Winter Nights Blot
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:
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 this Winter Nights.
The Godi lights candle.
Freya bringer of the harvest
Fill the cauldron of our being
Provide us with the love which binds our families
Grant us your blessings
Kindle the fires of our hearth and home
Wise, beautiful, and just
We give praise to you
Now as we reach harvest end,
We do so knowing that our gods
Are ever with us and within us.
Through winter’s icy realm
The fruits of nature sustain us
Bearing the seeds of new life.
O Divine gods of Asgard
They mysteries are everywhere revealed
In the changing of the season
We thank you for the abundance that we have received
This harvest bounty we do celebrate in your honor
The fruits of Midgard’s abundance
Cycles end bringing forth new beginnings
May the life forces of the mother goddess
Forever nourish the realm of Midgard.
A small piece of cake or bread is given to each celebrant in the circle to hold while Godi continues:
With this symbol we remind ourselves that we eat of the Mother Goddess and her bounty, in that the seed must die that we may live, and that in time our mortal shell in turn must become as one with the earth. For in the act of death is the promise of rebirth.
Cakes are now eaten as the Godi fills horn for libation and continues:
With summer’s end the maidens of the Wild Hunt gather;
Valkyries mount their steeds with Odin
Ready to ride the earth –
Barron now are the fields and trees
And crisp cool winds embrace the night sky.
For bountiful harvest do we offer thanks –
Hail to Odin, lord of wisdom!
Lord of the indomitable will that guides us.
Through Midgard’s stillness and winter mantle
We will feast in your honor and pour libation.
Godi now pours libation on the ground for the gods and goddesses and pronounces:
With this libation we renew our pledge of Kinship to each other and to our holy gods and ancestral spirits.
Come join the dance that doth entrance and tread the circles round.
Appropriate music is now played as celebrants join hands to perform a sunwise circle dance (carole) around the bonfire.
Godi leads celebrants in carole chant:
Circle of light, fire of night,
Around us glows the shielding ring bright.
Dance ends and celebrants return to their place in the circle.
Winter must have been a feared and disliked season of the year to the early farmers. The sun moved away from the earth and at the Solstice in late December appeared to hang motionless in the sky, as if undecided as the whether to return. The earliest winter festivals involved fire, with perhaps a leaping dance to represent the springing up of new crops.
Winter Nights marks the end of the harvest season. It is the time of year which divides the end of the summer half of the earth cycle and the beginning of the winter half. This is a time when the dark forces gain strength over the light. On this night Odin’s Wild Hunt begins and continues on until Ostara.
According to ancient mythology the lunar goddess Holda (the Frau Holle or White Woman of Germanic folklore) holds summer captive in her underworld kingdom during winter. When she shakes her bedclothes, it snows.
Man’s daily half-life cycle is not unlike Midgard’s yearly half-life cycle. Each morning man blossoms with fresh invigorating life energy, accelerates with life and progress, then having spent his energy, he winds down to the needed regeneration of sleep which is a form of death, as is winter in Midgard’s half cycle. Winter Nights is the Norse New Year, which is actually several nights long, hence the Icelandic name Vetrnaetr, or Winter Nights.
The rhythms of Nature, the ebb and flow of tides, springtime the harvest, the alteration of day and night, the stars in their courses; how did all these things begin and what sustains them? The mysteries will always fill us with marvelous intrigue. Our life, nature and the universe in which we live is miraculous – is divinity unfolded.
Winter is a time of sacred rites to appease the dead yet it is also a joyful time of family sharing, feasting, and celebrating. The mother’s womb of life’s mysteries is everywhere revealed.
Second Attendant recites:
Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of the harvest-home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the storms begin.
Unbroken cycles of rebirth
Darkness giving way to light
Earth and time forever spinning
Ending followed by beginning
Hoofbeats mark the ride of Odin
Cross the skies of Midgard gleaming
Chill winds of north will blow
As Balder yields to Ullr’s bow
From sunset of the autumn season
For weal we work till Spring’s returning,
We feast and toast to the High Aesir
Till melting snow of Spring draws near.
So come ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest-home!
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storm begins.
First or third Attendant speaks:
Ullr is the God of Winter, hunting, archery, death, and skiing; son of Sif, step son of Thor, he is believed to be the husband of the Giantess Skadi. Skadi is a Goddess known to the winter realms, forever hunting animals with her bow and arrows on snowshoes or skis. Ullr is, also, known to be the lover of Frigga and was regarded the next important god after Odin, but he never gained much popularity because of the frigid season in which he is associated. Some versions of Norse mythology tell how each year Ullr is forced to spend some months in Hel, so that Odin, in his character as the God of the Summer, can govern the weather. The Aurora Borealis was believed to be Ullr performing a visual display.
Godi gives each celebrant a candle and an Isa rune to hold. Attendant follows the Godi in sunwise direction, lighting each candle, saying:
I give you the blessing of Ullr and the light of Balder.
With all focusing thought to their personal candle flame, Godi lights a candle at the altar and turns toward the circle saying:
Energy in the form of fire is an essential tool in the development of numerous arts. It dwells in many things, quiescent, waiting. Myth often describes it as a spiritual being of a sort which was once difficult to evoke. Our Gods and Goddesses have provided us with the gift of fire and to this we are ever thankful. The reigns of fire stretch out in every way to the unfashioned soul. When thou seest a sacred fire, without form, shining flashingly through the depth of the world. Hear the voice of fire.
Holding sword vertically with both hands on under the hilt, pointing downward, Godi speaks:
Ancient God of the Vanir –
We honor your return through the Winter season
Know the importance of your essential task,
Through your reign
Midgard finds rest and regeneration.
With death comes rebirth and life.
Cleanse both earth and sky
In your gleaming blanket of whiteness and purity.
Son of beautiful Goddess Sif,
We welcome your stay in Midgard –
As Odin rides the crisp night sky,
We await the rising light of Baldur’s return,
That we may replenish our crops
And behold the wonder and radiant beauty of life.
The world lies cradled in the hands of our Gods,
As it is they who created it.
In your shining forth,
In your going to rest,
Thou art life’s frame of time;
It is through you that we have our being,
We celebrate you
In this Winter Night blot,
Sustain us with your light and life
Through this Winter season.
Godi returns to the altar with ceremonial mead horn and evergreen sprig. Godi dips sprig into the mead and lightly sprinkles each celebrant moving around in a sunwise direction saying this blessing:
I give you the blessings of Odin and the Gods and Goddesses of Asgard.
After the anointing, Godi returns to altar and beats sejdr drum four times with two second intervals continuously until all candles and Isa runes are deposited.
A cauldron (or bucket) of water is placed in the circle. In a sunwise direction each celebrant comes forth to extinguish his or her candle and make a silent wish. The Isa rune is then dropped into an accompanying bowl.
Winter by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The frost is here,
The fuel is dear,
The woods are sear,
And fires burn clear,
And frost now here
And has bitten the heel of the going year.
Bite, frost bite!
You roll up away from the light
The blue wood-louse and the plump dormouse,
And the bees are still’d, and the flies are kill’d,
And you bite far into the heart of the house,
But not into mine.
Bite, frost bite!
The woods are all searer,
The fuel is all the dearer,
The fires are all the clearer,
My Spring is all the nearer,
You have bitten into the heart of the earth,
But not into mine.
Godi rings bell three times in five second intervals.
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 farewell. I hereby release any Spirits that may have been imprisoned by this ceremony. Depart now in peace to your abodes and habitations. The blót is now ended, let the sumbel begin.