First published in OAK LEAVES, Yule 1999 - No. 12
For the last decade my family has celebrated Winter Solstice with many of our friends. The following ritual was designed to incorporate elements of our Grove and our household culture. The ritual borrows its structural elements from ADF while pulling many of its descriptive passages from extant sagas and our family tradition. It also pulls from my general knowledge of ritual customs and IndoEuropean and classical mythology. The ritual is oriented towards social rather than, psychological effect.
The ritual site is arranged with a fire circle as the center. The well is sunk into the ground to the west and space is allotted for the tree in the east. Torches mark the cardinal points. Fuel wood is stacked to the south and the processional enters from a gate in the north‑east of the circle. Sacrificial items and the torch for the joining of the fire and water are placed on the stones around the fire circle. Each participant carries a sprig of rosemary in the procession. All lights are extinguished until the lighting of the fire.
A jug of water
Basket of tree ornaments
A bowl of nuts
Bread or fruit
A horn is blown three times to signal the beginning of the ritual.
Introductory prayer (Note 1):
By earth, by sky, by sea, In the sight of spirits, ancestors, shining gods, and mortal men Let our words and deeds proclaim the ancient way. Let this rite begin!
Participants proceed to the fire, circling around deosil.
Druid 1 and Druid 3:
As we approach the sacred grove With heart and mind, flesh. and bone, join us now in ways of old. We have come home.
Statement of purpose and precedent:
The Sun has withered and grown weak His strength is waning and we who are Dependent on his light and warmth, Wait and watch in the Wolf's darkness On this, the longest night of the year.
Let our voices sound to the heavens.
Let our wills be joined as one.
Let our gifts strengthen the gods
To drive the Wolf once more to the shadows
To hasten the Sun's rebirth.
Invocations to earth and sky (Note 2):
Hertha, O beloved Mother Earth From whose dark womb is born all green and growing things And to whom all life descends in death's darkness, We honor you as our forefathers did before us. Offering this precious drink; which was born of your bounty, We pray that you accept our gift and bless and uphold this rite.
Druid 1 pours ale onto the earth beside the fire.
Tiwaz, O beloved Father Sky From whose bright heaven comes the wind, the rain, And the lightning which first gave spark to life itself,
We honor you as our forefathers did before us. Offering this precious grain, which was born of your bounty, We pray that you accept our gift and bless and uphold this rite.
Druid 1 takes a handful of flour and blows it across the fire.
Sacrifice to the outsiders (Note 3):
Druid 3: ‑
Ancient and dark ones; unseen, unsightly, and unloved
We make this offering to you
You twisted and misshapen
You cold of heart .and dim of mind
Take this offering and trouble not our rites.
Druid 3 pours whiskey onto the earth, southwest of the circle (Note 4).
Establishing the sacred centers:
In ancient times fire, man's greatest tool and nature's fiercest weapon, defined the meeting place of the sacred and the profane, the heart of the home and of religious ceremony. Therefore, when we come together to celebrate the rites of our ancestors, we light a fire with flint and steel, the twin gifts of earth and skill. We light this fire as the center of our circle, the symbol of the ancient ways, and as a means by which our sacrifices may be conveyed to the realms of the gods.
The fire attendant lights the fire with flint and steel (Note 5).
O sacred fire that consumes and transforms
Ancient enemy and first born friend of humankind.
Druid 4 pours oil into the fire.
Accept this offering of fragrant bough
Become for us the living door to the heavens
The manifestation of the Shining Ones .
And the path of our return to the ancient ways. (Note 6)
Druid 4 raises rosemary branch.
O sacred bough of fragrant memory (Note 7)
May your sweet, rising smoke
Reach the halls of the gods.
Druid 4 casts the rosemary into the fire.
May we pray with a good fire. (Note 8)
All participants cast rosemary sprigs into the fire.
May we pray with a good fire.
Druid 5 pours water from the jug into the well.
O sacred waters that flow and swirl beneath all,
Primeval womb of all that lives,
Take into yourself the fire of the heavens.
Become once again newly potent with unmanifested possibilities. (Note 9)
Druid 5 pours oil into the well and lights the torch from the fire.
