Charming of the Plow Blot

 

 

Hallowing

 

Godi holds the ceremonial hammer and opens the circle with the traditional blessing:

In the Elhaz position standing facing North the Godi speaks:

Hammer to the North, hold and hallow this holy stead.

 

Godi faces East and speaks:

Hammer to the East, hold and hallow this holy stead.

Godi faces South and speaks:

Hammer to the South, hold and hallow this holy stead.

Godi faces West and speaks:

Hammer to the West, hold and hallow this holy stead.

 

Godi return to the North position and speaks:

 

"In the name of Thor we call to the ancient Gods and Goddesses – all.  May this Hammer, symbol of Mjolnir and symbol of Thor, reaffirm the abundant strength and power of our Gods and of our people.  I consecrate this place of community and frith, banishing from it all impure influences.  May our minds in this consecrated place likewise be sanctified, as is our will to the just services of Odin, ancient god of our people.  As Heimdall guards the Bifrost, may this place be warded against all forces unharmonious to our purpose here this day.   Wights of the land, wherever we may be, give us your blessing as we celebrate this Charming of the Plow."

Invocation

Facing the altar, holding the ceremonial mead horn above his head the Godi speaks:

 

I stand facing the North

And summon your favor – O Mighty Gods.

I summon great Odin

Allfather of our people.

I summon Heimdall,

Guardian of the Bifrost Bridge.

We ask that the Gods grant us

Fertile and abundant fields.

Gathered here,

We call to you from Midgard;

We call to you –

And in your honor we perform this sacred rite.

 

Godi placed the horn back on stand.

Standing in Elhaz position, Godi holds runestaff in his hands right above his head and faces the circle saying:

 

Nerthus, Nerthus, Nerthus, Earth Mother!

May the High Gods Frey and Njord

Grant you fields to increase and flourish,

Fields fruitful and healthy,

Shining harvests and shafts of millet,

Broad harvests of barley…

Hail to thee, Earth Mother of men!

Bring forth Nature’s golden beauty,

Filled with life preserving goodness,

The sustenance of your people.

Goddess Sif, wife of Thor,

Your golden tresses – like flaxen wheat,

Emblem of earth and rich vegetation,

The promise of a prosperous season,

We call to you in Bilskirnir.

As you nurture us, so shall we nurture our children.

Grant us a promise of nourishing rain,

That fields may fruitful be,

And vines in blossom we may see,

That the grain be full and sound

And health throughout our people abound.

 

Godi now fills horn with mead and holds it over his head saying:

 

Bless our fields. Noble Freyr, Son of Njord.

Thou who hast with Gullinbursti

Taught us to use the plow and furrow field.

We shall plan the new season’s crop

In your honor.

Magic of earth, sun and sky,

By the name of Freyr

Do we pour this libation,

For the coming of the Spring planting good.

 

Godi pours libation on the ground. (For indoor celebrations, pour libation in bowl and pour onto ground afterwards.)  Everyone is given two pieces of paper and a pencil.  On one paper each celebrant writes a vice he or she wishes to give away; the other he or she writes the virtue they wish to gain.  A bowli or caldron is placed on the altar.  Each celebrant comes forward and to place both pieces of paper into the receptacle.  The Godi sets the contents aflame.  Attendant rings staller bell in five second intervals until the flames are expired.

First Reading

 

Attendant speaks:

 

As numerous references in the Rig Veda indicate, the land was the center of the universe to our ancestors, especially because it provided fields for their cultivation of crops and pasturage for the needed herds of cattle.  From this sprang our great civilizations with their creative architecture, arts and sciences.  Yet, even today, it is still the food planting and harvest that remains the key element to our very survival.  No people have ever flourished mightily without abundant sources of grain.  The simple crops and herbs provide us food for life, garments to clothe us and a wide variety of useful items too numerous to mention.  We often take for granted just how essential our dependence remains on the planting and harvest seasons.  The hunter-gather technique worked well for small tribes, but ultimately, as the population increased, the crop system was an inevitable means of food production.  Once having mastered the basic secret of agriculture, the practice spread swiftly.  Much attention and spirituality was attached to the sowing and the harvest seasons, making them two of the greatest ritual occasions of the year.  At the end of a harvest, it was a long held tradition in some European countries to leave a few ears of corn left standing in a field.  This, it was believed, served as a spiritual offering to Odin’s horses, or to those who dwell under the earth.

 

The beginning of the planting season was celebrated on February 2nd, and long referred to as the “Charming of the Plow.”  This the first celebration of the new year, and a time when the days become longer, marking an end of winter’s icy grip.  It is a time of promise and preparation for fruitful crops, a time to honor our farmers and yeomen who work the fields, providing ample food and sustenance for our life survival.  It is a time for the planting of seeds, not only in the physical, but the mental and spiritual realms as well.

