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Miercinga Handbook on Heathenry


History of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry

The word Heathen comes from Old English hen, a word whose origin has been stated by scholars as being a native word related to Greek ethnos, or a gloss for Latin pagan "rural dweller" meaning "dweller on the heath." Regardless of its origin, it is the preferred term when speaking of the ancient pagan religion of the Saxons, Jutes, Angles, Frisians, Varni, and other Germanic invaders of what is now England. Together, these tribes once in England are known as the Anglo-Saxons, although no such unity was known until well after their conversion. Anglo-Saxon Heathenry's ancestry rests in the tribal religions of the Germanic peoples on the North and Baltic Sea shores of Europe. The Germanic peoples came from peoples who settled in extreme Northern Europe, and spoke a language that was a fusion of an Indo-European tongue, and the language of the Northern Megalithic culture (a culture related perhaps to the builders of Stonehenge). These two cultures, the Indo-European, and Northern Megalithic met and fused in Northern Europe sometime around 1200 BCE. The tribes that resulted from this fusion remained in a core area that is modern Denmark, Southern Norway, Southern Sweden, and Northern Germany until about 500 BCE when they started expanding into areas formerly held by the Celts, Balts, and Illyrians. Rock carvings in the core area dating from 4000 BCE to 500 BCE portray many symbols later connected to the Germanic tribal religions. Ships, sun wheels, wains and other pictures all show some continuality of religious belief. Archaelogical finds dating from 1700 BCE to 500 BCE such as the Sun Chariot from Trundholm also confirm this. The first mention of a Germanic tribe is crica 230 BCE when the Basternae migrated to the Black Sea, and came to the attention of Greek chroniclers. From 230 BCE, the Germanic tribes would come in increasing conflict with the Celts, Illyrians, and Romans, eventually swallowing up most of the Celtic and Illyrian territories in Central Europe. This was the beginnings of the Migration Era which lasted from about 375 BCE to 550 CE (although the Viking expeditions should be counted as a part of this as well), an era when nearly every Germanic tribe was actively on the move. Over population and a need for new farm lands sent the Germanic tribes in search of new lands. The invasion of Great Britain by the Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Frisians, and other Germanic tribes were amongst the last of the Great Migration. In the fifth century, an exodus of tribes took place to Great Britain. The Angles invaded Britain from the area of Schleswig-Holstein, and are mentioned by Tacitus in his writing Germania. The Jutes appear to have come from Jutland and the area near the mouth of the river Rhine. The Saxons, by this time had covered a wide area, but invaded Britain from what is now primarily Northern Germany. The Saxons were not just one tribe, but a confederation of smaller ones, and are not even mentioned by the Roman chroniclers until the second century when Ptolemy placed

them in the area of the Elbe River (an area once held by the Cimbri). What tribes composed the confederation is truly not known, though the Cimbri that remained in the North may have been among them as well as the Cherusci (other tribes that have been suggested as forming the confederation are the Avioni, Nuithoni, Reudigni, Suarini, and some of the Suebi). The Frisians came from what is now the Netherlands, and the Frisian coast of Germany. Other tribes such as the Varni, neighbors of the Angles, and the Geats of Sweden invaded Britain in smaller numbers. The religions of these tribes were related to the tribal religion of the Goths, and that of the Norse (whose myths are recorded in the two Eddas). Their Gods and Goddesses were Woden, Ing, Thunor, Frige, Eostre, Seaxnot and others whose names have been forever lost. Their common place of worship was in a grove (Old English hearg) or temple (Old English ealh). They held sacred feasts, and paid homage to their ancestors. Tacitus, writing in the first century, when the tribes were still on the continent of Europe, covered in some detail the worship of a goddess called Nerthus by the Angles and other tribes near them, and makes brief mention of other practices. Collectively we can refer to the religions of these tribes, once in what is now England, as Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, though in truth, there must have been some minor tribal variations in worship, customs, and beliefs. The remains of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry are few. Woden is mentioned in the "Nine Worts Galdor" of the Lacnunga, an Anglo-Saxon healer's manual surviving from the 8th century. unor is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry of 640 CE as killing the brother of the Christian Ermenred, king of Kent and his two sons. Ing is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, and there is the semi-heathen ritual the cer-Bot recorded in the Lacnunga as well. Such small mentions in the AngloSaxon literature as these, place names, and archaeological evidence are all that remains of ancient Anglo-Saxon Heathenry. The Anglo-Saxon invasion began about 449 CE when Hengest and Horsa landed in what is now Kent. Hired as mercenaries by the Celtic leader Vortigan, they came to take land promised them in return for defending the Celts from the Picts. Thus began the invasion of Great Britain by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. The Jutes came first with Hengest and Horsa, then the Saxons followed, and finally the Angles. Other tribes such as the Frisians would also invade in smaller numbers. By 519 the Saxons had established Wessex, Kent was established not long after the arrival of Hengest and Horse by the Jutes. Other kingdoms would be established later. For almost 50 years, the Germanic tribes in what is now England went unmolested by Christianity. They kept to the religion of their ancestors, and practiced rites as they had for eons. Then in 593 CE, Pope Gregory dispatched Augustine as a missionary to the Germanic tribes in England. He arrived in 597 CE on the Isle of Thanet, and started preaching to the Heathens. By 601 CE he convinced Ethelbert to destroy the Heathen temples and idols and repress Heathen worship. Missionaries were sent to the West Saxons. Kings would convert their kingdoms to Christianity, then their successors covert the kingdoms back to Heathenry, and folks would lapse back to the old religion when the Church was not looking. But this was the beginning of the end for Anglo-Saxon Heathenry. By 633 CE, the last great stand of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry was to begin. King Penda, Heathen king of Mercia sought to conquer the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Over the next 22 years Penda, the last great Heathen king in England killed the Christian kings Edwin, Oswald, Oswin, Ecgric, and Sigebert before he himself died at the battle of Winwd in 655 CE. In 685 CE, Cadwalla took the throne of Wessex to become the last Heathen king. In 686, the Isle of Wight, the last truly Heathen stronghold was

converted to Christianity, and King Cadwalla of Wessex converted to Christianity in 688 CE, baptized by the Pope in Rome. Thus was the end of ancient Anglo-Saxon Heathenry in England amongst the kings While the kings and ealdormen of the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity, it was not quite the same Christianity as was practiced in Rome. Christ was portrayed as a Germanic hero. Heathen charms were converted to Christian uses. Heathen rites were converted to Christianity. Symbel, ritualized drinking rounds continued to be practiced, with the toasts being Christianized. And the sacred feasts continued almost unchanged. Temples were converted to churches. "When Almighty God shall bring you to the most reverend Bishop Augustine, our brother, tell him what I have, after mature deliberation on the affairs of the English, determined upon, namely, that the temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed, but let the idols that are in them be destroyed; let holy water be made and sprinkled in the said temples - let altars be erected, and relics placed. For if those temples are well built, it is requisite that the be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the true God; that the nation, seeing that their temples are not destroyed, may remove error from their hearts and, knowing and adoring the true God, may the more familiarly resort to the places to which they have been accustomed....... And because they have been used to slaughter many oxen in the sacrifices to devils, some solemnity must be substituted for them on this account, as, for instance, that on the day of the dedication, or of the nativities of the holy martyrs whose relics are there deposited, they may build themselves huts of the boughs of trees about those churches which have been turned to that use from temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasting, no more offering beasts to the devil, but killing cattle to the praise of God in their eating, and returning thanks to the Giver of all things for their sustenance; to the end that, whilst some outward gratifications are permitted them, they may the more easily consent to thee inward consolations of the grace of God." (translation of The Letter to Mellitus of 601 taken from J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, Boston, 1905) For the common folk merely the names of the Gods changed. They continued to practice Heathenry in their homes, and throughout their lives. A long period of mixed faith continued long after the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. Perhaps until as late as the time of Cromwell, Heathen tradition, although not worship survived in many areas. Plows which had been blessed in the fields in Heathen times were brought into the Churches to be blessed in the spring. Christian festivals were celebrated with Heathen customs such as Maypole dancing, and the dead honored in funeral feasts as they had prior to the conversion. Even the Heathen gods were still being invoked in charms for healing as late as the 10th century. As late as the reign of King Canute in the 11th century, laws had to be enacted against Heathen practices. Modern Anglo-Saxon Heathenry can trace its history back to 1976, when Garman Lord of the Winland Rice of Theodish Belief first struck upon the idea of reconstructing the ancient Anglo-Saxon pagan religion. Shortly thereafter he formed a group known as the Witan Theod. Its intention was to bring back the worship of Woden. The Witan Theod survived until 1983, when after a period of inactivity, it ceased to exist. In 1989, Garman and former members of the Witan Theod formed the Winland Rice of

Theodish Belief. It is now the oldest surviving Anglo-Saxon pagan organization in existence. On June 21, 1996, the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht was formed by Swain Wodening, a member of the Winland Rice and Winifred Hodge a former member of the Rice. The Ealdriht's intention was to be a more democratic alternative to the Rice. On November 19, 2004 after operating for nearly eight and a half years, the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht was dissolved by its Witanagemt. It had become apparent that the Ealdriht's structure was unwieldy and that many of its concepts were outmoded. It was felt that regional groups centered more on specific tribal affiliations such as the Angles, Saxons, or Jutes would do more good. Noweanglia at that point decided to go on its own, while Middelfolc and rest Mel decided to to form the Miercinga Rce. Modern Anglo-Saxon Heathenry is not and cannot claim to be an authentic reconstruction of the ancient religion. The myths of its Gods it owes in a large part to the Norse Eddas and the Dane Saxo. Other beliefs have been reconstructed from comparison to the Icelandic sagas, and many of its traditions are drawn from later English folklore. Modern Anglo-Saxon Heathenry is therefore a synthesis of many Germanic traditions and beliefs that have been interpreted using the best scholarship in modern Germanic Heathenry. Despite this, it never can or will be the ancient religion. Still, what survived of the Anglo-Saxon Heathen beliefs is being followed by many in the Americas and Great Britain. And while it is not exactly as the ancient religion of the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles was, it captures the spirit and soul none the less.

What is Anglo-Saxon Eldright By Wynnefridh Hlaefdige Haligwaerstowes and Swain Ealdor Wodening

Thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht, or Anglo-Saxon Eldright, is a not for profit organization seeking to restore the values, beliefs, and virtues of ancient Anglo-Saxon paganism. We are structured as a confederation of "tribes," kindreds affliated with the Ealdriht and ran by the democratic vote of their entire voting membership. We view the tribe as extended family, a community of individuals sharing the same values and beliefs, and connected by friendship and oaths. The "tribe" in Asatru would equate to the local kindred of which one is a member. The Eldright seeks to understand and live the beliefs and values of Anglo-Saxon and other Germanic Heathens (pagans), bringing them forward into modern life. Though we focus strongly on the AngloSaxon strand of the Germanic Heathen tapestry, and our emphases may differ somewhat, our deities and most of our values and beliefs are held in common with other Heathen and Asatru organizations and groups. We follow the deities often called the Aesir and the Vanir, including among others Woden (Odin), Frige (Frigg), Thunor (Thor), Tiw (Tyr), Ing Frea (Freyr), and Freo (Freya). The word "Ealdriht" is key to understanding our society. "Riht" means "right," in both senses of the word: a "right" as a legally-supported privilege, and "right" in the sense of "morally right, proper, appropriate." Ealdrihtu are the common-law rights, customs and moral values (collectively called "thews") that belong to the people by ancient tradition and precedent: rights and customs that have been earned, established and held firm through many generations. Our forebears in many lands have fought and died for the sake of some or all of these rights throughout the centuries. The (successful) war of the English and Norman barons to regain some of their ancient rights, as spelled out in the Magna Carta (1217 C.E.), and the (unsuccessful) battles and revolts of the Heathen Saxons against the Christian Franks under Charlemagne (9th century C.E), are but two examples. We call our society and community the Eldright because of our respect and desire for the ancient and enduring customs, values and ways of our Heathen forebears, including their religious faith. We aim to adapt and reestablish these for ourselves, through our practice of this faith in the modern world. Among the things we most value is troth: a committed and enduring loyalty to our Holy Ones, to our forebears and the ancient wisdom they held, and to each other as companions along the Heathen way. Community and troth are essential to our way; they form the context or matrix within which our rights, customs and common values--our thews--can be understood, reestablished, and held firm to support the living of our Heathen lives today. We strengthen our practice of troth by the swearing of holy oaths and vows. Equally important amongst our virtues are those associated with family, child rearing, and care taking of the community as a whole. We feel family values are the essence of any healthy community. The Eldright is a tribal organization at its heart. Modern tribalism within Germanic Heathenry seeks to create groups that are more community minded and have a more solid common identity, extended

families so to speak. To many, a group that is more community minded may not necessarily be desirable. But to many in the Heathen community to have friends and family there, that you share a common bond with, that you can fall back on for support in your beliefs and in your daily life is felt needed. Tribalism does not sacrifice the identity of the individual to the group, anymore than a local kindred does, or those organizations with more modern corporate structures. If anything it does the opposite by allowing each full member of the tribal group more say in the day to day running of the organization. Germanic tribal society was democratic at its core, and in the tribal Althing, every man had a say and a vote. In keeping with such ancient Germanic customs, the Ealdriht is a democratic society. Each full member has a voice and a vote among us. The important decisions bearing on our life together are voted upon democratically during the quarterly maethelings (assemblies or Things) of the Motas and Maethels. It is the Motas and Maethels, our equivalent of the Asatru kindred that are the primary structures in the Ealdriht. They are what give us a sense of community and make us a tribal confederation. Maethels are made up of individuals, families, and Mots, and each Mot and Maethel is ran by its assembly and their elected leader. The leader of each Maethel represents it on the national assembly, the Witanagmot. In essence the Ealdriht is a confederation of small tribes, each governing its self and sending an elected spokesman to represent it to the national organization. Within the Eldright, there are three categories of membership. One is Freond, which does not require any oath and is rather like an associate or a "friend of the Eldright." One is the Leornere, the normal entry level which requires a period of apprenticeship and preparation for full membership. Finally, there is the category of full membership in the Eldright, where folk are considered permanent members and have full voting rights. Within the full membership we have three levels of membership; geburas, thegns, and gesithas. These arungs serve two primary purposes. One is to inspire and maintain our members' willingness to dedicate themselves to religious self-development, hard work, and taking responsibility for the wellbeing of our community as a whole. The arungs recognize and reward such willingness. The second is our belief that a structured society with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations for each member helps promote the long-term stability of our community, and encourages the development of frith (peace and good relationships) and troth among us, as it did in the past for our forebears. These levels are conferred upon each of us by democratic vote of our Maethels (social units), as we progress in selfdevelopment and service, and show willingness and ability to maintain a higher level of responsibility. Members are not required to progress to another rank, however, if they are satisfied where they are. Regardless, of how high a level a member may attain, they have no more say in the organization than the other full members. Everything is determined by the vote of the Maethels and the Witanagemot As can be seen by this discussion of some of our core values, we model ourselves not so much upon the image of the lone berserker or the stereotypical Viking hordes, but rather upon the ideal of the closelyknit, deeply-rooted, traditional Heathen community. This community is woven together by a web of common beliefs and values, mutual obligations, and abiding troth with our Holy Ones and with our 'land and folk': our Eldright. Anyone who follows the faith of the Germanic Heathen gods and goddesses, is

attracted to the Anglo-Saxon Heathen culture and its precursors, and holds to the same core values that our Eldright does, is eligible for membership with us. Families are welcomed and greatly valued among us; each of our children is considered a treasure of the Eldright and a stake in the future. We stand together in troth: we stand for our ancient and abiding right to follow the faith and ways of our elder kin, brought forward into today's world. This is what we are: The Anglo-Saxon Eldright.

Anglo-Saxon Eldright Society (Synopsis of Information from the Bylaws of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright)

Social Units: Our primary social units are called "Maethels," an Anglo-Saxon word related to the Old Saxon word "Madel." In elder times, Maethels were similar to the Icelandic Things: voting assemblies or councils of all free men of the community, who met to decide and pass judgement about any issues of importance to the community. In the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, our Maethels are indeed voting bodies, but they are also our primary social units--the building blocks of our society. Each full member of the Eldright must belong to one and only one Maethel. Members vote in their Maethels, and are promoted to their social levels by vote of their Maethels. Incoming members must be accepted by a Maethel which will sponsor and teach them, and promote their growth and wellbeing in the Eldright. The Maethel leaders, either Maethelgerefa (with a temporary term of leadership, renewable by vote) or Maethel Ealdor (elected permanent leader), are elected from the levels of the Gesiths or higher within each Maethel, and serve on the Witangemot, the governing council of the Eldright. Each Maethel leader votes on behalf of his or her Maethel, and the Maethel has the right to overrule its leader's vote in the Witangemot if this is deemed necessary. Other Maethel officers include the Heargweard (priest) if available, Hordere (Hoarder/Treasurer), Stigeweard (Steward), and any other offices a Maethel chooses to institute. All Maethel members are oathed to each other as trusted companions or gefere. Ideally, a Maethel is comprised of predominantly local people, who can physically gather and get to know one another face to face. However, our Eldright members are scattered across the country, and it is often not possible to have enough members in one place to form a Maethel locally. Thus, our Maethels include members who are geographically distant from one another. However, if there are a few Eldright folk available locally, even if they belong to different Maethels, they are encouraged to form a Mot or Moot--a local group--and get together on a regular basis. Though the Mots have leaders and officers, and are entitled to run their own internal affairs, all voting having to do with Maethels and with the Eldright as a whole takes place in the context of the Maethels, not the Mots. Both Mots and Maethels are seen as "tribes." The governing body of the Eldright as a whole is the Witangemot, the Eldright council. It is comprised of the leaders of all the Maethels, plus the Eldright's Thyle (the counsellor or rede-giver, who is also the educational coordinator) and the leader of Haligwaerstow, the Eldright's Priest Hall or Guild. The Witangemot and the whole voting body of the Eldright elects the leader of the Witangemot and the Eldright--the Eldright Ealdor. The Witangemot also appoints a Hoarder and Steward for the Eldright. The Eldright Ealdor appoints the Thyle, from among Eldright members of Gesith level or higher. The leader of Haligwaerstow is elected by the Priest Guild, from the membership of the highest level of the priesthood. Any Eldright member may take a complaint or problem to the Witangemot and have it addressed, if it cannot be resolved within one's Maethel. Most social units of the Eldright may form on

their own initiative, except for Maethels and Guilds: the establishment of a new Maethel or Guild, and its initial leader, must be approved by the Witangemot. Other social units include the Maegdhreds: family memberships in the Eldright. We are proud that well over half of our total Eldright membership is comprised of Maegdhreds! "Families" are defined as Eldright members who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, blood-oath, or fostering. Each Eldright member, whether a member of an Eldright family or not, has his or her own Heall or Hall--their personal residence. We encourage our members to name their Healls, and have banners or other symbols that represent their Healls, and also their Maegdhreds if they are a member of one. Finally, there are the Eldright Guilds, including the Priest Hall. The Guilds are independent social units, each focused on some defined area of skill, knowledge and service. They are answerable only to the Witangemot, and run their internal affairs according to their own charters that they develop, conferring their own guild levels according to their own standards. Any member of the Eldright may belong to any guild for which they are qualified, but must also continue to hold membership and responsibility in their own Maethels. To use an analogy, Eldright guild work corresponds to one's "professional work," while Maethel membership corresponds to one's responsibility to home and community life. Eldright Membership: Freondas are "associate" members or "friends of the Eldright." They are not required to give any oaths, do not have a vote, and are not eligible for levels within the Eldright. They do not belong as voting members of any Maethel, but may choose to be associated with a particular Maethel and/or Mot, with the agreement of said Maethel or Mot. They may also be non-voting members of Eldright Guilds, and are included in Eldright communications, discussions, religious observances, newsletters and so forth. Leorneres are the normal entry-level members of the Eldright. They are required to give a provisional oath of membership, and must be accepted by a Maethel, which then has the responsibility to help the Leornere prepare for full membership. Leorneres usually have one-half vote in all Maethel, Mot, and Eldright matters. When the Leorneres have successfully studied and passed exams as required by the Leornere curriculum, completed a "Leornere project" to demonstrate skill or knowledge in a Heathenrelated area of the Leornere's interest, and demonstrated their ability to follow basic Heathen thews (virtues and customary ways), their Maethel votes them into full membership in the Eldright. Leorneres may join Eldright Guilds, and may assist office-holders in the execution of their duties. The Leornere period is considered an apprenticeship, and offers both the Leornere and the Leornere's Maethel the opportunity to judge whether the Leornere and the Anglo-Saxon Eldright are compatible with each other. Leorneres are free to resign their membership at any time. Full members of the Eldright have successfully passed through the Leornere period, have been voted into their Maethels and Eldright levels, and have oathed to their Maethel. Eldright membership levels, or arungs, are based on each member's level of knowledge, skill, ability, adherence to Heathen thews and Eldright ways, their willingness to serve the Eldright community, and to take responsibility for its wellbeing. Overall, the arungs are a measure of the member's willingness and ability to support our Eldright community. The higher the arung, the greater the expectations and demands on the Eldright

member, both for Eldright responsibilities and for personal worth and self-development as a Heathen. However, there is no pressure for any Eldright member to advance to higher arungs if they do not wish to do so. Any member who is comfortable at the level of their present arung is welcome to stay at that level. But, each member must continue to live up to the expectations and responsibilities of whichever arung they hold. (These responsibilities are spelled out in more detail in The Bylaws of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright.) The arungs of full membership are as follows: Gebur, Thegn, Gesith, Eorl, Aetheling. (Please refer to the Bylaws for more detail about each arung.) Gebur and Thegn have a curriculum of study and other requirements in order to attain to those arungs. All arungs above Thegn are bestowed by the democratic vote of the Mathels. Certain officers are drawn only from certain arungs, though if folk from those arungs are unavailable or unable to take on the office, temporary office-holders may in some cases be drawn from lower arungs. Each arung has its own level of responsibilities and roles in the Eldright; all of them contribute in valuable ways. Even full, oathed members of the Eldright may resign their membership at any time. However, while one is a member of the Eldright, one is expected to adhere fully and generously to the terms of one's oaths, and to the expectations and duties associated with one's arung, whatever that happens to be. Relations with Other Heathens/Asatruar: Eldright members are welcome also to be members of other Heathen/Asatru organizations and groups, and otherwise become involved in the larger world of Heathenry, as long as there is no conflict with oaths sworn to the Eldright (conflicts are unlikely in most cases). Many of our members are active in other organizations as well, including local kindreds. We hope that in the years to come, the Eldright will have much of value to contribute to the larger Heathen world. We, in turn, benefit with much appreciation from the many contributions and achievements of other Heathen groups and individuals. Though we have our own "home garth" in our Eldright, our gates are well-oiled and there is much traffic to and fro between the Eldright and the rest of Heathenry: long may it be so! Our Vision: We believe that with the community we have developed, the Anglo-Saxon Eldright can balance the wisdom and benefits of ancient Heathen ways, on the one hand, with the circumstances and demands of modern life on the other. We hope that time will prove our society to be one which is closely-knit, stable but flexible. We aim to provide a supportive and meaningful context for the lifelong practice of Heathen faith and ways of life--not just for each of us as an individual, but for us all as the community of thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht. Wynnefridh Ingwealdfaestnes, Stigeweard thaes Angelseaxisce Ealdrihtes (22 August, 1997) Revised by Swain Ealdor Wodening, Ealdor thaes Angelseaxisce Ealdrihtes (28 November, 2000)

BY-LAWS OF THE ELDRIGHT: The Bylaws of The Anglo-Saxon Eldright

Article I: Name: The name of the organization shall be Thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht or The Anglo-Saxon Eldright. Article II: Purpose: The purpose of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright is to serve as a church for the Anglo-Saxon version of Germanic Heathenry, also known as Asatru or the Elder Troth. To achieve this purpose, the Anglo-Saxon Eldright may ordain clergy, establish educational institutions, and obtain buildings and property to use as worship facilities. The Anglo-Saxon Eldright is in the process of becoming a religious organization under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States of America as well as a corporation in the State of Missouri. Article III: Board of Directors: The Board of Directors, which shall be known as the Witangemot, shall consist of a representative of each Maethel within the organization (refer to Article V: Member Organizations) as well as the Priest Hall, known as Haligwaerstow. The Maethel leaders (the Maethelgerefas or Ealdors of each Maethel) represent their own Maethels in the Witangemot. In the case of Haligwaerstow, the representative is the Heah AEweweard or High Priest. In case there are not at least eight Maethels, the Witangemot may appoint members to its body from the membership at large, starting with the leaders of the guilds. The Witangemot shall meet quarterly. One of these meetings must be the annual meeting of the entire corporation, known as the Folkmoot. If distance precludes in-person meeting by all members, arrangements will be made for electronic mail or telephone discussions for members who cannot be present. The Witangemot shall be the governing body of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Witangemot may elect and remove Witangemot officers (see Article IV) as it sees fit and propose amending the Bylaws when needed. The Witangemot has the right to approve or reject the institution of new Maethels, to remove members for disciplinary reasons, or to bar individuals from membership altogether. Any member of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright may bring a matter before the Witangemot. Any matter brought to the attention of the Witangemot in writing must be voted on by the Witangemot at the next quarterly meeting. In case of emergencies, when the Witangemot cannot meet in one place, these votes may be submitted by mail or electronically within fourteen days of the call for a vote. The Heah AEweweard shall always cast the first vote. If a member of the Witangemot cannot be present, he or she may appoint another member of the Witangemot to serve as his or her proxy. All matters shall be

determined by a majority vote. In some matters, the vote of the entire membership of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright may be taken. Article IV: Officers: Eldright Ealdor/Theoden: The President of the Witangemot shall be called the Eldright Ealdor and be elected for the term of one year. Should the membership so desire, this office may have its term extended for the life of the Eldright Ealdor, in which case the title of the office then becomes Theoden (as defined under Article VI: Membership). The Eldright Ealdor shall see to the day to day operation of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, serving as its chief executive officer and presiding at all meetings of the Witangemot and of the entire Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Eldright Ealdor shall see that concerns of the membership are examined by the Witangemot, whether these concerns are expressed in the form of formal proposals or informal complaints, and provide guidance on how these concerns shall be met. The Eldright Ealdor shall be responsible for setting the agenda of all meetings of the Witanagemot. The Eldright Ealdor is elected by the entire membership at every annual meeting. The following membership levels are eligible for election to Eldright Ealdor: currently sitting Ealdors, currently sitting Maethelgerefas with at least two years of experience in office, Eorls, and AEthelings. If a sitting Ealdor or Maethelgerefa is elected as Eldright Ealdor, he or she may not continue as Maethel Ealdor or Maethelgerefa while holding the office of Eldright Ealdor. His or her Maethel must elect a substitute or replacement Maethel leader. In the event of the selection of a Theoden, the duties of the Eldright Ealdor will be taken on by the Theoden, and the office of Eldright Ealdor shall cease to exist. Hordere/Hoarder: The Hordere or Hoarder shall be the treasurer of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Hordere shall keep a record of all accounts and all financial transactions of the Witangemot, and maintain the bank account of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Hordere shall make an annual report on the financial standing of the national organization of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright at the annual meeting. The Hordere shall have no jurisdiction over the treasuries of the Maethels and other member organizations of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, but only over the national organization. The Hordere shall be elected by a majority vote of the Witangemot. Stigeweard/Steward: The Stigeweard or Steward shall serve as the secretary of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright and be elected by a majority vote of the Witangemot. The Steward shall keep the minutes of the Witangemot's meetings, and be responsible for membership records and related correspondence. The Steward shall serve as the primary networker or communication link for the membership of the AngloSaxon Eldright. Thyle: The Thyle shall serve as advisor to the Witangemot on matters of protocol and custom, both secular and religious, augmenting the duties of the Heah AEweweard. The Thyle shall be appointed by the Eldright Ealdor (or Theoden) from the ranks of the Gesiths, Eorls or AEthelings. The Thyle shall also be responsible for coordinating any and all of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright's educational programs for the general membership. The Thyle must be qualified as a scholar with expert knowledge of the ancient lore of the religion and culture, as well as the latest scholarly research and opinions, and must maintain upto-date expertise for the duration of his or her time in office.

Heah AEweweard: The Heah AEweweard or High Priest shall serve as the primary religious advisor of the Witangemot. The Heah AEweweard shall also lead Haligwaerstow (the Priest Hall), and shall be the most highly qualified member of Haligwaerstow, as validated by a vote of the members of Haligwaerstow. The Heah AEweweard shall lead Haligwaerstow in the development of materials for religious teaching, practices and liturgy for the general membership of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, and shall preside as chief religious leader at all meetings and religious ceremonies of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. With the Thyle, he or she shall coordinate programs of religious education for the general membership (adults and children) of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, as well as programs for clergy training. The Heah AEweweard shall provide, or coordinate the provision of, religious guidance and counseling for members of the AngloSaxon Eldright, as needed and requested. Article V: Member Organizations: Maethels: The Maethel is the only member organization that must be approved by the Witangemot. It must have three or more members and should have the following officers: a Maethelgerefa or Maethel Ealdor, elected by the general membership of the Maethel; a Hordere to keep the monies of the Maethel; and a clergy person ordained by Haligwaerstow. In the absence of ordained clergy or clergy in training within the membership of the Maethel, this requirement may be waived and the clergy duties performed by the Maethelgerefa or Maethel Ealdor until such time as clergy is available. A Maethel may create other offices as it sees fit, and maintain its own Bylaws, as long as such Bylaws do not contravene those of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright as a whole. A Maethel must celebrate the seasonal religious festivals recognized by Haligwaerstow, submit annual reports to the Witangemot, and may operate an Ealh (temple) or other church building or property dedicated to religious use. A Maethel must also observe certain traditions of the ancient Germanic Heathens, as recognized by the Thyle, Haligwaerstow, and the Witangemot. The Board of Directors of a Maethel is comprised of all its members holding full membership standing. A Maethel is free to confine itself to local membership, or to accept members geographically separate from one another, as it chooses. Full members of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright are required to belong to one, and only one, Maethel. Membership in a Maethel confers upon members their voting and other rights. Each Maethel is represented on the Witangemot by its Maethelgerefa or Maethel Ealdor. A Maethel must establish training programs for its new members, in coordination with the Thyle, and conduct regular examinations. Mot/Moot: A Mot or Moot is strictly a local organization. "Local members" are loosely defined as individuals who live close enough together to be able to gather for meetings on a monthly basis or more frequently, without undue hardship or inconvenience. Members of the same Mot may belong to different Maethels if they choose to do so. A Mot may have the same offices a Maethel does, if it so chooses, and/or create its own offices. It must be led by someone of at least the Thane level of membership standing (see Article VI: Membership). However, in the absence of anyone at the Thane level or higher, a Yeoman may establish and lead a Mot on a temporary basis until such time as he or she attains higher rank and thereby is eligible for official leadership, or a higher level member becomes available. The Board of Directors of a Mot consists of all its members holding full membership standing,

and may establish Bylaws of the Mot if they so desire, as long as the Bylaws do not contravene those of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. All full members may vote on Mot affairs, but the Mot itself is not a forum for voting on matters associated with the Maethels or with the Anglo-Saxon Eldright as a whole. Mots do not have representatives on the Witangemot, since each member of a Mot is also required to be a member of a Maethel and thus votes through the Maethel for Witangemot representation. Membership in a Mot is optional but strongly encouraged. Mots are encouraged to institute their own local customs, practices, emblems, and sacred sites, as ways of promoting and supporting their own solidarity. Heall/Hall: A Heall or Hall is the personal residence (of any size and nature, whether owned, rented, leased) of one or more members of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, along with any associated property. Whatever the membership level of each person may be in the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, within their own Hall the leader(s) of a household is the Lord/Lady of that Hall, responsible for the wellbeing of its indwellers and guests and the property itself. No other member of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright has authority over the Lord/Lady of a Hall in any matters pertaining to the wellbeing and management of the Hall. Halls are encouraged to establish their own sacred sites, emblems and other tokens of pride, distinction and "rootedness." A Hall may be dedicated to a specific patron deity. Maegdhred/Family Membership: A Maegdhred is formed of members of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright who are members of one family (nuclear or extended), related by blood, marriage or adoption, whether they live together or separately. (Members of one's family who are not members of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright are referred to as one's Maegdh.) Maegdhreds are encouraged to establish their own emblems, family customs, sacred sites, and other indicators of pride and loyalty to family and clan, and to choose a family leader or spokesperson (normally the eldest member of the Maeghdred) as their representative for formal occasions of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. Heored: A Heored is formed of persons with full membership standing in the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, of theYeoman level or higher, who have chosen to take a personal oath of loyalty to another higherranking member as their leader. The leader of a Heored must be of the Thegn level of membership or higher, and is known as the Dryhten, Frea or Freo of the Heored. No member of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, of whatever level of membership, is required or pressured to join a Heored; this is entirely a matter of personal choice. All members of a Heored must belong to the same Maethel, so as to avoid conflicts of loyalty. (Members may change their affiliation from one Maethel to another, if necessary, to conform with this requirement.) Article VI: Membership: Membership in the Anglo-Saxon Eldright is limited to those who believe in the Germanic Heathen gods and goddesses, hold the virtues of the ancient Germanic Heathens paramount, and believe in the concepts of wyrd and scyld. There shall be several levels of membership within the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, reflecting the various levels of achievement and commitment of the members as decided by their own Maethels. Anyone dedicated to the Germanic Heathen gods and goddesses is eligible for membership in the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, whether or not they are affiliated with a Maethel, but only those who belong to a Maethel are accorded

"full membership" status with all the privileges of membership, such as voting rights and ranks. Members at any level may resign from Eldright membership at any time, but are requested to follow the formal procedure for doing so. The resignation procedure will be provided by the individual's Maethel, as needed. Folgere/Follower: A Folgere or Follower is a dues-paying member of the national level of organization, but is not affiliated with any Maethel. A Folgere is entitled to attend national events of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, receive the magazine and/or newsletter published by the national organization, and be a nonvoting member of the Guilds of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. Folgere have no voting rights at any level within the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, nor may they earn Eldright ranks. Folgere may choose to join a Maethel, at which point their membership status will change pending approval of the Maethel. Laet: This is the entry level of membership in the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. All persons entering the AngloSaxon Eldright will enter at this level unless (a) they enter and remain at the Folgere level, or (b) the Witangemot or the Maethel accepting the incoming member waives this requirement and confers a different level of membership on them. The Laet shall formally agree to undertake religious training conducted by the Maethel he or she has joined, as well as making use of educational resources provided by the national level of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Laet shall furthermore agree to accept the duties and responsibilities of full membership in the Maethel, though not all privileges of membership are granted at this level. Laets may not formally hold any office, though they may, upon request, assist office holders. The Laet receives one-half vote in his or her Maethel and Mot, but may in some cases be barred from voting on specific issues that require more in-depth understanding of the workings of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. While Laets are expected to attend the seasonal blessings and rites of their Maethels and Mots, they are not eligible to perform certain roles in the worship ceremonies until they have risen to a higher level of membership. Laets must pay any membership fees required by their Maethel. The national level of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright may establish its own correspondence school, and any Laet who can show that he or she has passed all examinations or courses necessary to becoming a full member in the Eldright may not be barred from full membership, unless they fail to meet other criteria established by their own Maethel. No Laet may be voted into full membership until he or she feels personally ready for this commitment. As with every level of membership, a laet may resign Eldright membership at any time. The Laet level is understood to be a "trial period" of Eldright membership, with the understanding that mutual incompatibility may be recognized during this trial period, and this is allowed for in the simplicity of resignation procedures for Laets. Gebur/Yeoman/Ceorl/Ceorless/Goodman/Goodwife: A Yeoman is a full member who has been advanced to this level of membership by majority vote of his or her Maethel after having demonstrated his or her eligibility and maintained membership in good standing. Any of the titles listed above may be chosen by the member at this level. To advance to this level, a Yeoman shall have demonstrated basic knowledge of the lore as determined by his or her own Maethel, as well as some skill in a general area of need or interest helpful to the Maethel and/or the larger Heathen community. The Yeoman must have shown him or herself to be capable of keeping the virtues of Germanic Heathenry. Yeomen may hold certain offices within their own Mot and Maethel, but may not hold those of Thyle, Maethelgerefa, or Maethel Ealdor, nor any office at the national level. The Yeoman receives a full vote in all Maethel and