Accept this offering of sacred oil. Become for us the door into the darkness And the mirror of the unknown.
Druid 5 thrusts the torch into the well, extinguishing it and then asperges the participants with the wet branch. (Note 10)
Druid 2 steps away from the circle to the east and spreads arms to gather attention.
An ash stands, I know by the name Yggdrasil. (Note 12)
The tree attendant (Note 11) exits the circle to the east and retrieves the tree which has been positioned just out side the gate to the east. The tree attendant returns to stand behind Druid 2 in the east.'
That tall tree is watered by icicles daily. Thence. comes the dew that drops in the dells. It stands ever green above Urd's well.
Three are the roots that run three ways Beneath that mighty bole uprearing: One harbors Hel, another the frost giants, Mortals find shelter beneath the third.
Ratatosk is the squirrel that runs From its roots to the Heavens and again downward. The words of the eagle above the branches, He bears to the gnawer below.
Four are the stags with necks gracefully arched That gnaw on the widespread, green‑clad limbs.
There are more serpents beneath that tree
Than any unwise ape could imagine.
Yggdrasil's Ash must yet endure,
More than mere mortal may know.
The bole of it crumbles with rot
And below gnaws the Serpent, ever hungry.
The Ash Yggdrasil is the noblest of trees,
The horse of Ygg, who rides upon it
From Earth to Asgard and Hel after.
Yet nine worlds I knew, nine Trees of Life,
Before this World Tree grew from the ground.
Druid 2 steps aside, leaving the tree and tree attendant as the attention focus.
Druid 1 steps forward beside the tree, picking up the basket of tree ornaments.
From the fire of the heavens to the watery abyss of the underworld, all trees are one tree, the Shaman's stallion that joins heaven and earth. So also is this tree, Yggdrasil, by which we may travel between the realms of mortals and gods, ,and with us our hopes, our dreams, arid our desires.
Druid 1 walks slowly around circle, handing each person an ornament:
In ancient times our ancestors would dedicate a tree in every grove and village to'‑be what were later called fairy trees. On this tree they would hang ornaments, ribbons, little bits of metal, or other tokens as symbols and sacrifices that their wishes might come true. From that comes today's custom of raising the Christmas tree. So tonight, we take this opportunity to remind the gods of our wishes and dreams. Take an ornament and dedicate it to some special desire, to some message you have for the gods tonight and hang it on the tree.
Druid 1 demonstrates by hanging the first ornament on the tree, then moves aside.
By fire and by water,
Between the earth and sky,
We stand like the World Tree,
Rooted deep, crowned high.
Come we now to the well,
The eye and the mouth of earth.
Come we now to the well
And silver we bring.
Come we now to the well,
The waters of rebirth.
Come we now to the well.
Together we sing.
We will kindle a fire,
A door to the Shining Ones. (Note 13)
We will kindle a fire
And offerings pour.
We will kindle a fire,
A light beneath the moon and sun.
We will kindle a fire.
Our spirits will soar.
Gather we at the tree,
The root and the crown of life.
Gather we at the tree,
The branching and tall.
Gather we at the tree,
The pillar of heaven bright
Gather we at the tree,
The center of all!
Druid 1 (Note 14):
O you who dwell within this land, who are this land in spirit; you round rocks and standing stones, you trees tall and solemn or spreading and fair; creatures hoofed, horned, scaled, and winged, we greet you in the spirit of kinship and offer you hospitality. May there be friendship and sharing between us in the ancient way.
Druid 1 offers a bowl of nuts at the base of the tree. Then, he kindles torch to the east from the fire.
O you who were our fathers' fathers and our moth ers' mothers, you who gave our flesh and blood its form, though now you dwell in the spirits' realm, we greet you in the hospitality always owed to kin ship. May you remember us in your. world, as we remember you in ours. May there continue to be sharing between us in the ancient way.
Druid 1 offers a cup of special ancestral recipe (Note 15) at the western torch and kindles torch from fire.
