The Yuletide Blessing
The Yuletide Blessing
A rite of feasting in the Norse tradition. The text of the going and returning of the sun, and a few other portions of the rite, owe a great deal to Yule text from Kveldulf Gundarsson's recommended work "Teutonic Religion". Other portions are drawn from Asatru tradition, but all has been tailored for our ADF structure. Much of the text for the ADF traditional portions of the rite has been written especialy for this work.
The hall is set as a feasting-hall, with places for all to sit around the perimeter. At the north is the harrow, bearing the Yule-log which has nine candles, one for each of the Aesir, images of the Deities, the Horn and the Blessing Bowl, with a sprig for sprinkling, and the offerings. In the center is the Tree, decorated with pine boughs. At its base are the Fire and the Well, with an Offering Bowl to receive libations. At the two sides of the harrow are the tables holding the feast.
1: The Procession
The folk wait outside the hall, in silent meditation. The clergy prepare to wash the hands of each celebrant, and the chief priestess prepares to greet each with a drink of hot cider as they enter. A musical signal is sounded and all come to the hall at their own pace. As each arrives at the door their hands are laved and dried, and the priestess offers the drink. All go to stand at a place at the tables, and a welcoming chant is sung as the company grows. When all have arrived they stand at their seats as the Bard ends the chant.
2: Opening Prayers
Welcome to all who come to keep the Old Ways. We are here to honor the Gods, to keep the feast of Yule. Let us begin by remembering the Mother of All. An offering to the Earth Mother is prepared and given, saying:
Hallowed Woman of the Earth
We give this gift to you
Frau Holda, riding forth this night,
Look kindly on our work,
Berchta, beldame of the wheel,
Spin us good wyrd tonight
O Mighty Mother of us all
Pray, fill our house with joy!
The Bard makes an invocation to Odin as the God of Poetic Magic:
Odin the One-Eyed / Rune-lord of Wisdom
Hear as we hail you / Honor our working.
Waken our word-skill / Quicken our magic
Skald-speech be in us / By your Blessing, Odin.
The offering to the Outdwellers is made:
Hear me all you wights unhallowed,
Etins, trolls and all the Out-garth,
Ravers, enemies of Asgard,
Here we give you proper honor.
Take this gift, here freely given,
Trouble not our holy working,
For our hall will be well-warded,
By the Redbeard's mighty hammer.
3: The Attunement
The Bard leads the company in a meditation to attune to the powers of Earth and Sky, and to join their souls together for worship.
4: Statement of Purpose and Precedent
5: The Sacred Center
Offerings are made to the Fire, Well and Tree as the company sing the Center Hymn:
By Fire and by Water
Between the Earth and Sky
We stand like the Worldtree
Rooted deep, crowned high.
After that is done, the priest/ess speaks:
Thus is the World-Tree established in our Holy Hall. From the Well of Wisdom to the Hearth-fires of Asgard the World Pillar spans, and to it we come to make our true worship. Now let the hall be warded.
6: Hammer Rite
A priest/ess goes to the four quarters and makes the Hammer sign, saying:
Hammer in the (East), hallow and hold this holy stead.
then goes to the center and makes the sign overhead saying:
Hammer above us, hallow and hold this holy stead.
and then toward the ground, saying:
Hammer below us, hallow and hold this holy stead.
7: The Gate
An offering to Heimdall is prepared and given saying:
Warder of Asgard, / Heimdall we hail you,
Keen-eared and sharp-eyed, / biding on Bïfrost,
Gjallerhorn's holder / to you we offer,
Son of Nine Mothers, / by Fire and by Water
Watch us and ward us, / we work the Old Ways,
Aid us now, royal one, / hold open the gates!
Now we bid Bïfrost / be here among us
Descend from dwelling / of Gods, bright Asgard
A rainbow of light / from all ways flowing
Carry our calling / to all the Aesir
By Nine Flames shining, / By Waters flowing
By Heimdall's magic / Gates now be open!