Mot affairs, and may vote for the Eldright Ealdor and for members to be appointed to the level of AEtheling. Yeoman are expected to make regular donations to their own Maethel and are expected to attend the seasonal blessings of the Maethel and Mot. (If distance precludes attendance at Maethel blessings, arrangements should be made for observing the blessings simultaneously from different locations, using the same rites.) A Yeoman may become a member of a Heored and/or a Mot if he or she so chooses, but may not lead either of these bodies. (In the absence of anyone at a higher membership level, a Yeoman may establish and lead a Mot on a temporary basis until such time as he or she attains higher rank and thereby is eligible for official leadership, or a higher level member becomes available. A Heored may not under any circumstances be led by anyone lower than the Thane level.) There is no requirement for any Yeoman to advance to another level of membership if he or she does not desire to do so; Yeomen may remain indefinitely at this level of membership they wish. If the Yeoman does choose to advance to the next level of membership, this requires the majority vote of his or her Maethel, after the Yeoman has demonstrated the abilities and knowledge necessary to proceed to the next level of membership. Thegn/Thygen/Thane: A Thane is a full member who has been advanced to this level of membership by majority vote of his or her own Maethel after having demonstrated his or her eligibility and maintained membership in good standing. To advance to this level, a Thane must have demonstrated an intermediate level of knowledge of the lore, as determined by his or her own Maethel, as well as an intermediate level of skill in one or more areas of need or interest to the Maethel and/or the Heathen community as a whole. A Thane must be exemplary in the virtues of Germanic Heathenry. He or she may hold any office in his or her own Maethel and Mot except for those of Thyle, Maethelgerefa, or Maethel Ealdor, and may hold any office at the national level except for those of Thyle, Eldright Ealdor and Theoden. Thanes have a full vote in all matters within their own Maethel and Mot, and may vote for the Eldright Ealdor and for members to be appointed to the AEtheling level. Thanes are expected to make regular donations to their own Maethel, are expected to attend the seasonal blessings of the Maethel, and may be required to assist in the planning and carrying out of the ceremonies. (If distance precludes attendance at Maethel blessings, arrangements should be made for observing the blessings simultaneously from different locations, using the same rites.) Thanes are expected to undertake a significant amount of responsibility toward their Maethel, in terms of holding office, accepting delegated duties from the Maethel's Ealdor, and/or undertaking other necessary tasks for the running and furtherance of their Maethel. Thanes may establish and lead Mots and Heoreds, and/or be members of Mots or Heoreds led by others. There is no requirement for any Thane to advance to another level of membership if he or she does not desire to do so; each Thane may remain indefinitely at this level of membership they wish. If the Thane does choose to advance to the next level of membership, this requires the majority vote of his or her Maethel, after the Thane has demonstrated the abilities and knowledge necessary to proceed to the next level of membership. Gesith/Hlaford/Hlaefdige/Lord/Lady: A Gesith is a full member who has been advanced to this level of membership by majority vote of his or her own Maethel after having demonstrated his or her eligibility and maintained membership in good standing. A member at this level may choose any of the titles listed above. To advance to this level, a Gesith must have demonstrated an advanced level of knowledge of

the lore, as determined by his or her own Maethel and by the Witangemot, Thyle, or national Eldright standards, as well as demonstrating expert skill in one or more areas of need or interest to the Maethel and/or the Heathen community as a whole. A Gesith must be exemplary in the virtues of Germanic Heathenry. He or she must be fully cognizant of the law, custom, religious and social tenets, practices, rituals and ceremonies of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. A Gesith must be able to perform the basic religious rites of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, even if not an ordained clergy person or member of Haligwaerstow. A Gesith is required to fulfill significant duties and responsibilities toward his or her Maethel. These duties may include, but are not limited to, the education of other members of the Maethel, assisting the Maethelgerefa or Maethel Ealdor in the performance of the seasonal blessings and other priestly functions in the absence of a clergy member, and holding any of the offices at the Maethel level. The Maethel may add other reasonable duties and expectations as it sees fit. The Gesith is eligible for any office at the national level except for those of Eldright Ealdor and Theoden. Gesiths have a full vote in all matters within their own Maethel and Mot, and may vote for the Eldright Ealdor and for members to be appointed to the AEtheling level. Gesiths are expected to make regular donations to their own Maethel, to attend the seasonal blessings of the Maethel, and may be required to preside at or assist in the planning and carrying out of the ceremonies. (If distance precludes attendance at the ceremonies, arrangements must be made for simultaneous celebration of the blessings at different locations, using the same rites.) Gesiths may also be delegated specific duties by their Maethel Ealdor, or by the Witangemot through the Maethel Ealdor. Gesiths are subject to the decisions of the Maethel's voting body as a whole, just as are all other members of that Maethel. Gesiths are eligible to found new Maethels when so approved by the Witangemot, and may also found and lead Mots and Heoreds, and/or be members of Mots or Heoreds led by others. Maethelgerefa: A Maethelgerefa is a Gesith who has been elected to leadership of a Maethel for a specified period of time, usually one year. A Gesith is not eligible to be Maethelgerefa until he or she has been a Gesith for at least two years and has demonstrated outstanding abilities, knowledge and leadership. A Gesith is not required to accept election to Maethelgerefa if he or she chooses not to, nor is he or she required to continue to hold the position if it is no longer desired. The Maethelgerefa may be removed from office by the voting body of his or her Maethel, if necessary, at any time. The Maethelgerefa's duties are the same as those described under the following section about Ealdors. Ealdor/Ealdorman: An Ealdor is a Maethelgerefa who has been elected to permanent leadership of a Maethel by majority vote of its members. Each Maethel may choose whether the election for their Maethel leader is to take place periodically (in which case they will always be led by a Maethelgerefa) or whether (and when) they will elect an Ealdor to permanent leadership. A person must serve at least two years as a Maethelgerefa before he or she is eligible for election to Ealdor. The Ealdor is oathed in service to his or her Maethel and is required to take responsibility for the leadership, wellbeing and furtherance of the Maethel and its membership. In the absence of a clergy member, the Ealdor must perform or lead the performance of the religious functions necessary to the Maethel, including the seasonal blessings. The Ealdor is responsible for ensuring that all the offices and functions of the Maethel are properly filled and performed, and if they are not, he or she is to take responsibility for the missing tasks and duties (either directly or by delegation) until the voting body of the Maethel can take

steps to correct the situation. The Ealdor must ensure that new members of the Maethel have access to training and educational resources and programs, and that regular examinations are conducted, all in coordination with the Thyle. The Ealdor is also the primary member responsible for ensuring that frith is held within the Maethel, and for leading or coordinating the re-establishment of frith if it has been broken. However, any disciplinary actions taken by the Ealdor must be ratified (or nullified) by the Maethel's voting body within two weeks of such action. The Ealdor represents his or her Maethel in the Witangemot, is eligible for any office except Theoden, and may perform other tasks and duties at the national level of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Maethel Ealdor is always answerable to his or her own Maethel and may have his or her vote in the Witangemot overruled by the Maethel. He or she is held responsible for ensuring good communication and understanding between the Witangemot (national) level of organization and his or her own Maethel. The Ealdor may be removed from office by the voting body of his or her Maethel, if necessary, at any time. He or she must work cooperatively with the membership of the Maethel, and is subject to the decisions of the voting body of the Maethel as are all other members. The Maethel Ealdor has the same personal voting privileges as each member of the Maethel: one vote in the Maethel, and a vote for Eldright Ealdor and for members to be appointed to the AEtheling level of membership. In addition, each Maethel Ealdor has one vote in the Witangemot, as representative of his or her Maethel. The specific duties and "vision" of Maethel leadership, beyond what is outlined in the Bylaws, are to be worked out individually between each Maethel and its own Ealdor. The Ealdor's powers of leadership, consistent with traditional Germanic Heathen custom, come less from his or her social status or formal organizational powers than from the Ealdor's own personal qualities of leadership, ability, commitment, vision, example, and his or her ability to earn the trust and respect of the Maethel. An Ealdor may lead a Heored, but may not be a member of a Heored led by another. (Strictly speaking, Ealdor is not a membership level, but an office with membership level requirements. If a member leaves the position of Ealdor, he or she retains the membership level of Gesith, Eorl, or AEtheling if so elected.) Eorl: This is a special rank that may be conferred on Maethel Ealdors if they choose to "retire" from their position as Maethel Ealdor after good service. The Ealdor's Maethel will vote the "retiring" Ealdor into the membership level of Eorl if it chooses to do so. Eorls are still expected to provide significant service to their Maethels, and continue with membership responsibilities, at a level similar to that expected of Gesiths. AEtheling: AEthelings are members of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright who have been deemed capable of being Theoden by a majority vote of the Witangemot and the entire voting membership of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. To become an AEtheling, a Gesith must have served a total of at least three years as Maethelgerefa or Maethel Ealdor, and have demonstrated during that time an outstanding level of ability, commitment and leadership. AEthelings must be exemplary in their adherence to Germanic Heathen virtues and in their ongoing personal development with respect to religious practice, lore, skills and abilities. AEthelings are in service to the national level of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright in any way needed. They are expected to assist and support in the establishment of other tribal Eldrights, whenever it is desired to establish such bodies, and support ongoing good relations among the Eldrights, including sitting on a coordinating body similar in function to the Witangemot, if such a body is established among

all the Eldrights. AEthelings are the first choice for any representational or diplomatic offices or tasks that might be needed by the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, with respect to other Eldrights and other Heathen and non-Heathen organizations. If it is decided by vote of the entire membership of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright that an office of Theoden is desired, the Theoden will be elected from the AEtheling members by at least a three quarters vote of the Witangemot and the whole Anglo-Saxon Eldright membership. AEthelings have the same voting rights as all full Eldright members. It is recommended that anyone intending to found another tribal Eldright first achieve the rank of AEtheling before undertaking this establishment. An AEtheling may lead a Heored but may not be a member of a Heored led by another. Theoden: The office of Theoden is not yet established. If it is decided by vote of the entire membership of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright that an office of Theoden is desired, the Theoden will be elected from the pool of AEtheling members by at least a three quarters vote of the Witangemot and of the full AngloSaxon Eldright membership. There may only be one Theoden, who serves for life unless removed by vote of the Witangemot and the entire Anglo-Saxon Eldright. The Theoden would replace the Eldright Ealdor and assume the duties of that office. Any additional duties, responsibilities, rights and limitations of the office of Theoden would be established by the Witangemot prior to the election of the Theoden, based on the Germanic Heathen lore. Actions and decisions of the Witangemot would always take precedence over those of the Theoden, if there is ever a conflict between them. Article VII: Guilds: Guilds are essential social units of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, providing the training, standards of quality, and "professional" context for all of the arts, crafts, lore, and other specialized needs and skills of the Eldright, such as priestcraft and galdorcraft. Guilds cut across the structure of Mot-Maethel-Eldright, so that any person from any social unit, including from a different Eldright, is eligible for any Guild if he or she qualifies in terms of abilities and interests. Folgere of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright are eligible to join Guilds, if qualified, but do not have voting rights within the Guilds. Each full member of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright must maintain their loyalty and responsibilities toward their own Maethel, in addition to any Guild loyalties and responsibilities they may undertake. Eldright members are not required to join any Guilds, but it should be noted that the qualifications of skill and lore for the higher membership levels (Thane and above) may be difficult to achieve without involvement in one or more Guilds. Guilds are independent organizations and are not under the jurisdiction of Maethels. Individual members of Guilds are under the jurisdiction of their own Maethels, but Maethel governance has no say over internal procedures and actions of the Guilds. In the case of any conflict of interest arising from this situation, the Witangemot is responsible for mediating and resolving the issues. Guilds will establish and administer their own voting procedures, hierarchies of membership/rank (which need not be the same as the Eldright membership levels), qualifications and standards for membership and ranks. Guilds may require oaths from their members, but the oaths may not conflict with other oaths required by the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. Guilds should be established and led by persons of Gesith rank or higher, unless no one of that rank is available. In this case, a person of lower rank may establish/lead the Guild temporarily, until such time as someone of appropriate rank is available or that person is advanced to the appropriate rank and may take the position permanently if so voted. In the absence of Guilds for

specific areas of expertise within the Eldright, Eldright members may be referred to guilds or similar organizations outside the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, that can provide suitable training. Article VIII: Amending the Bylaws: These Bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the full members of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright. All proposed changes to the Bylaws must be submitted to the Witangemot in writing and published so that the entire membership of the Eldright may read them not less than three months after their submission. Voting on proposed amendments may be done at the annual meeting or by mailed ballot, and will be coordinated by the Witangemot. Amendments: Amendment I: The folowing shall be added to Article V: Member Organizations Section D Maegdhred/Family Membership: All members of a Maedhred may be considered for purpose of Ealdriht, at least Freondas of the Ealdriht as a whole. Dues paid by one member of the Maedhred count as payment of dues by all members of it. Amendment II: The section on the Thyle of Article IV of the By Laws of the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht shall now read: Heah Thyle: The Heah Thyle shall serve as advisor to the Witangemot on matters of protocol and custom, both secular and religious, augmenting the duties of the Heah AEweweard. The Heah Thyle shall also lead the Weohad (the Thyles Gild), and shall be the most highly qualified member of the Weohad, as validated by a vote of the members of the Weohad. The Heah Thyle is the Thyles Gld's representative on the Witanagemot and has full voting rights. The Heah Thyle shall also be responsible for coordinating any and all of the Anglo-Saxon Eldright's educational programs for the general membership. The Heah Thyle must be qualified as a scholar with expert knowledge of the ancient lore of the religion and culture, as well as the latest scholarly research and opinions, and must maintain up-to-date expertise for the duration of his or her time in office. Amendment III: "Article V: Member organizations", Section B (Mot/Moot) shall be as follows: "It must be lead by someone of at least the Gebur level of membership standing (see Article VI: Membership). However, in the absence of anyone at the Gebur level or higher, a Leornere may establish and lead a Mot on a temporary basis until such time a he or she attains higher rank and is thereby eligible for official leadership, or a higher level member becomes available. " Amendment IV: "Article VI: Membership Section D" shall be amended as follows:

"A Yeoman may become a member of a Heored and/or a Mot if he or she so chooses. A Yeoman may lead a Mot, but under no circumstances may a Heored be lead by anyone lower than the Thane level." Further: "A Yeoman may become a member of a Heored and/or a Mot if he or she so chooses, and may lead either of these bodies. In the absence of anyone at a higher membership level, a Yeoman may establish and lead a Maethel on a temporary basis until such time as he or she attains higher rank and thereby is eligible for official leadership, or a higher level member becomes available. " Amendment V: "Article VI: Membership Section E Thegn:" shall be amended as follows: "He or she may hold any office in his or her Maethel and Mot except for those of Thyle or Maethel Ealdor, and may hold any office at the national level except for those of Thyle, Eldright Ealdor and Theoden." Further Article VI: Membership Section F Maethelgerefa" shall be: "A Maethelgerefa is at least a thegn who has been elected to leadership of a Maethel for a specified period of time, usually one year. A thegn is not eligible to be Maethelgerefa until he or she has been a member for at least two years and has demonstrated outstanding abilities, knowledge and leadership. A thegn is not required to accept election to Maethelgerefa if he or she chooses not to, nor is he or she required to continue to hold the position if it is no longer desired. The Maethelgerefa may be removed from office by the voting body of his or her Maethel, if necessary, at any time. The Maethelgerefa's duties are the same as those described under the following section about Ealdors." Amendment VI: "Article VI: Membership" shall be changed as follows: The title of Folgere is now Freond. The title of Laet is now Leornere or "Learner." The title of Gesitha is now limited to use of the terms Gesith, Hlaford, and Hlaefdige.

CURRICULA OF THE ELDRIGHT Leornere Larcue Course of Study for Leorneres of thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht

1. All of Swain's thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht Handbook. This will cover the basics of Cosmology, Wyrd, Scyld, Law/Ethics, Soul-Lore, Worship, and Thews, as well as summaries of Wightlore, Holy Tides, and Ritual. This book is up on the Eldright Webpage, so we suggest you copy it from there. If you need a hardcopy, please contact Jo Leckie to send you one. Exam: Around 2-3 pages essay outlining what you consider to be the important points, and your own thoughts and comments about them. 2. Tony Linsell, Anglo-Saxon Mythology, Migration, and Magic. Pages 13-14, 18-50, 122-138, 146-152. This will cover the basics of Anglo-Saxon history and culture, some beliefs, cosmology, runelore, practices, and the liturgical year. Alternative: Branston's "Lost Gods of England" This is THE classic work on Anglo-Saxon Heathendom. It is a little out of date now, but still does very well for beginners, and is available on inter-library loan nearly everywhere. Exam: Around 2-3 pages essay outlining what you consider to be the important points, and your own thoughts and comments about them. 3. Either "Our Troth," by The Ring of Troth, Teutonic Religion by Kveldulf Gundarsson, or "A Book of Troth" by Edred Thorsson. Read the chapters or sections on the following topics: Tiw, Woden, Frige, Thunor, Ing Frea (Freyr), Freo (Freya), Nerthus, the Wyrdae/Norns, and Chapters 22-24 in Our Troth, or Chapter 6 in Teutonic Religion, about the various wights and forebears. You can also read "True Hearth" by James Chisholm, pages 3-6 and 16-22, about the forebears and wights. "Our Troth" is available from the Ring of Troth Website at www.netusa.net/~jmr/troth.html. You should be able to order Teutonic Religion from most bookstores if you don't have it. The publisher is Llewellyn. "True Hearth" is available from Runa-Raven Press. Exam: Write a paragraph about each major deity and each major category of wights, telling what they mean to you and/or what more you wish to learn about them and how you do or wish to interact and relate with them. 4. Wynnefridh's chapter on "Oaths: What they Mean and Why they Matter."

Exam: Write a brief summary of the essential elements of oaths, and add any comments or thoughts of your own on this topic. (About 1 page) 5. Wynnefridh's chapters, (1) "On the Meaning of Frith," and (2) "Frith as the Foundation of Eldright Community." Exam: Write a summary of the elements of frith, and add your own thoughts as well, especially with respect to applying frith within the Eldright. This is an important topic! 1-2 pages. 6. Finally, each Laet should complete a Laet Project, under the direction of Swain or Wynnefridh. The project is intended to get you started in some area in which you are interested in building your expertise, or else give you the opportunity to further your expertise in some area you have already started pursuing. The expertise you wish to pursue could include lore about some specific topic, a craft or skill, one of the arts such as galdoring or religious drama, runelore, spaecraft, or whatever you are interested in that is relevant to the practice of Heathenism and a Heathen-oriented life. Check in the writeup you were sent recently entitled Haligwaerstow Larcuthe, on the last page, for more ideas about specialized areas of expertise that you might like to pursue. In most cases, depending on the topic, we hope you will produce something that can be demonstrated to the Eldright and/or be useful to the Eldright, such as an article for publication, a tape of songs or drama (or a live performance whenever we can get together!), some poetry, a craft item (including consumables like beer or mead!) that could be shown and used during Eldright gatherings or other Heathen gatherings, a demonstration of spaeworking, and so forth. In other words, your project should, if possible, result in a tangible product or a demonstration. Exam: a demonstration or product resulting from your project, as arranged with Swain or Wynnefridh-whoever is directing you. Topics that are Covered in the Laet Curriculum Basic-level lore in: Anglo-Saxon History and Culture Godlore Wightlore Soul-Lore Beliefs, Customs and Practices Holy Tides and the LiturgicalYear The Purposes of Ritual and Ceremony Eldright Liturgy

Topic or Skill of Individual Interest, pursued through the Laet Project. Examinations: For each study topic listed above, you are asked to summarize the points you consider to be most important from the reading you have done, and in addition, add your own thoughts and comments about these important points. You are encouraged to bring any knowledge you may have about these topics, from other sources, into your discussions. We prefer that you take your exams in writing. However, if there is a problem for you in doing it this way, please contact Swain and Wynnefridh, and we will arrange a spoken (oral) exam for you. "Credit" for Work Already Done: If you have already read other material that covers the same topics listed above, please contact Swain and Wynnefridh to discuss replacing the required reading assignments with the reading you have already done. You will still be expected to take the exams.

Gebur Larcue: Geburas who wish to remain in the Gebur arung do not need to undertake the following course of study, though it is expected that they generally continue to grow and improve themselves as good Heathens and citizens of the Ealdriht. Those Geburas who do wish to advance to the arung of Thegn should undertake the following Larcuthe. There are three sections to the Gebur Larcuthe. The first section on Study covers the required knowledge about history, lore, culture, religion and so forth. The second section on the Gebur Project challenges the Gebur to develop his or her skill and knowledge in some area of craft or other personal interest related to Heathen life. The third section on Ealdriht Service calls the Gebur to civil service to the Ealdriht in any of a number of needed ways. Geburas should choose one section and complete it. In addition, each Gebur must choose one of these three areas: Study, Project, or Service, in which to undertake an additional effort, above and beyond the standard requirements. Thus, to complete the Larcuthe, each Gebur must complete all one of the three areas of standard requirements of Study, Project, or Service, and in addition do one extra effort focusing on one of these three areas. These extra efforts are described below in the sections entitled "Study Focus," "Project Focus," and "Service Focus. Section I. Study Requirements A. Standard course of study to advance to Thegn. 1. Vilhelm Gronbech's Culture of the Teutons.

Read two chapters of this book. Try to concentrate on frith, the rites, and beliefs on the family and kindred. Pay especial attention to Gronbech's stress on the importance of the community to the ancient Heathens. Exam: Around 2-3 pages essay outlining what you consider to be the important points, and your own thoughts and comments about them. 2. Paul Bauschatz, The Well and the Tree. This is the work on Wyrd, and serves as the basis for most of modern Asatru's beliefs on the concept. Read chapter one. Exam: Around 2-3 pages essay outlining what you consider to be the important points, and your own thoughts and comments about them. 3. Pick 3 readings from the following works about history and culture: a. Anglo-Saxon History and Culture i. C.J. Arnold An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms You will have to get copies of the relevant portions of this book from Swain or Wynnefridh. ii. Martyn Whittock Origins of England Select 2 to 3 chapters yourself to read, but try to concetrate on the opening chapters. iii.Willaim Chaney The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England Select 2 to 3 chapters to read on a specific topic. iv. G. Lieberman The National Assembly in Anglo-Saxon England This is a very short book so try to read the whole thing. b. "Non-Anglo-Saxon History and Culture. Students may replace their reading from subsection 3a, above, with 3 of the following: i. Kirsten Hastrup Culture and History in Medieval Iceland Select 2 to 3 chapters yourself to read. ii. Justine Davis RandersBarbarians and Romans : The Birth Struggle of Europe, A.D. 400-700 Select 2 to 3 chapters yourself to read.

iii. P. J. HeatherThe Goths (Peoples of Europe) Read the first two chapters. iv. Neil ChristieThe Lombards (Peoples of Europe) Read the first two chapters. v. Other historical reference(s) that relate to other Germanic tribes, to be arranged with Swain and Wynnefridh. Exam: Around 2-3 pages essay outlining what you consider to be the important points, and your own thoughts and comments about them. 4. Jacob Grimm's Teutonic Mythology. The first great work on ancient Heathen belief, you can find this book most commonly in the English Stallybrass translation. You are not expected to read all four volumes. Use the index to choose a few topics of interest to you and to locate information about these topics. You should read at least 20 pages of the text while researching your chosen topic. If you need to get a copy of these books, contact our Publications Coordinator Hluwiga to obtain a photocopy. Exam: Write about one page on each of the topics you have chosen, presenting the information you learned from your research as a "mini-article" which could be used in a newsletter or other publication. 5. Design a simple rite to the gods for individual usage. This could be a daily prayer, a one time blot, or even a hymn of praise. Exam: Write a short description of the rite and why you chose the elements you did! 1-2 pages. 6.Study Old English terms and phrases used by the Ealdriht. Know their meaning and proper usage. A list of terms will be made available at some point. Those truly bold of heart may wish to undertake a study of Old Norse, Old Saxon, or Old Enlgish Exam: Be able to remember and define the terms and ritual phrases when tested. B. Study Focus

Those Geburas who wish to focus on study as their extra effort should first complete the study described in Section A above. Then they should choose an additional topic of study from the following: ritual, godlore, history, society and culture, folklore, mythology, language. Exam: Research a specific area of the topic and write a 20 page paper on the topic. Section II: Gebur Project A. Standard Project Requirement. 7. Each Gebur should complete a Gebur Project, under the direction of Swain or Wynnefridh. Like the Laet project this is to further you in some area in which you are interested in building your expertise, or else give you the opportunity to further your expertise in some area you have already started pursuing. The expertise you wish to pursue could include lore about some specific topic, a craft or skill, one of the arts such as galdoring or religious drama, runelore, spaecraft, or whatever you are interested in that is relevant to the practice of Heathenism and a Heathen-oriented life. Projects related to the Gebur's efforts in an Eldright Guild are welcome. It is entirely permissible to use a project to satisfy both Gebur requirements and the requirements of a Guild arung, at the same time. Exam: a demonstration or product resulting from your project, as arranged with Swain or Wynnefridh-whoever is directing you. B. Project Focus. Geburas who wish to focus on Project requirements as their additional effort should either undertake a more extensive and difficult project than is required as part of the standard Larcuthe, or else should undertake two projects in different topic areas. Suggested topic areas could include: singing, song writing, artistic performance, scopcraft, weaving, wood working, metal working, rune work, ritual work, and so forth. Contact Wynnefridh or Swain for suggestions. Projects related to the Gebur's efforts in an Eldright Guild are welcome. It is entirely permissible to use a project to satisfy both Gebur requirements and the requirements of a Guild arung, at the same time. Exam: : Be able to demonstrate or show your craft at the appointed time of testing, and explain what you did to learn it. Section III: Eldright Service. A. Standard Service.,

Each Gebur should undertake some kind of needed service to the Ealdriht. Examples of such service could include: planning and running a portion of the national Ealdriht gathering or a smaller local gathering, work on the Ealdriht websites, holding or assisting in an office of your Mot or Maethel, service to a guild, work on the journal, developing needed services for Ealdriht children, or other Ealdriht service. Swain and Wynnefridh should be consulted in the decision about your choice of service, along with any other Ealdriht members who should be involved in the decision. Since your service should naturally result in some visible effect on the life and functioning of the Ealdriht, there is no specific exam required for this section. Rather, at the time that your Maethel is considering your qualifications for advancement to Thegn, you should perform a boast (in person and/or by email or letter) about your accomplishments, to remind your fellow members of what you have done. B. Service Focus. Geburas who wish to put their extra effort toward Ealdriht service should undertake service that is above and beyond that which would normally be expected of Ealdriht Geburas. This could include taking full responsibility for an important Ealdriht office or function, performing more than one category of service, or otherwise accomplishing some extensive, difficult and valuable task or role for the Ealdriht. Swain and Wynnefridh should be consulted in the decision about your choice of service, along with any other Ealdriht members who should be involved in the decision. Since your service should naturally result in some visible effect on the life and functioning of the Ealdriht, there is no specific exam required for this section. Rather, at the time that your Maethel is considering your qualifications for advancement to Thegn, you should perform a boast (in person and/or by email or letter) about your accomplishments, to remind your fellow members of what you have done. Your boast should illustrate why the extra service you have performed was especially challenging to you, and of special value to the Ealdriht. Exam: Service is a difficult thing to test. However, it should be reflected in your accomplishemnts. Keep a running list of what you do in your service to your mt, mel, or for the Ealdriht. Wynnefridh or Swain will go over this with you. Topics that are Covered in the Gebur Curriculum Standard lore in: Eldright Liturgy Basic Study of Heathen Culture History Language Topic or Skill of Individual Interest, pursued through the Gebur Project. Advanced-level lore in:

Project of Service, Study, or Craft Orientation. "Credit" for Work Already Done: If you have already read other material that covers the same topics listed above, please contact Swain and Wynnefridh to discuss replacing the required reading assignments with the reading you have already done. You will still be expected to take the exams.


The Angelseaxisce Ealdriht was intended as a "confederation of tribes." Thus while Freond level members do not need to be attached to a Maethel, full members do. Mots while not considered tribes in the sense as Maethels are, serve to reinforce this tribal structure. A Mot may be formed for any variety of reasons. Mots can be used to aid in study programs, as a way to perform the seasonal blessings as a community, or simply as a way to get together and enjoy the company of other Heathens. For those whose fellow Maethel members live some distance away, a Mot can serve to fulfill the need for more local fellowship. A Mot can have all the offices required of a Maethel, or it can be a loose grouping of Ealdriht members. One use of the Mot that the Ealdriht esp. encourages, is that of the Mot as a proto- or incipient Maethel. Prior to founding a Maethel, one must first found a Mot and do all that a Maethel can do. Once a Mot has done this it can apply to the Witanagemot to become a Maethel. Anglo-Saxon Heathenry is a communal religion in many respects, and to be a communal religion, it must have communities. Mots serve to build such communities. The First Steps: The first step in founding a Mot is defining what one wants the Mot to be. Is it to serve only as a study group, or do you want something akin to an Asatru kindred? If you are seeking the first, no real structure is needed. If you are seeking the second, one will eventually want to form a Maethel. What one wishes the Mot to be affects what kind of people you wish to recruit. Seekers and non-Anglo-Saxon Heathens may not fit in well in a Mot desiring to become a Maethel. However, they may do exceptionally well in a study group. Armed with this knowledge one can begin setting up what one needs to start a Mot. Regardless of what you wish a Mot to be, a PO Box is a must. PO Boxes are helpful in case you move, and also prevent unexpected visits to your home. Once you have a PO Box, you can then start trying to find other Heathens in your area, or folks interested in becoming Heathen. There are several ways of doing this listed below: 1) Start teaching classes on Heathenry at your local pagan bookstore. Usually you will have several people attend classes and of these maybe two or three will become Heathen. Teaching a class on Heathenry is not difficult if you outline the topics you wish to cover, and cover a topic per session. Usual topics are a. What is Heathenry? b. the Gods. c. Wyrd. d. Thews and virtues. Make sure to post flyers at local pagan bookstores well in advance of the classes, and to notify any parties you feel may be interested 2) Do rituals for open pagan circles in your area. This rarely gains members for a kindred or Mot, but it can generate enough interest that folks are willing to attend classes on Heathenry and then convert. Occasionally however, you may make contact with an existing Heathen. 3) Do workshops or seminars at nearby pagan gatherings. Like open pagan circles, this rarely gains members, but again may generate interest.

4) Take part in any networking resources the local pagan community may provide. Many folks try to find Anglo-Saxon Heathen or Asatru groups through general pagan organizations. 5) Most important, develop a web presence. Let it be known that you want to form a Mot on lists, Irminsul Aettir's contact map, and anyplace else you can find. And take advantage of off the web networking. Attend Heathen and Asatru gatherings when you can. Once folks get to know you, they will refer folks to you that are in your area. Getting folks interested in Heathenry is a difficult task, and you may find it takes you as long as two to three years before you have enough folks interested in forming a Mot. However, with patience, using the above methods will eventually produce some results. Second Steps: Once one has two to three people including one's self interested, you can begin bloting together for the seasonal blessings. The formation of a Mot and esp. a Maethel must not be hurried. During this time you will be wanting to get to know each other, and learn whether you can operate as a fellowship. The formation of a Mot is very much like the courtship and engagement before marriage. It is not a time to rush into oaths that may be broken later. Some folks will invariably decide Anglo-Saxon Heathenry is not for them, and there will be personality conflicts. Others will be interested and make dedicated Mot members, but live outside the geographic area one can reasonably make it to blots and meetings. In the end though, you should wind up with a core of solid Heathens with which to start a Mot. If one is wishing a Mot to become a Maethel, this is the point you need to start holding regular meetings and formulate the structure, and notify the Ealdriht you have formed a Mot. Officers will have to be elected and regular business meetings held. The best Mots are run by consensus with regular say of the entire full membership. A Mot or Maethel is not intended to be a cult of personality, but a democracy. "In Thing all are equal," is often said in the Ealdriht, and this is something that should be put into regular practice. Young Mots should conduct lore sessions if they are interested in becoming a Maethel. This helps advance full members of the Ealdriht in the Mot to the levels required to hold a Maethel office. These lore sessions can be formal or informal. Business meetings and other meetings of a Mot should be regular, at least on a monthly basis. By keeping meetings regular, the Mot is kept active and its membership active. Recruitment should continue, by all means, with classes at pagan bookstores still being done, as well as workshops at local pagan gatherings. Occasionally holding open blots and inviting members of the local pagan community and any others you may think would be interested is also a good idea. Most blots of a Mot you will want to keep closed. The constant explanation of what is going on in a blot to nonHeathens takes away from the spiritual experience, and can affect the membership adversely. Any fresh members brought into the Mot once it is founded should be required to complete a probationary period of six months to a year before having any say in how the Mot is ran. This avoids newbies coming in and trying to mold the Mot to what their image of Heathenry should be without any real knowledge of the religion. Too many times a young kindred has been wrecked by power plays and petty politics because a new member upset the structure of it. While not required, Aerest Maethel of the Ealdriht requires an

oath for full membership in the Maethel. This is perhaps good idea for Mots as well. This will separate the truly serious from those that are just seekers or not wishing to give full commitment. Final Steps: Once a Mot has reached this stage it can remain a Mot or seek to become a Maethel. Maethels generally have at least six members and blot regularly. The only difference between a Mot with the typical Ealdriht officers and a Maethel is a say in the running of the Ealdriht as a whole. Maethels have representation on the Witanagemot, while Mots do not. For this reason, Maethels are expected to be much more stable than a Mot. Once one feels their Mot is ready to become a Maethel, they should petition the Witanagemot. This petition should include reports on what the Mot has been doing and why they feel they should be a Maethel. If all is acceptable, the Witanagemot will approve the application. Forming a Mot can be difficult, and for that reason, feel free to consult "Raven Kindred's Guide to Starting a Kindred," which addresses many issues not brought up here.

A History of Mercia The Heathen Period 490 CE - 655 CE

Origins: Mercia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom founded by some of the Germanic tribe of the Angles (in their own tongue Engles) based in the Midlands of what is now England sometime in the 6th century. The Angles had come to Great Britain from it is thought, what is now Denmark and Northern Germany, specifically Schleswig-Holstein where there is an area still known as Angeln (J.N.L. Myres, The English Settlements, page 45). They were first mentioned in Tacitus' Germania (written about 98 CE) where they are named as part of the Suebi confederation along with six other Germanic tribes that he classified as the Ingvaeonic tribes. These tribes were bound together in a worship of the Goddess Nerthus. There follow in order the Reudignians, and Aviones, and Angles, and Varinians, and Eudoses, and Suardones and Nuithones; all defended by rivers or forests. Nor in one of these nations does aught remarkable occur, only that they universally join in the worship of Herthum; that is to say, the Mother Earth. Her they believe to interpose in the affairs of man, and to visit countries. In an island of the ocean stands the wood Castum: in it is a chariot dedicated to the Goddess, covered over with a curtain, and permitted to be touched by none but the Priest. Whenever the Goddess enters this her holy vehicle, he perceives her; and with profound veneration attends the motion of the chariot, which is always drawn by yoked cows. Then it is that days of rejoicing always ensue, and in all places whatsoever which she descends to honour with a visit and her company, feasts and recreation abound (Gordon translation Germania) Pliny writing about the Germanic tribes in his Natural History (written about 77 CE), does not mention the Anglii or Angles, but does refer to the Ingaevones; a confederation he has as consisting of the Cimbri, Teutons and Chauci. Tacitus includes the Anglii amongst the Ingaevones, as a folk descended from Ing, son of Mannus in his Germania. Ptolemy also mentions the Angles in his work Geography (written about 150 CE), though his information as to where they were located seems at odds with everyone else (J.N.L. Myres, The English Settlements, page 50). Foundations in Denmark In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Penda's line is given as "Penda was the son of Wybba, Wybba of Creoda, Creoda of Cynewald, Cynewald of Cnebba, Cnebba of Icel, Icel of Eomer, Eomer of Angelthew, Angelthew of Offa, Offa of Wearmund, Wearmund of Whitley, Whitley of Woden." We are further told in The Life of St. Guthlac the Icelingas were what the family of the rulers of Mercia called themselves. The Icelingas, the "royal family" of Mercia, as can be seen from Penda's genealogy traced its origins back to a semi-historical King Offa, who lived in Denmark in the 4th or 5th century. Offa is mention in the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsi, the epic Beowulf, and his tale is told in detail by Saxo in his History of the

Danes (Gesta Danorum). A synopsis of Saxo's version of the tale follows: Offa was a simpleton, or thought such by his father Wermund. Wermund thus got him a wife (whom we know from Beowulf to be Mdry) that was the daughter of King Freawin, governor of the men of Sleswik. The idea being that Freawin could help Offa reign if need be. Shortly thereafter Freawin was killed in single combat by a king of Sweden named Athisl, and Wermund fostered his two sons, Ket and Wig.1 The sons later challenged Athisl to a duel, thus killing him in vengeance for their father. After that the Saxons came to Wermund, thinking him old and infirm, and requested he surrender his kingdom to them. Wermund refused, but the Saxons said that their king would not fight a blind man (meaning Wermund). At this point, Offa begged to speak. Wermund asked who had spoke and his men said it was Offa. Wermund said it was enough the foreigners mocked him much less his household, but gave leave for all to speak. Whereupon Offa spoke saying that the kingdom had a king and an heir, and he would fight the prince and whatever bravest comrade he could find. The Saxons laughed at this thinking it idle boasting, but once they had left, Wermund tried to outfit Offa with armor and the sword Skrep "Sharp." The armor was too small due to Offa's size, but Skrep, Offa could not shatter as he had every sword he wielded before. Offa then faught the prince and the prince's champion and slew them both. According to Saxo, nothing more was said of the disgrace of Freawine's two sons both fighting Athisl, and slaying him, and it was the end of the taunts from the Saxons. According to Danish historian Sweyn Aageson (writing a little before Saxo) Offa had been struck dumb by the dishonor of Freawine's sons double teaming Athisl, and that by defeating the two Saxons he had restored honor to the Angles. The lines from Widsi concerning Offa confirm this tale and are given below: Ane sweordemerce gemrde wi Myrgingumbi Fifeldore Engle ond Swfe, heoldon for sian

swa hit Offa geslog.

With one sword the border was set with the Myrgings by Fifeldor; Since it has been held by the Angle and Swabian as where Offa fought.

Finally, in Beowulf we are told the tale of Mdyr marrying Offa:

Hrees dohtor; ne to gnea gifa

ns hio hnah swa eah, Geata leodum,

mamgestreona. fremu folces cwen, Nnig t dorste swsra gesia,

Mod ryo wg, firen ondrysne. deor genean nefne sinfrea,

t hire an dges ac him wlbende handgewriene; fter mundgripe t hit sceadenml

eagum starede, weotode tealde hrae seoan ws mece geinged, scyran moste,

cwealmbealu cyan. idese to efnanne, tte freouwebbe fter ligetorne

Ne bi swylc cwenlic eaw eah e hio nlicu sy, feores onsce

leofne mannan. Hemminges mg;

Huru t onhohsnode


oer sdan, ls gefremede,

t hio leodbealewa inwitnia,

syan rest wear geongum cempan, syan hio Offan flet

gyfen goldhroden elum diore,

ofer fealone flod sie gesohte; in gumstole, lifgesceafta hiold heahlufan

be fder lare r hio syan well gode, mre,

lifigende breac, wi hlea brego,

ealles moncynnes one selestan eormencynnes. geofum ond guum, wide geweorod,

mine gefrge bi sm tweonum, Foram Offa ws garcene man, wisdome heold

eel sinne;

onon Eomer woc Hemminges mg, nia crftig.

hleum to helpe, nefa Garmundes, (lines 1931- 1961)

Haereth's daughter. Nor humble her ways, nor grudged she gifts to the Geatish men, of precious treasure. Not Thryth's pride showed she, folk-queen famed, or that fell deceit.

Was none so daring that durst make bold (save her lord alone) of the liegemen dear that lady full in the face to look, but forged fetters he found his lot, bonds of death! And brief the respite; soon as they seized him, his sword-doom was spoken, and the burnished blade a baleful murder proclaimed and closed. No queenly way for woman to practice, though peerless she, that the weaver-of-peace from warrior dear by wrath and lying his life should reave! But Hemming's kinsman hindered this. --

For over their ale men also told that of these folk-horrors fewer she wrought, onslaughts of evil, after she went, gold-decked bride, to the brave young prince, atheling haughty, and Offa's hall o'er the fallow flood at her father's bidding safely sought, where since she prospered, royal, throned, rich in goods, fain of the fair life fate had sent her, and leal in love to the lord of warriors. He, of all heroes I heard of ever from sea to sea, of the sons of earth,

most excellent seemed. Hence Offa was praised for his fighting and feeing by far-off men, the spear-bold warrior; wisely he ruled over his empire. Eomer woke to him, help of heroes, Hemming's kinsman, Grandson of Garmund, grim in war. (Grummere translation) From all of these we can surmise that Offa the Angle was a brave and honor bound king who gave freely to his men, was able to tame Mdyr, and was a great warrior in single combat. His name was remembered in a variety of sources that survived, and no telling how many tales of him were lost. Offa is alone in that of the mortal kings listed in the Anglo-Saxon genealogies that lived prior to the invasion of Great Britain (most of whom are not mentioned once outside the genealogies), he is mentioned in several surviving texts composed over at least a six hundred year span. It was his prestige that perhaps the Mercian royal houses inherited, and in the case of Penda, Wulfhere, and Offa the Mercian, his qualities as a warrior as well. Icelingas, First Kings of East Anglia? From Offa to Penda we are at much of a loss on the Mercian royal house. The origins of Mercia are lost in the period of the Anglo-Saxon migrations to Great Britain from 420 CE to 600 CE. Scholars and laymen can therefore only speculate based on later clues as to how the Englisc came to be in what became the kingdom of Mercia. Many scholars based on place names, medieval sources, and archaeological evidence believe that the Icelingas first came to East Anglia. The Flores Historiarum, a chronicle began in the 13th century covering events from "the Creation" to 1235 CE, states: "....pagans came from Germany and occupied East Anglia... some of whom invaded Mercia and fought many battles with the British; but as their leaders were many, their names are missing. (selection of the Historiarum quoted from Zaluckyj, Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 13)." Place name evidence in East Anglia may seem to indicate this is fact. John Morris feels that the ruling dynasty of Mercia for most of its history, the Icelingas, were displaced from East Anglia by its historically ruling dynasty, the Wuffingas. Within East Anglia are place names that seem to be named for Icel, the ancestor of the Icelingas, such as Ickleton in Cambridgeshire, Icklingham in Suffolk, and Hickling in Norfolk (Morris, The Age of Arthur, page 272). J. N. L. Myres also pointed out these places as well as Ickleford in Hertfordshire (J.N.L. Myres, The English Settlements (Oxford History of England) page 185) Morris holds that the Icelingas moved from their centers in East Anglia into the Midlands (Morris, The Age of Arthur, page 272)2. To further this argument, the Wuffing dynasty is recorded in the Flores Historiarum as not beginning to rule in East Anglia until 571 CE. This would make them late comers to the area, if they had not arrived long before that.

