Winternights Ritual

We started the day by starting a fire and processing acorns. All of them foraged from a fair size oak near one of Coventry’s parks. Sitting by the flames and going about the meditative work, freed my mind to ponder what how my ancestors used to live, and hunter-gatherer clans, when almost nothing was so openly available. Everything would have to have be foraged or killed for a proper meal. The slow, passive work is something that could have been done at any time of the day, during a storm or at night when other physical activity was impractical. I went out to a nearby stream for the leeching process, and made efforts to be more in tune with the more un-urbanized settings. Being temporarily in a city, the focus on spirituality, and ritual seem to diminish in exchange for mundane routine and responsibilities. I performed a hardy workout in the woods to commemorate the hyper masculine season of the hunting moon, and the coming hard times of winter.

Old Norse vetrnætr or winter nights was a  time of year in medieval Scandinavia marking a transition of a time of plenty to a time of ration and sustenance. Sacrifices were performed to the gods for the coming winter.

from wikipdia and the sagas
“Þá skyldi blóta í móti vetri til árs, en at miðjum vetri blóta til gróðrar, hit þriðja at sumri, þat var sigrblót”
There should be a sacrifice at the beginning of winter for a good year, and at in the middle of winter for a good crop, the third in summer day, that was the sacrifice for victory.
Specific sacrifices held at the beginning of winter during the Old Norse period were álfablót and dísablót. Of these, dísablót came to be a public sacrifice, according to the Ynglinga saga performed by the king of Sweden; it may, however, at an earlier time have been a sacrifice reserved for women and performed by priestesses (c.f. mōdraniht). By contrast, álfablót was a sacrifice held at each homestead separately for the local spirits, under the explicit exclusion of any strangers.The meat I wanted to use originally was rabbit, but because most of the farmers do not want the hassle to take the game anymore, I was able to pick up venison meat and sheep hearts, both of which I have never tried before. I used these for their dark cooked flesh, and strong flavor. The buck/stag symbolizes the hardiness through the winter, the quintessential animal of the hunt, and the masculinity of fauna. Despite being stalked by predators like coyotes and wolves, and man for that matter, they are quick to evade and are prime survivors in northern landscapes. They don’t hibernate, and even though they must ration for the available forage, and the biting cold, they manage to survive. The fur of the winter deer becomes thicker, and they learn to alter their diet slightly to cope, and better their woodland hideouts. The sheep heart is the tamer, domestic animal. By taking of the heart flesh, cooked and eaten primitively. My inner wolf which devours the tendency towards mildness and weakness. The wolf toughens itself up for the winter, and thrives in the cold season, when domesticated animals like the sheep/lamb must be kept indoors.I used the runes of Elhaz (protection), Isa (snow and ice), Uruz (Ullr’s primal skills and brute strength), Jera (passing of climactic cycle), Kaunaz (flame and sacrifice) which being vegetarian was one of the most powerful runes I galdored this night, the meat was taken as a privelage) Naudir (nauthfyre, and resources needed during winter), Ingwaz (sacred animal meat/spirit from Ing, and the inverted Algir (organic death cycle and hunt).

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Offerings were made to the Disir, Frigga and Freyja for the successful forages, and harvest of the solar seasons. As they joined our feast and made frith amongst our company. As well to Thor and Ullr for their skills and primal actions, the will embodied in the winter of the mind. In honor of the troth, we hailed with mulled cider from horns, and partaken the eating of homemade acorn bread, from Ratatoskr’s store. Sitting around the fire waiting for the meat to cook was very special indeed. It took me to a mindset of how it would have been to eat, say during the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The men would boast of their hunt, and where they stalked the deer, and what finally brought it down. While the women who talk about their day in the village, and trade stories. Looking at the pictures in the flames, and anticipating their next meal as a community. In those cases it would likely have been an entire carcass or several small game to feed their clan. Then they would consume the food, along with whatever had been prepared in their shelters and the whole meal would have taken on a ritual quality to it. I think this is almost entirely missing in contemporary society, and people’s diet. There is no anticipation left for food, when you can buy anything at anytime of year from your nearest market. Most of which takes only minutes to prepare, with minimal effort, and has been so heavily processed that you are left hungry again afterwards. The food ritual has diminished into consumerism and instant satiation. This is one primary reason I try to make my food from scratch whenever physically possible. If I can’t afford something, I try to find it, If I can’t find it, then I can ask a friend if they have some of the ingredients and offer to share it.

The hunting moon was full on this hunt, and a fog was starting to veil it in the orange tinged sky. I was submerged in a light trance after the ritual listening to the frequencies of Animist and Halo Manash, and pulled ever further toward the earth. This was a special night spent in good company in the early morning hours. We feasted, and drank, and conversed and slept the night off in the tent.

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