Second Reading

 

Attendant speaks:

 

Days counted very little in the heart of the country, hours still less; the season alone mattered.   The true countryman thought and moved in seasons.  There was plowing time, sowing time, lambing time, harvest time, and hiring time.  He moved through life in step with the seasons.  And if his thinking has tended to become slow, it is often patient, unhurried, in touch and step with deep and abiding forces.

 

The traditional knowledge of old times was often perpetuated by catchy rhymes such as this:

 

When the elmen leaf is as big as a mouse’s ear,

Then sow barley never fear;

When the elmen leaf is as big as an ox’s eye,

Then says I, “Hie, boys! Hie!”

When the elm leaves are as big as a shilling,

Plant kidney beans, if to plant ‘em you’re willing;

When elm leaves are as big as a penny,

You must plant kidney beans if you mean to have any.

 

In celebrating the festivals and through acting out the rites of our ancestral tradition, we can reconnect with the living forces of the earth, and come to feel once again our realm of Midgard as a living being, revealed in the archetypal form of the Earth Goddess.

Incantation

 

Attendant speaks:

 

Spring

 By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Gentle Spring! – in sunshine clad,

            Well dost thou thy power display!

For Winter maketh the light heart sad,

            And thou, - thou makest the sad heart gay.

He see thee, and calls to his gloomy train,

The sleet, and snow, and the wind, and the rain;

            And they shrink away, and they flee in fear,

            When thy merry step draws near.

 

Winter giveth the fields and trees, so old,

            Their beards of icicles and snow;

And the rain, it raineth so fast and cold,

            We must cover over the embers low;

And, snugly housed from the wind and weather,

Mope like birds that are changing feather.

            But the storm retires, and the sky grows clear,

            When thy merry step draws near.

 

Winter maketh the sun in the gloom sky

 Wrap him round with a mantle of cloud;

But, Heaven be praised, thy step is nigh;

            Thou tearest away the mournful shroud,

And the earth looks bright, and Winter surly,

Who has toiled for naught both late and early,

            Is banished afar by the new-born year,

            When thy merry step draws near.

 

Godi gives each celebrant a candle.

Attendant lights a candle and walking sunwise around the circle, lights everyone’s candle.

Attendant bats cadence on a sejdr drum.

Godi speaks:

 

Like a fish in water,

Like a lapwing among the stars,

I breathe among my Gods,

I have lived among Gods

Countless years.

 

I am an old soul

Of man.

Many nights

I have looked to the firs,

Felt the heat of their tongues,

Seen their faces,

Heard them speaking.

Many days

I have stopped behind my plow

To gaze upward,

Blind with the sun and the Gods’ power.

 

In my times,

And there have been many times,

I have come to know the Gods

By their silence.

I understand their presence;

O have quivered beneath their power

Of their hands on my head

And trembled in the powerlessness

Of their absence,

When they turned away

And left me to my destiny.

 

At dawn

Beyond the ring of trees,

The Great One comes

With the piercing solar eye –

Eye of wisdom and knowledge

Like the wind that moves boats,

His breath

Caught in a tattered white sail.

With invisible hands

He tugs on green shoots,

Causing corn and wheat to rise.

 

The first among us

He willed himself to be

Them in loneliness dreamed

The company of others.

Because he willed it,

Ripples formed on the water

And clouds billowed in the sky.

Because he willed it

Stars spewed from his lips

And the sun and moon

Sprang from his eyes.

Because he willed it,

He gave powers to lesser Gods –

The way a mother gives bread

To her children.

They, in turn

To please him,

Made fish in the sea,

Birds in the air,

And wheat in the fields.

Because he willed it,

Men and woman leapt forth

And made children,

Tamed cattle,

Harvested barely,

Because it pleased him,

He made these things

And lay destiny upon them.

What passes,

What is and what will be

Are the stuff

Of the Allfather’s dreams.

When the serpents return

At Ragnarok,

All he has made to flourish

Will wither and die.

And while Odin sleeps,

A new dream begins –

For even the Gods have destiny

And a veil will open

To a glorious new age

And hasten the coming

Of Balder Bright,

Son of Odin –

Son of the Sun.

 

In sunwise progression, one at a time, each celebrant comes forth to the altar to make a silent wish and to drop his or her candle into a bowli of water (or cauldron or bucket).

 

Closing

 

Godi stands before altar and rings bell three times in five second intervals.

Godi speaks:

 

Spirits of Asgard we thank you for your presence here in this circle.  We ask for your blessing and while you depart to your noble realm we bid you hail and fair well.  I hereby release any Spirits that may have been imprisoned by this ceremony.  The blót is now ended, let the sumbel begin.

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