It is estimated (based on the number of generations away from known kings) that Icel, founder of the Iceling dynasty lived about 520 CE, and that his son Cnebba was alive about 540 CE. Icel is commonly held by scholars to have been the first of his line in Britain (based on the idea that the Mercian kings trace to their lineage to him and little else). A Cnebba is recorded as dying in battle between West Saxon kings Ceawlin and Cutha, and elbert of Kent in 568 CE on the side of elbert (though he is listed as only an ealdorman and not a king).. If this Cnebba is Cnebba Iceling, then it is possible his death gave the Wuffingas the opening they needed to take East Anglia. Further, archaeological evidence seems to indicate that Germanic peoples were in East Anglia as early as the fourth century. Cremation graves of apparently Angle mercenaries serving the Romans have been found outside Caister-by-Norwich along with other early remains to indicate a an early Germanic presence in the region (Martyn J Whittock, The Origins of England: 410 to 600, p. 164). Finally, many scholars have commented on the division of East Anglia into Norfolk and Suffolk (the "north folk" and "south folk") and have assumed that it must have meant that it was settled by two different groups, or a single group ruled separately by different rulers. Therefore the scenario is often put forth that the Icelingas ruled Norfolk, and the Wuffingas, Suffolk. Alas, with no true hard evidence, all we can say is that the Icelingas may have been in East Anglia at one time, and potentially migrated from there to the Midlands. Migrations to the Midlands: It is very likely that Angle settlers may have followed the Welland river valley into the Midlands. Other Angles may have migrated into the Midlands via the Wash or through the old kingdom of Lindsey. Another route using the Ickneid Way and the Thames is perhaps indicated by the place name Ickleford in Hertfordshire, as well other place name evidence further west in Oxfordshire (discussed below). Archaeology seems to confirm that Mercia was settled from East Anglia and Lindsey with pure cremation cemeteries (cemeteries with no inhumation at all) leading from East Anglia and Lindsey into the Midlands along the Welland river valley, along the Ickneid Way, and up the Trent. Such typical Anglian grave goods as sleeve clasps are found only in graves in East Anglia, the east Midlands, Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire. Cruciform broaches are found in other areas, but are concentrated in roughly the same area (Sam Lucy, The Anglo-Saxon Way of Death, page 133). This would seem to indicate that at least some of the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Mercia were in some way related to those of East Anglia and Lindsey, and thus had migrated from those places. Other scholars feel that Mercia may have been settled from the lands of Northumbria. "Thus the beginnings of Bernicia as well as of Deria, Lindsey, and Mercia: must be sought, in greater or less degree, among the Humbreness of the Humber Basin" (J.N.L. Myres, The English Settlements (Oxford History of England) page 175)

The only real obstacle to believing that Mercia was settled from the Northeast were the then still surviving British kingdoms of Elmet and Ebrauc (York) blocking easy access to the Midlands from Northumbria. It is most likely that settlement came in part from many areas; Lindsey and East Anglia in the east being the biggest contributors, the Saxons to the South also migrating to a lesser degree, and

Bernicia and Deria in the northeast providing a small number of immigrants to the Midlands. What is clear is that Mercia when it enters history was comprised of many minor peoples, as well as a few subkingdoms. This can be shown by an early document called the Tribal Hidage. This document is thought variously as being a general land assessment of the Mercian kings to being a tributary list of the Northumbrian kings (see Zaluckyj's Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England pages 17-19 on the ideas behind the origins of the document). The Tribal Hidage lists 35 kingdoms, subkingdoms, and tribal groupings with land areas ranging from as small as 300 hides3 up to Mercia proper and East Anglia being listed with 30,000 hides each. The Tribal Hidage can be seen at: http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/hidage.html The Foundation of Mercia: According to the 18th century scholar David Hume (based on earlier works such as Flores Historiarum, Historia Anglorum, and Chronica Majora), Creoda, grandfather of Penda and great grandson of Icel founded the kingdom of Mercia in 585 CE (David Hume, The History of England). The medieval chronicles Flores Historiarum, Historia Anglorum, and Chronica Majora all agree that Creoda came to power as a result of the battle of Fehtan Leag in 584 CE between the West Saxons and Britons. This battle has been placed in a wood near to Stoke Lyne 11 miles southeast of Banbury in Oxfordshire (Zaluckyj, Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 21). None of the chronicles are clear as to how or why this battle brought Creoda to power. Zaluckyj suggests that this battle, which caused a great loss for both the Saxons and Britons created a power vacuum that Creoda stepped in to fill (Zaluckyj, Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 22). This idea is as good as any, and if the site of the battle is indeed near Stoke Lyne, then it would have been near the Iceling migration trek towards what was to be Mercia (click on the map below). The other possibility is that the West Saxon kings were not facing Britons, but instead Angles, and that the king that defeated them (or at least fought them to a pyrrhic victory) was none other than Creoda himself. In favor of this, there is a place called Crubridge (Creoda's Bridge) to the west of Oxford and not far from the what is thought to be the battle site. A Creoda is listed in some versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an ancestor of West Saxon kings, and while this is sometimes thought to be an error (and if it is the Mercian Creoda, it most likely is an error), it could be that it was a remembrance of a time when Creoda had overlordship over the Gewis (the ancestors of Wessex). There are other places named for the early Mercian kings in a direct line to the west. Some feel Credenhill, an old hill fort in modern Herefordshire was named for Creoda, while Pybba, his son had other sites named for him in Warwickshire and Worcestershire (Pepwell and Pepper Wood amongst others). Penda is thought to have places named for him in Gloucestershire and Staffordshire (Pinbury and Pendeford) (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 22). Most place name evidence would place Creoda as arriving in the southwest of what was to be Mercia (actually the subkingdom of Hwicce) with his descendants moving towards the more settled areas around the Trent. Other than that, nothing is known of Creoda or his son Pybba. Creoda's death is placed at 593 CE due to an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for that year listing the death of a Cryda. There was also a man named Creoda that founded Lindsey's dynasty, and it is often held that he is one and the same as Creoda Iceling. Even less is known of Pybba, who is not named at all in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. His

reign is commonly given as being between 593 and 597 CE (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 21). There is place name evidence for him to the west of what we think of as Mercia proper (such as Peplow in Shropshire), as well as the place names for him amongst the Hwicce as shown above, but beyond that he is nothing more than a name. Similarly, Penda is first associated with the area of the Hwicce, an Anglo-Saxon tribal grouping located in what is now modern Gloucestershire. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle he fought the West Saxons near Cirencester in AD 628. If this place name evidence is to be trusted, when taken along with the evidence of Penda's first battle site, it could show that the Icelingas' were the first to expand the kingdom beyond Staffordshire and establish the boundaries of what was to become Mercia. Or it could show their original seat of power in Mercia was not in Staffordshire, but in an area to the south of it, and that a rival dynasty, that of Cearl, the first Mercian king mentioned in any early historical document (and seemingly unrelated to the line of Penda and Eowa) had control of the Trent valley. Eowa and Penda may have taken the Trent valley upon Cearl's death sometime between 616 and 626 CE (perhaps been the cause of his death even). With no real evidence to go on, such is merely idle speculation of an interesting nature. It could be that the Icelingas had been in the area of Staffordshire since settling in the Midlands, and new settlements founded in the southeast were simply being named for their kings. It is with King Cearl that Mercia enters the historical record. Cearl is named as having married his daughter Cwenburga to Edwin, King of Deria by Bede. Not much is known of Cearl. It is not clear whether he was an Iceling or of a separate dynasty. The earliest sources are silent on him, and later ones have him a cousin of Pybba. It could be he usurped Pybba's throne when Eowa and Penda were too young to rule. Or it may be that he was legitimately elected king to avoid a child king. It is also possible that he was only a reagent acting on their behalf. The final possibility (and with so little information, the possibilities may be endless) is he may have been a puppet of either the kingdoms of Deria or Bernicia. This may be entirely possible according to J.N.L. Myres: "...it may well be that Penda was the first of his line to consolidate this movement, for in the Historia Brittonum he is described as the king who first separated the Mercians from the Regnum Nordorum.... There is furthermore, a duality of settlement in Mercia which suggests that eventual unity was not achieved until a comparatively late date. The earliest Mercian people are represented by the cremation cemeteries on the right bank of the middle Trent and on its southern tributaries. In Bede's day the Trent it self separated these five thousand families of the southern Mercians from the seven thousand families of the northern Mercians beyond the river. There is a marked archaeological contrast between the two areas. North of the river cremation cemeteries, so common to the south, are conspicuously absent." (J.N.L. Myres, The English Settlements (Oxford History of England) page 185) Indeed it could be that the northern Mercians with their inhumation rites were Northumbrian derived, while the southern Mercians with their cremation rites so like East and Middle Anglia, were derived from the east. Thus Cearl may have been of Northumbrian origin, and therefore this was the reason he was not counted amongst the Icelingas. Pure cremation cemeteries outside of East Anglia and the Midlands are rare, and indeed in most of Britain, even areas settled by Angles such as the Northumbrian kingdoms, inhumation or mixed rite cemeteries are the rule (Sam Lucy, The Anglo-Saxon Way of Death, page 133). This could indicate that the northern Mercians were fundamentally a different people from

those of the southern Mercians with rulers of their own separate from the Icelingas. Alternately, N.J. Higham holds that Cearl may have been an overking in his own right with a very extensive Mercia reaching almost to the size it did under Penda (Higham, An English Empire: Bede and the Early AngloSaxon Kings, page 7). While this is possible, it is surely not likely as Elmet would not have been able to maintain independence so long with a strong English presence directly to the South. That is not to say Cearl may not have had considerable territory. It is to say the Midlands of that time is a mystery to us politically. It could be Cearl had only the area immediately around Lichfield and Tamworth traditionally thought of as the core of Mercia. It could also be that he had an early empire stretching from the borders of East Anglia, Essex, and Sussex in the east all the way to the Welsh border with the Thames as a southern border and the southern borders of Elmet as the northern. However, were that the case, certainly more would have been said of him, if not in the Anglo-Saxon sources, then the Welsh ones. The short passage in Bede's Ecclesiastical History regarding Cearl's daughter's marriage to Edwin would seem to indicate Edwin spent some of his time in exile in Cearl's court. This would be unlikely if there was not some relationship between Mercia and Deria. Cearl is thought by some scholars to have died at the battle of Chester which took place around 616 CE, although there is no documented evidence of his death other than his disappearance from the historical record (Zaluckyj's Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, pages 26-27). There are several clues that Cearl may have been dead by this time. The first and foremost is the appearance of Edwin in Redwald's court around 625 or 616 CE, when before he was safely in Mercia and the Welsh kingdoms. Second, he is not mentioned as having any activities after 616 CE in any of the medieval annals or earlier sources. It is thought that elfri, king of Northumbria may have assumed control of Mercia until his own death in 616 CE in battle with Redwald (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, pages 26-27 ). As Cearl's son in law Edwin was then king of Northumbria, several scenarios could account for Cearl's disappearance from history other than death. It could be he submitted to elfri and then ruled as a vassal king of Edwin when Edwin took the throne of Northumbria and died a natural death around 628 CE or that he did die at Chester, and upon elfri's death, Edwin assumed rule of Mercia himself (his wife was after all Cearl's daughter, and his heirs, Cearl's grandsons). The latter would certainly explain why Penda along with Cadwallon attacked Edwin in 633 CE. Regardless, Cearl was probably most certainly dead by the time of Penda's victory at Cirencester in 628 CE, or else he would have had a hand in it. Mercia Rising: Penda's victory at Cirencester in 628 CE documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the earliest recorded action of one who may have been the greatest Mercian king ever. There are several indications that Penda may not have been king of the Mercians at this time. Bede refers to Penda merely as a great warrior of the royal house of Mercia and places Penda's kingship as starting in 633 CE with his victory over Edwin (Zaluckyj's Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 28). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also neglects to refer to him as king in regards to this victory, although it traces the start of his reign to 626 CE (as does William of Malmesbury). Neinnus' History of the Britains as well as the Welsh Annales Cambriae begin Penda's reign with his victory over Oswald at Maserfelth in 642 CE (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 33). The answer to this dilemma in various dates for his ascension to the throne may be that Penda was king of the Hwicce (or an area just north of

the Hwicce) beginning in 626 CE, and not yet king of Mercia its self. This would make sense if Edwin had assumed control of Mercia (or at least the northern part of it) upon elfri's death. Then in 633 CE with the death of Edwin (whom Bede did list as a Bretwalda having control over all other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms save Kent), Penda was able to co-rule Mercia with his brother Eowa. Finally, with Eowa's death at Maserfelth in 642 CE, Penda could be counted as sole king of Mercia. If such is the case, then the various dates for Penda's ascension to kingship are easily explained as he could be said to have ascended to kingship on three separate occasions. The first ascension would have been to the kingship of the Hwicce or (or another subkingdom in the area) in 626 CE which gave him the power to negotiate with the West Saxon kings (and perhaps even get a bride out of the deal as Cynewise is thought to have been a West Saxon princess due to her name). The second ascension would have taken place with the death of Mercia's overlord Edwin in 633 CE when he would have made Mercia independent of any other kingdom. However, as this ascension was with Eowa, he may not have been counted as king of Mercia, indeed he may have been thought but a subking. Regardless, he would not have been seen as Mercia's sole ruler. Finally, after Maserfelth in 642 CE, would have came his third ascension, when Penda would have taken control of the areas ruled by his deceased brother Eowa, and been sole king of Mercia.4 After, the battle of Cirencester, we next see Penda acting with Cadwallon against Edwin in the battle of Hafel or Hatfield in 633 or 634 CE, fought according to Bede on October 12th. There were many reasons for this battle, not the least in that it is entirely possible that Edwin was Mercia's overlord. There is evidence for Edwin having overlordship of Mercia in statements by Bede to the effect that Edwin held reign over all areas of Great Britain but Kent, then there is Cearl's disappearance from the historical record with no Mercian king to fill the vacuum until Penda in 626 CE, and finally the dating of Penda's ascension according to some sources as not being until 633 CE. Not only may have Edwin been Penda's overlord, but his sons, Osfri and Eadfri, were Cearl's grandsons, and possibly his only heirs. The two sons together created a potential threat to the Iceling dynasty, a dynasty that may have seen its position usurped first by Cearl, and then by the Northumbrian kings elfri and Edwin respectively. It is entirely possible that by the time of the battle of Hatfield, unless Cearl was a relation of some kind of Pybba, there had not been an Iceling king on the throne of Mercia for 36 years. Another theory is that Cearl was deposed by elfri, and Pybba or Eowa put in his place (Higham, An English Empire: Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings, page 9). Thus Penda would have seen Edwin as an enemy. The problem with this is that Penda seemed to view all Northumbrian kings as enemies, and indeed his attacks on elfri's line (Oswald and Oswiu) were more vicious than those conducted against Edwin. According to Zaluckyj amongst others, Cadwallon had his own reasons for wanting to attack Edwin. If the tradition is true that Edwin had for a while been fostered by Cadwallon's father, Cadfan of Gwynedd, Cadwallon's later personal hatred of the Northumbrian king is understandable when one reads that Cadwallon had been besieged off Anglesey and forced into exile in Ireland, probably at Edwin's instigation. It is little wonder that the Welsh termed Edwin 'the deceitful'....(Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 28) Edwin had spent his youth in exile, according to legend, in Gwynedd and Powys, and then perhaps Mercia at the court of Cearl whose daughter he married. His final year or two of exile were spent in the

court of Redwald of East Anglia. Bede dedicated much of his Eccleciastical History to Edwin's conversion, and nearly glowered over Edwin's every achievement. Meanwhile, Penda has been reviled as a cutthroat and murderer. In truth, Edwin was perhaps the far more treacherous of the two. As glowering as Bede's account of him is, the Welsh accounts are as condemning. Edwin conquered Elmet and expelled its ruler Ceredig, despite that ruler having sheltered his nephew Hereric from elfri. While it is claimed Hereric was poisoned by Ceredig this is somehow doubtful as it would have been foolhardy for a weaker British kingdom to have done such a crime. He then invaded Gwynedd, which had given Edwin himself shelter, and reduced it to a vassal state. Edwin, therefore had a history of betraying those whom had protected him in times of need (see the Annales Cambriae, Nennius' Historia Brittonum, the Welsh Triads, Reginald of Durhams Life of Oswald, as well as Bede for Edwin's activities against the British). In 626 CE, according to Bede he marched on Wessex in revenge for an assassination attempt, and won a battle against Cwichelm of Wessex. Edwin was therefore master of the North, and easily threatened the South by marching an army into Wessex its self. If anyone perhaps deserved the title of Bretwalda, he certainly did. The battle of Hatfield was therefore one of those momentous events in early English history, a battle that easily changed the course of history for what was to be England. The location of the battle has been traditionally named by scholars as being Hatfield Chase near Doncaster. Recent arguments have been put forth for another Hatfield around Cuckney near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire as the site of the battle (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 29). The evidence for this Hatfield are convincing as there is in the direct locality of it, Edwinstowe (a village named presumably for Edwin), whose church it is thought traditionally Edwin's headless body was brought to. A few miles west of it is St. Edwin's Cross, a cross erected on what is thought to be the site of the old St. Edwin's Chapel (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 30). In addition, the church of St. Mary's in Cuckney is the location of a mass burial found in the1950s and not dated. Between Cuckney and Edwinstowe are places named Hatfield Grange and Hatfield Farm (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 30). Either location would be reasonable for a battle between kings of Mercia and Northumbria with the Welsh involved. Edwin died in the battle as did his son, Osfri, while his other son, Eanfri was taken hostage by Penda, and later was killed at his court. All the early histories agree that the results of the battle were to throw Northumbria into disarray. Edwin's queen Aelberht and her children and grandson fled with the priest Paulinus to Kent. Cadwallon meanwhile ravaged the country side, putting to death all of Englisc origin according to Bede. elfri's son, Eanfri took reign of Bernicia whilst Osric, Edwin's cousin took the throne of Deira. Osric led an attack on Cadwallon but died in the process, while Cadwallon killed Eanfri. Oswald then returned and did battle with Cadwallon, defeating him at Hexham in 634 CE. It is unknown what Penda was doing during this time. It is possible that he returned to Mercia to consolidate his own power, or he may have remained in the field with Cadwallon. In all probability he returned to Mercia before Cadwallon did battle with Osric as there is no mention of his presence. From this point on, Penda became active in expanding Mercia (perhaps in some cases such as East Anglia, trying to regain 'ancestral' lands). Between 633 and 642 CE, he tried to keep East Anglia under his subjugation killing kings Sigebert and Egric in battle. Sigebert reigned from about 634 - 638 CE when he retired to a monastery as he was a devote Christian. His brother Egric then took the throne. Around 641

or 642 CE, Penda attacked East Anglia, and the folk demanded Sigebert lead the army (according to Bede he had been a valiant leader at one time). When he refused they physically threw him out of the monastery and took him to the army. However, Sigebert insisted on carrying only a staff, and thus died in battle as did his brother Egric. Anna then came to the throne of East Anglia only to be killed by Penda as well. Penda's next appearance in history is at the battle of Maserfield on August 5, 642 CE against Oswald according to both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede. The battle is assumed to have been fought near Old Oswestry, Shropshire largely based on Medieval traditions. Another site that has been suggested is at Wigan in Lancashire (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 32). Either way the battle would appear to be in Powys very close to Mercian territory, or in Powys its self making Oswald the aggressor, and Penda merely acting on his own behalf or that of his ally Cynddylan. Oswald spent much of his life in exile in the Scottish kingdom of Dal Riatha, where he had fled after his father elfri's death, not returning until 634 CE. It was there he was baptized, and thus when he came to the throne of Northumbria, he brought Celtic Christianity with him. Bede had him a Bretwalda, although it is clear Penda never submitted to him, and questionable if any of the other Anglo-Saxon kings did. He married the West Saxon King Cynegils' daughter, Cyneburh, and perhaps supported Anna's succession to the throne of East Anglia. On the battle its self, there are not many details. It is told by Bede that Penda: "commanded his head, hands, and arms to be cut off from the body, and set upon stakes." This has been seen as a pagan ritual, although it must be noted that Edwin's head was also taken, and there it would seem by Cadwallon, a Christian. In the later Middle Ages, the punishment for sedition (speech against the King of England) was loss of one's heads and hands. Potentially, this may have been the reason for Penda doing such a ritual. It took Oswiu, Oswald's brother a year to retrieve the body. Oswald was then made a saint and martyr by the Christians of the time, and he is one of the few early Christian saint kings for which such adoration was legitimately deserved. We have no record of wrongs done by him (other than invading Mercia or Powys) as we do other early Christian Anglo-Saxon kings. Also killed at this battle was Penda's brother Eowa. Eowa is a mystery for whom there are hardly any clues. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not mention him in regards to the battle of Maserfield, nor does Bede. His name does not occur in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, until the entry for 716 when it tells the descent of thelbald, king of Mercia. For all we know he may have ruled Mercia from of 616 CE when Ceorl disappears from the scene to this death at Maserfield, a rather long reign, not to have been mentioned, but all surviving records are Northumbrian and West Saxon. It would be easy for a Mercian king in such a poorly recorded era to fail to be mentioned.

Penda is next recorded as driving Cenwealh of Wessex from his kingdom in both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and by Bede. Both Bede and the Chronicle state that Cenwalh had put away his wife, Penda's sister, and taken another as wife, and this was the reason for Penda's attack. This took place in 645 CE according to the Chronicle. Cenwalh fled to Anna's court in East Anglia, where he accepted Christianity, but returned to Wessex in 647 or 648 CE. After his death in 672 CE, his queen Seaxburga reigned for a

year. It is not known whether she was Penda's sister, or if this was Cenwalh's second wife. Considering he was able to return to Wessex without further aggression from Penda, Seaxburga may have been Penda's sister. According to Henry of Huntington, Penda then drove Anna from East Anglia in 651 CE. Anna then returned to his kingdom, only to be slain in battle by Penda, at which time Penda turned his armies into Northumbria (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 34). Anna's successor, his brother elhere died at the battle of Winwd fighting for Penda according to Bede. According to Bede, that same year Penda attempted to attack Bamburgh, and unable to take it by force, set it to fire. Bishop Aidan then prayed, and the winds shifted the fire back on the Mercians, where upon they retreated. It was during this time also however that Peada, Penda's son was raised to subking of the Middle Angles, and married Oswiu's daughter Alhfld. Oswiu's son married Penda's daughter Cyneburh. Zaluckyj points out that marriages between royal families usually were to cement an alliance or to at least ensure neutrality (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 35). According to Bede, Penda even allowed Christian priests to be sent into the area of the Middle Angles, and allowed Peada to convert. Yet hostilities flared up once again between Penda and Oswiu. According to Bede, Oswiu had to hand over his son Ecgfri into the care of Penda's queen Cynewise, and tried to bribe Penda into not attacking Northumbria. The details of this political situation have no doubt been lost. Penda finally sent an army into Northumbria and on November 15, 655 CE (or possibly 654 CE), the battle of Winwd took place, it is thought by scholars near what is now Leeds. According to Bede, Penda took with him 30 legions, so the army must have been immense. Penda's guide into the area was Oswiu's own nephew, elwold, king of Deira. He however withdrew from the battlefield at the last instant. Bede goes on to say that there had been great rains and the river Winwd was flooded so more were drowned than died by the sword. No one is certain why the battle took place. Kirby holds that it may have been that Oswiu was treating Peada's domain as if his own (Kirby, The Earliest English Kings, pages 93-94). Zaluckyj feels it may be because overlordship of southern England had been passing back and forth between Penda and Oswiu (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 35). A more sinister reason may lie behind the words accredited to Penda by Bede; "They were contemptible and wretched who did not obey their God, in whom they believed" (Jane translation). It could be that Oswiu in some way was trying to get out of whatever agreement was made with Penda regarding the marriages of their children, or had actively violated the agreement. Oswiu had, according to Bede, ordered his cousin Oswine, king of Deira murdered. And the fact that Peada's death is attributed to his own wife, Oswiu's daughter (and therefore sanctioned by Oswiu) makes one wonder whether Oswiu was the most honest person in the world. With Penda's death, the last of the truly powerful Heathen kings was dead. Sussex and the Isle of Wight remained to be converted, while Essex would return to Heathenry along with other kingdoms in times of distress. But none of these Heathen kingdoms would ever reach the power of Mercia under Penda. The aftermath of the battle was that Mercia fell for a short time under Northumbrian rule. Peada was allowed to rule part of the kingdom, while Oswiu took the other part. Peada did not rule long as he was murdered during Easter tide by his wife according to Bede. According to Zaluckyj, it may have been a Mercian coup due to Peada perhaps having gone Northumbrian (Zaluckyj Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon

Kingdom of Central England, page 35). However, Wulfhere, Peada's brother did not take power for some time, and Oswiu assumed direct control. It therefore is best perhaps to see the murder as the cause of those whom benefited first from it, the Northumbrians. Penda in a Different Light: Penda has long been seen as the "ultimate evil" by many historians in contrast to the "good" Christian kings. The truth of the matter is, he was, as a warlord, perhaps no better or worse than his Christian peers of the time. Indeed, while Oswiu was responsible for the murder of his cousin and perhaps that of his son in law; Penda is accredited with only one such murder, that of a late enemy's son held hostage by him. Even then, we do not know the circumstances of the murder, whether perhaps Eanfri had attempted a coup, tried to kill Penda himself, tried to escape, or died of natural causes and Bede merely thought it was murder. Of all the murders committed by early Anglo-Saxon kings discussed by Bede, he gives the least amount of details on Eanfri's death. Penda being Mercian and a pagan, there was no reason for Bede to give a clearer and perhaps more honest picture of what occurred between Eanfri and Penda. Unlike Edwin, Penda is never recorded as attacking those who had aided him. Other AngloSaxon kings of the period also had their own skeletons in the closets, and when compared, Penda seems to be no better or worse than most of them. Indeed, some of the statements about him show what today folks might consider very modern thinking, an attitude of religious tolerance. In a time when Heathen practices were already being banned, and kings such as Earconbert of Kent were ordering all idols be destroyed, Penda allowed both the Heathen and the Christian religions to exist peacefully side by side. In Bede's words quoted above about Penda finding those that did not obey their god contemptible shows that perhaps Penda himself understood a bit about Christianity, and therefore was not been lacking in the wisdom to show tolerance. He certainly, through his interaction with the Welsh, had an opportunity to learn about Christianity. This too showed his tolerance, in that he was the first historically recorded English king to ally himself with the Welsh. Religious and ethnic differences had to be set aside for such alliances to have survived. Zaluckyj mentions in her work, Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England Brooks' view on Penda: It has been suggested by Brooks that if the later demise of Mercia and Penda's paganism had 'not combined to prevent his memory from being cultivated', his memory might have been passed down to us in lines of English poetry 'like some early El Cid, as a great war leader who had made nonsense of the ethnic and religious divisions of his day.' As it was Penda left a great legacy to Mercia in the form of his children, three of whom were kings of Mercia (Peada, Wulfhere, and elred), and potentially one a king of the Magonste (Merewalh, though most scholars question the claim), as well as four daughters revered as saints (Cyneburh, Cyneswi, Edburga of Bicester, and Edith of Aylesbury), and another that was the mother of a saint (Wilburh, mother of St. Osi). Thus his contribution to English culture cannot easily be ignored. 1. Freawin and Wig both appear in the West Saxon genealogies as grandfather and father of Gewis, the semi-mythical ancestor of the kings of the Gewis (the early West Saxons). Saxo's own version of the

West Saxon genealogy differs significantly though in that he names Aloc and Angenwit in Freawine and Wig's place. 2. It must be noted that Morris and Myres were not the first to feel that some of these places may have been named for the Icelingas; from Bosworth - Toller's An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary comes the following entry for Iclingas: Iclingas; pl. The name of a Mercian family to which St. Guthlac belonged :- H was s yldestan and s elstan cynnes e Iclingas wron genemnede he [Guthlac's father] was of that chiefest and noblest race that were called Iclings, Guthl. 1 ; Gdwin. 8, 4. [Icelingtun (Ickleton in Cambridgeshire?) occurs Cod. Dipl. Kmbl, iv. 300, 24; and there is Icklingham in Suffolk.] 3. A hide could be between 40 and 120 acres, the determining factor being a hide was the land it took to feed a single family. Therefore in areas with rich land, 40 acres seem to have been the standard, while most often a hide was rated at 120 acres. 4. All of this can be drawn from Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Neinnus' History of the Britains, and the Annales Cambriae; all fairly early sources. The only true flaw I can see with the idea of three separate ascensions for Penda, is that there is no evidence, no sentence in any early source that states Penda was king of the Hwicce, Magonste, or other southern subkingdoms or minor kingdoms besides Mercia its self. The only time he is named other than king of Mercia, may be a clue to Penda's later overlordship (he was truly a Bretwalda whether named by Bede or not) in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle when he is referred to not as King of Mercians but as King of the Southumbrians (which would seem to indicate he was ruler of all lands south of the Humber). Yet, in favor of Penda as king of the Hwicce or another group in that area, there are many places named for Creoda, Pybba, and Penda in Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, and there is evidence of a Germanic presence in Hwicce in the 5th century. Indeed, instead of Hwicce being settled from the Trent river valley, or from the south by the West Saxons (as it is popularly held to have been settled) it may have been settled at an earlier date from the east. A. H. Smith holds to the view that Hwicce was settled from the Midlands, and was an Anglian and not a Saxon conquest (Zaluckyj's Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, page 102-103). The basis for assuming it was a Saxon conquest has been in the West Saxon victory of Dyrham in 577 CE over the kings of Bath, Cirencester, and Gloucester, followed by a victory at Fehtan Leag in 584 CE in Oxfordshire. This is favored by Stenton in his Anglo-Saxon England. The problem with this idea is that Bath and Cirencester both rest in the southern portion of Hwicce with Gloucester not much farther north, and a victory over their kings does not necessarily mean the territory to the north opened up to the West Saxons, anymore than Penda and Cadwallon's defeat of Edwin at Hatfield opened up Northumbria to Mercian and Welsh settlement. In addition, Fehtan Leag was nearly a stalemate, and indeed may not have even been fought against Britons but Angles. It is entirely possible then that Penda spent his younger days in Hwicce as its ruler before moving northeast to reclaim his family's lands. Bibliography

Basset, Steven (editor) 1989. The Origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, Leicester: Leicester University Press Bede; Sellar, A. M. (translator), 1907. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England, London: George Bell and Sons Fisher, Peter (translator.) and Hilda Ellis Davidson (editor), 1979. Saxo Grammaticus: History of the Danes, Cambridge: Brewer Giles, J. A. (editor) Six Old English Chronicles, London: Henry G. Bohn Grummere, Frances (translator), The Harvard Classics, Volume 49, P.F. Collier & Son Henry of Huntington ,Greenway, Diana (translator) Historia Anglorum: The History of the English People (Oxford Medieval Texts) Higham, N. J. 1995. An English Empire: Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. Ingram, James (translator), 1912. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. London: Everyman Press Lucy, Sam, 2000. The Anglo-Saxon Way of Death, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Ltd. Morris, John, 1973. The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles, 350 to 650, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons Myres, J.N.L., The English Settlements (Oxford History of England), Oxford: Oxford University Press Roger of Wendover, Giles, J. A. (translator), Flowers of History, London: Hewlett, H. G. Rolls Stenton, Frank, Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford: Oxford University Press Whittock, Martyn J, The Origins of England: 410 to 600 Zaluckyj, C, 2001. Mercia: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England, Woonton, Herfordshire: Logaston Press

What is the Miercinga Rce? By Eric Hlford Wdening and Swain eling Wdening

Miercinga Rce is a group dedicated to the study, revival, and practice of the pre-Christian religion of the Angles of the kingdom of Mercia (one of the seven kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy), and AngloSaxon Heathenry in general. The Angles were among the Germanic tribes which migrated from Continental Europe to Great Britain in the fourth and fifth centuries. Their religion was related to that of the Scandinavians of the Viking Age as well as that of other ancient Germanic peoples. The beliefs of the Miercinga Rce are therefore related to the modern religious movement known as satr, a revival of the ancient Scandinavian pagan religion. The beliefs of the Miercinga Rce are also a form of odisc Gelafa (Theodisc Geleafa or Theodish Belief as some call it); the "belief of the tribe." Two thousand years ago had someone asked a Germanic tribesman what their faith was, they would have explained their religion as the belief of the folk or tribe. We view the tribe as a community of individuals sharing the same values and beliefs, and connected by: a common history, common identity as well as friendship and oaths. The "tribe" in Asatru would equate to the local kindred of which one is a member. Tribes in ancient times were social units linked by a common cultural identity, common history, as well as shared customs, traditions, and religion. Often Germanic tribes traced descent from a common ancestor, usually a hero or even a deity. Tribes gave their folk very much a sense of community and identity. Social bonds within the ancient tribes were usually one of blood (tracing back to the common ancestor) or via hold oath (an oath similar to blood brotherhood in that it bound two people together), and much stronger than those of general society today. The great sociologist Emile Durkheim, found that loss of social identity or cultural identity within a society generally lead to a decline in morale within the individuals of that society. Such a loss of morale could lead to depression and suicide, and therefore societies that over emphasize individualism, were prone to higher suicide rates than those that emphasized cultural identification while still maintaining individual rights. Societies with little to no regulation of individuals, and with no social structure according to Durkheim were also those that see a decline in morals, an increase in crime, as well as depression and suicide. Ideally, Durkheim thought that the only way to combat this was to reintegrate individuals into some form of social structure. In a similar vein, the great Chinese philosopher Confucius felt that social order came from respecting the custom and traditions of society, respecting humanity (or Jen), and proper behavior towards one's ancestors and the living (or the concept of Li). Thus odisc Gelafa seeks to rebuild tribal societies in order to create a healthier society, one that respects ancient custom and the ancestors, one with social order and harmony. Its ideas are as firmly based in modern sociology and ancient philosophy as they are ancient Germanic custom. odisc Gelafa therefore holds that the natural place for Germanic Heathenry and the worship of the Germanic Gods and Goddesses is in a tribal setting. The ancient Germanic peoples from time immemorial worshipped the deities as a community; either as families, clans, or tribes. They were social creatures and while individuals had many of the rights they do today, and worshipped the Gods as

individuals, these were often secondary to the concerns of one's tribe. While it would be difficult to form tribes now as they were in ancient times, odisc Gelafa seeks to reform them in such a way that at least some of the benefits of tribalism will be felt. Modern odisc Gelafa had its start in 1976 when Garman Lord along with others such as Lord Ealdord of Moody Hill Theod began to explore the idea of resurrecting the old pagan religion of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. For the longest time, the only odisc groups were Anglo-Saxon Heathen ones (groups dedicated to one of the Anglo-Saxon tribes or the Anglo-Saxons as a whole). Now however, there are several odisc groups dedicated to such various tribal traditions as the Angles, Jutes, Normans, Goths, and Norse. All odisc groups generally believe in certain social concepts. Amongst these social concepts are: sacral kingship, the idea of a sacral ruler that collectively holds the luck of the tribe; a structured society, one which has distinct social classes in which one has to earn their position; that all have freedom of conscience, and finally, that folk can be bond together by oaths and blood into a tribe. odisc Gelafa seeks to create groups that are more community minded and have a more solid common identity. To many, a group that is more community minded may not necessarily be desirable. But to many in the Heathen community to have friends and family that you share a common bond with, that you can fall back on for support in your beliefs and in your daily life is felt needed. odisc Gelafa does not sacrifice the identity of the individual to the group, anymore than a local kindred does, or those organizations with more modern corporate structures. If anything it does the opposite by allowing each full member of the tribal group more say in the day to day running of the organization. The Classes of Society of the Miercinga Rce: Like Dark Age Mercian society, the Miercinga Rce is divided into three different classes or rungas "honorings." In the Dark Ages, the majority of people in Mercian society were ceorls (modern English churls). They were the working class, the individuals who farmed land and made crafts. It was not unusual for ceorls, particularly those who owned land, to be wealthier than the members of the nobility. In the Miercinga Rce, the ceorls are the common members responsible for nothing more than their own home and family. In ancient Mercian society, the class above the ceorls were the thegns (also spelled thanes) or gesias. The thegns owned more land than the ceorls (at least 5 hides--a hide being enough land to sustain one family) . They also owed such duties to the king as military service and the maintenance of bridges and fortresses. In the Miercinga Rce, it is the thegns who form the civil service, who hold the various offices, and generally ensure that everything in the Rce runs as smoothly as possible. Above the thegns are the ealdorman, thegns appointed to run a ste of the Rce. It is they who provide the administration for the Miercinga Rce, it is they who oversee the running of things. It must be pointed out that the class system of Dark Age Mercia was flexible. Ceorls can and did become thegns. And thegns did become ealdormen. It was in some respects very much an upwardly mobile society. As such, so is the Miercinga Rce. These rungas serve two primary purposes. One is to inspire and maintain our members' willingness to dedicate themselves to religious self-development, hard work, and taking responsibility for the wellbeing of our community as a whole. The rungas recognize and reward such willingness. The second is our belief that a structured society with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations for

each member helps promote the long-term stability of our community, and encourages the development of frith (peace and good relationships) and troth among us, as it did in the past for our forebears. These levels are conferred upon each of us by our local groups and their leaders in the Miercinga Rce as we progress in self-development and service, and show willingness and ability to maintain a higher level of responsibility. Members are not required to progress to another rank, however, if they are satisfied where they are. In order to become a member of Miercinga Rce, one must first complete a period as a probationary member. Probationary memberships take two forms. One is that of Wrgenga or a "pact walker." In the ancient Anglo-Saxon period, a wrgenga was someone who sought protection within a tribe that was not their own. They were accorded that protection, and after time, became a part of the tribe. Wrgengas are probationary members that have been practicing another form of Germanic Heathenry such as satr for some time, and therefore know quite a bit about the Gods and Goddesses, rites, and beliefs of Germanic Heathenry. Wrgengas must provide their own learning materials, take a provisional oath, and remain in that status for a year and a day. Those totally new to Heathenry must enter as an ow or "servant." owas exchange physical labor at religious gatherings for learning materials, and have fewer rights within the Rce than wrgengas. owas like wrgengas stay in that position for a year and a day. At the end of a year and a day for both forms of provisional membership it is determined whether one is ready to oath as a full member of the Miercinga Rce. If it is determined they are, they then take a hold oath to a member of higher rung, and become a ceorl. For more information on rungas, it is suggested you read Miercinga rungas (http://www.ealdriht.org/arungs.htm). Sibb and the Web of Oaths: Within the Miercinga Rce, each individual has bonds to another in some way, shape, or form. The most basic of these bonds is that of sibb or kinship. The family or mg was the basic unit of Dark Age Mercian society. It was the mg who cared for individuals when they were ill or fell on hard times. The mg was obligated to either collect wergild or wreak vengeance in case one of their number was murdered. They were also obligated to pay the wergild if one of their number murdered someone else. Women continued to be considered to be part of their families even after they married. A woman's kinsmen were expected to look after her interests and to take action if her husband abused or injured her. Beyond the was the sibb or extended family which had similar obligations. In the Miercinga Rce, the mg plays an important role as it did in Dark Age Mercia. Family is important to us, and we encourage people in maintaining familial relationships even with non-Heathen family members. Another source of bonds between the members of the Miercinga Rce is the Web of Oaths. Each person is generally oathed to another. Ceorls are oathed to thegns and thegns to ealdormen or elingas, and ealdormen to the cyning. Oaths create mutual obligations and responsibility between two individuals. For instance, a thegn oathed to an ealdormen owes his service to that ealdormen and the ealdormen, in turn, has obligations to help the thegn when he can. These oaths form an "artificial" kinship linking each person one to another, much in the way wedding vows do (although for entirely different purposes).

The purpose of the Web of Oaths is to help create a stronger common identity, to strengthen the tribal bonds. The Structure of Miercinga Rce: The Miercinga Rce is broken down into stan, regional groups that blot together at the three high holy tides of Winterfylle, Yule, and Eostre. The word ste comes from a old Mercian document called the Tribal Hidage. This was a list intended for the purpose of taxation naming each area of Mercia roughly analogous to a modern shire. Each ste is headed by a lord or an ealdorman appointed by the Dryhten. Every person within a ste is oathed to the ealdorman of that ste or to a thegn oathed to the ealdorman. In other odisc groups, a ste would be called a od. Every ealdorman of every ste holds a seat on the Witanagemt. The Witanagemt is the governing council of the Rce. Ealdormen are appointed appointed by the Dryhten with consultation with the folk of the ste. Each ste is composed of smaller more local units such as family groups like sibbas and mgas, and non family groups such as a mt (roughly analogous to the Asatru kindred) or dryht (a warband created for the study of ancient military practices in relation to the religion). A lode is a formational ste, and can be formed by any oathed member of the Miercinga Rce with the permission of the Dryhten and Witanagemt. You can read more on forming a lode at http://www.ealdriht.org/mot.html At the head of the Rce is the Dryhten, who is an eling elected to that position, and who serves as chairman of the Witanagemt until such time as it is deemed the Rce have a cyning or sacral king. Ancient Germanic tribes generally were ruled by a king who was deemed to be responsible for the "luck" of the tribe. It was he that had to oversee the sacrifices at the high holy tides, not to mention interpret tribal law and set it. Ancient Germanic kings were elected by the Witanagemt, and then confirmed by the folk. Should the king fail in their duties, they could be removed. However, it is unlikely that the Miercinga Rce will have a king for many years. Conclusion: Finally, the Miercinga Rce seeks to understand and live the beliefs and values of the ancient Angles of Mercia and other Germanic Heathens (pagans), bringing them forward into modern life. Though we focus strongly on the Anglo-Saxon strand of the Germanic Heathen tapestry, and our emphases may differ somewhat, our deities and most of our values and beliefs are held in common with many other Heathen and Asatru organizations and groups. We follow the deities often called the se (sir) and the Wen (Vanir), including among others Woden (Odin), Frige (Frigg), Thunor (Thor), Tiw (Tyr), Ing Frea (Freyr), and Freo (Freya). Also among the things we most value is troth: a committed and enduring loyalty to our Holy Ones, to our forebears and the ancient wisdom they held, and to each other as companions along the Heathen way. Community and troth are essential to our way; they form the context or matrix within which our rights, customs and common values--our thews--can be understood, reestablished, and held firm to support the living of our Heathen lives today. We draw upon English folklore and the history of the Anglo-Saxons for our information and inspiration. However, because of the scarcity of information about the religion of these ancestors of the English people, we also draw

heavily on the mythology and religious lore of the related Scandinavian tribes, which was better preserved.