O you who are great beyond moral knowing, Shining Ones of ancient and immortal kin, Aesir and Vanir, gods of heaven and of earth, we greet you as in days of old. May there be friendship and hospitality between us. Gaze kindly on us, High One, Just‑as‑High, and Third! Accept the offerings we make this night, that there may be sharing between us in the ancient way.
Druid 2 offers brandy directly into the fire. As Druid 3 begins speech, south and north torches are kindled from the fire.
Tonight we come together to witness the longest night of the year and the beginning of winter. Over the centuries this has become a joyous time, as families join together and exchange food and gifts. We must remember that this was not always such a happy season. In ancient times, the first day of winter marked the beginning of along, cold, and often hungry wait until spring. During that wait it was not unusual for many members of the community to die. The oldest and the youngest, those too weak to survive without fresh fruits and vegetables, and victims of diseases that passed quickly in small houses around smoky fires would past away. This night was a preparation for the harsh times ahead. No one knew when death would come nor in what dark year Ragnarok's demons would swallow the sun entirely along with the gods and the men whom they protected: So it is on this night we join together, as they did then, to remember that all things die. Cattle, kinsmen, and even the gods themselves will someday pass away. We can only hope and pray that this night will not be the beginning of that endless night, that the sun will rise tomorrow, heralding a spring still far to come.
Tonight we remember the darkness and the doom which will overtake even the gods by recounting the tale of how Odin came to know his own fate. He traveled the road to Hel to raise the ancient Volva from her grave to foretell the fate of Balder, the beloved God of the Sun (Note 16).
Counsel took the Aesir under
Yggdrasil's out stretched branches.
Omens sought, shook runes for answer
Why Balder was troubled by dreadful dreams.
Mighty slight was the Sun‑God's slumber
Less his comfort when lots were cast.
Staves then showed him doomed to die
Woe the weird of Frigg's son.
Up rose Odin, all‑wise father
Saddled Sleipnir, faring downward,
Riding the road to Hel's dark doorway.
Summoned She who knows all secrets.
Forced to rise, She spoke from the grave.
Who among men wakes my sleeping?
Covered with snow, I lay forgotten.
Drenched with dew, long have I been dead.
Answered the Aesir's all‑high father.
Name me Waywont. I will answer.
Speak you from death's home as I from life's
For whom is a place preparing yonder?
Druid 2: .
Mead is made for fair‑browed, Balder.
Bench and couch are covered in gold.,
Cease your questions. Ask no more!
Cease not, seer. I will know all.
Who shall be the bane of Balder
And rob Odin's son of his age?
High above the field there grew
Slender and fair, the mistletoe bough.
The sprig I see there shall become
A sorrow‑dart shot by Hoder's hand.
Now cease your questions. Ask no more!
Cease not, seer. I will know all.
Who shall avenge him harshly on Hoder?
What hand shall bring Balder's bane to the pyre?
Balder's brother, before his time born.
Not one day old, shall Odin's son battle.
He laves not his hands, nor combs his hair
Ere he brings Balder's foe to the fire.
Now cease your questions. Ask no more!
Cease not, seer. I will know all.
No mere wanderer are you, Waywont.
Odin I name you, Father of aeons.
Know then the doom of the gods awaiting.
Eastward in Ironwood the Old One sits
Fostering Fenrir's fearsome offspring.
From them shall come a troll‑shaped monster
That shall devour the shining moon.
It feeds on the life of those who lie dying
And blood‑red colors the dwellings of heaven.
The sun shall be dark the summers thereafter
And all winds stinking.
For the Aesir crows a gold‑combed cock
That wakes the warriors in Host Father's hall.
But another crows' beneath the earth
A soot‑red cock in the halls of Hel!
Garm howls at the hollows of Hell
What is fast loosens, and Freke runs free
To Ragnarok, the gods' death‑struggle.
Brothers shall battle and slay one another.
Kin‑ties of sisters' sons be shattered.
Ax‑time, sword‑time, shield shall be cloven
Wind‑time, wolf‑time, ere the world wanes.
Loud blows Heimdal the horn held high.
The giant .is loosened, the Tree overturned.
The serpent writhes, whipping the waves:
From. over the water come Muspell's folk.
Loki their helmsman, monsters fare forth
Flaring fire flames fierce from the south.
