health and wellbeing of my children and hearth, Wōden for the inspiration to expand my knowledge and wisdom in achieving my exam pass, Nerþuz for keeping me grounded and grateful, and Tīw for inspiring me to fight against injustice and chaos within my societal Innangeard.

The year ahead will also be considered as my options and opportunities reveal themselves slowly but surely. Frīg will therefore also be consulted as the all-knowing Wyrdwebbe (Wyrd Weaver) as I make my desire known and state my intention clearly before the Gods. Wyrd favours the bold and the mead will clearly be in full flow for this Hærfest celebration!

May you keep frið within your own hearths this Hærfest and give thanks for all you have achieved and continued to achieve.

Ode to Ingui

Rescued from my last blog. Hope you like this little poem I knocked up a while back in honour of fair Ingui.

Rode he by me in his waggon of gold

His hair whipped by the prevailing wind

A greater sight has never been foretold

That great might ‘neath his alabaster skin

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We followed him then o’er the great sea

And steadily did our fortunes then grow

Oft did we sacrifice to our Lord Ingui

And then field after field we did sow

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As children were born unto this land

Our cups did we raise in his name

He held our tribe close in his hands

And lords of all England we became

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Lost to the flow of Wyrd are his many deeds

That to our great shame are forgotten

Yet mighty things may grow from a tiny seed

To be sown in our fair children begotten

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Those of us who recall shall exalt him still

And give thanks for seasons of fair weather

His waggon tracks still lead o’er England’s hills

And his name shall be honoured forever

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Midsumor

Midsumor.

It is a word that has become deeply ingrained in the national psyche and yet appears at odds with modern accepted practice in terms of the changing of the seasons. These days, Midsummer actually signifies the beginning of the summer months, whereas back in the so-called dark ages, it is posited that only two seasons were acknowledged, namely Summer and Winter. As has been mentioned on other blogs, the Anglo-Saxon calendar was Luni-solar in as much as each Mōnað (Month) was governed by the phases of the moon, yet arguably the two most significant holy tides, Liða and Gēol (Midsummer and Yule respectively) fell on the two solstice days of the year, thus keeping everything “on track” as exact points of reference. Thus Midsummer fell in the middle of Summer and Yule in the middle of winter. Autumn and Spring were not specifically observed on their Equinoxes and today, many heathens, particularly Fyrnsidere, observe the changing of those seasons as part of the Winterfylleð (Winter full moon) and Wintersdēað (Easter) celebrations, being the first full moons after the equinoxes.

Midsumor is a time to celebrate the massive power of Sunne as she continues to pull her flaming chariot across the sky for the longest period of time in the year. She drives out the darkness for longer than any other day in the year, giving rise to the “longest day” which is celebrated as being the very height of her power. Consequently, we celebrate this in ritual format on the Summer Solstice.

As my praxis is entirely hearth-centric, and solitary, my rituals are both personal and perhaps somewhat solemn. The celebration of Midsumor evokes visions of people gathering in large numbers, singing, holding hands, basking in the warm glow of Sunne and then lighting a large fire in solidarity with that mighty Goddess, casting their offerings into the flames and proclaiming their deep gratitude for the light and warmth that She brings to our hearts and souls. As a solitary practitioner, such a celebration is far more muted in comparison, however I present it below from memory so as to assist any others who are in a similar position but seeking some sort of steer about what to do.

 

I began my ritual by cleansing myself and then my wīgbed (altar). For me this involves a simple process of washing my hands and face with warm water only. As discussed previously, water is a liminal substance that is of major importance to the Fyrnsidere. It helps us to connect with the numinous.

For the cleansing of the wīgbed I light a candle and passed the flame three times Sunwise around my wīgbed, calling to Þunor to hallow the space and make it sacred. Whilst my wīgbed is already dedicated to the Gods and Goddesses, this ritual cleansing helps me to not only ground myself but to set the tone for the use of the wīgbed and reinforce the use of it as a sacred space.

My wīgbed is situated in our garage on a shelf midway up the wall. To remain in contact with the wīgbed for ritual purposes, I therefore remain standing as opposed to kneeling which is perhaps more standard practice.