Frith and Oaths:

On the Meaning of Frith By Wynnefridh Hlaefdige Haligwaerstowes

Frith is often translated as "peace". The full meaning of frith encompasses peace but extends well beyond it, to cover a large portion of the most meaningful and essential foundations of human social life, especially as it is lived in more traditional societies. A full understanding of the concept of frith will show that peace is not identical to frith; rather, peace as we understand it is generally an outgrowth of frith, resulting from the conditions of frith being met. When frith has been ac hieved, usually peace is there too, though that is not always the case, as I shall show. Our forebears perceived three primary focuses or centers of frith. The first -- and surely the original -wellspring of frith was kinship and kindreds. The second was the web of loyalty created among a lord or chieftain and his (occasionally her) folk. The third wellspring of frith arose from the relationships between the folk and their gods, goddesses and other holy wights, as well as between individuals of the folk who had come together into the presence of their deities. I will address each of these wellsprings in turn, drawing much from Vilhelm Groenbechs volumes on The Culture of the Teutons. As far as I am aware, Groenbech has done the most comprehensive job of summarizing and analyzing the existing literary sources concerning the concept and practice of frith and related thews among all the Germanic tribes. Frith and Kinship: The idea of frith is very closely tied to kinship -- blood kinship in particular -- and then to kinship by marriage, adoption and fostering. The words frith and sib were often used interchangeably to describe the state of being of people involved in a kindred relationship, and we can easily see the connection in the modern use of the term sibling to indicate a brother or sister. The term frith did not merely indicate the material fact of blood relationship. Rather, it described the essence of the r elationship itself: the joys, responsibilities, interdependence, burdens, and benefits that characterized it. The word frith is related to the words for friend and free. Frith was to our forebears the "power that makes them friends towards one another, and free men towards the rest of the world." (Groenbech, Vol. I, p. 32) In their minds, "freedom" did not mean freedom from responsibility toward others. Freedom meant being strong enough to face the evils the world threw at one and being able to overcome or survive them, and for this one depended on ones kindred. Surrounded by a numerous kindred cogni zant of the requirements of frith, the Germanic man or woman was well-armored against all the misfortunes the world could cast, whether poverty, threats of violence, legal troubles, or any

other difficulties. Not woven into a web of frith, a lonely wretc h had nothing either material or spiritual upon which to rest his or her life and welfare. This also was the bitter lot of thralls. The term frith captured a huge proportion of everything good that could exist in life, and all of these grew out of the roots of the kindred itself -- the kindred relationship. Lines from Egil Skallagrimsons moving poem about the drowning of his son express this sense of the unity of the kindred: "Cruel was the hole the waves tore in my fathers kin-fence; unfilled, I know, and open stands the son-breach torn in me by the sea." The oneness of the kindred was no mere conceptual ideal; it was impleme nted and practiced as a matter of course in everyday life, and the name for this many-faceted thew was frith. "Frith is something active, not merely leading kinsmen to spare each other, but forcing them to support one anothers cause, help and stand spon sor for one another, trust one another... The responsibility is absolute, because kinsmen are literally the doers of one anothers deeds." (Groenbech, Vol I., pp. 42-43) One can read again and again in the Icelandic Sagas of a worthless, trouble-making person whose actions bring disgrace and disaster on the whole kindred, but who, nevertheless, is supported, helped and defended by other members of the kindred committe d to the thew of frith no matter what the consequences. Groenbech notes the "absolute character of frith, its freedom from all reservation." (Vol. I, p. 36) This absolute, uncompromising character of kindred-oriented frith actually contributed significa ntly to the pursuit of feuds and strife within the larger community, at the same time that it reduced strife within the kindred, inside the pale of frith. Frith was nothing if not partisan: focused on security and stability of the kindred, it had no appl ication to those individuals and groups who lay outside the boundaries when it came to a conflict of interest between the two. Nor could any notion of absolute, unbiased justice make a dent in it: defending ones kindred was always right, no matter how wrong their actions were. Frith was the paramount thew, taking precedence over all others. Often women, as brides, were meant to serve as frithweavers between warring clans. When, as too often happened, the frith thus woven broke down, the effect on women of the conflict between loyalty to lord (husband) versus kin was severe. As far as I am aware, though, there seems to have been no question in our forebears minds that a womans loyalty belonged first to her kin. Gudrun of the Volsunga Saga is a perfect example: she could not take vengeance on her brothers for their murder of h er husband Sigfried, in spite of her bitter grief at his death. Though she loved her husband dearly, that love could not outweigh the demands of kin-frith. Yet she had no hesitation enacting vengeance on her next husband, the Hun leader Atli, for her bro thers deaths. This was done in order to keep frith -- kinfrith -- whole. Women indeed acted as peace weavers, not only within the kindred but also in the community, and inspiring examples of their deeds can be found in the literature. (The same, of course, can be said for many men.) Yet they also acted against peace, as w e would see it today, by being the keepers of the family frith and honor, and ensuring that vengeance was taken when one of their own had been injured. The Icelandic and Germanic Sagas give many instances of women who prodded their more peaceable or just lazy or feckless (in the mindset of the times) menfolk into taking vengeance when the men perhaps would not have bothered if they had been left alone. The difference between our times, our mindset, and theirs is profound in this respect. They regarded the courageous act of marrying into an enemy clan

as frithweaving, and so would we; but they also saw vengeance against those who broke through the boundaries of frith -- outsiders who damaged their kindred in some way -- as being properly supportive of frith, which we would not regard today as "peaceful" behavior. Frith and the Bonds between Leaders and Folk: Due most likely to the violent, insecure and threatening world in which they lived, our Germanic forebears in many, though by no means all, places and times of their history laid great emphasis on a close and loyal relationship between leader and folk . This reached its highest expression in the oathed relationship between a war leader and war band, though it also applied to peacetime chieftains, kings and other leaders. This lord/sworn man relationship was frequently extolled in the heroic poetry and sagas of the age, so that we have good records of what it ideally involved. Frith between lord and man was expressed much as the frith of kinship: there were mutual obligations and benefits, including the requirement for the man not to raise hand or voice against his lord, and the lord not to punish or deprive his man and the mans dependents unjustly. In essence, the lord owed the man his livelihood, while the man owed the lord his life. Under the social conditions present in those times, neither could survive safely or comfortably without the other; thus the importance o f making and maintaining bonds of trust and frith between them. This was often strengthened by the fact that there were kin relationships within these groups, also among the folk, and between chieftain/lord and some of the folk. This gave a double founda tion for frith: it was both oath-bound and kinship-bound. The men sworn to a lord were likewise expected to keep peace and trust among themselves. AngloSaxon literature is rich in references to the healldream, the "joys of the hall", where the deep frith between members of a war band or other oathed group , seated blithely in the lords hall, closely matched the gladness and security ideally available within the homes of families and kindreds. The greatest possible disgrace was for a man to leave the battlefield where his lord -- his "ring-giver" -lay dead, unless vengeance had first been taken for the lords death. All of the heroic epics, both "historical" and "legendary" (for whatever the difference between them is worth!) made much of this obligation, including Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon. Famous lines from the latter, spoken by Byrhtwold on the battlefield at the death of his lord Byrhtnoth, capture the passion of frith between man and lord:

"Hyge shall the harder be, hearts the keener, Mod shall be greater, as our main lessens. Here lies our ealdor, all hewn about, Good man on the ground; ever will regret, He who from this war-place thinks to wend forth.

I have broad wisdom; I will not leave, But by the side of my lord, By so dear a man, think to lay myself down." (Lines 312-319; my translation)

The strong attachment to a lord could, on occasion, create a conflict between kinship-frith and oathfrith. For example, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 755 has a complicated account of fighting between Cynewulf and Cyneheard. Cyn ewulf attacked and killed Cyneheard; Cyneheards thanes were determined to protect his body and avenge him. When these thanes were offered money and safe-conduct by kinsmen who were in the opposing force, they answered that "no kinsman was dearer to them than their lord, and they would never follow his slayer." The Laws of Alfred (late 800's) state that a lord and his follower may each fight on each others behalf without penalty of law, and a man may so fight on behalf of a blood relative, but a man "may not take the side of a kinsman against his lord -- that we do not permit." (Griffiths p. 73-74) These examples, including the Battle of Maldon, come from christian times. While there is a clear continuity between the Heathen thew of troth between lord and warrior, and this same loyalty described in writings by christians, the christians took the whole idea a lot farther until it ended up in despotic monarchy. Thus I believe the writings early in the christian period have some relevance for illustrating the practices of troth and frith, but they must likewise be taken with a grain of sa lt because they may be extending the concept in a different direction, or to a greater extreme, than Heathens would have done. By what I have noticed from my reading, it appears that among the Anglo-Saxons and most likely their continental Germanic forebears, the oathed frith-relationship between lord and sworn man stood highest of all values, while among the Icelanders and t o a lesser extent their Scandinavian forebears, the frith of kinship was paramount. This difference had, I believe, complex implications regarding the amount of feuding, strife and litigation present within the larger communities of these two cultural gr oups (Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon), but this is a large topic outside the scope of my current essay. Differences in the relative priority of kin-frith versus oath-frith could also explain some of the disagreements and misunderstandings between modern Heat hens who follow the Icelandic form versus those who have chosen the Anglo-Saxon way. Frith between Folk and the Holy Ones: Frithful behavior was a highly important sign of respect and troth on the part of our forebears toward their gods, goddesses, land-wights, and their ancestral dises and alfs. This is attested to by the prevalence of "frithyards" found everywhere tha t Germanic peoples settled, and often mentioned in the literature of the time.

Frithyards were to be kept holy in several respects, the primary one being that no bloodshed, fighting or severe quarreling was allowed. One well-known example of the required behavior in a frithyard is given in Eyrbyggja Saga, Chapter 4, abou t the Thors-godhi Thorolf Mostur-Beard and his holy mountain Helgafell. Things were held at the foot of the mountain, at the place where Thorolfs Thors-pillar had first come to land. No bloodshed nor excrement were allowed in the area--folk had to go off to a rock in the sea to relieve themselves! (Indeed, the very term used for "to relieve oneself" meant literally "to go drive out the alfs". (Cf. Our Troth, p. 227.) Chapter 9 of the same Saga tells of the purposeful desecration of the frithstead by the Kjallekling clan, and the resulting bloodshed as Thorolfs kin tried to defend the land they regarded as holy. Again, as we see in the context of kin-frith and oath-frith, the establishment and maintenance of frithsteads holy to the gods could also result in violence and death--not to mention the free and liberal use of excrement to make ones point, something foreshadowing of the strife prevalent in todays Heathen community...! (As an interesting aside, the fight over the frithstead was finally broken up by a team of peacemakers who, when they were at first unsuccessful, threatened to join the fighting on t he side of whichever clan first agreed to listen to them! This immediately broke up the fight. Something to keep in mind, perhaps!) Both temporary and permanent frithsteads were used by our forebears. Temporary frithsteads were usually the Thingsteads, and frith was kept there both to honor the deities and as a practical matter, in that the business of the Thing could not be prop erly conducted if frith were not maintained. Permanent frithsteads, often called frithyards, were generally associated with a temple, shrine, or other holy spot such as a well or a sacred tree, or a boulder housing a local landwight. Frithyards were hol y not only to major deities, but also and perhaps even more commonly, to "minor" holy wights such as landwights, well-maidens, or family forebears (dises and alfs). Holy beings of our folk, both high and low, for the most part love frith and demand it from their followers and their human neighbors. Heathen landwights, well-maidens, woodwives, house-wights, and most other kinds of nature spirits dislike strife an d tend to leave their steads, taking their mains and holiness with them, if subjected to too much strife, bloodshed, or lack of respect on the part of quarrelsome or greedy humans. They will also leave if they feel betrayed by their human friends and nei ghbors, showing that frith comprises not only absence of strife, but also ties of loyalty. (On this subject, see the section on Guardian Spirits in Davidson.) The central importance of frithyards to Heathen worship is exemplified by the fact that centuries after Germanic countries were supposedly christianized, kings and church leaders still found it necessary to promulgate strict laws and penalties against having and visiting "peace enclosures" on ones own property or anywhere else. One example is the 16th Canon Law enacted under Englands King Edgar (939-946), some 300 years into the period of christian dominance: "And we enjoin, that every priest...totally extinguish every heathenism, and forbid well-worshipping, and spiritualism, and divinations, and enchantments, and idol-worshipping, and the vain practices which

are carried on with various spells, and with peace-enclosures, and with elders (the tree), and also with various other trees, and with stones...." (Linsell, p. 161. See also Our Troth, p. 236, for more examples.) Even with enormous social pressure levied against the practice, over the course of many generations, people still maintained and worshipped at their frithyards. The christian church clearly saw the practice of having "peace enclosures" as evidence of a dangerously Heathen mindset -- an irony indeed, coming from the followers of "the Prince of Peace!" Possibly the idea of the christian church being a sanctuary for fugitives and a place to enter in peace of heart was influenced by Heathen belief in th e value of the frithstead. The main point to be made here is that the frithstead or frithyard was not only intended to be a place where peace was enforced. It was also a reminder and a commitment to the fact that Heathen folk are in a relationship with their deities and friend ly spirits: a relationship of frith, that involves trust, respect, mutual benefit, and mutual obligations, including but not limited to behaving in a peaceful manner toward one another. Frithguilds: One of the best ways to gain a deeper understanding of the ancient concept of frith is by looking at the early medieval frithguilds. Frithguilds appeared during this time as a result of radical changes in social conditions and social structures. The original sources of frith (kin, oath-bonds, and Heathen faith and practice) were weakened by social changes such as christianization, the growth of large, impersonal towns instead of small villages, movements of people away from their birth- and kinstead s, the growth of merchant and artisan classes of society, and the rise of competing focuses of loyalty. These competing focuses included professional guilds, church hierarchies, and a distant monarch with political bureaucracies who were not personally known to most individuals and who most certainly did not cleave to the responsibilities of frith owed by traditional chieftains and lords to their folk. At best, minimal levels of justice and social order were maintained by the secular and clerical hierarchies, but these, one might argue, were more often motivated by the desire for gain (from fines) than by any sense of frith toward their subjects and followers. The responsibilities of followers and subjects to their leaders seem to have been a good deal more heavily emphasized than the responsibilities of leader to folk, creating a fundamental breach o f frith. (To be fair, there were some notable exceptions, King Alfred the Great among them, who articulated a sincere and demanding vision of a kings responsibilities to the folk, based on his christian values, and who tried to live his vision.) If any proof were needed of the gradual abrogation of the bonds of frith between leaders and folk, one has only to look at the struggle that was required to obtain the Magna Charta from King John ('Lackland') in 1215. This reinstated, at great human cost, some of the ancient rights of non-royal folk and reduced some of the overweening privilege that had by then been arrogated by kings. If proper frith, according to Heathen custom, had been held between king and folk, such bitter struggles would not have been necessary.

Frith was felt to be so essential to the life of the folk, that those who were removed from the natural innangardhs of traditional society during the Middle Ages felt the need to create new hearths of frith for themselves: the frithguilds. Though the se fell far short of the full frith of kinship and other traditional structures, they still provided for at least the minimal needs of frith. The general provisions of the frithguilds were as follows: Members of a guild were not to engage in strife with each other; but if they did do so, they were not allowed to bring it before any court for litigation, excepting the court of the Guild itself. If anyone killed a man who was not a member of the Guild, the Guild must help their fellow escape with such provision as they could manage for his well-being. Anyone who failed to help when they were able to do so was cast out as a niing. Every brother of the Guild was obliged to help every other one in lawsuits (by being an oath-helper, by guarding him in court and out, and so forth). If a Guild-brother was killed, other Guild members must refrain from eating, drinking, or having any social connections with his slayer, and must aid the dead man s heirs in seeking vengeance or restitution. (See Groenbech, Vol. I, Ch. 1) By these descriptions, we can gain a better understanding of our forebears expectations of frith, of its value to them and their dependence on it for support and safety. In Summary.... Groenbech tells us that "If ever word bore the mark of the transforming influence of Christianity and humanism, it is this word frith. If we look closely into the older significance of the word, we shall find something sterner; a firmness that has now given place to weakness. The frith of earlier days was less passive than now, with less of submissiveness and more of will. It held also an element of passion which has now been submerged in quietism." (Vol. I, p. 33) In essence, frith is not an absence, but a presence. It is not the absence of strife; rather it fills the spaces between people with something that is stronger and more important, more meaningful, than strife. That "something" that fills in the spaces is frith: a closely woven relationship with a distinctive pattern to it. If frith were merely an absence of strife, we could not speak of frithweaving: how does one weave a vacuum? One weaves a fabric, filling empty space with substance, pattern, and tensile strength that is created by the interweaving of many threads into a strong whole. Strife can occur between people who are in frith with each other, though there are limits to the severity of expression allowed. Strife is a natural component of existence: consider its linguistic connection to the word "strive", a word that expresses part of Heathen thew. Strife only becomes dangerous when there is no frith, no committed relationship with recognized rules and patterns of behavior, to control and counterbalance it. References:

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. G.N. Garmonsway, translator, Everymans Library, London, England, 1972.Davidson, Hilda Ellis. The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe. Routledge, New York, 1993. Eyrbyggja Saga. Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards, translators, Penguin Books, London, England, 1989. Griffiths, Bill. An Introduction to Early English Law. Anglo-Saxon Books, Norfolk, England, 1995. Griffiths, Bill. The Battle of Maldon. Anglo-Saxon Books, Middlesex, England, 1991. (This poem can be found in many collected works and other sources.) Groenbech, Vilhelm. The Religion of the Teutons. Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, London, England. 1931. Linsell, Tony. Anglo-Saxon Mythology, Migration and Magic. Anglo-Saxon Books, Middlesex, England, 1994. Our Troth, by the Ring of Troth, 1993.

Frith as the Foundation of Ealdriht Community By Wynnefridh Hlaefdige Haligwaerstowes

In my last article about frith (On the Meaning of Frith, The Eldright Book; also published in Lina, Midsummer 1996), I attempted to analyze and summarize the ancient, traditional views of frith among the Germanic Heathen folk. In this second paper about frith, I am building upon the ideas discussed in my earlier article, so please refer to it if you need more clarification about basic concepts of frith. This chapter here is intended to lay the foundations for the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, concerning how we understand and practice frith today, and the role of frith in the life of the Eldright. In my earlier article, I pointed out that the ancient concept of frith had three roots: kinship, the loyal commitments between leaders and folk, and the relationship between folk and our Holy Ones. In my discussion here, I shall build upon upon all three of these roots. I realize that it would make life easier for you if I could give you a one-sentence definition of frith to proceed with. I will give it a try, but please keep in mind that frith is like love, trust, friendship, and other aspects of human relationships, and does not lend itself to a simple definition any more than they do. Furthermore, though love, friendship usw. still abound, and it is easy for us to learn about them from life experience, true Heathen frith is not so readily apparent in present-day American society, though I have seen and experienced for myself phenomena similar to our frith that are still very much present in some other cultures. This relative lack of opportunity to experience frith first-hand makes the definition of it all that much more difficult, and also makes me leery of oversimplifying such a definition. So, kindly regard this definition simply as a place to begin from, realizing that more layers of meaning must be laid upon it from our understanding of the Heathen past, and from our tentative experiences as we attempt to reweave Heathen frith today. At its very simplest and most superficial, frith roughly equates to our modern idea of "peace" as "lack of strife." At its deepest and most powerful level, to the extent that I can comprehend it, frith is the very fabric of the social bond itself. But not just any "social relationship" or community. A community (however small or large) founded upon frith is not a loosely-tied conglomeration of individuals, but one which is truly functional as a coherent body, brought together by a common set of unifying principles, beliefs, customs and practices. Hopefully, this article and the previous one I wrote, taken all together, will begin to lay the foundations for a deeper and more authentically Heathen understanding and practice of frith within the Eldright. Frith is rooted in the bonds of kinship and community. It lies at the heart of our understanding of what makes us "us;" why we are what we are. Frith also lies at the root of the answers to the question "why do these things matter to us; why do we care that we are who we are?"

What are we, as Heathens? How do we define ourselves? Fundamentally, we do so by accepting and living Heathen values, Heathen thew, and by committing our troth to our own Holy Ones. As part of accomplishing this, we must learn and incorporate into our being the roots of history, lore, culture, and tradition out of which Heathen thew developed. Heathen faith and thew, as they existed in the past, were deeply rooted in the fabric of society itself; they arose out of and supported a community, a folk. Now, if one looks at the virtues and values that are held in common by all modern Heathens, one can see that all of them tend in this same direction: they are necessary to support frith, which is the foundation of Heathen society and culture. Honor and courage, trustworthiness and steadfastness, generosity and hard work, and all the rest: they are the threads out of which a functional society is woven, and what binds all of them together, what they all serve to support, is frith, the fabric of Heathen society. Outside the Anglo-Saxon Eldright, differences of interpretation and practice of Heathen values and beliefs may sometimes cause strife and deep rifts among Heathens. Within the Eldright, one of the most important things we are all doing is building and living a common, mutually agreed-upon understanding of the fundamental Heathen thews on which we base our faith and lives. This means that we have a very strong loom on which to weave true Heathen frith among ourselves! If we succeed in weaving frith out of these various strands of thew and faith, then we will have succeeded in creating a living, breathing definition of who we as Eldright Heathens--collectively, a folk-truly are. Ideally, we can create an adapted, modern, but deeply-rooted version of the ancient understanding of frith, as expressed in this passage taken from Vilhelm Groenbech's The Culture of the Teutons: We can follow the idea of frith from its manifestations in man's self-consciousness, down through all his dispositions, until it disappears in the root of will. We dimly perceive that it is not he that wills frith, but frith that wil ls him. It lies at the bottom of his soul as the great fundamental element.... Frith constitutes what we call the base of the soul. It is not a mighty feeling among other feelings in these people, but the very core of the soul, that gives birth to all thoughts and feelings, and provides them with the energy of life--or it is that centre in the self where thoughts and feelings receive the stamp of their humanity, and are inspired with will and direction. (Vol. I, p. 53) The bonds of Heathen kinship and community, and thus of frith, are based on two things. One is our relationship to our gods, goddesses and other holy wights. Some of us believe that this relationship is actual kinship, others of us may see it simply as the relationship between worshippers and those worshipped, but in either case it is a strong and deep relationship that comes with a number of obligations and implications attached to it. The second bond comes from our common values and beliefs, our thews, history and culture. All of these bonds and relationships, together, could be summed up as our Heathen troth, faith, way, or religion. One of the strongest aspects of Heathen faith and Eldright belief is the emphasis on faith and faithfulness, trust and troth. First and foremost among those with whom to share these thews are our own Holy Ones. By committing to faith and troth with them, we enter into a whole complex of commitments that follow from the first, original one to them. We become their folk, and therefore according to Heathen thew, we enter into relationship with the other members of their folk.

Heathen thew, in the past, had many and stringent rules about how the members of a group were supposed to interact together, including rules for kindreds, oathed bands, communities, tribes, and other social units. These rules were all directed toward ensuring that frith was maintained within the group, because without the fabric of frith, there could be no functional group at all, there would be only a confused mass of individuals. Without frith, they could not have been trusted to interact in reliable and functional ways; everyone would have been a potential "loose cannon," unpredictable and possibly dangerous, and lacking any foundation for building trust and troth. The berserkers actually were just like this; they stood outside the rules and the fabric of frith, and while they had their roles to play in society, these were not comfortable or easy roles either for them or for the other members of society. The position of berserkers in ancient society gives us a good example of what Heathen society without frith would have been like. To the extent that we fail to weave true Heathen frith among us today, we can liken ourselves to a mass of individual berserkers rather than to a folk or any other kind of community. Since the deepest foundation of modern Heathen frith arises from our relationship with our Holy Ones, it follows that the minimum boundaries, the innangardh within which frith should be held, may be as wide as the boundaries around our Heathen troth; at a minimum, they encompass all of the Eldright. Those who are called to and who choose to follow our Holy Ones and the fundamental Heathen ways and thews, are members of a common community or folk, and are those with whom we should endeavor to keep at least some degree of frith. Of course, this is not to say that we cannot or should not keep frith with those who stand outside those boundaries (most especially, our own non-Heathen kinfolk). Consider now the following quotations from Groenbech, based on his understanding of what frith meant to our elder kin: "The entire community is broken, and the strength of its men therewith, as soon as even one of the individual parties to it is torn up. And thus they compare the group of kinsmen to a fence, stave set by stave, enclosing a sacred ground . When one is struck down, there is a breach in the clan, and the ground lies open to be trampled on." (Vol. I, p. 56) The sacred ground which Groenbech mentions, I see as being the frithgarth of our Holy Ones, surrounded by each of us as members of the Eldright. Each one of us is a stave standing in honor and defense before our holiest ground: our troth with our gods and goddesses--our Eldright, our ancient right--in very truth. If we stand alone, unconnected with each other, our "fence" is weak and easily broken. Bound together in troth and frith, with a common understanding of what we are about, our fence will hold firm. Based on the assumptions of traditional oath-frith and its requirements, the interests of and benefits to the deities are a deciding factor for Heathens in choosing what activities to engage in and how to go about them. As Eldright members, we are sworn to make a true, good-faith effort to keep frith with each other, so that we can work together to pursue the best interests of our gods and goddesses. The Eldright itself, as well as other worthy Heathen endeavors, is surely a matter of interest and benefit to our deities, since our worship and practices help to strengthen their maegen and broaden the extent of their worship and their folk in today's world. Continuing with Groenbech: Thus the kinsmen proclaim their oneness of soul and body, and this reciprocal identity is the foundation on which society and the laws of society must be based. In all

relations between man and man, it is frith that is taken into account , not individuals. What a single man has done, binds all who live in the same circle of frith. (Vol. I, p. 55) I interpret the phrase "it is frith that is taken into account, not individuals," to mean that the definition of a crime, or a good deed, relates more to the effect of the deed upon the frith of the community, rather than upon any individual person. To put the last sentence from the quotation into the framework of another fundamental Heathen concept: the deeds of one of us affect the wyrd of the whole, of all of us together. The deeds of each one of us represent and stand for the Eldright as a whole. Our deeds of worth and honor bring honor to the Eldright, while unworthy deeds and lives bring shame. "What a single man has done, binds all who live in the same circle of frith." If we distanced ourselves and our reputations, our gefrains, from each other and the Eldright, if we denied any connection between us and one another's deeds, then we would deny the existence of frith and of any common wyrd among us. By doing so we would deny the foundations of our thews and troth, and of our potential for creating a common law and a true Heathen society together. We must recognize that the Eldright itself, as an entity, has a wyrd of its own that we are in the process of weaving, by putting down layers of orlay in the Well through our deeds together. Each of us does this, contributing not only to our own personal orlay, but to the orlay and wyrd of the Eldright as a whole. By our oaths to the Eldright, we bind ourselves into the Eldright's wyrd, and take on a shared responsibility to ensure a lucky and worthy wyrd for it and for us all. Accepting these values and understandings brings us to the kind of frith described here by Groenbech: "Such then, is the frith which in ancient days united kinsmen one with another; a love which can only be characterized as a feeling of identity, so deeply rooted that neither sympathy nor antipathy, nor any humour or mood can make it ebb or flow." (Vol. I, p. 56) To clarify Groenbech's meaning here, I would point out that the "love" he refers to might well also be called "troth." He refers not to an emotion, a feeling that comes and goes, but to a commitment that holds no matter what one's feelings or the circumstances of the moment might be. Thus we see more clearly the connection, firmly woven, between troth and frith: the foundations of the Eldright.

Frith By Thad N. Z. Horrell Horrell Maegdred Stanland Hall

Ancient Heathen society was full of laws concerning how people were to interact with one another. These laws were intended to maintain the respective social unit(s) as a whole. They primarily revolved around the concept of "frith." Commonly translated as "peace," frith is a complex idea that is one of the basic building blocks of the Heathen worldview. As members of a modern Heathen organization, we must gain a working understanding of this idea and put it to use within our Eldright. In spite of the common translation, frith is very different than peace. Peace, as the absence of strife, can occur where there is no frith. Likewise, frith is not always accompanied by peace. Peace is however a common side effect of true frith, and perhaps even it's goal. Frith might best be defined as the motivation to maintain or achieve lasting peace and well being within the social unit. It may be noticed that I said within the social unit. This is very important in that frith does not require this motivation for peace in regards to those who are not a part of said group. Usually the guidelines of frith will encourage peaceful interact ion even with the "outsider," since good relations are generally in the best interest of both parties. However, if conflict with others is necessary for the well being of the group, particularly if it will prevent or end strife between group members, then frith not only encourages it, but in fact requires it. No matter how frithfull a relationship is, however, there will always be conflicts. This is natural and does not imply a breaking of frith, as long as the conflicts are dealt with in a way that minimizes their damage to the group as a whole. Disagreements are sometimes healthy. They can be an opportunity for all parties involved to learn something and to work out differences. Likewise, having your mistakes pointed out to you and being told how to do things a better way are necessary parts of learning, no matter how unpleasant. Though they can lead to arguments and hard feelings, such actions are required within the bounds of frith. Frith is often referred to in the context of family, and though this is an important element of frith, this aspect can easily lead to misunderstandings about it. Before looking in to much depth at the place of frith within the family one must realize that frith is not necessarily the norm in family structures, but the ideal. The sad fact is that most people cannot envision what frith is about by looking back on their family

relationships. Far too often in our modern society (and most probably, though to perhaps lesser extent, in the societies of the past as well) people are mistreated by close family members, whether emotionally, physically, sexually, or more than one of the above. Those who suffer or have suffered from such problems (who are probably a majority) are likely to take the association of frith with family structure in a less than positive light. For these people the structure of authority in the modern family unit has caused, reinforced, or accentuated their problems. The ideal heathen family, however, should be an exemplar of the idea of frith. Within any family unit, whether immediate or extended, members should make an effort to "get along." They should try to resolve any differences in a way that is best for all involved. They should help each other with their problems; defending them from their enemies and sharing in their friendships. This is the Heathen ideal for family relations, and it is the heart of the concept of frith. Another thing that must be kept in mind when looking at frith is the fact that one's actions affect others within the same community. Though one is responsible for their own actions and reap the benefit and loss from what they do, those same actions affect those close to the individual to a lesser extent. Our successes bring our friends and family up, our failures drive them down. Though one is still ultimately responsible to oneself it is very important to realize how what you do affects your loved ones. Frith is the relationship that we strive to develop and maintain with our deities. Through mutual exchange of gifts, help, respect, and goodwill, we seek to develop the ideal kin relationship with our gods and goddesses, whether or not we believe ourselves to be related to them in any more physical or concrete way. The devotions, rituals, and mannerisms of our religion are intended to facilitate this bond and make it a part of our daily lives. Like the ideal kinsman or kinswoman our gods and goddesses are a part of our lives at all times, they are always available to us, but they are especially present with us on holidays and other special occasions. Achieving frith within the Eldright: Achieving and maintaining frith within the Eldright requires that we be cognizant of how our actions affect each other and the group as a whole. We should make efforts to prevent conflicts within our ranks or, when conflict is necessary or unavoidable, we should do our best to minimize the damage done to the relationships of the involved parties. We should support one another in legitimate conflicts with outside parties and try not to pick unnecessary fights (as this could do harm to the group or other individual members). Essentially, maintaining frith within the Eldright (or any other group for that matter) requires first of all, an understanding of what frith is. Secondly, it requires that we make a conscious attempt to see its working (or lack thereof) within our community. Finally, it requires that we work actively to fill those gaps in our community were frith is lacking. By doing this, as long as we truly wish to remain a community we will have frith enough to do so.

Oaths: What They Mean and Why They Matter Wynnefridh Hlaefdige Haligwaerstowes

What is an oath? In ancient and modern Heathen belief, a true oath is a statement whose implications and essence have actually been laid in the Well of Wyrd, becoming an integral part of orlay or orlog. The true oath becomes part of the pattern of That-Which-Is, thus gaining the power to shape That-Which-IsBecoming, and That-Which-Should-Be, the respective domains of the three Wyrdae or Norns: Wyrd, Werthende and Scyld. (For more extensive discussions of this concept, refer to Bauschatz, Thorsson, writings by Swain Wodening, Eric Wodening, and Wodening & Hodge, as listed in the Bookhoard). By laying the oath in the Well, the deed or deeds done in fulfillment of one's oath should also "fall into" the Well and become a part of orlay. In this way, one ensures that one's life has meaning and significance, that one's deeds--even if later forgotten by the folk--nevertheless form a permanent part of the fabric of reality. Our forebears placed the highest possible value on the survival of their reputations beyond their own deaths, which spurred them to perform mighty deeds heedless of fear or the cost to themselves. They trusted to their scops and skalds to ensure that their reputation survived through the ages. In our day, modern Heathens may well feel somewhat doubtful about how many generations the telling of many of our own deeds will survive, which may discourage some from valuing mighty deeds and great reputations as much as our forebears did. But a deep understanding of the nature of oaths, and the connections between oaths, deeds, and orlay, provides great reassurance for today's Heathens that we can indeed make our deeds and our lives count for something worthwhile, regardless of whether they are consciously remembered by folk for countless ages or not. How does one "lay" one's oaths and deeds in the Well? There is no way to guarantee that this will happen; orlay is not under our ultimate control. But the swearing of oaths in sumble, over holy drink and/or on an oath ring, and sealed by asking the witness of our own Holy Ones and folk, makes it very likely that the oath will indeed be laid in the Well. As time progresses, it is often possible to see, both by obvious evidence as well as more hidden signs discerned through runecasting, Thyle's work, and spaecraft, whether the oath is a true one, laid in the Well, or not. Then when one's deed is accomplished, or one wishes to boast the living of one's life in accordance with one's oaths, boasts describing one's deeds should again be given in sumble to enhance the likelihood of the deeds falling into the Well, in truth. As I believe, this process involves not only the Well of Wyrd, but Mimir's Well also--the repository of collective memory. Often these Wells are seen as different levels of one single Well. This is one reason for the taking of oaths and boasting of them in public, in the

assembly of the folk at holy sumble: so that the memory of what one swears and what one does can be laid in the collective memory of the folk, the gateway to Mimir's Well. Kinds of Oaths and Boasts: There are several different categories of oaths, all of them powerful and meaningful. One category is the boast, a statement made and sworn to, usually in sumble, that generally applies to the achievement of a specific deed. The boast also refers to reporting the accomplishment of that deed, so that there is a "boast to do" something and a "boast that you have done" that thing. Both steps of the process are important: they are the initiation and the closure of the deed, and neither the deed nor the boast are complete unless both are steps are "reported." Again, it is important that these are done at sumble, rather than in a less formal and holy setting, if at all possible. (For more extensive discussion of boasting at sumble, see Swain Wodening, "Wyrd and the Retroheathen.") Another type of oath involves swearing to adhere to certain standards of behavior. This kind of oath may be required for certain offices or positions of responsibility, including leaders of national Heathen organizations, members of certain Guilds, or members of maethels, kindreds, hearths and other groups. Rather than involving a specific deed that has a beginning and an end, the oath of behavior continues indefinitely, for as long as one holds the position that requires that kind of behavior. So, it is less clear how and when one would boast this kind of oath at sumble. I believe it is important that one do so, however, and suggest that it is very appropriate for a person's friends or those who have benefited from that person's performance of his or her office to stand up in sumble and boast this person's deeds from time to time. The person can certainly also do this for him or herself, as well, for example by saying "I swore this oath a year ago, and have kept to the terms faithfully, even in the face of difficulties"--and proceed to boast the overcoming of those difficulties. Though in our "host culture," boasting one's own behavior in such a way is considered somewhat inappropriate, according to our own folkways it is an essential part of building one's Heathen soul, strengthening the ties between Heathens as a community, and increasing the power of Heathen main and workings in the world by laying more Heathen orlay in the Well. A third kind of oath is what I call an oath of relationship, and in this category there are two kinds of relationship. One is the relationship of an individual to a group, the obvious example being a kindred member's loyalty to the whole kindred. Most Asatru kindreds, I believe, have some such oath required as a condition of membership. Such an oath is often taken in a special ceremony for that specific purpose, and may involve sumble as well as perhaps other rituals. The second oath of relationship is an oath between two individuals, and again here there are several different sub-categories: oaths of kinship such as blood-siblinghood, adoption, and fostering; marriage oaths; hold-oaths of fealty; and a large category of less rigidly-defined oaths that one might lump together as friendship oaths. As in the case of oaths of behavior, it is very important to make opportunities to boast one's oaths of relationship in sumble from time to time, for the same reasons. The anniversaries of the oath are especially suitable times for boasting it. In ancient times, folk made a great point of rewarding hold-oaths in this way, by boasting the deeds and the loyalty of sworn warriors

toward their lord or lady, and rewarding them with gifts. This was indeed one of the primary ways of payment for the warrior's services, and praise counted as much as gold did! It is very appropriate for folk who have sworn an oath of relationship to boast one another at sumble, and perhaps exchange gifts at the same time. This action strengthens and celebrates the relationship, as well as helping to lay the deeds (perhaps simply the quiet, everyday deeds of love, help, and loyalty) into the Well as they deserve to be laid. Oaths, Wyrd and Luck: Making and fulfilling oaths and boasts is a powerful and quintessentially Heathen way to align oneself actively with the flow of wyrd. Though there is no power in any world that can wrest control of wyrd out of the hands of the Wyrdae, nevertheless one can have a significant effect on the shape and direction of one's wyrd through the action of oathing and living the oath. To use a few analogies, think of a warrior, a horse rider, and a sailor. The power of a battle, of a horse, and of the sea are each greater than any individual man or woman is, and no human can hope to overcome or direct these powers by brute force alone. But by the application of wisdom, insight, skill, courage and steadfastness, one can sense the flows and patterns, the natural movements of these forces, and use that knowledge to align oneself with them. And by that alignment, one is able to ride the wave, the horse, the tide of battle, through all obstacles to reach one's desired goal. This ability to align oneself with wyrd and with natural forces is closely akin to luck, and one's success in doing so, or lack thereof, will result in an oath that all can recognize as being "lucky" or "unlucky." The willingness to discern and align oneself with the patterns of wyrd through one's oaths is a living expression of Heathen belief in the action of Wyrd--an affirmation of our faith in the strongest way possible, by the way we choose to live our lives. Oaths and the Heathen Soul: On the personal level, the ability to take and keep oaths of all kinds is an expression of one's personal soul-power, one's main. Oaths arise from the vitality of the Heathen soul, from a sense of overflowing vigor, confidence, eagerness. As the athlete or warrior delights in strength and skill, as the craftsperson exults in the abundance of his or her gift to create, so the Heathen heart and soul, rich in main, yearns to challenge and channel that main along the stringent, shining pathway that is laid out by the taking of an oath. Certain soul-qualities are necessary for oath-taking. Wisdom is the most essential. Oaths are absolutely nothing to play with or play at; the consequences of foolish oath-taking are too severe both for the individual and for the community. One must have an understanding of the interactions between oaths, Wyrd, and one's own orlay, an understanding of the effects of the oath on one's community, and of the personal implications of an oath, before committing to it. Wisdom requires a deep level of selfknowledge, and good knowledge of the other person or persons involved in the oath, if it is an oath of relationship.

Consider what impact the new oath might have on any existing oaths you are bound to. Will the new oath interfere with the accomplishment of older oaths? Will it create new relationships that could conflict with existing relationships, oathed or not? Are you clearly free to take the new oath, or do bonds of an existing oath prevent you from doing so? Think ahead before oathing, and find solutions for any such problems before committing yourself to the oath. Though the final decision is yours alone, do not hesitate to seek the counsel of wise Heathens whom you trust, as you prepare to take your oath. Keep in mind that you may very well be challenged on your oath by a Thyle. Anticipate what the challenge may entail, and prepare yourself in advance to respond to it wisely and well. Steadfastness and self-confidence are also necessary. Steadfastness and self-confidence may need to be built up slowly in one's character, much as an athlete builds muscle and flexibility. If you have a history of failing at or abandoning your life's tasks and responsibilities, if your self-confidence is low, or if you are a young person still developing your character, it is wise to begin challenging yourself with small, short-term, easy-to-accomplish (but nevertheless meaningful) oaths and boasts. Each successful accomplishment will build your main and lay more of your deeds in the orlay of the Well, enabling you to increase the challenge you set yourself in the next oath or boast you make. Build up your main, your steadfastness and self-confidence, in this way until your heart and soul are full to abundance with these qualities, eager for the challenge of truly mighty oaths. Oaths and the Community of Folk and Holy Ones: A community is a fabric woven of many threads of relationship and commonality, forming a recognizable whole with a distinctive pattern. The whole fabric may be strong or weak, its patterns may be strikingly beautiful, or dull and nondescript, or jaggedly clashing, depending on the qualities of the threads and how they are woven. If the fabric is well-woven and strong, this fabric can be seen as frith itself: a distinctively patterned kind of relationship evolved by our Heathen forebears which is still of great value to us today. (See my article "On the Meaning of Frith" for more discussion of this idea.) Oaths play a very important role in the weaving and maintenance of the fabric of community and of frith. By the same token, destructive oaths, foolish or unlucky oaths, or the failure of constructive oaths can cause severe or fatal damage to the fabric of relationships and hence of community. This is most especially true of Heathen communities, because of the central importance to us of the interweavings of oaths, wyrd, and the orlays of individuals, families, clans and communities. Any Heathen who is familiar with the famous sagas and tales of our folk can come up with many examples of this truth. As only one example, think of the fatal tangles woven around the oaths taken by Sieglinde, Sigmund, Brunnhilde/Sigrdrifa the Valkyrie, Siegfried, Gudrun, Gundahari, Hagan and others in the Volsunga Saga/ Niebelungenlied. The tangled oaths led to the loss and destruction of individuals, families, and entire tribes and folkdoms, as well as the loss and destruction of love and loyalties among them. Oaths, their wisdom or unwisdom, luck or unluck, played a pivotal role in these dramatic developments. Today's Heathens who seek wisdom in oath-taking will do well to study carefully the role played by oaths in the sagas and other tales of all the Germanic folk.

