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Posts Tagged ‘blót’

A very good friend of mine is a Celtic Reconstructionist, focusing on Irish tradition and folklore. We recently had a long discussion about why he refuses to join any organizations around the Atlanta area. His objections boil down to the consistent mandate for “ritual garb” like long robes and how he simply finds these things to be impediments to his experiencing his faith on a deeper emotional level. Additionally, the style of dress isn’t historically accurate. Instead, it’s very Victorian in the depiction of “druids” and bears no semblance of reality to what the people actually wore. In short, his is a modern faith rooted in the past but it is not an anachronistic faith that is trying to look the part as someone else envisions it. We both concur on the idea that our ancestors didn’t play dress up and put on clothing that predated their time, only that they put on nicer clothing than the everyday wear.

This is, frankly, exactly how I see our faith. Over the last 15 years I have watched how the style of dress has changed from an expectation of pseudo-Viking clothing for blót to blue jeans and t-shirt as the preferred attire. While I’m happy to see the anachronistic elements die off, we aren’t playing Viking after all, I am also somewhat sad to see the growth of such casual dress. Dressing nicely, it doesn’t have to be fancy or even a suit or heels, was always taken as a sign of seriousness and respect. I’m not advocating for slacks, polished shoes, and a button up shirt and tie just to go to blót. I’m simply talking about dressing in a nice enough fashion as to demonstrate seriousness and respect.

There are other elements of anachronistic behavior that often puzzle me as well but I do understand their presence, just as I understand wearing special clothing. It provides us a way to ignite the mind and the senses. It lets us for a visual and emotional link to the times and places we look to when rebuilding our troth. It provides context and ethos. None of this is a bad thing, especially for those of us who don’t have a lifetime of experience from a Scandinavian or Germanic culture. What we must be careful to do, however, is not let these thematic elements become a substitute for serious devotion and we must not permit them to become interfering elements that isolate us from the realities of our world and our needs today.

There are some very good uses for anachronism that hasn’t been fully discussed yet but ties directly into personal reasons for anachronistic elements. When we do a public blot, particularly at Pagan Pride events, the costuming and paraphernalia doesn’t just add context, it is the context. While we have to be sure not to instill an inaccurate impression that this is always how we look, these “High Blót” moments can be powerful tools for getting outsiders to understand that our heritage, our cultural past, is part of who we are today. It also works as a tool to encourage people to participate in other cultural elements, like folk dances and singing of folk songs, that are part of what we are as a people that we don’t always do. The costuming provides permission as well as context and this is something we need to be aware of because it is such a powerful tool. If we are going to use anachronistic elements we need to make sure that our religion and our identity as modern people remains intact, despite the costuming. After all, the Norse of the Viking Age didn’t play “Vendel Period” when it came time to make the sacrifices.

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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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The following prayer to the Æsir, Vanir, alfar, dísir, and landvættir is the invocation I wrote for my blóts. It is part of my effort to develop a consistent liturgy for my own use. I have found that it provides me with a consistancy that I desire and it makes writing blóts much, much faster. I’m fond of having consistent prayers, bolstered by prayers tailored to the blót, because it allows me to memorize things and helps reduce the amount of time I spend reading from “the script.” I hope you enjoy it.

Hail the Gods

Hail the Æsir! Hail the Vanir!
Glorious Host of my kin
I bid you welcome, High Ones
Stand with me, as in day of old
I pray you accept my offerings true

Hail the Gods of the North
Shining Ones, Mighty Ones
I give honor to you, Holy Kin
So that our troth may be renewed

Hail the alfar! Hail the dísir!
Worthy ancestors of my blood
I bid you welcome, Honored Kin
Stand with me, as in days of old
I pray you accept my offerings true

Hail the ancestors of my line
Ancient Ones, Recent Ones
I give honor to you, Worthy Kin
So that our Urd may be strengthened

Hail the landvættir! Hail the huldrafolk!
Hidden dwellers of Midgard
I bid you welcome, Beloved Friends
Stand with me, as in days of old
I pray you accept my offerings true

Hail Unseen Ones, greetings I give
Holy vættir, full of Might and Main
I give honor to you, Guardians of the Land
So that this land may be protected

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I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to redevelop my religious practices and methodology. In particular, I’ve been thinking about liturgical matters and how I see things done. I’ve run across some articles that reminded me how influenced I’ve become my Théodism. This isn’t something I have an issue with, I’m just not Théodish. Still, there are concepts and methods that I find amongst Théodish practice that I particularly like, especially because they do work to eliminate Neo-Pagan influences and focus on our own history and customs. I’m not trying to bash Neo-Pagans here but I do want to note that I do find their ways incompatible with our ways. If we are ever going to be more than a few thousand adherents, if we are ever going to revive and regain what was taken from us, then we need to follow our ways and not the ways of others.