Mountains burst open, heavens are sundered.
Skewered the gods’ bright sun on a sword..
The sun grows dim.
Earth sinks beneath the waters.
The sparkling staffs fall dark from the sky.
Fire entwines the life supporter.
Steam rises to the heavens.
Then comes Frigg's second life's sorrow
As Odin fares forth to battle the Wolf.
The sword of Freyr flashes against the fire
There shall Frigg's heroes fall.
Would you know more, or what?
Ride home Odin, with what rest you may.
So close shall none come to me again
Until Loki from his fetters is free
And the Wolf runs wild at Ragnarok!
So rode Odin homeward, bearing with him such knowledge as made his journey no lighter. Like Odin, perhaps we know more than is comfortable. We know that life and pleasure are never. secure and that our time to enjoy them is uncertain. Tonight a war is waged in the heavens between the gods of light and warmth and, the demons of cold and darkness. We celebrate Yule knowing that it marks the beginning of a winter which could always be the final winter, the terrible Fimbulwinter that precedes Ragnarok and the final destruction of the very gods themselves. We keep a fire‑vigil all this night, to join our hearts and wills together with those forces which are friendly to us and to mankind. To those forces whom we name gods, we offer the gifts of our shared affection and the strength of our will and desire. Here we have ale, fruits, and bread. Who will we name as our gods, friends, and protectors?
Individuals volunteer the name of a favorite god or goddess, taking ale for libation and bread and fruit for more solid offering. In each case a piece or sip is taken by the worshipper to signify the shared nature of the sacrifice and then the equivalent part is tossed in the fire (Note 17).
The gifts of the people rise to the gods on the smoke of sacrifice. May our prayers go clearly and without hindrance to those we have praised (Note 18). A favor requires a favor; a song another song, and a gift given requires a gift is return. This is the law of ancient, times, alike between man and man and mankind and the gods. We have offered our gifts to the gods and we ask them in return for knowledge of what tomorrow will bring. Will, our vigil bear fruit and the darkness pass?
The seer draws and interprets a rune. If an, unfavorable omen is drawn, the vigil will give ample opportunity to the participants to meditate on the gods' message and consider how to respond individually.
Druid 2 raises the mead bottle and blessing cup.
Ancient and mighty ones we honor you. Having established the bond of hospitality with the gods, what the gods have given to us we distribute freely. Behold the waters of life!
Behold the waters of life!
The cup is passed around the circle. Participants at the opposite end of the circle from the cup begin to chant.
When we give we receive and are blessed
What we share will be shared in return.
Those we praise in joy will respond in our need.
We are kin to the gods when we drink their mead (Note 19).
Now the formal sacrifice is ended. Let the people stay or part as they will. This, fire will be kept burning until sunrise to hold the night's power at bay. Good luck will follow those who keep vigil with strength and will to watch through out the night.
All light in the house is kindled from the fire, and no electric lighting is used until dawn (Note 20).
Closing rites performed at either visible dawn or clear light:.
The son of the dawn spurs on his charger,
Caparisoned gaily in precious gems.
Radiance flows from his steed's mane.
He draws in the chariot Dvalin's toy.
Up rise the gods. Forth shines the sun
Northward to Niflheim. The night draws away.
Heimdall once more springs upon Bifrost,
Mighty‑clarion‑blower on the mountains of 'heaven.
Another earth rises green from the sea.
Torrents tumble. The eagle soars
From the mountains seeking fish.
Harvests shall grow on unsown fields,
Ills be recessed, and Balder shall come.
With him Hoder shall build on Ropt's soil,
As gentle gods of the chosen (Note 21).
Druid 1 offers a final libation to the fire.
Now is the sun returned to glory.
Now is the darkness banished once more.
Now is our long vigil ended in victory.
Druid 1 offers the wishing tree into the fire (Note 22).
Fire, carry our dreams to the heavens
Then may you rest, your night's work done.
Let the fire be flame. .
Let the well be water.
Let all be as it was before.
The. rite is ended.
Druid 1 extinguish the fire with water from the well.