It may be that such study will daunt many of us, and make us hesitant to take oaths for fear of dreadful consequences. To my way of thinking, however, the alternative is no more attractive or inspiring. A Heathen who is fearful or hesitant to make a boast or take an oath, after careful thought and preparation, is living only a shadow of true Heathen life. The soul-power and mains that are developed by the taking and fulfilling of mighty oaths will die still-born or grow to be spindly and weak, in such an individual. Under such circumstances, a person's self-development along the distinctive pathways of our faith is handicapped. Great deeds can indeed be done without recourse to boasts and oaths. But, boasting and oathing are mechanisms to help ensure these deeds are laid in the Wells, and woven into the Wyrd of the world. How much main might be lost when a great deed is done, but is truncated at the beginning and the end of what should be its complete cycle, the cycle of (1) boast/oath made "to do", (2) deed done, and (3) boast made again of "have done," made in song and sumble, and planted in the memories and inspiration of the folk? In the same way that the wyrd of an individual can be affected by either the making of, or the failure to make oaths and boasts, so also the wyrd of our community is affected. The bonds of community are in large part made up of oaths, or of oath-like commitments, including marriage oaths, commitments to one's children, parents and other kin that are as strong as oaths even if they are not spoken, partnerships for community-enhancing purposes, oaths of citizenship, of loyalty and troth to other folk and to Holy Ones, and many other such commitments. Making oaths, boasts and commitments foolishly or unluckily, or failing to keep one's oaths, can badly tangle the wyrd of one's community, as we can see in the sagas and in history. But on the other side, failing to make oaths, boasts of great deeds, and other commitments, leaves us with nothing at all, no roots or foundations, no strong walls to build on, just an empty void. We can see obvious examples of all of these problems in the everyday society of our own times, in noting what happens to the community, small or large, when marriage oaths are broken, commitments to children, parents and kin are scorned, friendships and partnerships betrayed, when people break their words or have no "word" left to break, when boasts are empty air, and there is nothing in which to trust, nothing which inspires one to greatness, when the only "inspiration" one finds is the inspiration to revulsion and disgust. Between the Fire and the Ice: So, it is easy to think, with respect to oaths and boasts, that we are caught between a rock and a hard place: "damned if we do, and damned if we don't." Let me point out, however, that this is the kind of environment in which the true Heathen thrives and comes into full power! This is our "niche" in the ecology of the world, the place we are adapted to fill and to excel in. There is a sword's edge, a thread's span, between the fire and the ice: between the destruction and chaos caused by wrong oath-taking or failed oaths on one side, and the gray nothingness of a life without oaths and boasts on the other. That sword's edge, that thread's span, is our own path: the Heathen way. To walk this path we must apply our thews of deep wisdom, courage, high-heartedness, vision, and faith. We must have strong mains,

soul-power, as individuals and as a folk, a whole. We cannot walk this path alone: what meaning has an oath, if the one making it is the only one in the world? An oath, and the deeds that follow from it, have no context, no meaning or significance, if they are not ultimately made to and for one's community, one's folk and Holy Ones. By wisely making and holding to our oaths and boasts, one of the great things we accomplish is the stronger weaving of our bonds of community and our trust in one another: gods and folk, together. Bookhoard: Bauschatz, Paul C. The Well and the Tree. University of Massachussets Press, 1982. (See esp. Chapter 1) Hodge, Winifred. "On the Meaning of Frith." Lina, Midsummer 1996 Thorsson, Edred. A Book of Troth, (Ch. 19). Llewellyn 1989. Wodening, Eric. "The Web of Wyrd." Idunna, Yule 1993 Wodening, Swain. Beyond Good & Evil, published by THEOD, 1994 Wodening, Swain. "Wyrd and the Retroheathen." THEOD, Lammastide 1994. Wodening, Swain, and Winifred Hodge. "Thoughts on Wyrd." THEOD, Waelburges 1995

The Web of Oaths

odisc Gelafa (Theodisc Geleafa or Theodish Belief as some call it) is the "belief of the tribe." In order to have a "belief of the tribe," one must have a tribe. While we will never be able to achieve tribes as they were in the days of old, we can attempt to mimic tribalism by formulating a common identity with a common history and common culture. The ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes had a common identity and common history by virtue of many forms of bonds, not the least of which were bonds of kinship. As seen in Tacitus' Germania, many tribes traced their origins to a common ancestor: In their old ballads (which amongst them are the only sort of registers and history) they celebrate Tuisto, a God sprung from the earth, and Mannus his son, as the fathers and founders of the nation. To Mannus they assign three sons, after whose names so many people are called; the Ingaevones, dwelling next the ocean; the Herminones, in the middle country; and all the rest, Instaevones. Further, tribes were made up of families, groups of people that could trace their kinship out to at least third cousins (for the purpose of wergild, amongst the Anglo-Saxons, kinship was traced to fifth cousins). Today's situation is quite different. Most within a od would be lucky to claim being 7th cousins of their fellow tribesman much less anything the ancients might recognize as truely close kinship (the inner family of the hlsfang, our nuclear family). However, kinship was not the only way a tribe could create bonds. Men without kin, or simply seeking adventure would often come together in a dryht or "warband." In the Migration Era many lost their kin through warfare, migration, or simply left their kin to earn their worth in battle. These warbands were bound together by the warriors all having an oath to serve the leader of the dryht. The kin group being the earliest organized unit of society that the ancient Heathens recognized, the dryht mimicked the structure of the family. Its members held the same obligations to each other and their lord as kinsmen would. Were one murdered they had to take revenge (esp. were it their lord), and could seek wergild. The lord or dryhten of the warband was seen as a fatherhood figure with the warband as a sort of band of brothers. The veterans of the warband held more say than the youths as would be the case in a family with the eldest family members having more say than the youngest (see ). For the warband to operate as an artificial family however there had to be some form of bonding. The core of a dryht would often be true kinsmen, and for them no artificial bonds were needed. But for others, there had to be a substitute for the bonds of kinship created by birth into an extended family. This substitute was the hold oath. The hold oath is often mistaken or confused with the later medieval oaths of fealty, and while they have much in common with these, there are differences (mostly revolving around the obligations and lack of land tenure). At the head of the dryht was the dryhten, its lord or leader. The dryhten was a warrior that had made a name for himself, and shown his ability to lead men into battle. He was obligated to give his men wealth in exchange for service, and often provided them food and shelter. All the men of the dryht

were oathed to serve the dryhten (and in turn his lady at whom's command they were also). The wording of none of these oaths has come down to us intact unfortunately. Fortunately we can attempt to reconstruct such oaths from heroic poetry. The hold oath placed certain obligations upon both the lord and the warrior serving him. Should the lord be killed, those oathed to him had to take vengeance. The lord in turn had to be generous with gifts, mead, and weapons. See the article on hold oaths for more details. Within the warband there were various functions but primary amongst these was the lady of the hall who served as an artificial mother, and indeed, had as much command over the dryht as her husband if not more. In Beowulf, Wealhtheow informs Beowulf that:

egnas syndon gewre, druncne dryhtguman

eod ealgearo, do swa ic bidde.

The thegns stand as one warbandmen given drink

a folk at the ready so they do as I bid.

Within modern odisc Gelafa, hold oaths are used in lieu of ties of blood. Modern Heathens are in a situation very similar to ancient warriors who lost their kin through warfare or migration. We are not related to the people we chose to join in fellowship, worship, and community. Yet to be a od or tribe we must have ties that bind, bonds that draw us closer together as a folk and help in building a common identity. It is only natural then that we use hold oaths in the way they were used in ancient times, as a way to create bonds of artificial kinship. These bonds within a modern odisc group are referred to as the web of oaths, and cumulate in the person the group has chosen as its leader. One man is oathed to a lord, who in turn is oathed to another lord, ultimately ending with the ealdorman, dryhten, or cyning of the od. The person one is oathed to can be thought of as a kind of foster brother or sister (or if the age difference is sufficient, a father). The purpose of the web of oaths is to build a common identity necessary for a od to develop a common history and build a community of individuals and families that share a common goal and welfare. Bibliography: Conquergood, Dwight, "Boasting in Anglo-Saxon England, Performance and the Heroic Ethos," Literature and Performance, vol. I April 1991 Enright, Michael Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tne to the Viking Age. Portland, OR; Four Courts Press 1996.

Evans, Stephen S. Lords of Battle: image and reality of the comitatus in dark-age Britain. Woodbridge, Suffolk, England; Boydell 1997. Halsall, Guy Warfare and Battle in the Barbarian West 450-900 , London; Routledge Press, 2003. Hill, John M The Anglo-Saxon Warrior Ethic: Reconstructing Lordship in Early English Literature. Gainesville, FL; University Press of Florida, 2000. Klaeber, Frederick, ed. Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. 3rd ed. Lexington MA; D.C. Heath & Co., 1950. Opland, Jeff. Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry: a Study of theTraditions. New York: Yale University Press, 1980 Pollington, Steven, The Mead-Hall: Feasting in Anglo-Saxon England, Anglo-Saxon Books; Norfolk, 2003 Shippey, T. A. Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press 1976

The Structure of the Hold Oath

Unfortunately no Heathen hold oath survives from ancient times. And while medieval oaths of fealty survive, these, having been sworn in a Christian context with heavy Classical influences may bare little resemblance to the oaths used in the Elder Heathen Period. Fortunately, while we are not given the exact wording of even one hold oath sworn by a Heathen gesa to a Heathen dryhten, we are told repeatedly throughout the literature of the age the duties or obligations of these oaths. In addition, we are given examples of oaths sworn in symbel, the gielpas and botas such as Bowulf swore. Using these clues we can attempt to reconstruct a hold oath such as an ancient Heathen may have sworn. Gielpas and Botas: Within the sacred rite of symbel, vows to accomplish something had a definite structure. One would first recite their ancestry, and then follow that ancestry with great deeds that have been accomplished in the past, and end with a vow to do something. Within odisc Gelafa (Theodisc Geleafa or Theodish Belief as some call it), the recitation of ancestry and past deeds has become known by the Old English word gielp, "boasting, fame, or glory;" while the vow to accomplish a great deed has become know as the bot, "promise, vow." The prime example of this comes from Beowulf.

"Ws u, Hrogar, hal! mg ond magoegn; ongunnen on geogoe.

Ic eom Higelaces hbbe ic mra fela

Wassail Horthgar! kinsman and thegn done in youth.

I am Hygelac's I have many great deeds,

Another example, this one from a battle and not in the context of symbel is found in the poem The Battle of Maldon:

Ic wylle mine elo

eallum gecyan,

t ic ws on Myrcon ws min ealda fder wis ealdorman,

miccles cynnes; Ealhelm haten,


I am willing that my nobility be known to all, that I am Mercian of a great family, my grandfather was called Ealhelm, a wise ealdorman and very prosperous.

This formula is seen again in the Heimskringla at the funeral ale of Harald Gormson. The first day of the feast, before King Svein went up into his father's high-seat, he drank the bowl to his father's memory, and made the solemn vow, that before three winters were past he would go over with his army to England, and either kill King Adalrad (Ethelred), or chase him out of the country. (Heimskringla, Gordon translation) Here while it is only natural that Svein would drink to his father's memory, one cannot help but think he was also doing it to preface his vow to take England as was custom. It is possible hold oaths, like btas may also have began with the recitation of one's ancestry. The ancient Heathen believed that one's orlg (karma or "personal wyrd") was passed down from an ancestor. The importance therefore of reciting one's ancestry, especially the more glorious ones, should be clear then. It was an attempt to influence the vow about to be made to have similar ends as the speaker's ancestors' would have. The idea being, "my ancestors never failed, therefore I shall not either." It would be only natural then that a such a gielp could proceed a hold oath, if as anything else, as a way the warrior established who they were. Obligations as Described in the Lore: The obligations of a warrior to his lord, and a lord to his warriors are mentioned repeatedly throughout the heroic poetry of the Elder Heathen Age. A lord had to give gold, weapons, provide mead, and other gifts for his warrior:

Ne gefrgn ic nfre wurlicor t wera hilde sixtig sigebeorna sel gebran ne nefre swanas hwitne medo sel forgyldan

onne Hnfe guldan his hgstealdas

Never have I heard of worthier than were at battle sixty victory warriors so bore themselves, never was such bright mead well repaid than that Hnaef yielded his home dwellers. (Finnsburh fragment)

He beot ne aleh, beagas dlde, sinc t symle.

He (King Hrothgar) his boast leave allay: rings dealt out, treasure at symbel. (Beowulf 80-81)

In return a warrior had to fight for his lord, including avenging or dying with him if necessary:

"Ic t ml geman, onne we geheton in biorsele,

r we medu egun, ussum hlaforde

e us as beagas geaf, gyldan woldon

t we him a gugetawa gif him yslicu

earf gelumpe,

helmas ond heard sweord.

I that time remember then we promised in beer hall and war gear if him these helmets and hard sword. (Beowulf 2033 - 2039)

when we mead tasted, our lord, that gave us rings, he we would repay, in ever happen in need of,

he hfde eah geforod swa he beotode r t hi sceoldon begen hale to hame, on wlstowe he lg egenlice

t he his frean gehet,

wi his beahgifan on burh ridan,

oe on here crincgan, wundum sweltan; eodne gehende.

he had fulfilled

that oath he swore his lord,

that he boasted ere before his ring giver that either should both whole to home on the dead home he lay nobilly ride to the enclosure, or fall fighting, dying of their wounds; near his king.

(The Battle of Maldon)

Looking at the Germanic heroic poetry foremost for a leader of a warband was generosity, for a warrior, loyalty.

The Modern Hold Oath: The obligations of a modern hold oath are different in that a. we are not trying to form warbands for the purpose of warfare, b. we are trying to build tribes. Since a modern lord or lady is not raiding and taking gold in the process, there is no expectation that they will be giving gold either. Similarly, a good thegn is not expected to fight for their lord. Never the less, there are still obligations on both sides. Below is the oath the Miercinga Rce uses for its thegns (note that it has been adapted from some oaths of fealty, and still contains some of the military aspects): Typical Miercinga Rice Oaths:

Thegn: I am _______________ son of _______________, grandson of ______________. (Here the oathing thegn boasts of their deeds). Greater deeds than these shall I gain, if the ring giver gives me my wish to hear my oath! Hlaford: These are mighty works of maegen indeed. Will you be my thegn so my folk can give thanks for your work and words? Thegn: Yea. Hlaford: Bring me a sword. (Another thegn brings the hlaford his/her sword. The hlaford then points the sword towards the thegn). Plight your troth then with words of truth.

Thegn: (The thegn kneels before the hlaford) I _____________, am thy thegn. I will always hold troth with thee in matters of life and limb and of earthly honour against all mortal men. Never will I bear arms for anyone against thee or thy heirs, nor by word nor by work, do ought of what is loathful to thee. And in the fray [I shall ever ward your life, even at the cost of mine. And] if to enemies you should fall, I swear- I shall not leave that field alive unless I have avenged you. By (God or Goddess) and Waer I plight my Troth so that may this sword smite me should I break these words. Hlaford: Well, have I heard thy words and wed. I shall work with thee in frith and troth, stand by thee in need, deal with thee in truth and honor, and believe and trust in the truth of thy word and thy word alone, unless there be most strong and clear cause why I should not. Great gifts shall I give thee when seated in symbel together.Never shall thee I swike, and I shall speed you in your life as if it were my own from this day forth. May Woden and Ingui Frea bear witness to these words, and may Waer hallow this my holy oath.

NOTES: In place of a sword, the oath may be sworn with both hlaford and thegn holding an oath ring. The text may be modified by either party as long as both are agreeable to the wording. (Parts adapted from Robert the Bruce's Oath to Edward Longshanks, the old Ealdriht oath, the New Norman hold oath and Edward the Confessor's hold oath of his thegns). Bibliography: Conquergood, Dwight, "Boasting in Anglo-Saxon England, Performance and the Heroic Ethos," Literature and Performance, vol. I April 1991 Enright, Michael Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tne to the Viking Age. Portland, OR; Four Courts Press 1996. Evans, Stephen S. Lords of Battle: image and reality of the comitatus in dark-age Britain. Woodbridge, Suffolk, England; Boydell 1997. Halsall, Guy Warfare and Battle in the Barbarian West 450-900 , London; Routledge Press, 2003. Hill, John M The Anglo-Saxon Warrior Ethic: Reconstructing Lordship in Early English Literature. Gainesville, FL; University Press of Florida, 2000. Klaeber, Frederick, ed. Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. 3rd ed. Lexington MA; D.C. Heath & Co., 1950. Opland, Jeff. Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry: a Study of theTraditions. New York: Yale University Press, 1980 Pollington, Steven, The Mead-Hall: Feasting in Anglo-Saxon England, Anglo-Saxon Books; Norfolk, 2003 Shippey, T. A. Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press 1976

The Anglo-Saxon Folkmoot in Ancient and Modern Times

Affairs of smaller moment the chiefs determine: about matters of higher consequence the whole nation deliberates; yet in such sort, that whatever depends upon the pleasure and decision of the people, is examined and discussed by the chiefs. Where no accident or emergency intervenes, they assemble upon stated days, either, when the moon changes, or is full: since they believe such seasons to be the most fortunate for beginning all transactions. Neither in reckoning of time do they count, like us, the number of days but that of nights. In this style their ordinances are framed, in this style their diets appointed; and with them the night seems to lead and govern the day. From their extensive liberty this evil and default flows, that they meet not at once, nor as men commanded and afraid to disobey; so that often the second day, nay often the third, is consumed through the slowness of the members in assembling. They sit down as they list, promiscuously, like a crowd, and all armed. It is by the Priests that silence is enjoined, and with the power of correction the Priests are then invested. Then the King or Chief is heard, as are others, each according to his precedence in age, or in nobility, or in warlike renown, or in eloquence; and the influence of every speaker proceeds rather from his ability to persuade than from any authority to command. If the proposition displease, they reject it by an inarticulate murmur: if it be pleasing, they brandish their javelins. The most honourable manner of signifying their assent, is to express their applause by the sound of their arms. (Tacitus Germania Chapter 11, Thomas Gordan translation) The Folkmoot in Ancient Times: Amongst the Anglo-Saxons in the historical period any remnant of the ancient tribal assembly or folkmoot seems to have vanished, despite the statement of Tacitus above. Many scholars have therefore assumed that it never existed, at least amongst the Angles, who were known for their strong belief in kingship. Yet in ancient Germanic society one of the basic forms of governance was the tribal assembly. It is seen in various forms throughout all the Germanic peoples from the time of Tacitus into modern times. Parliament of the United Kingdom and Congress of the United States can be said to have evolved from these institutions. There seem to have been two forms of the assembly; one form in which every free man could take part, such as Tacitus describes, and a second in which only the nobles as representatives of their folk took part. The two were not mutually exclusive, and indeed seem to have relied on each other. In History of the Goths, Herwig Wolfram describes the gafruds, a council composed of chiefs of each subdivision of the Tervingi, a Gothic tribe: The Tervingi had no monarchic kingship; there was no thiudans among them. The individual subdivisions (kunja) were ruled by chiefs (reiks). At those times when common policy of the Gutthiuda was at issue they made up the tribal council. If we may draw an analogy to the Jewish Sanhedrin, this tribal council was called gafaurds. Since the unfree, as well as the free underclass were excluded, the council was composed of the chiefs (reiks) and representatives (sinistans, maistans) of each kuni.

(Wolfram, History of the Goths, page 94) There also existed however a village or common assembly for each village. Wolfram describes this as well in the tale of Saba, a Christian protected by his Heathen neighbors from the local reiks: The place of assembly, where the people "ran together: (garuns) to discuss affairs, was probably the village square. The village assembly (gagumths, gamainths) is clearly dominated by a group that makes suggestions, guides the descision-making process, and above all, act as the executive organ. Moreover, the same people are in charge of the consecration of the sacrificial meat, which implies they that they are also responsible for cult and rituals. (ibid, page 104) Wolfram goes on to say: No one in Saba's village thus participated in the process of formulating the political objectives of the kuni. If the village assembly of the free Goths did not agree with the decisions of the tribal council, it had only the timeless methods of peasant resistance. There is truly no way of knowing if this was typical of this form of tribal government or merely the Goths' way of handling matters. However, that this two tier form of government existed elsewhere is known. The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were governed by a king with a witanagemt; yet at the same time there were apparently local moots. A gemot is mentioned in the laws of Alfred in connection to laws concerning fighting in front of an ealdorman. A separate law in the same code refers to fighting at a gemot in front of the cyninges gerefan, "king's reeve." Other mentions of it in connection to a reeve are made as a folcgemot, "folk moot." A mel is mentioned in Aethelbert of Kent's law codes, and again referred to as a Medle under Lothere's laws. It may well be that this local gemot or mel may correspond to the Gothic gagumths. The Hundred Courts, as a later development (as were the shire moots) out of the gemot or mel will not be covered here. The witanagemt or witan is mentioned in charters and several of the law codes. Perhaps the most vivid description of it is of the meeting of Edwin's witanagemt by Bede in his Ecclesiastic History of the English Nation. Unfortunately, he gives no real information on what its procedures were (even more unfortunate is the fact it is also the only mention of a Heathen witanagemt meeting). However, it is known from Bede's comments that the witanagemt would deliberate topics brought to it by the king. We also know from Bede that even in Heathen times, priests served on the witanagemt. Coifi, one of the primary speakers at the meeting was described as Edwin's High Priest. From other sources we know that the Ealdormen of the kingdom served on the witanagemt, much as the reiks did with the Tervingi. In addition to the ealdormen, the witanagemt seems to have consisted of priests, and perhaps any reeves the king wished to be on it as well as family members. It is fairly clear that the various witans of the Anglo-Saxon bodies were not representative bodies in the sense that Parliament is today. But the ealdormen did serve on the witanagemt, and from Edward the Confessor's laws we know they took part in the local gemot. A "king's reeve" is mentioned in Alfred's laws in connection with the gemot however, so it is unclear who presided, whether it was the reeve or ealdorman. Regardless, an

ealdorman or reeve wanting to keep peace with his folk may have made certain their voices were heard by the king. On the other hand, an ealdorman could just as easily ignore the concerns of his people. In many ways it is not much different from today's republics. The extant of the witanagemt's power is not fully known, and scholars have argued about this for over a century. What is known is the witanagemt helped the king make laws, that it elected a new king (or at least approved the obvious successor), and could remove a king. Siegbert of Wessex was deposed in 755 CE, as was Alchred of Northumbria in 774, Osbald, also of Northumbria in 796. The witanagemt therefore was not just a group of advisors to the king, it could act apparently in its own name on behalf of the folk, at least in a time of crisis. The local gemot is not as well documented in the Anglo-Saxon sources as the witanagemt. As stated, it is mentioned in Alfred's and Aethelbert's law codes, but these laws all have to do primarily with the breach of frith when attending a gemot. It heard court cases, and was either headed by a reeve of the king, or an ealdorman. One can probably assume most of the duties of the Hundred Courts was held by the gemot before their formation. However, we do not know what the gemot did beyond hear court cases. It is not known if in earlier times the gemot legislated local law, helped the ealdorman govern, deliberated proposals sent from the king and witan, or served in any way as the tribal assemblies Tacitus describes did. The scholar Kemble seemed to think that the gemot still had to consent to new laws enacted by the king, even late into the Anglo-Saxon period, and states: The Witan gave their wed to observe, and cause to be observed, the laws they had enacted. Edgr says, 'I command my gerfan, upon my friendship, and by all they possess, to punish every one that will not perform this, and who, by any neglect, shall break the wed of any Witan.' This seems to imply that the people were generally bound by the acts of the Witan and their pledge or wed; and if so, it would naturally involve the theory of representation. But this deduction will not stand. The whole principle of Teutonic legislation is, and always was, that the law is made by the constitution of the king and the consent of the people: and ... one way in which that consent was obtained was by sending the capitula down into the provinces or shires, and taking the wed in the shire-moot. The passage in the text seems to presuppose an interchange of oaths and pledges between the king and the witan themselves; and even those who had no standing of their own in the folcmt or scrgemt, were required to be bound by personal consent. (Kemble, Saxons in England, II. pages 236, 237) This, perhaps was wishful thinking, but may reflect a time when the king and witanagemt truly needed the consent of the local moots, just as in Tacitus the assembly could accept or reject the proposals of the king and nobles. It certainly does not support H. M. Chadwick's conclusions in The Origin of the English Nation, that the Anglo-Saxons had no concept of local government. While there may be no evidence of local government in the form of the gemot amongst the Anglo-Saxons in the historical period, that is not to say the gemot may not have played a role in legislation in an earlier period. There may have been a time when the king, witanagemt, and tribal assembly met all assembled, and deliberated as Tacitus said. The Old English word engal meaning "king or prince," but with the original meaning of "foremost

in thing" may support this. Or there may have been a time when all proposed laws were sent out to the individual gemotas for approval. There is a hint in Wihtraed's law code that the Anglo-Saxons remembered a time when laws had to be approved by all the tribe. Wihtraed's law code contains the phrase, "mid ealra gemedum," "the agreement of all," in regards to his witan enacting the law code. This remains however, the only statement of its sort within an Anglo-Saxon law code. And if the example of the Tervingi was fairly common amongst the Germanic tribes there would have been no such system. Fortunately, we have other places to turn for evidence of a national council such as the witanagemt, and a tribal assembly or local assemblies interacting. The preface of the Lex Salica contains an interesting tale. Four men, chosen from many, Wisogast, Arogast, Salcgast, and Widogast met and complied the law code. It then had to be approved by four assemblies of freemen.1 This would seem to reflect the idea of a king's council discussing and formulating laws which are then accepted or rejected by folkmoots. The Lex Salica is thought to have been composed during the reign of Clovis, the first Christian king of the Franks, and therefore may have fallen back on older, more Heathen customs of legislation. Hereafter the Frankish institutions became a tangled mess of Roman and Christian modes of doing things, but even then the Frankish version of the folkmoot, the mallus continued to exist and to function well after Charlemagne who consolidated as much power to the Frankish monarchy as he could. Perhaps a better example of a entity similar to the witanagemt and a folkmoot or tribal assembly interacting is that contained in Rimbert's Vita Anskarii. Anskar visits King Olaf with the intention of establishing a mission: The king was delighted with his kindness and liberality, and said that he gladly agreed to what he had proposed. " In former time," he said, " there have been clergy who have been driven out by a rising of the people and not by the command of the king. On this account I have not the power, nor do I dare, to approve the objects of your mission until I can consult our gods by the casting of lots and until I can enquire the will of the people in regard to this matter. Let your messenger attend with me the next assembly and I will speak to the people on your behalf. And if they approve your desire and the gods consent, that which you have asked shall be successfully carried out, but if it should turn out otherwise, I will let you know. It is our custom that the control of public business of every kind should rest with the whole people and not with the king....................As soon as his chiefs were assembled the king began to discuss with them the mission on which our father had come. They determined that enquiry should be made by the casting of lots in order to discover what was the will of the gods. They went out, therefore, to the plain, in accordance with their custom, and the lot decided that it was the will of God that the Christian religion should be established there...................When the day for the assembly which was held in the town of Birka drew near, in accordance with their national custom the king caused a proclamation to be made to the people by the voice of a herald, in order that they might be informed concerning the object of their mission. (Robinson translation)

The assembly then debated the topic with one old man, presumably a Christian speaking at length in favor of the nation converting to Christianity. The entire tale may reveal the process ancient Germanic government may have followed: 1) The king either by consulting lots, communion with the gods, mound sitting, or a proposal from the folk arrives at an idea. 2) The king then seeks some form of confirmation that he should take this to his witan or council. This may be in the form of omen taking, the reading of lots, mound sitting, or other methods. 3) The king then discusses it with his witan or council, his "chiefs." 4) Together the king and his "chiefs" arrive at a decision, and take it to the tribal assembly or assemblies. 5) They speak to the folk, the folk debate the topic, and arrive at a decision. This example is by no means the only one of a king interacting with a Thing or folkmoot. According to the Saga of Olaf Haraldson, at a Thing held in Uppsala with King Olaf and his court present; Thorgny Lagman lectured King Olaf on the powers of the King and Thing. I quote it in part here: I also remember King Eirik the Victorious, and was with him on many a war-expedition. He enlarged the Swedish dominion, and defended it manfully; and it was also easy and agreeable to communicate our opinions to him. But the king we have now got allows no man to presume to talk with him, unless it be what he desires to hear. On this alone he applies all his power, while he allows his scat-lands in other countries to go from him through laziness and weakness. He wants to have the Norway kingdom laid under him, which no Swedish king before him ever desired, and therewith brings war and distress on many a man. Now it is our will, we bondes, that thou King Olaf make peace with the Norway king, Olaf the Thick, and marry thy daughter Ingegerd to him. Wilt thou, however, reconquer the kingdoms in the east countries which thy relations and forefathers had there, we will all for that purpose follow thee to the war. But if thou wilt not do as we desire, we will now attack thee, and put thee to death; for we will no longer suffer law and peace to be disturbed. So our forefathers went to work when they drowned five kings in a morass at the Mula-thing, and they were filled with the same insupportable pride thou hast shown towards us. Now tell us, in all haste, what resolution thou wilt take." Then the whole public approved, with clash of arms and shouts, the lagman's speech. The king stands up and says he will let things go according to the desire of the bondes. "All Swedish kings," he said, "have done so, and have allowed the bondes to rule in all according to their will. (translator unknown, Heimskringla) From both the passages above, we learn that not only did the king and his nobles interact with a folkmoot, that indeed, the king could have to answer to a folkmoot. It is doubtful this is a unique development of the Scandinavian countries. Indeed, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, farther removed from Roman influences on kingship; late to be exposed to Christianity perhaps were the only ones to preserve the original Germanic forms of governance. And while their form of kingship was not weak, it was a far cry from the absolute monarchy that developed quickly amongst the Franks following their conversion until reaching its ultimate form under Charlemagne. It would not be a far leap of the imagination to assume that the Anglo-Saxon kingships took a course similar to that of the Frankish. Many customs could be lost, even changed by a powerful king intent on becoming an absolute ruler. Such may be the case as the interaction between the Anglo-Saxon king, the witanagemt, and the folkmoot. From the time of the invasion until the Conversion, Roman influences may have encouraged the erosion of Anglo-Saxon legal custom, then the death blow could have came with the Conversion,

when in order to force the folk to convert, the Church needed to rid the Anglo-Saxon tribal governments of the voice of the folk. All that remains are statements in the law codes that seem to indicate the witan had to be involved with law making, and vague references to the law being at the consent of all. The Folkmoot in Modern Times: Modern Anglo-Saxon Heathenry may then have failed to accurately reconstruct its self, or have done so on an overly Roman or Christian structure. If indeed the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes like their Germanic relations to the far north had kings, witans, and folkmoots that acted in concert prior to the Conversion, that could be so. The examples above of where a folkmoot was not regularly consulted all have one thing in common, extensive contact with Christian or Roman civilization prior to the times when information about these insitutions was recorded. Therefore, to assume that the tribal governments of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes acted as their northern neighbors prior to their historical record may be idle speculation, but it is certainly less dangerous than assuming that the Anglo-Saxon form of governance seen in the remaining sources had always been their way of doing things. After all, the Scandinavians were farther removed from Roman influence, and that of the Church. Their kingdoms were consolidated by kings that retained their Heathen religion their entire lives, and were not dependant on the Christian Church to help them do so. Meanwhile, few would deny the influence of the Franks with their Roman and Christian institutions on the Anglo-Saxon kings, esp. the kingdom of Kent whose earliest archaeological record reveals Frankish connections in the form of Frankish jewelry, pottery, and glassware. Even social insitutions appear to have been borrowed from the Franks. The term lt for a type of freeman in Kent, for example, derives ultimately from the term liti or lidi, a type of serf in Gaul, bound to live on a lord's land with some civil rights. Therefore if the adoption of such a form of tribal government with the king and witanagemt answering to the folkmoot is in error, at least it is an error based on Germanic and not Christian or Roman principles. In my view, that it is far better to error in borrowing from Heathen Germanic relations of the ancient Angles, Jutes, and Saxons than to invite alien ideologies in. 1.Placuit atque convenit inter Francos atque eorum proceribus, ut pro servandum inter se pacis studium omnia incrementa virtutum rixarum resecare deberent, et quia ceteris gentibus iuxta se positis fortitudinis brachio prominebant, ita etiam eos legali auctoritate praecellerent, ut iuxta qualitate causarum sumerent criminalis actio terminum. Extiterunt igitur inter eos electi de pluribus viri quattuor his nominibus: Wisogastus, Arogastus, Salegastus et Widogastus in villas que ultra Rhenum sunt: in Bothem, Salehem et Widohem, qui per tres mallos convenientes omnes causarum origines sollicite discutientes de singulis iudicium decreverunt hoc modo: (folgt das Titelverzeichnis) Bookhoard Chadwick, H.M., The Origin of the English Nation Washington, DC: Clivedon: 1907, 1983) Chaney, W.A, The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester: Manchester University Press: 1970)

James, Edward, The Franks (New York: Basil Blackwell: 1988) Kemble, J. H. The Saxons in England (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1849) Kern, Fritz, Kingship and Law (Oxford: Basil Blackwell:1956) Kirby, D. P. The Earliest English Kings (New York: Routledge: 1992.) Lasko, P. Kingdom of the Franks (London: Thames and Hudson, 1971) Liebermann, F. The National Assembly in the Anglo-Saxon Period. (Halle:1913). Robinson,Charles H.(tr.) Anskar, The Apostle of the North (London: SPCK, 1921) Sherley-Price, L., (tr,) A History of the English Church and People (Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics 1955, 1968) Stenton, Frank, Anglo-Saxon England 3rd ed (Oxford: Clarendon Press: 1971) Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. Early Germanic Kingship (Oxford: University of Oxford Press: 1971) Whitelock, Dorothy, The Beginnings of English Society. 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin: 1974) Wolfram, Herwig, History of the Goths (Berkeley, University of California Press: 1988) The Anglo-Saxon law codes can be found at: http://www.ealdriht.org/ASlaws.html The Heimskringla can be found at: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/ The Lex Salica can be found at: http://students.gf.nsu.ru/medieval/latin/flexal.html Germania can be found at: http://www.ealdriht.org/germania.html

Cosmology & Religious Beliefs

SECTION 1 Cosmology and the Soul

Cosmology and the Soul: The Nine Worlds by Swain Wodening Canote

The ancient Northern Europeans did not see a simple universe with a heaven above and a hell below. Instead they saw a complex of other planes and enclosures interconnected with our own. According to the Eddas, these planes or worlds were born when the realm of fire, Muspellheimr, in the south moved north to meet the realm of Niflheimr in the south. They met in what is known as the Ginnungapap "the yawning void." From this union sprang forth two beings Ymir the primeval giant and Audhumla, the primeval cow. By licking the ice, Audhumla made a new being appear, Buri. From Buri sprang Borr who married Bestla, who gave birth to Woden, Willi and Wh. They slew Ymir and from him created the Nine Worlds and the World Tree that supports the worlds. Although the Nine Worlds are linked by the World Tree, they by no means lie near each other, for there are hills, valleys, mountains, and even rivers between them formed by the bark of the tree. Beyond the Nine Worlds are unknown worlds resting in the tgard "that outside the enclosure". Each world as well as the World Tree and the Well of Wyrd are described below with the Old Norse name followed by the Anglo-Saxon version or an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction where possible. Yggdrasil/ *ormensyll: Yggdrasil, also known as the Irminsul in Old Saxon (the Anglo-Saxon reconstruction being ormensyll) is the World Tree and holds all the known worlds and rises out of the Well of Wyrd. It is often spoken of as an ash, though it was thought to have needles like a yew and also bore fruit. More likely than not the tree cannot be compared to any mortal species of tree, but may, indeed be a combination of them all. The World Tree gives the universe its infrastructure. The Nine Worlds rest within its branches and due to this the World Tree often serves as a pathway for travel between the worlds. Niflheimr/ *Nifolham: Niflheimr "the misty home" was thought of lying in the metaphysical north of Migardr below Hell. It is a world of pure cold or ice, shrouded in mist. From it flowed the rivers into Ginnungagap at the beginning of time that now flow into Hvergelmir, a part of the Well of Wyrd. It is believed that the Nibelingen (MHG) or Niflungar (ON) of the Sigurd myth may have originated there. sgarr/*sageard: sgarr literally means "enclosure of the se (sir)" or "enclosure of the gods." It is possible it was also called Heofonrce in Anglo-Saxon, but there is no way to prove this definitely. sgarr is centered on a higher plane above Midgarr and can be reached through several means. Chief is Bfrst or sbr, the fiery rainbow bridge that links the world of men to the realm of the gods. It can also be accessed from Hell by Gjallarbr "the resounding bridge." One can also reach sgarr through the Myrkvir the "mirk

wood" which separates garr from Mspillheimr. Finally there are the rivers which flow around garr and these Thunor (Thor) must cross as he is too heavy for the bridges. There are many halls in garr; Valaskjlf of Woden, Bilsskirnir of Thunor, Fensalir of Frige, Vngolf (AS Wyngeard) of the goddesses, Glitnir of Forseta and Valhll (AS *Wlheall) of the fallen heroes. Jttinheimr/*Eotenham: Jttinheimr was home to the Jtnar (AS Eotenas) or ettins, the giants. Traditionally it is seen as north of Midgarr. In Eotenham lie the fortresses of the ettins. Within its borders also lies the Jarnvir or the "iron wood." Alfheimr/ *lfham: Alfheimr is the home of the elves and was given as a gift to the god Fra for his first tooth. It was thought of as a place of great beauty, as were its inhabitants. Many believe it lies near garr. Midgarr/Middangeard: Midgarr is the realm of Man and is thought of lying in the center of the Nine Worlds. It is surrounded by a vast ocean and about it lies a wall built by the gods to protect it. Several variants of the name survive, amongst them Middenerd and Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Mspellheimr/Mspell: Mspellheimr is a region of pure fire ruled by the ettin Surtr. Others like him inhabit the realm and are the closest thing to evil incarnate that can be found in Northern European mythology. Hel/Hell: Hel is the lowest of the Nine Worlds besides Niflheimr resting below the World Tree. It is not at all a bad place, parts of it are an afterlife paradise while other parts are seen as dark and gloomy. Unlike the Christian purgatory, it is not an abode of punishment, but simply a resting place for the dead. It may be reached by the road Helvergr "the Hell way" or "Highway to Hell" if you like, a river of blood called Gjll, or a cave called Gnpahellir. Hel's gate called Helgrind or Ngrind is guarded by the ettin woman Modgud and the hound Garmr. Below Hel and in a northern part of it lies the mansion of the goddess of death Hel. It is called Elvinir "misery" and is surrounded by a wall called Fallanda Forad "falling peril." Still deeper is Kvllheimr, a place of punishment for the wicked. Within it is Nstrnd/*Nstrand "corpse strand" a dwelling made of adders for which there may be an Anglo-Saxon term in Wyrmsele "snake hall." Here the evil dead are sent to forever have burning poison drip down upon them. Svartlfheimr/*Sweartlfham: Svartlfheimr is the home of the Svartlfar, the black elves. Their identity is unclear though a few believe them the same as the Dokklfar or "dark elves." Still others hold they are the dwarves of Norse

mythology. It is thought of as a subterranean region and folk tales suggest it can be accessed through caves in Midgarr. Vanaheimr/*Wanaham: Vanaheimr is the home of the Wena (Vanir) the second family of Gods of which Fra and Fro are members. It is thought to be west of Midgarr and like garr is said to have many mansions. Urarbrunnr/ *Wyrdesburne: Urarbrunnr or the Well of Wyrd lies at the base of the World Tree. There lies the dwelling place of the Norns as well as the thing stead or assembly area of the Gods. The various directions given in the above descriptions should not be thought of as literal directions. They come down to us from many sources and we can not be certain of their accuracy. Certainly Earthly directions would have little bearing on what are essentially metaphysical planes bordering our own. Still, it may be that these directions may give some idea of where the planes lie in relation to each other and which may be closest to our own.

Cosmology and the Soul: The Soul by Swain Wodening Canote

Modern Christian thought has the soul being a single entity somewhat divorced from the human body. The ancient Heathens did not see the soul this way, for them the soul was composed of many parts, each with a different function, and intimately tied to the mortal body during life. In the "Voluspa" from the Elder Edda, we are told Woden and his brothers gave man nd or divine breath, wd or moods/emotions, l or appearance, and likr or health. These gifts are paralleled in the Anglo-Saxon Dialogue Between Saturn and Solomon where God is said to have given man ang or thought, ungem or divine breath, and modes unstadalfstenss or unsteadfast moods. Finally, a twelfth century poem in Middle High German states God gave man muot or mood and a&aethem or divine breath. Research of the various ancient Northern European tongues reveals that the soul can be broken down roughly into: 1) The Lich or body 2) The Hyge or high, the intellect 3) The Mynd or memory 4) The Willa or will 5) The em or the breath of life, the "silver cord" 6) The Hama or the skin of the soul 7) Orlg or one's personal wyrd 8) Mgen or one's personal energy 9) The Fetch or one's personal guardian spirit 10) The Md or the emotions. 11) The Wd. The Lich: The lich or in Old English lic is the human body, and it, like other parts of the soul requires special treatment. One should get plenty of exercise and eat the right foods. Humans are naturally omnivorous, that is they eat both meat and plants. It is for this reason we have incisors or canine teeth which are designed to tear meat as well as molars to gnash hard grains. One should keep in mind though that most meat on the market today is loaded full of fat that ancient man did not see in his diet. It is best for that reason to choose carefully what meats one eats. As for plants one should eat a variety of plant foods and not eat too much of one thing. One should be certain to eat a variety of green vegetables, nuts, and berries. For those that prefer a vegetarian diet, foods that are high in protein such as nuts and some types of beans should be eaten regularly. As for physical appearance, one should try to keep their hair long as the ancient Heathens held that one's power resided in the hair, thus kings and nobles always wore long hair. Nails on the other hand should be kept trimmed as the ship of the evil dead used to assail the gods' realms at the twilight of the gods is made of the untrimmed finger nails of corpses. The Hyge: The high or in Anglo-Saxon hyge is the intellect, that part of the soul which rules rational thought. Its dominion is that of the "real world." While the hyge seems to rule the rational part of Man the ancients may have also felt it ruled some emotions. The word hyge itself is related to words meaning "to love" or "to care for." The idea of the hyge being connected to the thought of "caring" isn't quite far fetched. Caring is after all, an active emotion, that is it is one that requires deeds be done. "To care for" one's sick mother requires some activity after all, and it may be the ancients thought "caring" required some form

of rational thought. The memory in the ancient soul structure is also linked to words for love, although this is in a more romantic sense. The difference could be between love that is of one's own free will, that of the hyge, and one that is innate, that of the mynd. The Mynd: The mynd is the memory and all functions surrounding it. This includes all that has been learned, memories of one's life, and one's ancestral memory or instinct. Like the hyge, the word mynd is related to words meaning "to love," though of a far more romantic variety. Many of the words dealing with the human mind and loving or caring seem to have evolved with the sense of "keeping one in mind." That is the memory or mynd is linked to words meaning "to love" because one's loved ones will be ever present in the memory. Similarly the hyge is related to words meaning to care for, as one will actively think of one's loved ones often. These ideas of remembering or thinking about those we love or care for or even have been kind to us is deeply ingrained in the Germanic culture. The phrase "thank you" evolved from a sense of "I will think of you" meaning the kind act would be remembered. Heathen scholars have yet to explore these possibilities, the link between active rational thought and emotions such as caring or loving. The Willa: The will is the source of voluntary self assertion or determination. Its is the ability to "wish" something into being by sheer desire, and be in control of one's self and one's wyrd. It is related to words meaning "to wish or desire " and deals primarily with what one wants instead of necessarily what one needs. However, unlike the hyge or the mynd, it is not linked to any words meaning "to love" or "to care for," strange for that part of the soul which rules self initiative and desire. The em: The em is the breath of life, it is the animating principle of the body and is what links the body to the rest of the soul. It is roughly the equivalent of "the silver chord" of some philosophies. Without the em the soul would separate from the body and leave. At death, the em dissolves setting the soul free to fare to the afterlife. Another term for the em is the ealdor, which also refers to the life span of a man as well as eternity. Yet another term is blad which means "breath or spirit," and like em refers to ancient beliefs involving the idea of the breath of life as the soul of a man. The Hama: The hama is an energy/matter form surrounding the soul that protects it outside the body. It is roughly analogous to the skin of the body. The hama looks like the body it belongs to although very powerful creatures can shape shift their's. The hama is the "ethereal image" of any ghosts one might see. It is the hama that keeps the soul's energies from being dispersed when the body fares forth. After death the hama may be referred to as the scinn or scinnhw.