I then called to Nerþuz as a liminal deity to allow me communion with the divine. To me, Nerþuz acts as a gatekeeper between Middangeard and the other worlds and represents a threshold between worlds. Wada is often used as a deity for this function also, particularly when water is used at the wīgbed. I am comfortable using water or soil from my homestead for this function. If using water, my preference is to use rainwater or standing water from within the garden or grounds of my homestead so that the element used is within my personal control and thus more relevant to the ritual coming from within my Innangeard. Whilst petitioning to Nerþuz to allow me communion, I place the soil upon a small dish on the wīgbed, ensuring I am touching the soil whilst doing so.

Some light incense at this stage whilst making further prayers or supplications, however I use herbs growing in my garden, rubbing these between my palms to evoke a strong scent as incense sticks are not practical in my garage. I prayed to Nerþuz at this point, calling to Her as Eorþan Modor to thank Her for the fertility of my gardens and the produce She has given not only to my heorþ but to the animals and insects that frequent it. She is a deity of life, as well as death and thus I also give thanks to Her for receiving the dead leaves, animals, plants and insects within the boundary of my heorþ, thus ensuring the continuing life-death-rebirth cycle.

My intention for the Midsomer ritual was to make offering to Sunne but also to Ingui, who I had previously petitioned and made offering to when my wife and I were seeking pregnancy at the end of last year. We had just been blessed with the birth of my second daughter and thus it was important to me to show my gratitude to Ingui by making Him a further offering, and to Sunne for blessing us with warmth and light during the period following my daughter’s birth. To enable these offerings to pass to Ingui and Sunne, I petitioned Frīg as Heorþmodor to ferry the offerings to Ingui and to Sunne. Frīg is a protector of children as another aspect of Her many functions and therefore this seemed particularly appropriate to me for the ritual. I also prayed to Her in gratitude for the health and wellbeing of my children whilst again crushing herbs in my palms, the scent an offering of supplication to Her.

I then recited a prayer to Ingui and then to Sunne. These I do not prepare ahead of time, though many do. I speak from the heart, clearly and with feeling. I say who I am and who they are to me, what they mean to me and express my gratitude to them and why I am making them an offering. I petitioned Sunne to continue to light the darkness in my life and to help me see clearly the threats to my heorþ and to my folc. To Ingui I petitioned Him to help me connect with my ancestors and to draw upon their strength in supporting my heorþ.

To Ingui I then made an offering of mead and to Sunne I made an offering of a dedicated candle to burn through the darkness in solidarity with Her as the days will now begin to draw in. I was careful to ensure the candle was not unattended for safety reasons.

I then thanked both Sunne and Ingui for hearing my petitions, Frīg for conveying my gits and I then called once more to Nerþuz to close the gates to the numinous, thus ending the ritual.

I would recommend to anyone looking to create their own rituals to take a good look at the Lārhūs Fyrnsida website which has an excellent article on Ritual Format which I will link here.

Site Updates

Wesaþ ġē hale!

I have been busy populating some of the pages of this blog with Fundamentals, Deities, and the Anglo-Saxon Heathen Calendar. I will write more about my own Hearth praxis in the coming days and weeks but just wanted to put this short post up to prove I wasn’t doing nothing at all! I have credited where it is due and a lot of my information comes from the indomitable Lārhūs Fyrnsida website. I have provided a detailed section on the Goddess Helið that some may find of interest or use. I would welcome any comments on any section and look forward to writing more soon.

You may notice that there are some leaps of faith or “UPG” which stands for “Unconfirmed Personal Gnosis” that may not be to some peoples tastes, however in a world where the unknown outweighs the amount known, such things are, in my submission, acceptable if they can be suitably justified. I am more than happy to discuss these further with anyone who disputes them or feels they challenge common sense.

 

Helið and the Þyrs of Cerne

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The people of Cerne were a hardy folk, well used to surviving amongst the chalk hills of the Cerne valley that rose up from the river of the same name. They grazed their cattle and sheep upon the land and they showed their gratitude to the gods with their sacrifices and offerings in keeping with tradition. There rose, within Cerne, a well-spring from deep under the chalk hills, known to the locals as the Seolfor Cwylla and it carried with it fresh water that it was said could cure the ills of the local folk and could be depended upon to water the fields and provide sufficient refreshment for the cattle so that the people of Cerne would continue to thrive when the skies ran dry during the Summer months.