Original. I noticed that Little Acorn was in the habit of using several sections of "purpose and precedence" in an explanatory mode, but no "opening prayer" in a ritual/poetic mode, so I wanted a clear beginning which would among other things establish me as the person leading the rite. This focus was important in that half the people present were not experienced with formal ritual and needed to know who to follow for cues.
I quibble with the ADF Standard of invoking "Inspiration" at this point. While various powers of ritual wording and poetic vision are universal in IE motif, the first and foremost deity of all IE pantheons, the mate of Mother Earth and the single deity universally recognizable in IE linguistic forms is Deus Pater, the Patriarchal Sky Father. Denial of this fact serves no useful purpose. Imbedding such denial in constant ritual is as magically dangerous as any other form of constant, ritualized denial of a major aspect of reality.
The power of Inspiration is in general strongly linked to the IE veneration of the "fiery liquid" given by gods to man and linking the two by incorporation and sacrifice ‑ i.e. alcoholic beverage, which is highly celebrated in the ritual formula of the Waters of Life.
The placement of this passage in the ritual emphasizes the general linkage of the Outsiders/Monsters/Enemies in IE lore with the older, first generation of gods which also includes Mother Earth and Father Sky (for instance, Gaia and Uranos and the Titans).
The second stanza of the standard ritual, "Likewise we acknowledge in ourselves," etc., was deleted due to the presence of family and friends to whom I felt the similarity to Roman Catholic "confession of sin" would be offensive.
On my property; a trio of pine trees marks the spot where sacrifices are regularly offered to the squirrels to keep them out of the garden. Furthermore, the design of the space made it impossible to make this offering in the North, which I consider most Ceremonially Appropriate.
This statement when submitted to the Liturgists' Guild sparked a week‑long debate on the appropriate direction of the Outsiders. As a basic summary, it was observed that there is no universal direction of the Outsiders in IndoEuropean lore; while the South appears to be the direction of the Enemies in Vedic practice, the West is the direction of‑the Dead in Celtic mythology, and the East is the direction of jotunheim, the home of the Giants, in the Norse material from which this ritual is derived. In addition; it was noted by an ADF member that burial evidence suggests the orientation of warrior's graves so as to face the then current physical Enemies.
Against this I argue the universal orientation of the ancient world to the East or rising sun (preserved, in fact, in the word "orientation"), giving the resultant placement of the taboo Left hand to the North. The North is the abode of demons in Parsee mythology, the land of the Dead (at the back of the North Wind) in Greek clad English, and Nifleheim, also the abode of the Dead, in Norse mythology. Furthermore, while grave orientation is not universal in practice, it shows a universal awareness of and response to a basic solar orientation; i.e., the head may be placed toward the sun or the face may be oriented toward the sure, but both indicate the same underlying intent; likewise, I would argue, with orientation of half‑reclining corpses towards the south in far northern Norse graves, where the predominant. direction of the `sun is more southern than eastern. Tus, in the northern hemisphere, the North is clearly the direction of Darkness, and in keeping with Indo‑European religious traditions, darkness is the direction of taboo. Finally, as determined Confederates located in Richmond, Virginia, it is the position of my household that the physical and mortal Enemy is definitively located in Washington D.C.
My husband has been lighting fire for ceremonies with flint and steel for 10 years. There is always, however, a certain amount of risk involved with this technique, as damp charcloth or anything less than perfect feeding with successive stages of tinder and kindling can lose the blaze.
On this occasion, Robert came as close, he says, as he has ever come to losing it without doing so. Several of us thought he had. In fact, several of us still probably aren't completely sure whether he actually re‑lighted the fire with the Bic he had suddenly palmed from inside his sleeve. There are three possible contingency options for this disaster:
Beginning with Corrigan's (a) initial line, I reworked this to emphasize the primary of Fire as the center of IE sacrificial ritual and its place as a symbol of continuous ancient tradition. I prefer to centralize both the independent divinity of the Fire and the Gods and the social content of ritual in linking the human community to them, rather than the individual psychological aspect of "let holy flame warm our spirits and our lives" and "Sacred fire; burn within us."