The Orlg: The orlg is one's personal wyrd. It is an individual's "law." The Orlg contains all the events of one's life and their consequences. These events and their results further determine the results of one's future actions. It is tied to one's fetch and regulates the amount of one's mgen. The Mgen: mgen is the spiritual energy possessed by every living creature and thing in the universe. mgen like wyrd exists on many levels. There is the mgen of the individual, that shared by the family, and that shared by entire nations. mgen is expended in everyday life with the deeds we do. How much mgen one has is regulated by Wyrd and based largely on our deeds. When one commits an evil act, they incur a debt known in Anglo-Saxon as a scyld "debt, or obligation." Failure to pay this debt results in a loss of mgen equal to the amount of mgen lost from the evil act. Thus theft of a piece of jewelry would result in a loss of mgen from the thief equal to the amount of mgen contained in that piece of jewelry. mgen can be earned through the doing of good deeds, that is the doing of deeds that benefit others or the community. The Fetch or Fcce: The fetch, or in Anglo-Saxon fcce, is one's guardian spirit and is said to appear as an animal resembling one's disposition or as a member of the opposite sex (which if corresponded to Jung's theories on the animus and animia would resemble one's true love). If the fetch is seen as an animal, it will always been seen in that form unless the spell caster wills it to shape change. In ancient times fetchs were generally seen as wolves, bears, cats, hawks, eagles, sea faring birds, and livestock (horses, pigs, cattle, etc.). Its form can sometimes be seen by those with second sight. It is the fetch that usually controls the allocation of one's mgen in accordance with one's wyrd. The fetch also records one's actions in one's wyrd. Fetchs are said to flee the wicked in the Eddas. The Md: The md is the self. In many ways it is the "totality of being," the cognizance of an individual or state of being. It is a concept that is very difficult to understand because of the vast array of uses of the word in the ancient Northern European languages. The reason for this complexity probably lies in how the early Northern Europeans viewed the world. In modern thought there are two ways of viewing things. The objective view is one that always views things for what can be scientifically proven about them. It tends to be rational and materialistic in the way it views things. Most of the Western world uses objective viewing. Alongside objective viewing, the West also practices activism or the tendency to submerge one's self in the physical or material world. In the West, thus materialism exists as the main drive in life. A second way of viewing things belongs to the great Eastern culture of India. Subjective viewing views objects for the emotions they can evoke. Usually cultures that practice subjective viewing also practice quietism or rather they tend to submerge themselves in their own thoughts and not the physical world. These differences in Western and Eastern

thought have resulted in the East as seeing only psychic reality or "the reality of the mind" while the West sees only "the material world." Neither sets of views seem to have been held by the ancient Northern Europeans. They seem to have believed in a metaphysical reality or "psychic reality" as much as they did a physical reality or material reality. As such, they probably viewed everything both objectively and subjectively while practicing activism in both forms of reality. This would account for such a large part of the soul as the md with its multitude of uses for both the intellect and the emotions. The md is most likely a reflection of the integrated self, one that can both view things subjectively and objectively. The Wd: The wd is the seat of the "passions" or those emotions that bring about inspiration. The wd is the providence of Woden, and many believe its power comes directly from him. The wd is responsible for a higher state of being edging on the divine and can only be defined by such words as enthusiasm, agony, and ecstasy. It is responsible for poetic inspiration, "madness," and the berserk rage. It most closely resembles the modern principle of the daimonic as described by psychologist Rollo May. Failure to integrate it into the rest of the soul can result in a myriad mental illnesses, if one uses May's theories as an example. Successful integration on the other hand can result in artistic genius or simply a well balanced sense of being. Strangely enough, the wd, was gave to Man by Willa, the god of the will, and therefore self control. Collectively the soul minus the fetch is known as the feorh, gst, or sawol in Anglo-Saxon There are many other terms in the Elder Tongues for each of the soul parts as well. The lich can also be called the hrw; the em, the ealdor. The other terms have related words as well, but these are often more obscure. There is much we still do not know about ancient Heathen soul lore, and the above information is by no means complete. We have little idea what such terms as sefa, angiet, and oranc refer to. Whether they are synonyms for the other terms, or other parts of the soul we do not know. However, what knowledge we do have on ancient soul lore will lead us to learning more about how our souls are constructed, and why we do the things we do. The soul is intimately tied to Wyrd, and no study of the soul would be complete without one of Wyrd and concepts concerning good and evil also.

The Sacred and the Holy by Swain Wodening

Wholeness and Otherworldliness: The Elder Heathens had more than one concept of what was holy and sacred; in truth, they had two separate concepts. The readily familiar is OE hlig (OFris. hlich; OS hlag; OHG heilag; ON heilagR; Gothic hailags), our word holy. The other concept after nearly twelve hundred years of Christianity has been largely lost to us, but when looked at from a Heathen context is easily understood. It is one of separateness, otherworldliness, and is represented by Old English wh (ON v, OHG wh) "religious site." Both hlig and wh can be represented by the Latin words sanctus (Greek agios) and sacer (Greek hieros) respectively. The concept of something that must remain whole or healthy must be a very old concept. Etymologically, Latin sanctus is related to Old English Gesund (High German gesund) as in "healthy, in good condition," just as our word "holy" is related to other Indo-European words for health. The concept of "health and wholeness" was widely used in the Germanic tongues, and even then seemed to be the more important of the two concepts of the holy and the sacred. Hlig and the words immediately related to it were used in a variety of ways, amongst which were Old English hlsian (ON heilla) "to invoke spirits," not to mention our words health, hale, whole, and hail. All of these words revolve around the concept of health and wholeness, and the ability of healing. It was therefore a quite attractive term to the ancient Heathens, and was thus widely applied to the realm of Man. Unlike hlig, wh and its proto-Germanic ancestor *wh- were applied more to the realm of the Gods. Proto-Germanic *wh- comes from IE *vk- "to separate," and has a cognate in Latin vic- as in victima "sacrifice." As an adjectival prefix it survives today in German Weihnacten "the sacred nights" used of the Yule season. Formerly, however, *wh- and the words derived from it saw a variety of uses all revolving around that which is separate from the everyday. Such terms as Old English wh (ON ve; OHG wh) "sacred site;" weoh "idol;" and whian (ON vigja) "to consecrate" saw fairly extensive use at one time. It was largely applied to things that were seen as "otherworldly;" and, even more so than the enclosures of Mankind; must remain separate from the "wilds" around them. The term was applied to words for cultic centers, temple sites, idols, and grave mounds, the very symbols of godly order as opposed to the "wilds" outside. This can especially be seen in Old Norse Var, a general term for the gods. Anything that was *wh- was something that was, at least partially, in the realm of the gods, separate from all else. An ealh (OE "temple") was therefore *wh-, as was a frigeard (OE "cultic site, v), thus proto-Germanic *wh- came to mean such sacred sites. With wh-, we are seeing the ultimate opposition of innangars versus ttangars, which is the enclosure of the gods versus the "wilds," all that lies beyond the enclosure of Mankind. Whereas hallowing something makes it whole, *wh-ing something makes it separate from the ordinary (places it in the realm of the gods), and therefore gives it something of the Gods' power (protection from the "wilds").

A term that may be a combination of the concepts of hlig and wh appears on the Gothic ring of Pietroassa, at the end of a runic inscription; whailag would appear to be synonymous with the Latin term sacrosanct, "that which is whole and separate from the ordinary." Another similar term appears in Old Norse v heilakt "sacrosanct," as well as in Old English sundorhlga "saint." While sundorhlga may have been a creation of the Christian missionaries, it could just as well been a term used to replace a more familiar though Heathen term. The fact that Old English sundor- appears in the place of whindicates it may have been a substitution of a more acceptable Christian term for one with strong Heathen connotations. What can be drawn from these concepts of the holy and the sacred is that while the concept of "health/wholeness," was represented by the term hlig for both Man and Gods, *wh- represented yet another concept, that of "separateness, otherworldliness." This "separateness" or "otherworldliness" would be the divine forces themselves, the gods, and the powers of their realm. Anything that was *whwas endowed with the qualities of the gods and their realm, it contained their mgen. This concept can be difficult to understand at times, but perhaps it is best not to try to understand it, but realize that if something is *wh- it has qualities of the gods' realms, and carries with it powers that leave Man in awe. It can be seen in what Tacitus had to say about the drowning of the slaves who washed the goddess Nerthus' cart. There is a fear of the arcane attached to this custom for there is a reverence sprung from ignorance about that which is seen only by men who die for having done so.(Tacitus, Germania) The slaves may have had to die because they had touched something of the godly realm, and therefore may have ceased to be of this realm. The kindest thing to do then, would have been to send them to the realm of the gods. This type of action is reflected in the Latin term victima "sacrifice," a term which shares etymological origins with the Heathen term *wih-. This type of religious awe can be seen elsewhere, as in Tacitus' tale of the grove in which the Semnones worshipped a god they believed ruled all. To enter the grove a Semnone had to be bound with rope, and if he fell, he could not stand up, but had to roll out of the grove. The concept of *wh- forms part of a greater Heathen perception of reality, one which is best defined by Kirsten Hastrup in Culture and Society in Medieval Iceland. When we turn to the layout of immediate space, it appears that the most significant distinction pertaining to the spacial arrangement of the farmstead was inni:ti ("inside:outside"). The borderline between the farmstead as centre and the world outside as periphery was drawn along the fence that surrounded the farm. The opposition between innangars and tangars ("inside" and "outside fence" respectively) had important socio-legal implications. (Hastrup, page ) These implications were applied to more than the simple farmsteads of the Icelandic farmer, and can help us better understand the concept of *wh-. But before we can fully understand the concept of *wh-, that which is a part of the gods' realms, we must first look at how the ancient Heathens viewed their own socio-cultural order, and how that understanding of themselves extended to their understanding of the other nine realms.

Enclosures and The World: The concept of *wh- "that which is a part of the gods' realms" was related to other concepts revolving around how the ancient Heathens viewed society and the law. Hastrup in her book addresses this concept of "separateness" between that of a husbandman's farm and the wild lands outside it and expands this explanation to Heathen society itself. "The important point is that in our period a structural and semantic opposition was operative between "inside" and "outside" the society-as-law, allowing for a merging of different kinds of beings in the conceptual "wild." This anti-social space was inhabited by a whole range of spirits...landsvttir "spirits of the land," huldufolk "hidden people," jtnar "giants," trlls "trolls," and lfar "elves"...all of them belonged to the "wild" and it was partly against them that one had to defend ones-self... In this way the secure, well-known and personal innangards was symbolically separated from the dangerous unknown and nonhuman wild space outside the fence, tangards. "(Hastrup, page ) As Heathen familiar with our own cosmology, we know this paradigm not to be entirely correct. In truth, what the ancient Heathens truly saw was a series of enclosures comprising even larger enclosures. Thus individuals comprised the enclosure of a farmstead, several farmsteads comprised a godord and all the godhords, the Icelandic state. In most ancient times, individuals made up families, families made up clans or kindreds, clans or kindreds made up tribes, the tribes made up Middangeard. Middangeard and the other eight abodes made up the multiverse and were held in the world tree Yggdrasil. Hastrup points out later in her book: Horizontally the cosmos was divided into Mgar and tgardR. Mgar was the central space..inhabited by men (and gods), while tgardR was found outsidethe fence . (Hastrup page ) This view of the universe as a series of enclosures governed nearly every socio-political factor of an ancient tribesman's life and extended beyond a socio-political philosophy into the very theology of ancient Heathenry. At the base of all of these enclosures was the individual. An individual was part of a mgd "a family" and as an individual held certain responsibilities towards that family. He or she was expected to contribute to wergeld should another family member commit a crime, avenge any fellow family members wronged, defend the family's enclosures from encroachment, and generally contribute to the common good of the family. As an individual he or she possessed mgen, his or her own spiritual energy, and a fetch inherited from some ancestor. Individuals determined their own Wyrd through their own actions, each action resulting in an appropriate outcome according to a personal law that individual had laid down throughout his or her life time. All of an individual's actions had to be in keeping with that which is good. That which is good was determined by the tribe as a whole, and generally came down to "that which did not harm the tribe or one of its individuals," but actively contributed to the tribe as a whole. The word good, which has cognates in every Germanic tongue, derives from Old English gd which in turn derived from proto-Germanic *gad- "to unite, bring together." It is related to the word gather and referred to the collectiveness of the family and tribe. Individuals are rarely treated as being solely responsible for their deeds in the ancient law codes. According to Bill Griffiths, "Compensation itself would be collectable and payable to a kin-group rather

than an individual, suggesting communal responsibility." (Griffiths page ) In time, an individual's lord or guild would be held responsible (notably after the Conversion when Heathen custom was dying), but in the earliest times it was the family or kindred that was responsible for the individual's actions. The mgd was the institution that enforced the law for its members. Should a mgd fail in preventing a member from committing a crime, it was then held responsible for making compensation to the victim's family. If the mgd held that their family member was innocent, they could then take the matter to thing, or fight the ensuing blood feud. Even should the culprit of the crime flee, the family was still responsible for half the victim's wergeld under some Anglo-Saxon law codes. A notable absence in the ancient law codes are laws dealing with crimes within a kindred. These crimes were dealt with by the mgd itself without outside interference. This was because the mgd formed a legal unit in and of its self. A glance at the Icelandic sagas will quickly reveal the strength of the family in this respect. The strength of the family as a legal unit also extended into the spiritual realm. Just as the individual possesses a fetch, the family possesses a kin-fetch called in Old Icelandic the kinfylgja, and as an individual possesses mgen, so too does a mgd. Similarly the collective actions of a family comprised that family's wyrd. Families were the most important enclosure within a tribe. While within Anglo-Saxon England there were Hundred courts, and Iceland, the Godords, that came between the families and the tribal assembly itself, it was the family that wielded the most power. While families were the principle enforcers of the law, they were not its creators. In a metaphysical sense, every individual lays down law as personal wyrd, as does every family. But the laws that governed individuals' behavior were generally decided upon by the tribe as a whole in various mels and things. The od or tribe was the enclosure, the innangards. The law created by the od was customary in nature. The tribal assemblies did not "make laws" so much as rule on how existing customs or traditions would apply to a given situation (for example the dispute between two families over a boundary). The customs or traditions of a od were considered its wyrd, its doom, the actions that as a collective whole the od had laid down in the Well of Wyrd. Kirsten Hastrup maintains that: "In Iceland 'the social' was coterminous with 'the law'...it was eloquently expressed in the notion of vr lg ('our law'). By logical inference 'the wild'...was coterminous with 'non-law.'" This philosophy was expressed when the Heathens and Christians in Iceland declared themselves r lgum "out of law" with each other at the Icelandic Althing of 1000 CE.18" (Hastrup page ) Ancient Germanic law was not connected to political boundaries as modern law is now, it was by tribal membership, by blood. That is, an ancient Jute would only be tried under Jutish law, not by the law of the od he had committed his or her crime in. The tribe was the law, was that which was good, was the innangard, and all outside the tribe was tangards for all practical purposes. The tribe as an innangard served as "contained space" for deeds to be done. It is the sort of contained space Bauschatz is talking about in his book the The Well and the Tree: "For the Germanic peoples, space as it is encountered and perceived in the created worlds of men and other beings, exists, to any significant degree only as a location or container for the occurrence of action...The container is action, whether of individual men, of men acting in consort or in opposition, of

men and monsters, or whatever. In all cases, immediate actions are discontinuous and separable deriving power and structure from the past." (Bauschatz, p.) These deeds done within the innangard of the tribe by its tribesmen are its law, its orlay. A od is no different than a mgd or an individual in that it too lays down its own wyrd in the Well of Wyrd. This wyrd or doom is the law of the tribe. Just as there are spiritual correspondences between the individual and the family, so too are there between the tribe and the family. The tribal leader was seen as possessing the mgen of the tribe, and for the tribe to remain successful, it had to obey its laws. Failure to do so would result in a loss of mgen. The Anglo-Saxon Miercinga Rce believes that our law, orlay, wyrd, and mgen operate on the very same principles. The same principles that the ancient Heathens may have believed in. Here we are brought back to the discussion of *wh-. The tribe in ancient times was the largest social enclosure of Mankind. In a sense, that which was *wh-, was also outside its realm, outside the innangards of Mankind, tho not a part of the "wilds," the tgard. Not all outside the realm of Man was thought threatening. In sooth, much of what lies outside Man's realm is helpful, esp. the Gods. Perhaps then we have struck upon the primary reason for worship, to build a bridge between the enclosures of the gods and the enclosures of Man. Enclosures and Otherworldliness: In her book Culture and History in Medieval Iceland, Hastrup makes it appear that the Elderen saw all outside the guarded enclosures of their home as dangerous, not to be trusted. However, this is not in keeping with the ancient Heathens being fearless adventurers, routing the Roman navy on the open seas, colonizing Russia, and even sailing to the coasts of America. It could be argued that the physical unknown did not faze the ancient Heathen, but that the spiritual unknown was quite a different matter. To a great extant this may be true. In the ancient lore when we are met with otherworldliness it is often of the dangerous variety. Grendel is a prime example as are the countless tales of ettins and thurses. Yet, we are faced with the concept of *wh-, that which was part of the realm of the gods, and therefore seemed to be desirable to achieve. To the ancient Heathen, there were but two types of beings outside Mankind, those that would help Man, and those that would harm Man. There were countless shades of gray between, but most beings fell into these two categories. The ancient Heathens worked charms to rid themselves of arrows shot at them by ill wishing elves and sang prayers to invoke the gods. All of this constituted an interaction between enclosures. It also constituted the ancient Heathens' concepts of good and evil. Good was, of course, that which helped the entirety of one's tribe. Included in this would be the members of the tribe, their dead ancestors, the tribal gods, land wihts, and other beings that had proven themselves worthy in a time of need. Evil was that which sought to destroy the tribe. The contrast between the two can be seen in the early words for evil. The majority of words fall into two groups. The first group is in stark contrast to the concept of the "holy " for these words deal with evil as illness. Old English bealu, our word bale "evil," derives from an Indo-European root meaning "illness" and is related to Old Slavic bolu "sick person." Similar is Old English traga "evil" a variation of trega

"grief, pain," and Old English ni with its secondary meaning of "affliction." A term that came down to us as meaning "sick" originally meant "evil" in Old Norse. Illr should be readily recognizable as our word "ill." This concept of evil as an illness can be seen in the Anglo-Saxon charms where wights from outside the enclosures of Mankind are blamed for causing illnesses. Illnesses, growths, and sharp pains are seen as sascot "arrows or spears" from elves, witches, and other wights or flogende ttres "flying poisons." Evil was not only seen as illness, but also as the wights outside of the innangars of Man that might cause illness. Thus Old English wearg meant not only "outlaw" but "evil" as well. Similarly, Old Norse fiandR "outsider" was cognate to Old English fond "demon," our word "fiend." Just as illr is in opposition to holy, so was wearg to good, and such words as Old English sibb which meant not only "relative or kinsman" but "peace." How the ancient Heathens handled these "out dwellers" can only be seen in the Old English charms and in the interaction with outlaws in the Icelandic sagas. Throughout the Old English charms, "outdwellers" are threatened with sheer magical strength. In the charm Wi Frstice the spellcaster after stating he has shielded himself from the "mighty women" causing the sudden pain in the victim goes on to say:

Std under linde r a mihtigan wf and hie giellende ic him oerne flogende flne

under lohtum scielde hyra mgen beradden gras sendan eft wille sendan forane tgeanes.

I stood under linden

Under light shield Are deprived of their strength

There the mighty women And their yelling Another I will Flying arrows

Spears sent Send back at them Forward in reply!

Here it is clear that the spellcaster has taken an active and somewhat combative role in chasing off the wights causing the sudden stitches in the victim. Other charms are not quite so dramatic, but clearly

reflect the ancient Anglo-Saxons belief that illnesses were caused by "outdwellers" and that these "outdwellers" must be dealt with in an aggressive way. Outlaws fared not much better in the Icelandic sagas. They were open game for anyone that came upon them (it was not illegal to kill an outlaw as they were no longer a member of the tribe and therefore, not protected by its law), and could not expect the aid of anyone. They were stripped of any lands they might own, and more often than not wound up dead at the hands of some citizen. Outlaws were men without tribe, and men without tribe were without law. Not even hospitality, one of the greatest of Heathen virtues, need be extended to an outlaw. Of course, not all "outdwellers" were considered a threat to the enclosures of Mankind, and many such as the Gods were considered necessary, so that while illr and wearg came to be used of wights intent on harming Man, holy and *wh- came to be used of those that were helpful to Man. Here we come to one of the primary reasons for engaging in Heathen worship: to provide a way in which modern Heathen can interact with those beings that help Mankind. This may mean more than just performing rites and prayers however, for to receive the aid of any wight, much less the Gods, one must first prove to be trustworthy, brave, and worthy of the other qualities our forbears found desirable. First and foremost one must understand Wyrd and the Law. Bibiliography: Bauchatz, Paul, The Well and the Tree, Paul, The Well and the Tree, University of Massachuetts Press; Amherst, 1982 Gronbech, Vilhelm, Culture of the Teutons, Oxford University Press; London, 1931 Hastrup, Kirsten, Culture and History in Medieval Iceland: An Anthropological Analysis of Structure and Change, Claredon Press; Oxford, 1985

Wyrd and Virtues

Wyrd by Swain Wodening Revised by Eric Wodening May, 2004 CE

Wyrd may be one of the least understood Heathen concepts. Many have thought that it is a fatalistic concept, that once wyrd is set, it cannot be changed. This does not appear to be in keeping ancient Heathen lore. The future and even the present is uncertain. It can change through the action of new precedents set in the Well of Wyrd. Everything has a wyrd of its own, which is part of the larger wyrd around it. Any individual is subject to his or her own personal wyrd, the wyrd of his or her family, the wyrd of his or her tribe, the wyrd of Middangeard, and finally the wyrd of the Nine Worlds. No one is subject only to his or her personal wyrd. Although many factors play a role in Wyrd, there are three primary ones: 1.) the World Tree (in Old Norse, Yggdrasil, perhaps identical with Irminsul mentioned in conjunction with the Continental Saxons-Irminsul in Old English would be *Eormensyl); 2..) the Well of Wyrd or in Old Norse Urarbrunnr 3.) the goddesses called in Old English the Wyrd and in Old Norse the Nornir. The World Tree stands above the Well of Wyrd and dew forms everyday on its leaves:

Ask veit ek ausinn, Heitir Yggdrasil, Hrr bamr heilagr, Hvta-auri; aan koma dggvar, Es dala falla; Stendr yfir gronn Urarbrunni.

An ash I wit standing Called Yggdrasil, A high holy tree Sprinkled with white clay, Thence come the dews That in the dales fall; Stands it always ever green Over Wyrd's Well. (Gylfaginning 16, Prose Edda)

The Well of Wyrd lies at the base of Yggdrasil. There are two other wells within the Heathen cosmology also at the base of the World Tree. These are the Mmisbrunnr "Mimir's Well" and Hvergelmir "the

roaring cauldron." Mimer's Well is the well Wden gave his eye to have a drink from to gain wisdom. Hvergelmir is the well that all waters of the Nine Worlds are said to flow into. The relation of these three wells to the tree Yggdrasil are described in the Prose Edda: *jar rtr trsins av upp ok standa afarbreitt...in rija stendr Niflheimi, ok undir eiri rt er Hvergelmir...En undir eiri rt, er til hrmaursa horfir, ar er Mmisbrunnr, er soek ok manvit er flgit, ok heitir s Mmr, er brunnunn....rija rt asksins stendr himni, ok undir aeiri rt er brunnr s, er mjk er heilagr, er heitr Urarbrunnr;ar eigu goin dmsta sinn. Three roots hold the tree up and stand far abroad...the third stands over Niflheim, and under that root is Hvergelmir...And under that root, which is towards the frost giants is Mimer's Well, where wisdom and understanding are, Mimer keeps that well.. The third ash's root stands in heaven, and under that root is a well, that is very holy, that well is called Wyrd's Well, there the gods hold their court. (Gylfaginning 15, Prose Edda) Paul Bauschatz implies that these three wells are all one and the same, "The idea seems proper if we are to equate all three wells..." Whether or not these three wells are all different aspects of the Well of Wyrd, doesn't seem to matter within this mythological paradigm for the principles involved work the same. Vital to both the tree and the well are the Wyrd or Norns. We are told they are three in number and that:

aan koma meyiar, margs vitandi, rr, r eim s, er und olli strendr; Ur hto eina, ara Verandi --scro sci--, Skuld ina riio; r lg lumlgo, r lf kuro alda bornom, rlg seggia

Thence come the maidens, Mighty in wisdom, Three from the place, Under the tree, Wyrd is called one, Another Werende Scored they on wood, Scyld is the third; There Laws they laid, There life chose, To men's sons, And spoke orlay (Vluspa 20-25)

The image of Wyrd and her sisters appears throughout the Germanic world, and Anglo-Saxon poetry written after the Conversion still remembered her power, such as in this passage from Beowulf:

Wfre ond wlfus ...Him ws gomor sefa, S one gomelan Wyrd ungemete nah, scan swle hord Grtan sceolde,

Wavering and slaughter eager ...Sad were his senses The old one Wyrd was unmeasurably nigh, She seeks his soul's treasure... She was indebted to greet, (Beowulf 2419-2422)

Within the folk memory of the Germanic people the Wyrd appear as fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty and as witches in Macbeth. Always they are shown as involved with men's destinies. This goes back to the activities they are said to perform in the Voluspa passage above. The first of these is --scro sci-- "to score on wood." This is an activity one would expect to find in connection with the runes, and indeed, the Wyrd may be divining what they should do, or using the runes to ensure that that which should happen will happen. Next they lg lgo "laws lay down" or more literally "lay layers." Bauschatz feels these are not laws per se, but physical strata (in the spiritual sense): "The phrase lg leggja is the usual term in Old Norse for the act of making laws, but the literal meaning of the phrase suggests something else. Leggja is "to lay," "to place," "to do." Lg (the plural of lag) is literally 'strada' or 'that which has been deposited or laid down.' Lg leggja is, then, to lay down that which is laid down, or to lay down or implant strata." (Bauschatz page ) They also lf kuro "choose life" and rlg seggia "say orlog." Bauschatz feels the phrase to "choose life" is too vague to make any decision on as to its context. But it is paralleled in the lore by another phrase which is valkyrja "chooser of the slain." It is the duty of the valkyriur to choose those that are to fall in battle. Here we may draw a parallel, that it was the duty of the Wyrd to guide the lives of men. As in the passage from Beowulf above, Wyrd played a role in men's lives at crucial moments. When boasting to slay Grendel, Beowulf calls on the power of Wyrd, ending his speech with "Ga wyrd sw ho scel," "Goeth ever Wyrd as she shall." Wyrd determined the outcome of any such crucial event based on the past actions of those involved. Beowulf had just boasted of his past exploits using these as a basis for his boast to slay Grendel. In this sense, Wyrd is choosing life or life's paths. The final activity of the Wyrd, to speak orlg, is the "speaking of the primal layer." Bauschatz addresses this phrase thusly:

"The prefix or- signifies something that is beyond or above the ordinary. It suggests something of first rate or primary significance, but it does not indicate the scale upon which the significance is to be measured; hence, the rather vague 'above' or 'beyond' quality it imparts. The rlg is, then, a 'primal law' (in importance), a 'highest law' (in elevation), an 'earliest law' (in time), a 'first law' (in any numerical sequence), and so forth. To take the more literal reading of lg, olg is 'the most significant things laid down,' 'the earliest things accomplished.' "(Bauschatz page ) These laws or "layers" are the layers within the Well of Wyrd. They are formed by the actions of every creature and thing in the multiverse. Bauschatz goes onto to say: "The well is named for Urth; her name represents the 'past.' This past includes the actions of all beings who exist within the enclosing branches of Yggdrasil: men, gods, giants, elves, etc. Like the water, these actions find their way back into the collecting source; as happens, all actions become known, fixed, accomplished. In one sense, it is such actions that form the layers or strata that are daily laid in the well by the speaking of the rlg. The coming into the well is orderly and ordered; events are clearly related to each other, and there is pattern and structure in their storage." (Bauschatz page ) This pattern of events is ever changing, ever growing, and daily, as the rlg is said, new events, new actions come into the well. This movement of actions from our realm into the well is reflected by our native word for "action." Our word do derives from an Indo-European root related to Sanskrit ddhti meaning "to put or lay." A deed therefore is a layer in Wyrd's Well. All this movement was not one way, actions did not flow into the Well of Wyrd never to return. Everyday the Wyrd watered the World Tree from the Well of Wyrd: Enn er aat sagt, at nornir ar, er byggva vi Urarbrunn, taka hvern dag vatn i brunninum ok me aurinn aann, er liggr um brunninn, ok ausa upp yfir askinn, til aes at eigi skulu limar hans treena ea fna, en aat vatn er sv heilagt, at allir hlutir, aeir er aar koma brunninn, vera sv hvtir sem hinna s, er skjall heitir, er innan liggr vi eggskurn. And it is said that, these Norns there, that dwell at Wyrd's Well, take every day water from the well and with that clay, that lies in the well, then sprinkle it upon the ash, to the end that the tree's limbs shall not wither or rot, for this water is so holy, that all lots, that come there into the well, become as white as the white within an egg shell. (Gylfaginning 16) It was this action that brought the results of deeds of the past back to the present to be the results of similar deeds in the present. Further, within the well itself, deeds ever sank to the bottom only to be pushed back up to the top by the natural action of the well, for Urarbrunnr is not a cistern, but a spring fed well. The term brunnr means a spring or a well, often mineral springs, which has water which flows up from the bottom, thru natural pressure. All of these actions can be summarized as thus: The results of deeds in the present as symbolized by the tree Yggdrasil which holds the nine abodes, flow into the Well of Wyrd, representative of the past. There they sink, to surge back up to the top again through the natural action of the well. The Norns then bring these results to the present to serve as the basis for the results of new deeds when they water the tree.

These deeds may also be drawn up by the roots of the tree, or by evaporation from the well condensing on the tree as the dew. The results of deeds in the present are drawn from outcomes of similar deeds in the past. We can assume this, as this was the basis for all native Germanic law codes which were based upon past precedents. In essence, when we do a deed, its result flows into the Well of Wyrd, to be brought back thru the action of the Wyrd, as the outcome of a similar deed we may do later on. This is true of individuals, of families, and tribes. Individuals have a personal orlg from which the results of all their deeds are drawn, so too do families. The law of a tribe is essentially the collective actions of its folk as held in the Well of Wyrd. There are many words connected to this mythological paradigm of deeds symbolized by water flowing nto hte Well of Wyrd to form layers. We have already mentioned most of them, such as our word do which derives from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to lay." Deriving from the same root is Old English dm, our modern word doom. Old English dm is defined as "judgement, ordeal, sentence, law, and custom," among other things. Derived from a root meaning "to lay," the word dm was applied to various actions or deeds which where laid in the Well of Wyrd. A judgement, a sentence, a law, a custom, all of these are things which make up layers in the Well. Another word reflecting the layers in the Well of Wyrd is Old English Old English ordl, our word "ordeal." Originally it had a meaning closer to that of Old Norse rlg, an ordl being an "ancient portion." When one under went a trial by ordeal, they were essentially showing themselves to be a virtuous person innocent of the crime, by calling upon the witness of their own past. Various words meaning "law, custom" in the ancient Germanic languages also meant "religion" as well. In Old Norse the word sir "tradition, custom" was also used for "religion." Custom and religion seemed inseparable to the ancient Heathens as did law and custom. This thought is strengthened by the additional meaning of "rite" for sir, a sense shared by its Old English cognate sidu, which also meant "custom, practice." Old Norse Siabk, for example, meant "liturgy book, a book of rites." That the word for tradition or custom would not only be used for religion, but the rites of a religion is only natural. The rites would be the traditions of the tribe occurring every holy day, year in and year out, they would also constitute the most oft-repeated deeds of the tribe as a whole. Old English , "law," also meant "religion," specifically Chriatianity, but this does not prevent it from having been previously used for Heathenry. The word is a native word with cognates in other Germanic languages. That it would suddenly be used of the new religion, without ever having been used of the old, seems difficult to believe. Since it is known that Christianity borrowed such terms as blessing, it is safe to assume was also a borrowing. Such is the case of lg "law" which was used as a term for the Heathen religion, as well as the idea of "a commonwealth." As previously mentioned, at the Icelandic Althing of 1000, when the adoption of Christianity was being debated, the two parties declared themselves yr lgum "out of law" with each other, which is as much to say "we're not of the same religion." The Middle English word law saw a similar usage as writers spoke of Judaism as the "Jewish law" or Christianity as the "Christian law." Such uses of the word law probably hail back to a time when the Heathen law, religion, and culture were thought one and the same. That the Elderen thought of themselves as being the law also indicates the extent to which they identified with Heathenry.

Interestingly, in Old High German one word for religion was heit. Its Old English cognate hd meant "condition, state," while its Old Norse cognate heir meant "honour." The meaning of all three words probably indicate that the Elderen, "saw religion (and by implication, law) as an 'ontological state' or 'a state of being'" These words were not the only words they used to refer to religion and the law, but they are representative of them on the whole. The ancient Heathens saw themselves as being the law, their deeds being the law, their customs being the law, as well as their religion being the law, and the law of the tribe was the layers its folk laid down in the Well of Wyrd. Nowhere are we told that the law is the decree of some king or god as with Christianity. The power of the law derived from the folk. Bibliography Bauchatz, Paul, The Well and the Tree, Paul, The Well and the Tree, University of Massachuetts Press; Amherst, 1982 Gronbech, Vilhelm, Culture of the Teutons, Oxford University Press; London, 1931 Hastrup, Kirsten, Culture and History in Medieval Iceland: An Anthropological Analysis of Structure and Change, Claredon Press; Oxford, 1985

Wyrd And Scyld by Swain Wodening Canote

The impact of Wyrd can be seen everywhere. In nearly every theological construct in Germanic heathendom, including Anglo-Saxon heathendom and satr, Wyrd plays a role. Just as Wyrd is central to the ancient heathen conception of Law, so too is it central to their conception of Sin or wrongdoing. Three basic principles play a role in heathen concpetions of Sin. The first is Wyrd. The second is mgen. The third is known as scyld in Old English or skuld in Old Norse. In Old Norse the word skuld, meaning "debt, obligation," shows how the heathen conception of Sin was tied to the conception of Wyrd--Skuld is the name of the third Norn in Norse myth. Wyrd is the principle by which the multiverse operates. For the ancient heathen this may have been represented by the World Tree Yggdrasil and the Well of Wyrd. The world tree Yggdrasil holds the nine worlds and represents the present, the dew that forms on the tree represents deeds being done in the present. The water in the Well of Wyrd represents the results of deeds from the past. These results are brought to the present to shape the results of deeds in the present; when the Wyrd sisters water the tree, the influences of past deeds are drawn up by the roots of the tree, or by evaporation from the well condensing on the tree. Everything has its own personal wyrd or, in Old Norse, orlg and, in Old English, orlg. This personal wyrd dictates how actions taken by a being or thing resolve themselves in accordance with wyrd. According to Edred Thorsson, orlg is passed down family lines, from one's ancestors to one's descendants, as were the duties and obligations of ancestors. This could be taken to mean the physical duties of dead ancestors, but that is not likely the case. It seems unlikely that an individual would be responsible for the physical debts of a long dead ancestor; however, it is not hard to assume that individuals inherited the spiritual abilities and obligations of the long dead ancestor, his or her "karma" or "metaphysical baggage." According to Edred Thorsson, when the orlg was inherited, so were the duties and obligations of the dead ancestor. We could take this to mean the physical duties of the dead ancestor, but that is likely not the case. It is unlikely that an individual would be responsible for the physical debts of a long dead ancestor. However, it is not difficult to assume that the individual inherited the spiritual abilities and obligations of that long dead ancestor, his or her "karma" or "metaphysical baggage." Evidence of personal orlg is usually found in the Old Norse texts, the other Germanic tribes using instead the term Wyrd, which has implications of the more universal law than personal orlg. In Old English the word mgen and in Old Norse the word hamingja appear to have been used as a term for the spiritual energy contained in every living thing in the multiverse. Similar terms used in Old Norse were gipta, and gfa, both of which could mean "luck, fortune" and both of which are related to modern English gift. Mgen could be loaned to others or even given away. The exchange of mgen could even take place between the living and the dead. Mgen seemed to have been passed down

family lines along with the fetch and orlg. How far these acts of transference go is anyone's guess, but one might assume that mgen was acquired as the results of one's deeds. In Waldere I, it is said, "Weor e selfne, gdum ddum" "Worth gain for yourself, thru good deeds." Throughout the lore we are faced with the improvement of one's orlg or the gaining of strength thru deeds of renown. It is one of the central themes of Beowulf and plays a major role in the other epics. If mgen can be earned through good deeds, then can it not be lost through bad ones (deeds that harm the tribe)? We are told in the Eddas that the fetch flees the wicked. If the fetch flees the wicked, then it might be assumed that other numinous qualities which are inherited, such as mgen, may also be lost every time an evil act is committed. In the Dark Ages, fines were the primary form of punishment for any given crime. In a sense, the various Anglo-Saxon laws reduce every offence to 'theft,' for which a monetary equivalent can be found. In fact a term for crime in Old English was scyld "debt." The word gylt, our modern word "guilt," packed similar connotations. Other terms such as Old English dolh "injury" are related to words meaning "debt," such as Gothic dulgs. When the Christians first needed a word for "sin" they chose the word scyld. This seems to be true of most Germanic languages. One can only assume that this was because the term scyld packed not only the threat of physical retribution or the need to pay compensation, but also a spiritual penalty. Finally, the third Norn's name is Skuld, which means that the concept of "debt, obligation" must have played some role in Wyrd. The only other mention of Skuld outside of Voluspa 20 and the Gyfaginning is in Voluspa 30, where she is mentioned in a list of valkyrjur, the valkyrjur as choosers of the slain, were often the collectors of debts owed to Wden for a promised victory in battle. If as it appears the ancient Heathens used the term scyld as a word for "sin," then what was the currency of exchange? The only logical answer would be mgen. If as the lore seems to indicate, one gained mgen by doing good deeds, then by inference they would lose mgen by doing evil deeds. One can further assume that if tribal laws could be changed by "setting a new precedent," so too could one's personal orlg. This would most likely be done through an expenditure of mgen. Any deed one does will have a result influenced by orlay from the Well of Wyrd. The results of deeds or actions depend on two things; 1) the past actions of the thing or being doing the deed, and their personal orlg, 2) the amount of mgen the thing or being has and is willing to expend to change the influence of orlay on an action currently being done. In order to set a new precedent, the thing or being must expend mgen to bring about change. A new precedent forever changes the results of all actions similar to the one being taken, at least until another new precedent is made. This is the way English Common Law works, so it is only reasonable to assume the spiritual parallels the physical. The amount of mgen any sentient being has is determined by their deeds. Deeds helpful to the tribe earns one more mgen. Deeds harmful to one's community, a crime or sin, results in a loss of mgen, unless those harmed are recompensed for the harm done. Any harmful deed is a scyld, a "debt" or "obligation." The one committing the crime by harming another or stealing their property is in debt to the harmed or obligated to correct the problem. Failure to do so will result in a loss of mgen by the one who committed the deed. Another form of sin was that expressed by Old English synn, our word "sin." Synn may have originally meant "inaction or stasis." A synn may have been a failure to take appropriate action or simply action that did not gain one mgen. This type of sin may have been

represented by such Old English words as undd and misdd. Non-action may have interfered with the operation of the Well and the Tree making non-action a sin, synn. Regardless, this form of sin seemed secondary to that of scyld "debt for causing harm." One must be careful not to start thinking that scyld is an entirely negative term. The world scyld merely meant "debt" or "obligation" and often times that debt or obligation resulted in a reward. Bowulf for example created a scyld to slay Grendel when he made his boast. Upon paying that scyld he received rewards in the form of gifts from the king of Horot, as this was a deed beneficial to the tribe. What the ancient Heathens thought harmful to the tribe and helpful to the tribe are clear. They did hold certain qualities to be virtues or in Saxon English thews.

Law: Law And Thews

The ancient Heathens did hold certain qualities to be thews. In modern times most of thesethews have been compiled into a list called the Nine Noble Virtues. However, this list is not by all means inclusive and has been expanded to twelve in the list below. This list first appeared in the work Beyond Good and Evil: Wyrd and Germanic Heathen Ethics available from Theod Magazine. 1) Boldness- Boldness is the native English word for bravery or courage. The Elderen went to battle, even death, without fear. Wiglaf chided Beowulf's thegns for their lack of boldness after Beowulf died fighting the wyrm (dragon). And Tacitus noted that Germans who abandoned their shields were thought to have committed the basest of crimes. The Hvaml (passage 15) expresses the Elderen's concept of boldness well:

Silent and attentive-- and battle bold should a chieftain's son be. A man should be glad and happy,---until defeated by death.

Such sentiment is further expressed in Ffnisml (passage 29):

Ever the fearless--- but never the fearful fares the better in a fight; 'tis better to be glad than in gloomy mood whether all is fair or foul.