8: Offering to the Landvettir
The Horn is filled with Cider and elevated, saying:
To all those who dwell in this land we give honor. Kindreds of the soil, of the waters, of the sky; clans of tree and herb, of stone and stream and lake; tribes of bird and beast and creeping things; you we remember with honor as we drink. In the season of the sleeping earth we ask the spirits of the land to loin us at our fire and feast, that all wights of good will may be blessed.
The Horn is passed as all sing a chant to the Nature Spirits. When this is done the remnant of the Horn is poured into the Offering Bowl, saying
Let all the earth and sea and sky receive with us the blessing of Yule!
Landvettir, accept our sacrifice!
9: Offering to the Alfar and Disir.
Alfar we honor / Great men and Fathers,
Who in their highday / Heros were reckoned,
Likewise the Disir / Great and good women
Mothers, grandmothers, / Peace-weavers, wise ones
Ancestors aid us / Hear as we hail you
Drink we this draught now / In honor and love
The Horn is passed as the folk sing. When it returns to the harrow the remnant is given, saying:
Hail to the Alfs, all ringed round us, the Fathers of the folk.
Hail to the Dises, all ringed round us, the Mothers of our might.
Hail to our kin, in the hidden lands, Hail the ancestors on this holy Yule!
10: The Offering to the God/desses
Offering is made to the whole company of the Aesir, as well as Frey and Freya, using such poetry as the folk have in them.
11: Praise Offerings
The Descent to Darkness:
Sunna sinks down / into the dark sea,
Wolf and wind howl / outside the walls
Now winter shakes out / her snowy bed
Now are life-fires / hid in yew-night
Odin's grey steed / leads ghosts on the wind
Trolls fare from cliff-halls / the etins are risen
Well are we warded / who watch this night
By Fire and Water / by Thor's great strength.
As this proceeds, the lights in the hall are extinguished, until only the Fire and Heimdall's candle are lit. (The Priest/ess may add other trnace induction if desired, in each stage of this work.) The Praise Offerings are given in the darkness, then this verse is read as the final Praise Offering:
Now Sunna stands / in her lowest stead
Lost is all light / sleeping all life
The frost-cold wights / hold icy rule
We hail the might / That howls now from the north
Odin, from Yew-Dales / at Yuletide haring
Shield-God, ward us / with thy strong bow
Skadi the Giantess / skis from the north
Huntress, give us / your holy rede
Freya's might hold us / here in our hall
Golden Frey's might / hold us in frith
All of ye Gods / and Goddesses high
From darkness we hail you / from dragon-deep root
Lead us through darkness / through all dire dooms.
12: The Prayer of Sacrifice: as usual
13: The Omen
Wisdom rising / from Well's deep roots,
Runes of might / roar in our minds
Up from the bairn-stock's / eldest roots
Odin give answer / reveal the Gods' wills.
The Omen is taken and interpreted.
14: Calling for the Blessing
15: Light's Return
The priest/ess takes fire from the Fire with a taper and begins to relight the Yule-log.
By Aesir and Alfar / And Dises mighty
By Thunar's strong striking / And Freya's Hearth-fire
We seek the shining / Of Yule-morning's magic
Sunna we call you / Come forth from the night
Bear to us blessing / Of spring and then summer
Shine on our land / In our homes, in our hearts
Increase and bounty / Be ours and our kindred's
Rising light, welcome / we hail your returning.
All sing a chant for the returning sun as all the candles in the hall are lit in turn.
16: The Blessing Bowl
A bowl of water is lifted and the Hammer sign is made over it, saying:
Now let the weal-might / Of Woden and Frigga
Of Frey and of Freya / Of Tir and all Aesir
Of Alfar and Disir / And all goodly wights
Shine in this Blessing / We pray as your people
Hallow these Waters / O mighty and shining
Offering we've given / Pray gift us in turn
Behold the Waters of Life!
Cups are filled and passed as usual, as the company sings a blessing chant.
17: Final Blessing
Priest/ess leads a recentering and focuses on the presence of the Blessing in the souls of the worshippers. She says:
Now by the might of Frey and Freya, by the blessing of all the Aesir, may the rising light of the Sun be in our hearts as it is in the world. May our strength grow with it, from good to good and gain to gain, throughout the turning year. All hail the reborn Sun!
All: All hail the Reborn Sun!
Ritual and Practice