Besides having a sweet. scent and a modest psychoactive effect, rosemary .is a traditional purificatory herb in classical culture, and is linked in herbal tradition with strengthening memory. Therefore, it represents both the individual and the cultural group‑memory linking us to the rituals of ancient times.
Beginning with Corrigan's (a) tag‑line, I wanted to emphasize the Well as independent of the worshippers; not "the elder depths within us all," but the womb from which our souls spring. Again, in this ritual universe the sacred Well is not within, but without; we may come to grasp the Unknown, but we look for it in the outer, not the inner; Darkness.
The making of khernips, the water which has absorbed holy flame, is a fundamental element of classical GrecoRoman sacrificial ritual (see Apollonius' Ta Hiera, the Neoclassical Rite of Sacrifice) and harks again to the meeting of Fire and Water in the sacred and vital fiery liquid which the Gods' gift, blood, and semen (O'Flaherty, p. 97). In GrecoRoman ritual the participants ceremonially wash in the blessed water in ordinary rites (Burkert), however aspersion was used for purification in larger groups and was borrowed thence by early Christianity.
This technique was adopted as a last‑ditch solution to the otherwise intractable problem of how to fix the 'flee firmly in place. Without a large Tree, it couldn't be done easily in the time available, and we did not want to risk cutting a large tree from the local commons. So we resorted to the conventions of Chinese stage setting. This worked remarkably well, giving a ritually naive friend a useful job which required no advance preparation, and setting up the circumstances for a year of bad jokes. The motion involved in leaving the ritual area, coming back with the tree, and dividing attention from the main speaker allows wandering attention somewhere to rest which is nevertheless integral to the ritual.
This entire description does not occur in any one place in the Eddas (I used Tichenell's Masks of 0din, despite my misgivings regarding the translator, for the vast majority of all my texts because it was on the shelf. I hope to acquire a more scholarly translation). It was necessary to piece together sections from the Voluspa (Tichenell verse 19 is the first stanza, Auden & Taylor verse 6 is the .last) and the Grimnismal (Tichenell 31‑35, .44); then touch up the poetry and add continuity. However, my only original addition was the second and third lines of the last stanza, "the horse of Ygg, who rides upon it, from Earth to Asgard, and Helle after."
3) Anyone who is inclined to meditate can and will slip into a good meditative state when the opportunity is provided by a long stretch of poetry like this or the core passages of the rite. As the average participant is a listener observer for the majority of the ritual, the ritual experience in and of itself is appropriately a meditation. As proof of this contention, less than three weeks after, the Little Acorn SD honestly thought that we had done a Grove Attunement during the ritual.
These lines were changed from the version previously published by Corrigan (c). I did this to eliminate references I mistakenly attributed. to Wiccan influence ("Bless all and with harm to none"), make the rhyme scheme consistent with the good first verse, and emphasize the place of each element as a Center.
No formal Gate opening was used. I will write a paper on why I object to formal gate openings at some future time. In brief the Gods don't need us to make a gate for them. Most IE myths agree that the Gods co‑exist with us in this universe at their own discretion. If they aren't here, they can get here under their own power. To assume less is gross insult to Their abilities. IE tradition is to call the Gods, or Invoke them, as long, pleasantly, and intricately as possible ("or by whatsoever name it pleases You to be called") in order to get their attention. As far, as I know, there is no place for an "Opening of the Gate" in any IE ritual until the adoption of demonological summoning from .Middle Eastern tradition.
Opening a Gate, however, does attract and provide passage for all sorts of other things that like to feed off of human energy. The sacrifice to the Outsiders does not eliminate this problem; it's only going to buy off the small and unsophisticated Problems. While I'm not claiming that opening a Gate will lead to a visit from Great Cthulu, I do believe that it will lead to attention from many entities which the majority of people at any rite do not have the ability to recognize or deal with. This added to both normal human psychological imbalances, and the tendency for marginalized persons such as are attracted to Neopagan religion to have more than normal psychological imbalances, leads to an interaction‑effect which can only increase the statistical probability of life crises and emotional disturbances in attendees over the following cyclical period. Especially at the cyclical New Year, I feel that it is unethical to impose such a risk on non-magicians who haven't the faintest understanding of the potential consequences. ADF needs to decide whether they are truly doing "open" ritual for non-initiates, or magical ritual for an initiatory group. The same rules simply don't apply to both audiences.