So valued was this trait of boldness that to imply someone lacked it was grounds for the zweikampf (ritual duel) as covered by such laws as this one from the Edictus Rothai: ib 381 (1.1.88) If someone shall fly into a rage and call another man a coward, and he cannot deny having done so (...) and if he shall persevere, let him prove it in combat, if he can.

The Elderen did not hide their heads in the sand at the first sign of danger, nor did they accuse others of doing so unless the accusation was well founded. At the same time, they did not criticize those braver than they, nor did they throw themselves foolishly into the thick of the fray for no reason. Perhaps modern day Heathen should learn to do the same concerning boldness. 2) Steadfastness- Endurance and tenacity, the enduring of one's wyrd, was highly valued by the Elder Heathens. They endured whatever Wyrd gave them, no matter how hard it was. This was reflected in the passages for bield quoted above, and in the refrain from the Old English poem Dor: "s oferode, isses sw mg" ("That went over, this also may"). And it is reflected in the death song of Ragnar Lodbrok: Eager am I to depart. The Dsir summon me home, those whom Odin sends for me from the halls of the Lord of Hosts. Gladly shall I drink ale in the high seat with the sir. The days of my life are ended. I laugh as I die. As well as this passage form Oddrun's Lament: A boy and a girl were born into the world...then the sick woman began to speak- Not one word had she uttered before: "May the holy gods help you, Oddrun, Frigg and Freya abd all the others, just as you delivered me from death this day." Steadfastness was closely tied to boldness as one can see above, but it was also a part of everyday life. Whether on the field of battle, or in a field of grain, the Elderen did not give up, but eagerly worked their wyrd. For us, this means not giving up the fight to make Heathenry an accepted religion, nor giving in to those who demand that we cease to exist. 3) Troth- Troth, the native word for faith, fealty, or loyalty to one's friends, kindred, lord, or gods was considered amongst the highest of thews. A warrior that survived his lord in battle, or failed to lay down his life defending kinfolk was shunned in society. Again Wiglaf's con-demnation of Beowulf's men for fleeing as Beowulf and Wiglaf fought the wyrm serves as an example.

...when the brave Geats hear how you bolted and ran, none of your race will have anything left but their lives. And death would be better for them all, and for you, than the kind of life you can lead in disgrace.

Troth was what ensured that "hold oaths" (oaths of fealty) and wedding vows were kept. Oaths were seen as sacred contracts, and oath breakers seen as the worst of offenders. Unlike the other thews, to

be lacking in this one would have meant death in the Elder Period. Its sentiment can be seen in this passage from Hrlf Kraki's saga:

In foul winds as in fair--- Keep faith with your lord, He who withheld no hoard for himself But gave freely of gold and silver

4) Givefullness- Givefullness, the native word for generosity, was seen as perhaps the highest of thews. This was reflected in such kennings for king as "giver of gold" and "ring giver." Many passages in the Hvaml deal with giving and its importance, and if one looks closely at those passages, one sees that giving was not seen as a one-sided affair, but as an equal exchange. The Elder Heathen saw giving as not only the exchange of physical gifts, but also as an exchange of mgen (magical power) as well. Every gift given called for a gift in return. Should one fail to give the original giver a gift, he would lose main equal to the main contained in the gift to the giver. Mgen exchanged through gifts over a long period of time between two or more people created a bond similar to kinship, due to personal main's intimate link to one's soul. Thus kings gave gifts to their thegns, friends exchanged gifts at Yule, gifts were exchanged between bride and groom, and sacrifices were seen as gifts to the gods (obligating the gods to give something in return). However, one could give too much or too often and thereby negate any obligation of a gift in return; nor were gifts amongst kinsmen common, for they shared the same main on a certain level anyway (through the kinfylgja). In this way, the pre-conversion Germans saw giving not only as a physical act, but as a metaphysical one as well. 5) Gestening, Guestliness- Guestliness or hospitality for the Elderen was not just a virtue, but a necessity. Traveling long distances was often dangerous, and to ensure free trade and communications, the Elder Heathens opened their homes not only to friends, but also to strangers. Certain common courtesies bound both guest and host. The host provided a warm place to stay and something to eat, and even loaned dry clothes. The guest was expected not to eat too much, to provide entertainment (in the form of songs, tales, or news), and sometimes he gave small trinkets as gifts. Gestening was needful especially during the holy tides (when neighbors would gather to fain the gods and forbears) to prevent having to travel at night. For us, it is not much different at national gatherings when crash space is provided for those who have traveled a long way. The Hvaml (passage 135) has this to say about guestliness:

I give you rede Loddf fnir--- heed it well! You will use it if you learn it,

it will get you good if you understand it. Do not abuse a guest--- or drive him out the door. Instead do well for the wretched.

6) Sooth- The Elderen valued truth and honesty. This was shown by their strong avoidance of lies (unless lied to) and of oath breaking. In a society where a man's word was better than a contract, honesty was a necessity. Tied to sooth was modesty, or rather for the Elderen a tendency not to exaggerate one's own feats. This may seem in opposition to the Elder Heathens' heroic boasting, but one must understand that the boasting such as in Beowulf was more a proclamation of feats done by one's self and one's forbears, and not the idle bragging of unaccomplished men. As former baseball Cardinal Dizzy Dean once said, "It ain't bragging if'n you can do it." Ritual boasting or the bots and gielps (ritual boasts) followed a set pattern of naming the feats of one's gods, one's forbears, and one's self before making an oath to do a great deed. This was done at symbel and before combat. In a society where one might have to prove one's word by risking his life, there was no room for the idle boasts of one like Shakespeare's Falstaff. Wden gave this wisdom in the Hvaml (passage 6):

Let a man not be boastful about his wisdom--- but watchful instead. The wise and silent are seldom harmed when wary in the hall.

7) Wrake- Vengeance for the murder or harming of one's kinsmen was not just a thew, but an obligation. Amongst the Elderen, when a kinsmen was murdered, it was the duty of the kindred to wreak (take revenge) or demand wergeld (fine for murder to prevent blood feud). Sigurd could not inherit his father's main without avenging him. And in Njal's saga, Gunnar cannot rest in his mound or go onto Wlheall (Valhalla) until his son Hognar avenges him. Pick up any saga and there's bound to be one instance of wrake. 8) Evenhead- Evenhead is a native word for equality. Equality of the sexes was one of the Elderen's virtues, though no doubt to them it was just a way of life. Wermen and women were treated the same under the law until late in the Elder Period when Christian ideas intruded. Early in the Elder Period, the Elder Heathens even placed women above wermen (witness Veleda). According to Tacitus, "They think that there is something sacred and provident about women. They neither fail to consult them nor do they scoff at their counsel. In Anglo-Saxon wills, sons and daughters were treated evenly.

9) Friendship- The Elderen valued friendship, and loyalty to one's friends was as valued as loyalty to one's kinsmen. The Hvaml has many passages on friendship, but perhaps passage 44 is the best. If you know that you have a friend and that he is true, and that you will get good from him, share your mind with him--- exchange gifts and visit him often.

10) Freedom- Freedom, or self reliance as has already been said, was important to the Elderen. The Romans noted this in combat, and in Anglo-Saxon law a man's sword could not be taken from him even if exiled, as one should always be able to rely on his own arm for pro-tection. So valued was individualism that "rights" were developed to protect it. Self-reliance was part of being an individual, and on this the Hvaml (passage 37) has this to say:

One's home is best--- though it be small. To each home is hall. His heart will bleed who has to ask for each meal's meat.

11) Wisdom- Wden was the god of wisdom in the Elder Period as he is now, and by his meed, knowledge of every kind was valued. Good kings were often given the appellation "the Wise," and contests of knowledge occur in several of the Edda's stories. Learning was a part of this, as it was the starting point on the road to knowledge and later wisdom. Today this is reflected in the research of modern Heathen scholars do to uncover the Elder Lore. It may be interesting to note that Wden's self sacrifice on the Irminsul was to gain knowledge, not power (but then, wisdom and knowledge lead to power). The drink from Mimer's Well was to gain wisdom, the ability to use knowledge, foresight and common sense. Wisdom is a major theme in the Hvaml, as shown by passage 5:

Wits are needful to he who travels far. The dull should stay home

. The dull will be mocked, who cannot sit with sages.

12) Busyship/Workhardiness- This trait went hand in hand with stead-fastness, and was necessary for survival. There were fields to till, cows to milk, swine to feed, wood to gather. In the mechanized world of today we often forget how hard life was for the Elder Heathens. They didn't just go to the fridge and grab a beer. They had to collect the honey (risking being stung by bees), and brew the mead before they could drink it. In the Elderen's day, laziness could leave one starving or freezing to death, so naturally individuals with this trait of busyship were highly regarded. These were not at all the only thews of the ancient Heathens, but perhaps the most highly regarded. The ancient tribal laws began as custom and tradion, and these thews constituted those customs and tradions. In essence these thews like those of the Nine Noble Virtues make up the law for modern Asatru. Before anyone can ever think of approaching the Gods, they should first make sure they know these thews well and strive towards them.


Why would anyone want to spend thousands of years in limbo waiting for Judgment Day, when they could get an instant ticket to a real afterlife? Had there been Heathen missionaries fourteen hundred years ago, that is the question they may have asked those about to convert to Christianity, or the Christian missionaries themselves. Needless to say, this may have been the very question Penda asked the missionaries that caused him not to convert ala Radbod the Frisian. Radbod of Frisia had one foot in the baptismal font, and was ready to be baptized when he asked, "Where are my dead ancestors at present?" Wolfram the Christian missionary answered, ""In Hell, with all other unbelievers." Upon hearing this, Radbod removed his foot from the font and responded, "Then I would rather live there with my honourable ancestors than go to heaven with a parcel of beggars ." Wolfram and his missionaries were expelled, Wolfram narrowly escaping sacrifice to the Heathen Gods. Such tales are rare, but it demonstrates that the Christians must have hidden the truth about their afterlife from those they were converting. According to Bede, one of King Edwin's men remarked about Heathen belief and the afterlife: "The present life man, O king, seems to me, in comparison with that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter amid your officers and ministers, with a good fire in the midst whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door and immediately another, whilst he is within is safe from the wintry but after a short space of fair weather he immediately vanishes out of your sight into the dark winter from which he has emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space but of what went before or what is to follow we are ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed." (J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905), pp. 97-105 ) This is true, there are no certainties when it comes to Heathen afterlife. But that is not to say it does not exist. Indeed, it does. It is merely to say there are many alternatives, and one does not know upon death which alternative one will get. Christianity, in that respect gave the ancient converts some sense of certainty. They would die, and go to purgatory to await judgment. From there they would either enter Heaven or be cast into the Abyss on Judgment Day . What's more the new religion taught that one only need to believe and all sins would be forgiven, an easy out compared to the old Heathen religion's strict ethic. The Heathen afterlife is not, a simple affair. However, despite all its complexities, one thing remains true regardless, evil deeds were punished harshly in the afterlife.

I saw there wading through rivers wild Treacherous men and murderers too, And workers of ill with the wives of men;

There Nithhogg sucked the blood of the slain, And the wolf tore men; would you know yet more? (Voluspa 39 Bellows translation)

On Nstrandir [corpse strands] there is a large and horrible hall whose doors face north; it is made of the backs of serpents woven together like wattle-work, with all their heads turning in to the house and spewing poison so that rivers of it run through the hall. Perjurers and murderers wade these rivers as it says here. (The Deluding of Gylfi, Prose Edda, Young translation) This, in truth, was perhaps the reason many Heathens converted to Christianity. Those that were guilty of fratricide, adultery, and other sins had nothing to lose by converting to Christianity, and everything to gain. Their conversion had nothing to do with the afterlife, or even more favour from the Christian God than they got from the Heathen ones. It had everything to do with forgiveness of sins, for that, basically, gave them a free ticket to do as they pleased (whereas Heathen doctrine had not). The way into the Heathen afterlife was clear, do not unjustly commit murder, break oaths, or commit adultery, or commit half a dozen other sins; and live a good, heroic life. Christianity, however, gave folks an easy way out. They could do these things and still go to Heaven. Why risk eternal damnation in the Heathen Hell when one could just say they believe, be prayed for while in Purgatory, and then get an easy ticket into the Christian Heaven? All this for simple belief and nothing more! It is no wonder many of the Christian Anglo-Saxon kings, hungry for power, and lacking in ethics converted. Perhaps, an even greater injustice about ancient Heathen beliefs in the afterlife has been done by modern academics. Some modern scholars have tried to put forth that the ancient Anglo-Saxons had no belief in an afterlife, this despite such hard evidence as grave goods. They base this on several phrases in Old English and Norse texts such as the Havamal stating the best a warrior can hope for is everlasting fame. This logic of course would be the same as saying Catholics have no belief in an afterlife as they do not bury their dead with grave goods. Nevertheless, they cite phrases found like the following from Beowulf:

Grieve not, wise warrior. It is better to avenge one's friend than mourn too much. Each of us must one day reach the end Of worldly life, let him who can win glory before he dies: that lives on

after him, when he lifeless lies. (lines 1384-1391)

As well as phrases such as the following from the Havamal:

Cattle die, and kinsmen die, thyself eke soon wilt die; but fair fame will fade never: I ween, for him who wins it. (Hollander translation, verse 76)

What the scholars are seeing, however, is only half the formula. The purpose of a heroic life was, indeed, to gain everlasting fame. But the purpose of that fame was not an end unto its self, its purpose was to better ones position in the afterlife, and that of ones descendants. Only those that had done things for their folk could hope to make it into one of the abodes of the Gods. And the proof of these heroic deeds were the boasts made in symbel by descendants, the songs sung by the scop in hall, and the general retelling of ones life. In essence, ones fame served as a witness to ones deeds that showed they were worthy of such a hall as say Valhalla. In addition, if one did not go to one of the abodes of the Gods, but instead was reborn, it improved the Wyrd one was reborn with. Everlasting fame was not immortality its self, but a step unto becoming immortal. That immortality could take a myriad forms however, as seen from what evidence exists in the Anglo-Saxon texts and the Norse about the afterlife. Heofon: The most obvious place to look for the Anglo-Saxon afterlife is modern English words of Old English descent that refer to it. Heaven and Hell both fit this criteria. Heaven is not commonly used of the Heathen paradise in the afterlife today. The primary reason is not is because it does not appear in the Old Norse version of the myths as an abode of the dead, and Germanic Heathenry in general today is based on the Norse material. However, there are several indications that the ancient Anglo-Saxon Heathens may have used the term Heofon heaven to mean the afterlife paradise. Even in the earliest Christian poetry, the term heofon, or more commonly, a compound of it such as heofonrce heaven kingdom appears as either the abode of God, or as the home of the dead. This usage is not unheard of in the Old Norse texts either. The home of Hama (Heimdall) in the Eddas is said to be Himinbjrg heaven mountain or heaven cliff. Himinvanga heaven plains appears in Helgakvia Hundingsbana I used of an earthly place when speaking of valkyries riding to Helgi. However, it is entirely possible that this usage harkens back to an older usage of the term as referring to heaven (the valkyries appearing out of the heavens to ride to Middengeard). In the Old Saxon poem Heliand, a cognate of the Old Norse

Himinvangr (the singular form of Himinvanga), hebanwang is used of the Christian heaven. It may be then, that at one time, the word Heaven was the common Germanic Heathen term for the afterlife abode. The word heaven is thought to derive from Indo-European *ke-men-, a compound word originally thought to have had the meaning of stone. *Ke- is believed to have derived from PIE *ak edge, while *-men meant to think, and dealt with states of mind and thought. Heaven is related both to the word hammer and the word mind, and its earliest meaning The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language takes to mean the stony vault of heaven. Neoweangla's Brian Smith in his article, Heaven states it as meaning that which has a quality like stone, and points out the family of rlfr Mosturskeggi, in the Landnmabk, believed their family would go to reside in a mountain after death (covered below). Others feel that the ancients thought the sky was made of stone, and thus the meaning of the word heaven. It would seem apparent though that both ideas could relate to the concept of Heaven. The most common usage of heofon in Old English was for sky. This was also true of its Old Norse cognate himinn. Other theories on the words origins relate it to Old English hama covering, skin, and this would make sense if the word has always meant sky (the sky covers the Earth). It could be that mountains, because of their sheer height, were associated with the sky and the Gods. This is so in other pantheons. The Greek Gods resided on Mount Olympus, and many other peoples associated holy mountains with their Gods. Similar to the belief of rlfrs family that they died into the mountain, is one concerning Holda and the Brocken. With Holda we are offered a belief, though late, and potentially influenced with Classical myth, of a Goddess associated with a mountain and people residing in it with her. In 1630, during a witch trial in Hesse, Diel Breull, confessed to have traveled in spirit form to the Venusberg (Blocksberg or the Brocken. There he was shown by Frau Holt the sufferings of the dead refected in a pool of water, inside the mountain (Marion Ingham, The Goddess Freya and Other Female Figures, p.251). This source is very late however, and therefore very suspect. However, perhaps it does retain a part of Heathen belief in associating Germanic deities with mountains as an abode of the dead. What is clear however is that Heofon was seen as being above Middangeard while Hell was seen as being below. It could be then that the ancient Anglo-Saxons saw a world of opposites; Heofon as the bright and shining sky, and Hell as the dark and dreary underworld. It can perhaps be considered the same as sageard. Hell: Hell has already been covered with the other nine worlds, however, it requires further mention here as an abode in the afterlife. The term Hell carried over into Christian usage originally as purgatory, not an abode of eternal punishment, but one of temporary stay, a limbo of sorts. We do not know if the pagan Anglo-Saxons held this view of Hell as a limbo where good and bad both go. And we are given few clues as to whether the pagan Anglo-Saxons viewed Hell as a place of punishment. Nor are we given clues of the happy home of Balder after his death seen in the Eddas (indeed that is nearly the only place in Old Norse Hel is not shown as dreary). All we do know is Hell is an abode of the dead, unlike that of the Christian version, but an abode of the dead nonetheless.

In Old English literature, we do see evidence of native beliefs regarding Hell, ones that are not borrowed from the Christian concept of a fiery abode. Either the Goddess, or her domain appear as taking those that die. When Grendel dies in Beowulf, it is said in fenfreoo feorh alegde, hene/ sawle; r him hel onfeng, in his fen abode, his soul he laid down, his heathen soul Hel took. It is not clear though if this is the Goddess or the place. Hell, as a place, is mentioned again in the Old English Christian poem, Soul and Body I where it is used of the grave and not some abode of punishment by fire. Interestingly though, when describing the body being eaten by worms, it uses Old English wyrmas serpents. Wyrm had not yet quite acquired its modern meaning of worm, and therefore it could be possible the poem, while Christian, contains a memory of what the Norse called Nstrnd. Other Old English poems such as Judgement Day II contain this torment by wyrmas. In the Old English poem, Christ and Satan it is very clear serpents, and not worms, are meant when describing Hell (although fiery) as Hr is nedran swg, wyrmas gewunade, Here is the adders noise, here serpents dwell. Interestingly, while mentioning the Christian Hellfire, the poet also keeps referring to Hell with such phrases as dimme and deorce, dim and dark, and issum dimman ham, this dim home. It could be the Christian poets fell back on native belief of a cold and dark, viper ridden Hell in order to fill out descriptions of the Christian abode of punishment. In the Norse Eddas, Hel is a very complex place composed of several different places. There is Hel, which can be used of the entire realm, a place where the dead, both the good and the bad go. Then there is Nifolhel, where those that have committed evil go. And finally for the most evil there is the Norse abode of punishment, Nstrnd, a place where poisonous snakes drip venom on the evil dead. Old English preserves a word that may have described this place in Wyrmsele, used of Hell in the Christian poem Judith. Taken literally, Wyrmsele would mean serpent hall. This word, coupled with evidence from the other Christian poems mentioned above shows the pagan Anglo-Saxons may have known a place not unlike Old Norse Nstrnd as a part of their version of Hell. Finally, the word Hell derives from an Indo-European root, *kel-, which meant to conceal or cover. *Kel- also gave us hole, hollow, and hall from Old English, as well as cellar from Latin. Hell, just going by the origin of the word then would be someplace hidden, covered, or enclosed in some way. This corrensponds with the underworld abode seen in the Old Norse Eddas. Some scholars have suggested that like Hebrew sheol, it just meant the grave. However, if that were the case we would expect other words derived from the same IE root to have similar meanings. Yet the words hall, hollow, and cellar all derive from the same root, and little about them would imply a relation to a grave. It would seem then, that Hell would be a bit larger than a grave, dark and enclosed like a Hall perhaps, but not small and narrow like a grave. If Hell did indeed mean grave at some point, it would likely refer to the burial mounds or perhaps the ancient megalithic graves of Denmark which the Germanic tribes would be very familiar with. Too, it seems unlikely that a people who provided the dead with expensive grave goods to have believed that those good would never be used. Regardless, this etymology suggests an enclosed place. Along with the poetic evidence we can surmise the pagan Anglo-Saxon Hell was a dark and dreary place, probably a nether world, perhaps where souls stayed until reborn (or just stayed), with a special place where the truly evil were punished with serpents (not unlike the Norse version). Heaven and Hell

are the extant of what we know about potentially ancient Anglo-Saxon beliefs in the afterlife. For a fuller picture of what they may have believed we must look to the Norse texts which are covered below. Mounds: In the Icelandic sagas the dead are often pictured as living in their burial mounds. Similar burial mounds have been found in England, good examples of which are the Sutton Hoo mounds, and the mound at Taplow. It could be then, that the Anglo-Saxons, or some segment of them shared this belief. The best example of life after death within the burial mound can be seen in Brennu-Njl's Saga. "There was a bright moon with clouds driving over it from time to time. It seemed to them that the howe was open, and that Gunnarr had turned himself in the howe and looked up at the moon. They thought they saw four lights burning in the howe, but no shadow anywhere. They saw Gunnarr was merry, with a joyful face..." (translation taken from H.R. Ellis Road to Hel) This idea appears in several other sagas, and therefore seemed a common Heathen belief. In the Helgakvia, Sigrun enters the mound of her husband to embrace him as in life, he then must ride to Valhalla. Burial mounds were also connected with the Elves, and there is some indication because of this that the Elves may have been nothing more than souls of the Dead. In Kormak's Saga, a sacrifice is made to Elves that live in a burial mound so that Thorvard Eysteinsson would be healed of a wound. King Olaf, Olaf the Unholy's ancestor Olaf was buried in a mound at Geiersta, and known as Olaf Geierstaalf "Olaf the Elf from Geiersta." Mountains: The Eyrbyggja Saga, preserves an account of an Icelandic family that felt when they died they would go to live in the mountain Helgafell. ".....he saw the whole north side of the mountain open up, with great fires burning inside it and the noise of feasting and clamour over the ale horns. As he strained to catch particular words, he was able to make out that Thorstein Cod-Biter and his crew were being invited to sit in the place of honour opposite his father" (Palsson and Paul Edwards translation) This belief is also mentioned in the Landnmabk, in reference to the same family. Brennu-Njl's Saga gives an account of fisherman claiming that Svanr the wizard was received into the mountain Kaldbak after he had drowned on a fishing trip. Several other sagas make mention of the belief or infer it, though it is not mentioned in detail. The concept of people "dying into a mountain" however, may be paralleled in more southern beliefs concerning the Venusberg. The only account of this belief that should concern us here is very late, but interesting nonetheless. In 1630, during a witch trial in Hesse, Diel Breull, confessed to have traveled in spirit form to the Venusberg (the Blocksberg or the Brocken). There he was shown by Frau Holt the sufferings of the dead reflected in a pool of water, inside the mountain (Marion Ingham, The Goddess Freya and Other Female Figures, p.251). Were it not for the Icelandic accounts, this story could be dismissed as a borrowing from Italy, or as sheer fantasy. However, Holda is

portrayed in German folklore as a leader of the Wild Hunt, and is connected with a cult of witches once fabled to have met on the Brocken. Bruell's confession then may have had a thread of truth about it. Realms of the Gods: The most famous of the God realms where the dead go is of course, Valhalla, which would have occurred in Old English as *Wlheall. No mention or even hint of it can be found in the Anglo-Saxon poetry. Nor can evidence be found in the Old Saxon literature either. However, that does not mean the ancient Anglo-Saxon Heathens did not believe in it in some form. *Wlheall as mentioned in the Prose Edda as being roofed with golden shields, and having more than six hundred and forty doors, its warriors are served mead by valkyries, half the battle slain everyday go to it. In addition, the dead warriors there feast on the boar, Shrmnir, who comes back to life every evening only to be slaughtered again, while mead flows from the utter of the goat Heirn into a cauldron to provide drink. This view taken from the Prose Edda, is no doubt highly romanticised. However, the core beliefs are there, warriors and others can die and go to *Wlheall, there they fight everyday to train for the war with the legions of the underworld. This belief could easily have been held by the ancient Anglo-Saxons as well, although we have no evidence of it. Other realms of the Gods besides *Wlheall are said in the Eddas to receive the dead. Vinglf (which can be reconstructed as OE *Wingolf) is mentioned in the Prose Edda as receiving some of the Einherjar (though Snorri states in another place the righteous), as is a place called Giml (which Snorri holds to be one and the same). Vinglf is also said to be the hall of the Goddesses by Snorri. Other of the battle slain or Einherjar are said to go to Freo's hall Sessrumnir "many seated" in Folcwang. The Norse Goddesss Ran and Gefion (Geofon) are said in the Icelandic texts to take in the dead. Ran in particular takes in the souls of those have downed in the ocean. Rebirth: There is some evidence that the ancient Norse believed in reincarnation of a sorts. There is no evidence that the Anglo-Saxon tribes shared this belief. However, the lack of evidence does not mean they did not. Indeed, it would be odd if they did not share this belief with the Norse. The ancient Norse appeared to have believed in two forms of reincarnation. The first was thought to occur with everyone, and involved the inheritance parts of an ancestor's soul. The hamingja was thought to be passed from an ancestor to a child named after them. This can be seen in the Finnboga Saga when a man begs his son to name a son after him so that his hamingja would follow, and Glumr in Viga Glum Saga claims to have the hamingja of his grandfather. This belief also appears in Svarfdla saga, where rlfr says he will give all his hamingja to a child that bears his name. The rlg of an ancestor was also thought to be passed to a descendant. This is most clearly seen in the Helgi lays, even though the three Helgis were not all related to each other. The soul then was reborn in part, but only those aspects that did not clearly define one as an individual. That is the rlg, hamingja, and perhaps even the fetch may have been passed on, but not the mind, and mood of the individual. The hugr (Old English hyge) and munr (Old English mynd) would exist on in the afterlife with the soul that had possessed them in life.

There is evidence though for another form of reincarnation, and this may be what is referred to in the Helgi lays and certainly in regard to lfr Geirstaalfr and his descendant King lf (sometimes called Saint Olaf) as told in the Flateyjarbk. Throughout the tale there are indications lfr Geirstaalfr is King lf reborn. When King lf's mother is giving birth, she had great difficulty until the belt from the earlier lf 's mound is brought to her. As a grown man Odin (Woden) comes to King lf , and tells him that he is lfr Geirstaalfr, and not long after one of the king's followers inquires as to whether the king had been buried in lfr Geirstaalfr's mound. This could be reincarnation of the soul as a whole, and not just rebirth of parts of the soul. Conclusion: The archaeological evidence of Anglo-Saxon graveyards along with the Norse texts show that the ancient Anglo-Saxons probably had a very rich belief in an afterlife. Many modern Heathens believe that when they die, provided they have committed no hideous crimes they will have a choice of where they wish to go. Regardless, the afterlife, like birth, and death seems all a part of one continuous life cycle. Bibliography: Ellis, H. R. The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature (New York: Greenwood Press). Grimm, Jacob; James Stallybrass (tr.) Teutonic Mythology (4 vols). (Boston: Peter Smith Publishing Grnbech, Vilhelm. Culture of the Teutons (London: Oxford University Press, 1931)

Worship: Bedes or Prayers to the Gods by Swain Wodening Canote

Prayer as a form of communication with gods is a basic component of nearly every religion, but amongst the world religions it takes myriad forms. The ancient Egyptians, for example, believed in cursing their gods and admonishing them for failing in their duties. There is little indication of this in Germanic culture. For the most part, prayers seemed to ask for some sort of aid from a particular god or gods, boasted of that god or gods' great deeds, and sometimes may have included a promise of sacrifice from the petitioner. Old Norse bija and Anglo-Saxon biddan, both meant "to ask," as well as "to pray." This may indicate that the Elder Germanic Heathens saw prayer as an "asking" for something. The native Anglo-Saxon word for prayer is bed ( bede or bead NE) which comes from the verb biddan. Very little material survives intact that contains what may have once been bedes. Bedes such as the one to Dg "Day" in the Sigdrfuml and a fragment of a prayer to unor in the Skaldskarpaml are about the best examples and have been covered extensively elsewhere (See Paxson). Similar is Cdmon's Hymn which while Christian, must be based on Heathen patterns of prayer (it was composed when a large part of England was still Heathen and prior to the establishment of Christian literature in that area). Finally, sections of the cer-bt an Anglo-Saxon rite found in the manuscript called the Lacnunga follow a repeated pattern of wassailing or greeting, followed by mythological references, and concluding with a petition. An example of this is the following section:

Wes Hl, folde---fira mdor; (wassail Earth---Mankind's mother) bo growende---in godes fme, (be thou growing---in god's embrace) fdor gefylled---firum t nytte. (With food filled---for men to use) beorht blwende--- gebletsod weor. (bright blossoming---thou blessed worth) s hlgan name---e s heofon gescp, (In that holy name---that the heaven shaped) ond s eoran---e w on lfia,

(and that of the earth---that we live in) s god---s s grundas geworhte, (that god---that the grounds wrought) geunne s---growende giefe (grant us---growing yield) t s corna gehwilc---cume t nytte. (that every kind of corn to us---comes to use)

The opening line is clearly a wassail or greeting, a wishing the goddess health, while line 2 is the beginning of the semi-mythical references (the marriage of Fra and Gerr perhaps or the union between Wden and Eore that produced unor). Finally, with line 8 we reach a petition for good harvests. Drawing on these and other sources, then it would seem that a bede may comprise three parts. 1) A "wassailing" of the god or Gods, a prime example being the one in the Sigdrfuml which opens with "Hail to thee Dg, hail ye Dg's sons" and proceeds to "wassail" the Gods. 2) A boast of the god or Gods' great deeds. The bede to .unor in the Skaldskarpaml is just a simple list of ettins he has destroyed. Similarly, Cdmon's Hymn boasts of the creation of the world. In addition, the deities were invoked through various hight names and by names as in the cer-bt. These boasts are akin to the gielps we do for ourselves in symbel and may operate on a similar principle. 3) A petition or request. This was most likely simple, like the one rkell made to Freyr with the gift of an ox, asking that the man who expelled him from his lands be done like wise . Heathen bedes were also apparently accompanied by certain positions of the body, most of them apparently kneeling or prostrate. According to Grimm, only the wofodegn "priest" stood before the Gods (in the elhaz position most likely). Everyone else either knelt or laid face down to the ground. Grimm also notes that the traditional "Christian" mode of prayer with the palms and fingers of the hands flat against each other is Indo-European in origin and may be Germanic. Such positioning of the hands does appear to mimic bondage of the hands and in Tacitus' Germania we are told the Semones had a sacred grove they could not enter unless tied with a rope. If one falls, they may not rise and leave, but must roll on the ground. It may be that the hands and feet were tied and that the worshipers knelt, and therefore could not rise if they fell over. Even within the Icelandic sagas, the case for kneeling or falling prostrate is a strong one. In the Flateyjarbk Hakon falls prostrate before the ds rgerr, and in Hrd's Saga, rstein falls before an idol and speaks to it. This may have been what was referred to by the Old Norse verb lta "to lout down, to bow, kneel" which appears in various passages associated with bedes. This verb is the cognate of New English lout, and apparently has similar connotations. In Anglo-Saxon, ltan meant not only "to bend , stoop,' but also "to bow, make obeisance to." It could be that one knelt, fell prostrate, or stood

depending on whether the bede included a petition or to what god one was praying to. The cer-bt begins "...ic stande," but then this may simply mean "I remain firm in place," and does not needfully carry the modern connotations of the verb stand, one could stand "remain in place," and be kneeling. Too, this galdor was probably said by the wofodegn who would be standing. In modern practice, it may be best to experiment and see which gets the best results, or just go with personal preference. Bedes form the building blocks for the greater rites such as the blts and also serve as a way a worshipper can stay in communication with the gods. Many of the lesser yields were probably accompanied by nothing more or less than a bede, while many bedes may have been nothing more than songs of praise for the deities. Bedes if at all possible should be composed in the traditional alliterative poetry of the Elder Heathens. It is okay to be generous with glowing epitaphs for the god as well as hight names and mentions of their exploits. An example of a modern bede to Wden is outlined as follows:

Wassailing: Ws u Wden hl----Ws u hl wundra hlford (Wassail Wden---Wassail wonders' lord) Ws u celic hl---Ond speacuted simble hafa (Be ever hale---and success ever have)

Boast or Gielp: u heng nihta eall nigone---Hwonne rna u nm (Thou hung nights all nine---When thou won the runes) Wittig dryhten on windig trow---Ws u gare wundode. (Wise drihten on windy tree---With spear were wounded) Bealweorc u wga Gunnla---Mid wiglu hfde n willan (As Balework you wooed Gunnlath---With wiles had your way) u sypa meadu Suttunges---Ond stl hit weg. (Thou supped Suttung's mead---And stole it away) Wden sigefder---Esa mihtig wealdend (Wden victory father---sir's mighty ruler)

Sdht ond Wegtamere---Grat wittig dryhten (Broadhat and way tamer---Great wise drihten)

Petition: Ic bidd u nu---Bld ond bliss wox (I ask of you now---Make wealth and bliss wax) Ond adu gratlce acode---Mid hwilcu lf ae macie (And make wealth greatly increase---To make life easier)

This outline can be adapted to anything from a simple prayer, to a song of praise, to the fulls drunk to the Gods in symbel and housel. They can be sung, chanted, performed (if they incorporate myths), or just spoken. Every worshiper of the Gods should be able to give a simple bede. Whether it be in English or one of the Elder Tongues really doesn't matter as long as it is said. Bedes after all are the building blocks of the blessings and blots.

Hsel, Blt, and Symbel

Sacred Space in the Lore and Modern Heathenry by Swain Wodening

Key Concepts: Sacred space is any area that has been sanctified or seperated from the ordinary world. One can think of it in terms of innangars and utangars. Kirsten Hastrup explains these two concepts as: The important point is that in our period a structural and semantic opposition was operative between "inside" and "outside" the society-as-law, allowing for a merging of different kinds of beings in the conceptual "wild." This anti-social space was inhabited by a whole range of spirits...landsvttir "spirits of the land," huldufolk "hidden people," jtnar "giants," trlls "trolls," and lfar "elves"...all of them belonged to the "wild" and it was partly against them that one had to defend ones-self... In this way the secure, well-known and personal innangards was symbolically separated from the dangerous unknown and nonhuman wild space outside the fence, tangards. She takes this paradigm from the cosmology of the worlds themselves: Horizontally the cosmos was divided into Mgar and tgardR. Mgar was the central space..inhabited by men (and gods), while tgardR was found outsidethe fence. Sacred space is an area made into an innangars and given to the Gods. How this is done is in part related to the ideas of Old English hlig "holy" and Old English *wh "sacred." Holy was seen as that which was "whole, healthy," and thus was not being attacked by illness causing wights of the wilds. *Wh, the sacred, was that which was seperated from the wilds by an even greater degree than the typical enclosures of Mankind, in essence, an abode of the Gods. We see the concept of the holy in words such as Old English hlsian and Old Norse heilla both meaning "to invoke spirits," not to mention our words health, hale, whole, and hail. The idea of sacred is behind Old Norse vigja "to make sacred, " Old Norse v "sacred site," and Old English woh "sacred image." Other concepts are also tied to the idea of sacred space such as the concept of frith. In Old English, frigearde was used of sacred areas, while its Old Norse cognate frigarr was used of legal areas where peace must be maintained such as law courts and thing steads, but also the area where judicial duels took place. Sacred space was perhaps then seen as land owned by the Gods which cannot be attacked by illness causing spirits, and where frith must be maintained (even if it requires strife to restore that frith). Creation of Sacred Space in the Lore: Establishment of sacred space is seen in several places in the Lore and through a variety of means. One of these was the establishment of boundaries thourghout various means. Within the Lore the following means are seen used as ways of establishing the boundaries of sacred space:

1) Symbols placed around the area. 2) The building of fires at certain points and the erection of some symbol. 3) Circling the area with fire. 4) Use of ropes called in Old Norse vbond, tied to hazel poles called in Old Norse hslur. In addition, sacred space was also often established by bringing soil from another sacred place, or in the case of temples, transporting the sacred pillars to the new site and using them in the new temple. The god Thunor (Thor) could also be invoked. Many rune stones are inscribed with "orr uiki " or in English "Thor make sacred." Finally, some areas were held to be innately sacred due to their natural beauty or other qualities. Each of these ways was seen often more in conjunction with specific types of sacred space. The vbond were most often used with law courts and places where judicial duels were faught, and were temporary. Erecting symbols and the use of fire was seen generally with land taking for use as farms, while circling with fire is seen used for temple areas. The transport of soil from another sacred site to a new one is only seen with the erection of temples as is the transport of high seat pillars. Within the Landnmabk, we are given examples of each type, and in some cases, these can be confirmed by material in the Anglo-Saxon literature. Two brothers, Vestmann and Vemund, though Christian fell back on pagan principles when taking land. eir fru til slands ok sigldu fyrir noran landit ok vestr um Slttu fjrinn. eir settu xi Reistargnp ok klluu v xarfjr. eir settu rn upp fyrir vestan ok klluu ar Arnarfu. En rija sta settu eir kross. ar nefndu eir Krosss. Sv helguu eir sr allan xarfjr. "They set an ax on Reistargnp and called it xarfjr. They set an eagle up in the west and called it Arnarfu. And the third they set a cross. They named it Krosss. So they hallowed all of xarfjr. (Landnmabk) This type of land claiming and hallowing is also seen in the Anglo-Saxon Aecer-bot: Genim onne on niht, r hyt dagige, feower tyrf on feower healfa s landes, and gemearca hu hy r stodon.... Nim onne a turf and sete r ufon on and cwee onne nigon sion as word, Crescite, and swa oft Pater Noster "At night, before dawn, take four turfs from the four quarters of your lands, and note how they previously stood..... take the turfs and set them down there, and say these words nine times, Crescite as before, and the Lord's Prayer as often " (Gavin Chappel translation) While heavily Christianized the Aecer-Bot account may reflect earlier pagan practices, just as the account of Vestmann and Vemund may also. It is not said whether these actions took place at cardinal points, or at the cross-quarters, or even if they were evenly spaced. Accounts of Heathens taking and sacralizing land on a large scale nearly always involve fire however. Helgi, a man who practiced both Christianity and Heathenry built fires on his land to claim it: Helgi var blandinn mjk tr. Hann tri Krist, en ht r til sjfara ok harra. er Helgi s sland, gekk hann til frtta vi r, hvar land skyldi taka......... Helgi kannai um sumarit hera allt ok

nam allan Eyjafjr milli Sigluness ok Reynisness ok geri eld mikinn vi hvern vatnss ok helgai sr sv allt hera. "Helgi's faith was much mixed. He held troth with Christ, but called on Thor on voyages and hard journeys. Thus when Helgi saw Iceland, he asked Thor, where land he should take........ Helgi took all of Eyjafjr between Sigluness and Reynisness and made fires at every estuary and hallowed the land." (Landnmabk) More throughly Heathen men portrayed in the Landnamabok, generally circled their land with fire. This usually seemed to have invovled the erection of a temple. Jrundr goi carried fire around the land his hof was to be built on to hallow it. ar er n heitir Svertingsstum. Hann reisti ar hof mikit.....at land fr Jrundr eldi ok lagi til hofs. "There he called it Svertingsstum. He there build a temple.... That land, Jrundr carried fire around where he later laid his temple." (Landnmabk) Thorolf who also established a temple, carried fire around his land to claim it. Eftir a fr rlfur eldi um landnm sitt, utan fr Staf og inn til eirrar r er hann kallai rs, og byggi ar skipverjum snum. Hann setti b mikinn vi Hofsvog er hann kallai Hofsstum. ar lt hann reisa hof og var a miki hs. Thereafter Thorolf fared with fire through his land out from Staff-river in the west, and east to that river which is now called Thors-river, and settled his shipmates there. But he set up for himself a great house at Templewick which he called Templestead. There he let build a temple, and a mighty house it was. (Eyrbyggja Saga, Morris & Magnusson translation) That fire is not needed to claim land is shown by the other examples, and nor is it specificly associated with hallowing as we see this done too without it (though only in mixed Christain and Heathen contexts). However, it is clear that fire is associated with the erection of temples and a part of the rituals to prepare the land for it. The concept of using fire to claim land and specificly land associated with temples may be related to the idea of "need fire." Need fire was a widespread custom amongst the Germanic, Celtic, and Slavonic peoples. It had to be generated by wood drill, fire bow, or other methods of producing fire with wood against wood, flint and steel was never used. All other fires in the village had to be extinguished and then relit from the Need Fire. It was often used to drive away pestilence, esp. amongst cattle who were driven through its smoke (see Fraizer's Golden Bough and Grimm's Teutonic Mythology on this topic). Amongst the Germanic peoples, it was sometimes made annually. Grimm states that:

Needfire.---Flame which had been kept some time among men and been propagated from one fire to another, was thought unserviceable for sacred uses; as holy water had to be drawn fresh from the spring, so it made all the difference, if instead of the profaned and as it were worn out flame, a new one were used. (Grimm, Teutonic Mythology) Need fire therefore may have been seen as holy water, in some way sacred. Considering it was thought lucky to leap over the Midsummer bonfires in many parts of Northern Europe, and as already pointed out, that cattle driven through the smoke of a need fire would be cured of murrain, and that the accounts of Hofs in the Lore portray them with fires that are never to be put out, it seems quite reasonable that fire's purpose in land taking was not only to claim the land but to literally hallow it, drive away illness causing wights. The use of fire is only half the formula though, as we are somtimes told they carried fire and then hallowed the land. This perhaps is where the "orr uiki " formula seen on rune stones comes in. That the ancient Heathens had two seperate concepts of holy and sacred is clear. It is therefore reasonable to assume that once they had hallowed the land, "made it whole," they might then make it sacred. Thor as the one who makes things sacred is well attested to in the Lore, his hammer or a symbol of it was used to hallow brides at weddings, and he is even referred to as Veurr "the one who makes sacred." Bringing soil from a former sacred site, as well as in the case of temples, the sacred pillars, was also an important step in the case of establishing new sacred space. Whether this was totally necessary does not seem to have always been the case. But, it occurs often enough in the Lore that it seemed a good thing to do. Thorolf when he came to Iceland brought the pillars of his temple from Norway with him as did Thorhadd, and Inigimund the Old (see Landnamabok). Temporary sacred space could apparently be made using vbond, ropes tied to hazel poles. Such a space was described in Egil's Saga: The place where the court sat was a level plain and hazel poles were set in a circle on the plain linked by ropes. These were called the sanctuary ropes. (Egil's Saga Fell translation) Most Thing sites though, esp. such as Thingsvellir in Iceland were already thought innately sacred. The sort of sacred space created by vbond therfore may have been a sort of sacreder than sacred space, sacrosanct so to speak. This type of space was not only seen with law courts, but also dueling sites. Such dueling sites marked by hazel poles and vbond are seen in Kormack's Saga, although in Egil's Saga such a site is marked by stones. At first, it may seem strange that duels, which are in themselves are violent in nature, should be faught in areas considered sacred, and otherwise where weapons were banned. However, it must be recalled that in Heathen duels the judgement of the Gods was being sought, not to mention the Wyrd of both men being weighed against each other. In addition, it may have been thought that no unfair means could be used if the duels were faught in sacred space. In other words, only the orlogs and the will of the Gods could affect the outcome of combat that if faught outside sacred space could be affected by ill wishing wights, magic, or other under handed means.