There lived nearby a crone, bent and twisted with age and she took a copse of trees for her home high in the hills above Cerne. She was said to be a gyden who had lived in the hills for longer than man could remember, tending to the wild places and keeping them free from maleficent wihta and outlaws. She was said to be very wise and knowledgeable in the ways of healing worts and their applications. The folk of Cerne named her as Helið and took her for a goddess of their own. They would leave their offerings to her at the site of where the Seolfor Cwylla reached the surface, and merchants would throw pieces of silver downstream to pay their respects to Helið as their wares were pulled from one marketplace to another throughout the Frome Valley of Dorset and beyond.

Cerne was a place of peace and plenty for many a year until the coming of a mighty Hyll Þyrs one night following a mighty thunderstorm. The Þyrs appeared from out of the trees, carrying an enormous club hewn from the trunk of an oak. He was naked and proudly so, staking his claim to a new home on one of the hills above the village. From his lofty perch he demanded the villagers present him with sacrifices from their finest stock, and when at first they refused, he slew their strongest warriors with a single sweep of his mighty club. The villagers succumbed to his demands and despaired, their flocks of sheep and oxen rapidly diminishing as the Þyrs gorged itself on their carcasses. At night its heavy footsteps could be heard and felt around the village as it helped itself to more livestock.

It became known that whilst the Þyrs was in possession of its club, the Þyrs could not be defeated. Warriors came from near and far to take on the Þyrs and each were summarily beaten, slain and consumed by the Þyrs of Cerne, as it became known. The villagers knew not where to turn. Then one night the Þyrs discovered the Seolfor Cwylla, pushing aside the underbrush and attempts by the villagers to disguise their pure water source and, having developed a terrible thirst from the consumption of so many of the beasts of burden belonging to the villagers, he then gorged himself on the pure waters of the Seolfor Cwylla and drained it dry in a single sitting.

And thus did he anger Helið, as he drank the waters that fed the copse of trees within which she dwelt. Her anger was terrible to behold and it was said that the beasts and birds of the Ūtangeard did fall silent as she smouldered with fury within the dying trees of her home. Yet it was from here that she plotted her revenge. From stiðe she wove a net, strong and durable; lacing it with a deadly poison. Waiting until the moon was full, she strode down from her home, casting a glamour all about her such that she shone with the radiance of the full moon, her hair appearing as pure as the silver waters from the Cwylla and her countenance was said to be as fair as Frīg herself.

The Þyrs was stood high on its hill, looking down at the village as he intended again to help himself to the cattle and livestock, his hunger once again upon him. Helið approached from the mouth of the wellspring, striding with apparent swiftness towards the Þyrs. It beheld her as she approached and was struck dumb by her intense beauty. Such was its arousal at her countenance that it lowered its mighty club, leaving itself open to her approach. Helið did not falter. She did not delay but cast the net she had created wide, throwing it upon the Þyrs as it stood enraptured, the bonds tightening about it and the poison setting to its task with startling rapidity. The Þyrs bellowed in pain and surprise, its legs giving way beneath it such that it fell against the hillside with a mighty crash, its head striking the chalky earth so hard that its skull did break. Helið stood watching in silence, gathering in the net she had woven and stowing it safely away. The Cerne Þyrs was dead, and from its broken head did pour the waters of the Seolfor Cwylla, leaking back into the chalk hill.

The folk of Cerne rejoiced in the death of the Þyrs and Helið strode back through the village, her glamour now failing as the moon’s rays dissipated behind clouds, returning her countenance once again to that of the crone that she truly was. As she passed by the Seolfor Cwylla, the waters it had previously provided once again burst forth and with it returned the life and purity of the surrounding area. Helið returned to the hills to tend to the wild places once again, and the people of Cerne never again faced the threat of a Þyrs, marking the site of the dead creature by grinding its bones into the chalk beneath the grass of the hill which serving as a warning to others that here was one that met its end.

And the folk of Cerne created their idols to Helið in recognition of her deeds, and from that day until the coming of Augustine, they lived in harmony with one another and paid tribute to their goddess at the Seolfor Cwylla. Many now do not recall the deeds of Helið, but there are some that do and will always honour her. Should you pass through the village of Cerne in your travels, ensure you pay tribute to her at the Seolfor Cwylla, the Silver Well, which still runs to this very day through the heart of the village whilst the image of the defeated Þyrs remains imprinted for all time on the hill above it. On a moonlit night you may see her still, watching over the village and the hills above Cerne, bent and haggard with age and care, but determination burning from eyes of the purest silver.