Although these were written to provide continuity for the written ritual, in practice, I simply asked the person making the invocation to say a few brief words of their own preference. I do not believe there is a wrong way to make the Triple Sacrifice, and due to the length of the prepared portions of the script, it seemed well to keep these simple.
Not everyone, of course, has a Special Ancestral Recipe. Ours is called "bourdeongus," and is a homemade Dutch liquor which has been translated by Dutch friends as meaning "Farm Boy." It is similar to other traditional recipes dating back to the seventeen century and known throughout Scandinavia, consisting of three parts whiskey to two parts each of raisins and sugar, with cinnamon and other spices. The important thing is that this recipe has been a part of our family's holiday tradition for more than a century, making it especially appropriate to offer to those who have shared it with us in life as well as the Spirit Realm.
My intention in this piece was to provide a genuine recitation from ancient texts as the core of the ritual, much as Christians base their rituals on readings from the Bile and ancient holiday celebrations would be based on a ritual re‑telling of significant myths in words that had beep themselves hallowed by repeated ritual use. I started by going through the Eddas in the expectation of find the story of Balder described completely in one place. However, this proved impossible. The only coherent stories in the Eddas, it appears, are Snorri Sturlesson's prose contributions. The older lays are fragmentary and allusory; in ,many places they obviously refer to incidents which were such common knowledge as to not need repeating. By not .repeating what would only bore their own audiences, the skalds have lift .us. a mishmash of poetic reference. and allusion.
The story that appeared, to emerge from reading Waywont, Odins Corpsgalder, Havamal, Grimnismal, and Voluspa, however; was That on the occasion of the first prophecy of Balder's impending doom, arid perhaps while Frigga was wandering the world extracting oaths from various characters not to harm him, Odin took the high road to Hey to ask a dead seeress all of the particulars, probably in hopes of learning how to avert the fate. Once summoned, this seeress told him not only all about Balder's fate, but ,also about the entire episode of Ragnarok. Implied is that the Volvo on the one hand was not a friend of the Gods, but not a complete enemy either; she mentions being the child of Giants. "Waywont" appears to give some of the context for this story; "Voluspa" appears to be the speech of the seeress; Odin's Korpsgaldr suggests additional references to Iduna or Nannas's role as the keeper of the apples of immortality, and the rebirth of the world and the gods afterwards.
Additional information is provided in Vaftrudnismal, translated by Tichenell as the "Lay of Illusion". None of it is exactly clear, so I made the best of it that I could. Although I originally intended simply to steal the lines and string them together, I found it necessary to do quite a bit of tweaking in order to establish good rhythm, which is a necessary for memorization of the lines, and make it comprehensible. All thefts are from Tichenell, with V=Voluspa and W=Waywont:
Despite having pre-arranged this with both Grove and family members, it took a little while for the sacrificial action to warm up. It is utterly necessary for certain members of the group to be pre-selected to offer the first couple of sacrifices in order to demonstrate the ritual and encourage participation.
I have tried to work out a tablature for transcription of music in alphanumeric form. below. As the entire song is in major key, (+) marks indicate the note at the .next higher octave rather than a sharp, with numbers indicating each beat in a measure of 4/4 time.
This is a personal custom which I have practiced for about 15 years; however it is very difficult to convince guests that you mean business. The only way to perfectly maintain ritual purity among nonbelievers is to threaten them with death or dump the beer over their heads.
My husband pointed out to me that feeding an entire green tree into the fire at dawn was sure to create enough smoke to frighten the neighbors and bring out the Fire Department. Therefore, the Tree was fed to the Fire bit by bit over the course of my vigil, repeating the injunction to:
with each branch. This also gave me the opportunity to magically identify the ornaments with the branches they had been attached to as I set them aside, because .I accidentally bought cheap styrofoam balls which could not be burned without nasty fumes. Paper or other natural ornaments would be a wiser investment.
Corrigan. (1998). .The Yuletide Blessing. http://www.adf.org/rituals/norse/nyule.html
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