The question, in my mind, is how can I develop a practice, a liturgical style, that I can use when solitary, as I expect to be most or all the time, that I can comfortably adapt to fit group worship. I find myself wanting, needing, to be around other Heathens. This is one of the reasons I’ve rejoined the Troth. I want to find people like me, who believe as I do, and practice as I do. I want to belong to something again. It is in this vein that I’ve given thought to a key comment I read recently about which way to face during a blót.

The Théodish author was talking about the difference between Théodism and Ásatrú in this regards. According to the author, Théodish custom has everyone facing the same direction, towards the hörgr, while Ásatrú custom tends to have the goði facing the folk in attendance. I can’t speak for the Théodish but it has been my experience that the latter part tends to be true. I’m not sure I agree with the author’s assessment that the latter focuses on those in attendance while the former focuses on worshipping the gods. In some ways I can see his argument. In others, if the gathered folk aren’t able to hear what’s going on then they aren’t involved in worship. Yes, speaking up helps but I guess the real question is “Who is the blót for?”

There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to this question. In essence, we blót in order to reaffirm our ties with the gods, as individuals and as a community. If the community is disconnected from the ritual activity then they aren’t connecting with the gods. If they aren’t connecting with the gods then the blót is nothing more than empty ceremony. Still, we have to address the question of where the focus is. It is on our troth with the gods and that does mean we need to address them directly as well.

This leads me to what I see as a dual-focused liturgical practice where some parts directly address the gathered folk while other parts directly address the gods themselves. The act of making the offerings is the part where it is most important to “face” the gods and speak to them, not the gathered folk. Invocations and prayers should also be spoken to them and not towards the gathered folk. For me, this means facing my hörgr stone. This is where the gods “live” at my house. This is their holy place. It is upon this stone that I make my offerings. These aren’t the only parts of my redeveloping liturgy, however. When planning for a group blót I do believe it is important to remind people why it is that we are gathered. What is the Holy Tide that we are celebrating? What does it mean in our lives today? These are questions that need to be answered and these are things that need to be addressed to the folk in attendance. It is these answers that builds the pathos and ethos for our worship. This is also something that doesn’t need to be addressed to the gods themselves as this is a human concern.

One other thing that I have been considering is the question of the “bumble.” It has been very common among Ásatrúar to have everyone speak over a passed horn and drink from it, raising a toast to the gods, and effectively combining a blót and a sumble into one activity. While this can be a very moving thing, I have come to see the passing of a drinking horn as a practice best left for sumble where it can be more fully appreciated by the folk and bind us together more tightly. This is something I eliminated from my practices before I lost my way and it is something I plan to keep out of my liturgical methodology now. This does mean that I need to find a way in which to include everyone in the blót. I believe that participation, not just attendance, is needed for folks to feel the power of the gods. Participation means more than just being on the receiving end of a blessing and bing sprinkled with hláut. Participation means speaking prayers. Participation means adding something to the offerings.

I don’t yet know exactly how this should be done, or even if it can be defined prior to writing up the ritual outline. Maybe it shouldn’t be. I do have some ideas, especially where burnt offerings are involved, and maybe this is the best place to start. What is important is that the folk participate in some way. This allows them to connect with the gods directly. This might be an area where I disagree with Théodish custom because I don’t believe in witnessed religion. I believe the job of the goði is to facilitate the blót, to keep things going in an deliberate manner, and to direct our worship. This is a job that takes skill and practice but I don’t believe it is an exclusionary job. I don’t believe that a goði does the work for the folk and acts as a divine representative, an intercessor for the folk and the gods. I’m not sure exactly how Théodish folk see the role of a goði but it is my understanding that whoever is presiding over a blót is someone of rank in the théod, which seems to me to imply specific sacral authority when the théod is gathered for blót.

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