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Archive for the ‘Hátið’ Category

Winter Nights celebrates the coming of winter, when the weather starts to turn cold and  the frost starts to form. The days grow shorter and less friendly to us. The nights grow  longer and more treacherous. The Furious Host, led by Odin himself, begins to ride,  hunting anything it finds out of doors. All manner of ill-willing wights grow more powerful  in the dark and wild places. Vargr come out of the woods in search of food. Trolls,  smelling the blood of the culled herd, howl and terrify children in the dead of night, ready  to snatch one away if given the chance.

All is not dark and grim, however, for now is the time when families gather together to  celebrate the end of their laborings throughout the year and to rejoice in all that they  have accomplished. The soil begins to rest and recover for next year’s crops, tucked  under a blanket of white. There is fresh meat, fresh baked bread, and there is plenty of ale to drink. Now is a time to celebrate with kith and kin.

In ancient times strangers were not welcome at Winter Nights celebrations. It is a time  to spend with those closest to us and those upon whom we know we can rely in the  dead of winter. It is a time to reaffirm our bonds of troth and friendship. It is a time to  feast and make merry. It is a time to make offerings to the gods for a mild winter. It is a  time to honor the álfar and thank them for their aid during the growing months and during the harvest.

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I decided to work up an entire blót for those who would like to do one but aren’t all that familiar with writing their own or simply looking for inspiration. This file is free to use and share. Feel free to take what you need from it or even make changes to the wording as you see fit. This also contains a glossary of terms in case any of them are unfamiliar.

Winter Nights Blót PDF

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Hail Óðinn, Hanged God, Father of Battle, Granter of Victory, Lord of the Gallows!

Hail Þórr, Thunder, Mighty Áss, Great Champion of the Æsir, Warder of Miðgarðr!

Hail Ingvi-FreyR, Giver of Wealth, God of the World, Lord of Alfhaim, Shining One!

Hail the landvættir! Hail the house gods! Hail the álfar! Hail the Ancestors!

We bid you join us and receive our offerings true. We raise this horn of ale in your honor and share it as a token of our gratitude for the gifts you have given us. Accept this sacrifice, a symbol of our labor to provide for our families, and find it worthy. Grant us your blessings as winter draws near and keep us safe through the cold nights. Protect us from all ill-willing wights, trolls, and niðlings. Keep our homes safe from storms and our hearths warm. Let good friends find comfort in our company and may we find food plentiful and drink always full. We offer up this horn of worthy ale to you, may it be well received.

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If you look at the holidays that I have listed on one of the information pages, you will notice that I have Haustblót and Vetrnætr listed as separate holidays. There are some sources in the Icelandic sagas that have celebrations at the end of the harvest season separate from the Winter Night festivities. Others, in a devious plan to make life difficult for us a thousand years on, have them celebrated at the same time. Some groups, like the Troth, have it as a single holiday while others, notably the Ásatrú Alliance, honor them as different holidays. As for the various and sundry European organizations, I can’t say how they do it. If you will, please allow me to explain why I do things the way I do.

First, it should be mentioned that I live in the Metro Atlanta area. I don’t tend to crops. My new home doesn’t even have a small garden, and likely never well, as I am technologically inclined but haven’t been given much skill with tending to green things that grow out of the ground. Trust me, it’s just bad. Even so, I do come from farming families and I am somewhat aware of the needs and demands of a farm and the work that goes in to raising crops and livestock. This is the key reason that the agrarian holidays still mean a lot to me, even though I am a suburbanite who is surrounded by more technology than greenery.

Right about now, the harvest should be finishing up. The warmer weather we enjoy in North America does throw off the older Scandinavian cycle by a bit, but not too much. It’s close enough that we can get a reasonable approximation in our urban world. For those that actually have home gardens, they know the seasonal cycles well enough to know when to adjust things for their lives. For me, I aim for something that fits my lifestyle. I know that in the South East there is still more time to harvest the remaining crops and in some areas where apple orchards are common, they would normally be working to get things in before it gets much cooler. This year has seen a rather mild September after an early warming. This has thrown things off a little, but so goes the world.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t say it was cold yet, but we have had a few night time Lows under 60°F. This is the key reason that I don’t celebrate Haustblót and Vetrnætr at the same time. I prefer to put Winter Night near the end of October, which is when it looks like it would have been. By then, we will be feeling the coming of winter. Also, in the old days, that would be the time when they would have finished the slaughter, not around this time of year. I know that the culling of the herds is about to get under way where my maternal family is. They don’t do that at the same time they are clearing the fields. Too me, these are separate things and need separate considerations.

Now, after all that justification, lets move on to celebrations of the holiday. The truth is, I’m not planning very much this year. I’m not even planning to do a “formal” blót. I am skipping all of that this year because I’ve been sick and I simply don’t have the energy to do a long blót. Instead, I am planning to make it quick and simple. I am going to make my usual offering of beer, something I think is very appropriate for a harvest festival, and I am going to say a prayer to FreyR, the álfar, and the landvættir. I will also say a prayer to the Æsir and the Vanir but I am mostly focused the Freysblót and álfablót customs in thanks for a good harvest. I am also going to ask that help be given to those who are tending apple orchards this year as they are having a rough go of it. The early warming was followed by a cold snap in April that did a lot of damage to this year’s crop. I heard one farmer talk about how he expects next year to be a boon year because the trees are resting this year. I hope he’s right. This is what I am hoping FreyR will consider lending his might to.

All in all, it will be simple this year and I’m okay with that. No company for the holiday, and I don’t have it in me to entertain company. A simple but sincere offering in thanks for the mostly good year and the way things have improved feels most appropriate. I have a special beer I am planning to give, a sahti from Sam Adams called Norse Legend. The name alone makes it just a bit humorous and it brings a smile to my face just thinking about how appropriate it all is.

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