Some areas were thought innately sacred. Such was the case with Helgafell in Iceland. Many of the early Christian law codes forbid Heathen worship at water falls, trees, and other areas of natural beauty. None of these natural areas seem to had have been made sacred by men. Folks merely considered them sacred upon first sighting them, and began bloting there. Ideas for Creation of Sacred Space in Modern Times: Armed with a few key concepts, and information from the Lore on how sites were made sacred, it is easy to come up with ways we too can make areas sacred. While bringing sacred pillars from ancient holy sites is impossible, and even shipping soil from ancient holy sites in Europe a bit unfeasaible, we are still left with many ways to make areas suitable for worship. It would appear that regardless of what intial method was used to "claim" the land (which in earlier times may have been the literally hallowing), a second, and maybe third step may have been involved. One first may have erected symbols of ownership, this may have been part of the purpose of the Irminsul of the ancient Saxons, to mark the site as sacred, not to mention the large pole at the temple at Yeavering. We do know from the Landnmabk and other sources that this was done. One alternatively can use fire, either built at certain points, or by circling the area. Or one could use hazel poles and vbond. This first step may not have been so much "land claiming" as often portrayed in the Lore as much as it was true hallowing, "making whole." In a couple instances in the Lore, it is clear that the fire is linked with the act of hallowing the land. Second, while it is not implicitly said anyway in connection with land, one may have invoked Thunor to make the area sacred. We know from the Lore Thunor was invoked to make brides sacred, and the used of phrases on rune stones to either make sacred the stones or the runes themselves, that this may be a possibility. This may explain why we sometimes see the act of circling with fire and hallowing seperated in the Lore. They may have been in more ancient times seperate actions of hallowing and then making sacred. Only later did the religous element of circling with fire or the erection of symbols become divorced from the action of hallowing, and hallowing became confused with making something sacred. Finally, the third step seems to have been bloting the Gods. Accounts of areas that were considered innately sacred upon sight in the Lore, never fail to mention that blots were then conducted. The blot is linked in the ancient Heathen mind as needful even to areas that are naturally sacred. For example, Thorolf considered all of Helgafell sacred, and immediately started bloting there. Bibliography: Benediktsson, J. (ed.), Landnamabok, Hidh islenzka fornritafelag, Reykjavik, 1936). Chappel, Gavin, Anglo-Saxon Charms Fell, Christine (tr.), Egil's Saga, University of Toronto Press, Tornoto, 1975. Frazer, James George, Sir, The Golden Bough, The Macmillan Co., New York,1922. Grimm, Jacob, Stallybrass, J. S. (tr.), Teutonic Mythology, Peter Smith, Gloucester, Mass. 1976

Hallakarva, Gunnora, Sacred Space in Viking Law and Religion Hastrup, K. Culture and History in Medieval Iceland, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985 Morris, W. & Magnusson, E. (tr.) The Saga Library, Vol. II: The Story of the Ere-Dwellers, Bernard Quaritch, London, 1892. Wodening, Swain Wholeness and Otherworldliness Wodening, Swain The Hof And Other Holy Sites

Blot in a Historical Context By Swain Wodening

History and Background: None of the ancient rites whose descriptions have been handed down to us from the lore have been so embraced by modern Heathens as blot. Nearly every modern Heathen has attended a blot, performed a blot, or know what one is. The origins of the rite are lost in the mists of time, but the word survived in both Old English and Old Norse. Old Norse blt meant a sacrifice or feast while the verb, blta meant both "to worship" and to sacrifice. Old English blt simply meant sacrifice while Old English bltan and Old High German blozan both meant "to sacrifice." Old English blt seems related to Old English bltsian, modern English bless. All of these words seem to derive from the word blood. In Hkonar Saga goa from Heimskringla, Snorri described how blood was sprinkled on the altar and on the temple walls and such ancient practices may be the origin of the word blt. Mythically it was Odin that ordained men to blot. Snorri says in the Ynglinga Saga from Heimskringla, that Odin decreed: " skyldi blta mti vetri, til rs, enn at mijum vetri blta til grrar, it rija at sumri, at var sigrblt." "On winter day there should be blood-sacrifice for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third sacrifice should be on summer day, for victory in battle." Unlike symbel which owes its survival to Old English texts, blot for both Asatruar and Anglo-Saxon Heathens is drawn nearly in total from the Icelandic sagas and Eddas. The Purpose of Blot: The Elder Edda contains some material that may give the purpose of blot. In Fjlsviml, it is said:

Tell me, Fjolsvith For I wish to know; answer as I do ask do they help award to their worshippers, if need of help they have?

Ay they help award to their worshippers,

in hallowed stead if they stand; there is never a need That neareth a man but they lend a helping hand. (Fjlsviml, Hollander translation 39 and 40)

In Hyndulj the idea of men being rewarded for blot is touched upon as well:

He a high altar made me Of heaped stones all glary have grown The gathered rocks and reddened anew them with neats fresh blood; for ay believed ttar in the synjur. (Hyndulj, Hollander translation verse 10)

Similar statements appear in the sagas as well. In Vga-Glms Saga, orkell states Frey had "accepted many gifts from him" and "repaid them well." The Anglo-Saxons appear to have held similar views as the Norse, the Old English word gield, (modern English yield) meant not only payment, tax, but also sacrifice. Old English gieldan meant not only to pay for, reward, requite," but also "to worship, to sacrifice to." One of the primary purposes of blot then was and is to give gifts to the Gods and Goddesses in return for the help they give us. This exchange of gifts between Man and the sir, the Vanir, and other sacred beings, no doubt was seen as forming bonds, much like gifts between friends. Such bonding is referred to in the Havamal:

Not great things alone must one give to another, praise oft is earned for nought; with half a loaf and a tilted bowl I have found me many a friend. (Havamal 53, Bray translation)

Hast thou a friend whom thou trustest well, from whom thou cravest good? Share thy mind with him, gifts exchange with him, fare to find him oft. (Havamal 44 Bray translation)

Vilhelm Grnbech furthers this idea of gifting as a form of bonding: When an article of value is passed across the boundary of frith and grasped by alien hands, a fusion of life takes place, which binds men one to another with an obligation of the same character as that of frith its self. (Grnbech. The Culture of the Teutons, Vol.2, p. 55) There is no reason that ancient Heathens would have changed the rules of giving because the Gods and Goddesses were involved. Giving meat and mead to the sir, Vanir, and other holy beings therefore not only ensured their help, but also made them a part of the human community, and in a sense one with the folk. Blot may also served as a form of communion with the Gods and Goddesses Discussing passages on blot Turville-Petre notes: "The meaning of the sacrificial feast, as Snorri saw it, is fairly plain. When blood was sprinkled over altars and men and the toasts were drunk, men were symbolically joined with gods of war and fertility, and with their dead ancestors, sharing their mystical powers. This is a form of communion." (Turville-Petre. Myth and Religion of the North, p. 251). This can be seen in the choice of words for the Christian act of Communion, Old English hsel was used both of Heathen sacrifices and the Christians Holy Communion. Its Gothic cognate hunsl was only used of Heathen blot. It is probable then that the first Anglo-Saxon converts saw blots and the Christian rite of Communion as having similar aims, one of those perhaps being communion with the Gods or in their case God or Christ. Communion with the Gods and Goddesses would mean a sense of oneness with them, a sense that the Gods and Goddesses were part of the human community. The sacrificial animal having been given to the Gods or Goddesses may have been seen as containing some of the Gods and Goddesses mgen or power. The blessing of the temple and folk with its blood therefore may have been viewed as spreading the mgen or power of the Gods and Goddesses amongst the folk. The fulls or prayers offered with the horn may have been viewed as a form of communicating with the Gods and Goddesses. And finally, the sacred feast its self, may have been seen as the folk sharing with the Gods and Goddesses, or perhaps as absorbing some of the Gods and Goddesses mgen. Turville-Petre noted that vaningi "son of the Vanir" was applied to both Frey and the boar in poetry, and that:

This implies that when the flesh of the boar was consumed at the sacrificial banquet, those who partook of it felt they were consuming the god himself and absorbing his power." (Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North, p. 255). While it is doubtful that Turville-Petre is entirely correct in his assessment (ritual cannibalism of this sort seems unlikely amongst the Germanic peoples and is probably drawn from comparisons with Christian Communion), the idea that some of the deitys mgen or power is transferred to that of the folk is one that is in keeping with Heathen ideas seen elsewhere. In addition to a form of communion, blot also served as a method of conveying the wants and needs of the folk to the sir and Vanir. The fulls or prayers of blot probably contained appeals for aid in time of famine, drought, or epidemic. At other times, they may have contained words of thanks. In Vga-Glms Saga Thorkell offers Frey an ox with a request for revenge on the man that had taken his land. In Ibn Fadlans account of the Rus traders, he told how they prayed to the Gods and Goddesses with requests for customers. The cer-bt an Anglo-Saxon rite found in the manuscript called the Lacnunga may contain portions of Heathen prayers that are basically requests for fertility of the land. Blot therefore served as a means of communicating with the sir, Vanir, and other holy beings.. Blots in ancient times and now therefore serves many purposes. Primarily, blot is a form of giving back to the Gods and Goddesses just a little of what they have given us. But Blot is also a form of communication with the Gods and Goddesses, a way of giving thanks, or of asking specifically for help in a certain area of ones life. Finally, blot is a way of bringing the Gods and Goddesses into our community, becoming a part of their community, and in some respects becoming one with them. To understand how this was done we need to look at the accounts of blots in the surviving lore. The Blot Description from Hkonar Saga goa: Thanks to Snorri, we have some idea of what an ancient blot looked like. Each step has a specific purpose, and those steps will be outlined here. The most detailed account from Hkonar Saga goa follows: a var forn siur er blt skyldi vera a allir bndur skyldu ar koma sem hof var og flytja annug fng sn, au er eir skyldu hafa mean veislan st. A veislu eirri skyldu allir menn l eiga. ar var og drepinn alls konar smali og svo hross en bl a allt er ar kom af, var kalla hlaut og hlautbollar a er bl a st , og hlautteinar, a var svo gert sem stkklar, me v skyldi rja stallana llu saman og svo veggi hofsins utan og innan og svo stkkva mennina en sltur skyldi sja til mannfagnaar. Eldar skyldu vera miju glfi hofinu og ar katlar yfir. Skyldi full um eld bera en s er geri veisluna og hfingi var, skyldi hann signa fulli og allan bltmatinn. Skyldi fyrst ins full, skyldi a drekka til sigurs og rkis konungi snum, en san Njarar full og Freys full til rs og friar. var mrgum mnnum ttt a drekka ar nst bragafull. Menn drukku og full frnda sinna, eirra er heygir hfu veri, og voru a minni kllu.

It was an old custom, that when there was to be sacrifice all the bondes should come to the spot where the temple stood and bring with them all that they required while the festival of the sacrifice lasted. To this festival all the men brought ale with them; and all kinds of cattle, as well as horses, were slaughtered, and all the blood that came from them was called "hlaut", and the vessels in which it was collected were called hlaut-vessels. Hlaut-staves were made, like sprinkling brushes, with which the whole of the altars and the temple walls, both outside and inside, were sprinkled over, and also the people were sprinkled with the blood; but the flesh was boiled into savoury meat for those present. The fire was in the middle of the floor of the temple, and over it hung the kettles, and the full goblets were handed across the fire; and he who made the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and all the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin's goblet was emptied for victory and power to his king; thereafter, Niord's and Frey's goblets for peace and a good season. Then it was the custom of many to empty the brage-goblet; and then the guests emptied a goblet to the memory of departed friends, called the remembrance goblet. This account can be further fleshed out with other accounts of blots from Hkonar Saga goa. En bndur tldu a v er hann sat eigi hsti snu er mestur var mannfagnaur. Sagi jarl a hann skyldi eigi svo gera. Var og svo a konungur sat hsti snu. En er hi fyrsta full var skenkt mlti Sigurur jarl fyrir og signai ni og drakk af horninu til konungs. Konungur tk vi og geri krossmark yfir. mlti Kr af Grtingi: "Hv fer konungurinn n svo? Vill hann enn eigi blta?" Sigurur jarl svarar: "Konungur gerir svo sem eir allir er tra mtt sinn og megin og signa full sitt r. Hann geri hamarsmark yfir ur hann drakk." The king accordingly sat upon his high-seat. Now when the first full goblet was filled, Earl Sigurd spoke some words over it, blessed it in Odin's name, and drank to the king out of the horn; and the king then took it, and made the sign of the cross over it. Then said Kar of Gryting, "What does the king mean by doing so? Will he not sacrifice?" Earl Sigurd replies, "The king is doing what all of you do, who trust to your power and strength. He is blessing the full goblet in the name of Thor, by making the sign of his hammer over it before he drinks it." And finally: En er Hkon konungur og Sigurur jarl komu inn Mrini me her sinn voru ar bndur komnir allfjlmennt. Hinn fyrsta dag a veislunni veittu bndur honum atgngu og bu hann blta en htu honum afarkostum ella. Sigurur jarl bar ml millum eirra. Kemur svo a Hkon konungur t nokkura bita af hrosslifur. Drakk hann ll minni krossalaust, au er bndur skenktu honum. En er veislu eirri var loki fr konungur og jarl egar t Hlair. Now, when King Hakon and Earl Sigurd came to More with their court, the bondes assembled in great numbers; and immediately, on the first day of the feast, the bondes insisted hard with the king that he should offer sacrifice, and threatened him with violence if he refused. Earl Sigurd tried to make peace between them, and brought it so far that the king took some bits of horse-liver, and emptied all the goblets the bondes filled for him without the sign of the cross; but as soon as the feast was over, the king and the earl returned to Hlader.

From these accounts it is fairly clear that blot consisted of blessing of the horns or goblets, blessing the folk with the blood of the sacrifice, fulls or prayers to the Gods and Goddesses, and finally a feast. Whether Snorri presented the events of blot in the order they were performed, we cannot know for certain, but at least we do have the events that took place during a blot. Some parts of blot were left out by Snorri; obviously the sacrifice had to be slain, and rituals must have attended the slaying as well. None the less, a rough outline of events taking place at blot can be somewhat reconstructed. 1) Pre-Feast: Prior to the feast, the sacrificial animal would have had to been slaughtered and butchered. In Helgakvida Horrvoardssonar, a boar is lead out to swear oaths on, but it is not clear whether this boar was later slaughtered for blot. In Heireks Saga , a boar or sonargltR (the "leading boar, the same term used in Helgakvida Horrvoardssonar of the boar) was brought before the king at Yule that was intended for blot, and apparently later slaughtered. Garlanding and swearing of oaths on the animal may have taken place as a regular part of the blot ritual or pre-ritual then. While we are not told by Snorri what events took place at the slaying of the animal, and shortly thereafter, he does tell us that the blood of the animal was drained into the blot bowl. Hlautteinar or lot sticks were also made then, and these later used to sprinkle the folk. The Hlautteinar we are told were like brushes. The slaughter its self was likely to have been fairly humane. Some scholars feel the ancients saw the animal as a representative of a God or Goddess. Temples did keep sacred animals, and this is mentioned several places in the lore. Flateyjarbk, described a temple where horses were kept, while Hrafnkels Saga told how Hrafnkell Freysgoi kept a stallion dedicated to FreyR. These animals may have been seen as containing the mgen of the God or Goddess they were dedicated to. In Snorris account though, the folk are portrayed as bringing the animals for blot. After the slaughter, the feast its self would have been prepared. Snorri tells us that the meat was boiled and this is confirmed by words for sacrifice such as Gothic saus, cognate to Old Norse sja and Old English soan to seethe, boil. 2) Sprinkling or Blessing the Temple and Folk: The temple walls, altar, and folk were then sprinkled or blessed by the priests. This act is also mentioned in Eyrbygja Saga in the description of Thorolf Mostrarskeggys hof. Vilhelm Grnbech in Culture of the Teutons felt that the blood of the sacrifice transferred some of the power of the Gods and Goddesses to the folk. The blood of the victim was a means of communicating the power of holiness. It was poured over the stone or heap of stones stallr or hrg in the sacred place. The chieftains ring which reposed in the sanctuary was reddened on solemn occasions, and we learn in one place about two Icelandic claimants to the rank of priestly chieftain (goi), that they procured themselves the holy power by reddening their hands in the blood of a ram (Grnbech. The Culture of the Teutons, Vol.2, p.211) Recalling what Turville-Petre had to say on this matter in the quote above about the blood symbolically joining the folk with the Gods and Goddesses, along with Grnbechs passage, it seems fairly certain that the purpose of the blessing was to covey upon the folk some of the power of the Gods and Goddesses. This power may have been thought to take the form of good health (i.e. holiness), prosperity, and frith;

or perhaps just sheer luck (in the form of hamingja, an Old Norse term referring to luck and/or spiritual strength). 3) Hallowing the Horns or Goblets and Meat: The horns or goblets of mead and meat were then passed over the fire. It is not clear in Snorris account whether this had ritual importance or not. In the Landnmabk, both Thorolf and Jorundr used fire in their land takings for temple sites, while other land takings not involving temples seem to omit this step. It is possible then that the passing of horns or goblets over the fires may have had a ritual connotation of some kind, the most likely being to hallow them. The chieftain then blessed the horns and we are told in one of the later accounts in Hkonar Saga goa that Earl Sigurd spoke some words over it, blessed it in Odin's name. It is also at this point that King Hakon signed the cross, and Sigurd covered for him by saying he was making the hammer sign. We do not know what words Jarl Sigurd spoke over the horn. The lore is very sparing with such things and so we can only guess that perhaps it was something similar to the rr uiki formula found on some runestones. The phrase literally means "Thor make sacred." This may be somewhat confirmed by the way Jarl Sigurd covered for the king by saying he was making the hammer sign. Whether or not the hammer sign is authentic Heathen practice or not has been hotly debated in Heathen circles. Many feel it was merely Sigurds way of covering for Hakon, and the Heathen jarls unfamiliarity with what Hakon was doing confirms this. Others feel that the jarls perhaps knew what the hammer sign was, but realized Hakon was making the sign of the cross. It is interesting to note that the verb signai is used to indicate Jarl Sigurd hallowed the horn or goblet. While the verb usually is taken to mean bless in Old Norse, it is ultimately related to English sain and sign, both meaning to sign. Sigurd may therefore have made some sign symbolic of Odin in his blessing of the goblets. Unfortunately, we have no other examples in the lore to go by, and so, the modern Heathen is left to his or her own discretion as to using the hammer sign in blot. The closest example of the hallowing of a horn in the lore is in Egils Saga. Egil scratched runes on a horn he suspected of containing poison, blooded them, and then spoke a verse. How similar this act of rune magic was to the blessing of horns in blot, we cannot say. What is clear though is that the mead, ale, or other drink was somehow blessed at this point in blot either by fire, with words, or with signs, or some combination thereof. The purpose of blessing or hallowing is no doubt to fill the mead or ale with the power of the Gods and Goddesses, and perhaps drive off any thing that might potentially cause illness. 4) The Fulls: The word full simply meant a drink or a drinking vessel in both Old Norse and Old English, but in the sense of blot it is connected to the words said with that drink. The fulls as seen in this account by Snorri are to Odin for victory, Njord, and Frey for peace and plenty. There is no reason to think these were simple toasts, and indeed probably were not toasts at all, but prayers. We know from other accounts of sacrifices such as Thorkells in Vga-Glms Saga that these may have been petitions or prayers. That is, victory was not toasted in Odins name, nor did the chieftain make a boast to achieve victory in Odins name, but, that they asked or petitioned Odin for victory. Prayers such as those that survived in the cer-bt were not simple affairs, but could go on for twenty to thirty lines and were written in alliterative verse. The purpose of the fulls are no doubt several, and dependent on what type of blot is being performed. None the less, they can probably be broken down into words of praise for the Gods or Goddesses, and petitions for help from the Gods or Goddesses. All variations a prayer or full

could have taken would be of these two. Both Old Norse and Old English words for prayer are related to modern English bid. Old English biddan meant to pray, entreat, ask, while Old Norse bija carried similar connotations. 5) Bragafull: The bragafull has usually been taken by scholars to mean the leaders cup and appears variously in the lore as a toast to a dead leader, or as a boast by a leader to do some deed. In the Ynglinga Saga, of the Heimskringla, Ingjald boasted at his fathers funeral feast to double the size of his kingdom. The bragafull served perhaps much the same purpose as the God fulls, in that perhaps the Gods and Goddesses were expected to help the leader fulfill whatever vow they made. 6)Minni: The minni was the remembrance cup, a toast to the memory of departed friends and family. Its purpose is clear when one recalls passages from the Havamal and Beowulf about a persons good name after death:

Cattle die, and kinsmen die, thyself eke soon wilt die; but fair fame will fade never: I ween, for him who wins it. (Hollander translation, verse 76)

Grieve not, wise warrior. It is better to avenge one's friend than mourn too much. Each of us must one day reach the end Of worldly life, let him who can win glory before he dies: that lives on after him, when he lifeless lies. (Beowulf lines 1384-1391)

The minni was a way of keeping alive the glory of friends that had passed on. In addition, it perhaps was a way of worshipping ones ancestors, and seeking favour from them much as they did the Gods and Goddesses.

7) Feast At this point the feast probably started. Going by accounts in the sagas, these feasts may have been elaborate affairs lasting for quite a while. The meat for sacrifice for blot was according to Snorri boiled in a broth. This is apparent from the accounts in the Heimskringla. Whether this was the only way of preparing the meat for sacrifice is not known, but it seems the preferred way for the Jarls of Norway under King Hakon. From this we can reconstruct a rough outline of the blt ritual for modern usage: 1) The Blt - In ancient times, an animal would have been slaughtered. Today we just go to the supermarket. Still, there must have been rituals associated with slaying the animal. We are told in one saga, the boar was garlanded and lead to the king to have oaths sworn upon it. This shows the sacredness that took place before the slaughter, and probably during the food preparation. Therefore if preparing food for a feast, every item should probably be passed over a flame and have the hammer signed over it. A few words can be said like "Thunor weoh" which in reconstructed Old English means "Thor make this sacred." The food served for the feast should be garlanded and decorated as if for a lavish dinner party. Everything should point to the sacredness of the meal. If merely doing a libation with cheese or bread, much of this can be dispersed with. But nothing beats a feast together in creating community unity. 2) The Sith (optional) - The ancient Heathens seem to have enjoyed processions, complete with garlands or wreathes for the particular time of year. Garlands were hung on trees, and the hall decorated with fresh boughs and flowers. Therefore, the food when the food is brought out it should be done with much revelry and with as much decor as possible. The feast table should be decorated to fit the season, as well should the settings. All participants not serving the food, should be already seated. Plates should be set for the ancestors and the Gods as well. Once the food is set upon the table, the servers should take their places, and the weofodthegn can proceed with the ritual. 3) The Wonde - Wonde is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction based on the Old Norse word vigja "to make sacred, to separate from the ordinary and mundane and make a part of the gods' realm." This corresponds to Edred Thorsson's "Hallowing" in the Blessing outline in A Book Of Troth. Its purpose is to make the site of the feast sacred and to ward it against unwanted intruders of the spiritual kind. It is here that the Hammer Rite of the Ring of Troth would be performed, or the Wonde Song of the Miercinga Rce. In the Elder Era, this may have been unneedful as they had their own permanent holy sites that had been used for thousands of years. The purpose of the wonde is to call on Gods like unor and ask them to separate the area from the ordinary, and the mundane. A formula in Old Norse used to accomplish this was rr uiki "unor make this sacred!" In Old English, this would be "unor woh!" 4) The Hallowing - The weofodthegn or the group leader then hallows the food and drink by passing it over a flame, usually a candle or fire in a fire pot or fire pit. Appropriate words like "Hallow this food and make it whole should be said."

5) The Blessing - As seen above, the blood of slain animals was sprinkled on the walls and altar in ancient times. Today, we instead of blood can use mead that has been specially blessed for this purpose, blessing the folk as well. The mead is poured into the blt bowl, and then carried by one of the weofodthegns assistants. The weofodthegn dips the twig into the mead and sprinkles each person there saying some words like "May the Gods bless you." 6) The Fulls - The bedes are then said to the Gods. It is perhaps best to dedicate the prayers to the Gods of the holy tide on hand, or if no holy tide is being celebrated to the Gods of those gathered. The bedes need not be elaborate, and it is best if they are no more than three in number. Too many prayers can make folks get impatient and restless and spoil the ritual atmosphere. 7) The Bragafull - Here the leader of the group can boast of the groups past accomplishments and future plans. Again, this need not be elaborate. It can be in poetic form or prose. In many respects it should resemble the boasts of symbel. 8) The Minni - The dead of all present are drunk to, preferably one at a time, although if too many are present a collective toast might be made. Ideally, one round should go around the table with each person being allowed to toast their dead ancestors. In large groups this may not be possible however, so a collective boast could be done by the weofodthegn. 9) The Housel - The food and drink are consumed. Usually for blots this may just be a morsel of bread and a drink of mead. Often only mead is used. With a housel, this would be the time the feast is consumed. 10) The Yielding - Some of the leftover food plus those plates laid aside for the Gods and ancestors can then be taken outside and given to them. By no means should it be thrown away or put in the garbage compactor. 11) The Leaving - The rite is formally adjourned, with folks retiring to general merriment, or a symbel could be arranged to follow. Experience has taught it is often best to allow a period of relaxation after eating, and then conduct a symbel an hour or so after the meal is finished. Of course if a simple blt is done with no feast, then there is little reason to wait, and a symbel can be started immediately following the blt. Conclusion: Nearly all modern blot outlines have been drawn either directly or indirectly from the Heimskringla accounts. However, there are differences. As ancient Heathens probably nearly always used space that had been thought sacred for centuries, or spaces they had made permanently sacred, such a step as is commonly called Hallowing, or the misnomer Warding, was not a part of ancient blot. When ancient Heathens needed to create sacred space, they did so for permanent usages such as the taking of future temple sites such as in the Landnamabok. Therefore modern blot outlines have added the step of Hallowing with the intention of creating temporary sacred space. Another major difference between ancient and modern blot is animals are no longer used, except in rare circumstances. Mead has

therefore taken the place of meat as the preferred gift to the Gods and Goddesses. It is now used for the blessing, fulls, feast, and gift parts of blot. The modern blot outline has remained in principle the same however, and therefore study of how ancient blots were performed is of help to the modern Heathen.

Worship: The Hsel or Sacred Feast

Introduction: satr is a community minded religion, and for that reason most of our rites are designed for a group of people. One rite however that has yet to catch on in the Modern Era is the housel or sacred feast. The housel is a time when folk gather together to eat a feast or banquet with their friend s and family, the gods, and their ancestors. By all means it should be the most important rite of modern Heathenry. It is after all a time of bonding, of sharing food and drink and togethrness. The housel is very similar to the blot, and in fact, in ancient times were one and the same rite. The ancient Heathens did not perform libations for blot, but indeed had feasts, setting aside food for the Gods and feasting themselves. It was a time of cummunity togetherness with one's neighbors, ancestors, and Gods. In the Elder Era: The word housel is the New English form of Old English hsel (Gothic hunsel), a word which was used after the Conversion not only for Christian communion, but also the feasts of saints, indicating it was most likely first applied to the Heathen sacred feast. Indeed, even in Christian texts it is sometimes used of Heathen sacrifices and feasts. The housel or sacred feast is well attested to in Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon materials. According to Bede in the Historia Ecclesiastica, Pope Gregory ordered that the Heathen sacrifices of oxen be made into thanksgiving feasts to the Christian god. Apparently, the housel was performed at all the High Holy Tides. The folk would come to the hof and build temporary shelters around it and stay there for the duration of the celebration. Pope Gregory implied such when he said huts may be built around churches during Christian celebrations. This is also indicated by archaeological evidence at Yeavering in England, where there are signs of temporary dwellings having been built, not much different in purpose than the tents at modern gatherings. Adam of Bremen when writing about the hof at Old Uppsala stated that there was no exemption from sending gifts to the hof for the festival held every nine years, so perhaps attend-ance at the festival would have been deemed worthy as well. It could well be that the ancient Heathen, like Jews today, believed that the slaying of animals for food in general was something that should be done in a sacred manner. At Harrow Hill in Sussex, England, over a thousand oxen skulls have been found, and based on this, G. J. Copley believes that the fall slaughter of livestock may have taken place at the hof. This indicates there must have been a large turn out for such rites to slay so many beasts. Certain customs must have accompanied the rites. As early as Tacitus, literature describes the frith that must be kept during the holy tides. Other more folkish customs may have accompanied the rites such as sword dances and mummer plays. The cer-Bt, a semi-Heathen rite that survived in the Anglo-Saxon manuscript, the Lacnunga , seems as though it should be accompanied by some sort of plow processional. In Heireks Saga , the sacred boar was lead before King Heirek prior to its sacrifice and oaths were sworn on it. It isn't a far leap of the imagination to think that the boar must have been garlanded and accompanied by a procession to and from the King.

The housel as presented by Snorri was a combination of blood sacrifice, libation, and communion feast. Snorri states that a full was drunk to Wden, to the King's speed, and to Njord and Fra. Following these came the bragafull and the minni. Those familiar with symbel will recognize that a similar procedure is followed at its opening, prior to the gielps and bots. Whether part of this alcohol is given to the gods is not stated in Snorri's work but it is safe to assume it was. Drawing on Anglo-Saxon archaeological evidence, it would appear that the skulls of sacrificed animals were reserved for the gods. Adam of Bremen mentioned carcasses of animals hanging in the grove at Uppsala, and presumably these were the heads and hides of slaughtered beasts, although some may have been sacrifices given whole to the gods. The housel described by Snorri in the Heimskringla is the same as any other blot and can be outlined as follows: 1) The Blt - The slaughter of the animals. It is not said how the animals were slain, but they may have been smothered as indicated by Old English swebban and Old Norse soa both meaning "to put to sleep" as well as "to sacrifice." Or they may have been drowned, Old English onsgedness "sacrifice, offering, sacrificial victim" derives from a word meaning "to cause to sink, settle, drown." Need less to say, the slaying must have been more humane than that used in a few modern slaughter houses (where they sometimes resort to lead pipes or baseball bats). Snorri does state the meat was boiled. At this time the blood of the beast was collected for the blessing. 2)The Hallowing - The alcohol and food for the feast was passed over a fire by the King and the hammer sign or some similar sign was sained over it. 3) The Blessing - The blood from the slaughtered beast was smeareded on the walls of the hof, and smeared on the altar. 4) The Fulls - One to Oinn, one to the King's speed, and one to Njord and Frey. These fulls were probably more like wassailing, drinking to one's health, and not like the gielps and bots, the boasts of symbel. This tradition has survived as the opening toasts at formal dinners. 5) The Bragafull - The King's toast. This may have been a boast like those of symbel, as it often plays that role there. 6) The Minni - The fulls drunk in memory of dead kinsmen. This, no doubt was done like the minni of symbel and the minni at funerals. 7) The Housel - The feast itself. It is probable that the remaining food and drink were given to the gods immediately following the feast. These may have been burned or dumped down a sacred well. In the New Era: This outline can be adapted to present day needs and gaps filled in by drawing on other parts of the lore. A procession could be added to the beginning and some sort of warding rite inserted prior to the drinking of the fulls. The food and drink could be given to the gods immediately following the feast. An outline for such a rite look as follows:

1) The Blt - Most of us today do not have to slay our own animals, yet we still have to prepare the meal. It is recommended that the preparation of the feast not be left to one person and that a variety of courses be offered. During the feast a plate should be set aside for the gods. This is their portion. After the feast it should be set outside, where the gods (most likely in the guise of a neighborhood cat or dog or other animal) will consume it. 2) The Sith (optional) - The food is then to be escorted with much revelry to the feasting tables. This can be done with much fanfare. Servers can be garlanded and the food dressed up with sprigs of parsley. The feast table too should be decorated in colors of the season. 3) The Wonde - Wonde is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction based on the Old Norse word vigja "to make sacred, to separate from the ordinary and mundane and make a part of the gods' realm" This corresponds to Edred Thorsson's "Hallowing" in the Blessing outline in A Book Of Troth. Its purpose is to make the site of the feast sacred and to ward it against unwanted in-truders of the spiritual kind. It is here that the Hammer Rite of the Ring of Troth would be performed, or the Wonde Song of the Miercinga Rce. In the Elder Era, this may have been unneedful as they had their own permanent holy sites that had been used for thousands of years. The purpose of the wonde is to call on gods like .unor and ask them to protect the site. A formula in Old Norse used to accomplish this was .rr uiki "unor make this sacred!" In Old English, this would be unor woh! 4) The Hallowing - The priest or the mthel leader passes the drink and food over a flame, and sains the hammer over them. He or she may wish to say something like "wassail this food!" The flame and the words are intended to ensure that the food be food that brings health, by driving away any illness causing wights. 5) The Blessing - Mead is poored into the blessing bowl. And it is then sprinkled on the the gathered folk by one of the servers. Appropriate words like "May the gods blees you may be said" while sprinkling each person. 6) The Fulls - The fulls are the god calls or invocations of the feast. Ideally, one should be drank to each of the gods being honored and to the mgen of the kindred. A full might be worded "Be hale Wden!" or list his accomplishments. They can be elaborate or simple, it's all up to personal taste. Bedes often work best here. 7) The Bragafull - This would be done by the kindred leader, and might list accomplishments of the kindred or speak of future plans. 8) The Minni - The dead of all present are drunk to, preferably one at a time, although if too many are present a collective toast might be made. 9) The Housel - The food and drink are consumed. Other than being in the middle of ritual, this should be no different than an ordinary meal. Some rules do apply however. The tone of conversation should be serious, there should be no slightings of those present, or their friends and family not present. The idea behind eating together is to create a sense of collective identity, not cause fights, and splinter the

commnity. If a group wishes this might be a good time to discuss the lore, the Gods, or the groups past and future. Overall, it should be an enjoyable eating experince with fine food and drink. 10) The Yielding - All the leftovers, as well as the parts already promised to the gods are taken outside and preferably disposed of somewhere on hof grounds (within in its garth "enclosure"). 11) The Leaving - The rite is formally adjourned, although a symbel could be arranged to follow. Conclusion: The housel was perhaps the highest form of sacrifice performed by the Elder Heathen. It was perhaps as Snorri states, a form of communion with the gods, its elements of sharing of meat and drink with the gods are obvious. Housels should be performed at ever holy tide, even if no other festivities are planned. The main dish should always be meat of some form, although a vegetarian housel could be subsituted in many cases (and for many reasons). Side dishes at a housel could be salads, breads, various deserts, or anything else you might find at a formal banquet. You may wish to look into seasonal foods traditional to Northern Europe or foods sacred to particular Gods (pork for Fra, parsley for Wden and so forth) when preparing a hsel. In addition, you should make sure that cleanup detail is taken care of and not left to the preparer of the feast. Everyone should be involved in the preparation of the food for a housel. It is a time of community togetherness and sharing, and not something to be left to one person. Potluck feasts can serve to supply food for housel, and this is an idea way to get community involvement. Another rite of community togetherness is symbel. However, symbel, as stated fits in a class all by itself, and cannot truly be thought of as a sacrifice, but as a mystical communing with the web of wyrd.

The Symbel: Ritual Rounds by Swain Wodening

Introduction: No rite is preserved in the Elder Lore quite so well as symbel (also know by the Old Norse sumble and modern sumbel). It appears in the Sagas and Eddas, and even in such Christian sources as Judith. Even a ritual formula seems to have been preserved in the Anglo-Saxon phrase sittan t symble (sitia sumbli at ON) "We sit at symbel (now)". Symbel probably ultimately derives from Indo-European libation rites, but it is very different from the libations of the ancient Greeks, Celts, and Romans. There is no "pouring out" of drinks to the Gods, all of the alcohol is consumed by the symbel participants, and secondly, while there are toasts to the Gods, these seem almost a secondary aim of symbel. Paul Bauschatz, in his scholarly work The Well and the Tree holds that the purpose of symbel was to place one's self into the flow of Wyrd. This purpose is best shown by the gielps and bots or "boasts" of symbel. Symbel is best preserved in the Anglo-Saxon poem, Bowulf, mainly lines 489- 675 and 1491-1500. Although it is also seen in the Heimskringla in the form of a funeral ale held by King Svein when he boasted to take England, the Fagrskinna where it is mentioned memory drinks were made to Thor, and other sources. The speech made at symbel revolved around deeds, past and present. In the first Bowulf symbel for example, Bowulf tells who his father is and states that in his youth he has undertaken many great deeds. This is a gielp, a boast of one's ancestry and past deeds. Bowulf then makes a sacred oath to slay the sea ettin terrorizing Horot. This is his bot, a sacred oath to complete a specific action. Unfer the yle challenges this and Bowulf responds with a more detailed gielp, this one about his swimming contest with Brecca, a task similar to one at hand, in that it too, dealt with sea ettins. Between the bot and gielp, Unfer makes a flytung "insult, derogatory remark" about Bowulf's ability, testing Bowulf's resolve, and his ability to keep his oath. Bowulf responds with a flytung of his own at Unfer, questioning the yle's integrity. Bowulf then reiterates his bot. This entire ritual sequence seems to serve one purpose, and that is to call up the successful results of Bowulf's past actions so so as to influence the present in the same direction. Results of actions of the present are based on the results of actions of the past according to Wyrd. In part. this is why Bowulf's bot ends with Ga a wyrd sw ho sceol "always goeth Wyrd as she shall." The Elder Heathen's world view was based on deeds as was their concept of Wy rd and their philosophy of law. Results of deeds were based on the results of similar deeds in the past, unless enough mgen were invested to set a new precedent, a new standard of results for one's deeds. Bots and gielps were not the only significant speech made at symbel. Symbel began with the same fulls as those at housel, and throughout symbel, there was entertainment in the form of scops "poets" telling poems based on the ancient tales, gloman "minstrels" singing songs, and others throwing in their own little anecdotes. All of this was based on past action though, bringing the past into the present. The scop, according to scholar Dwight Conquergood, may have made the collective gielp for the entire od

by telling of exploits of past kings and heroes. Even the gloman, with his much lighter fare, probably sang of exploits of the past, though admittedly they would have been of a less serious nature (though they could have been flytungs, belittling enemies and such). The seriousness of the bots and gielps and the scop's ealdgesagen "old tales" can be shown in that they also occurred before battle, such as in those done prior to battle in The Battle of Maldon . The scop, yle, and gloman, all served a purpose in symbel, as did the symbelgifa "symbel giver, host" and the ale keeper or ealu bora "ale bearer." The scop's purpose, as already stated, was to say the gielp for the od, and to entertain the folk, perhaps reminding them of the seriousness of the boasts with his tales. The gloman, on the other hand, was there to largely entertain, but no doubt being a minstrel and sometimes jester, he may have poked fun at the od's enemies, making unflattering gielps for them, and also making sure that happier, lighter deeds like courtship, play, and childishness were not left out. The yle seemed to have had a much more serious position, for it was his duty to challenge those he felt had made false boasts. This perhaps is why Unfer challenged Bowulf, Bowulf's childhood having been unpromising. The symbelgifa too was a rather serious office, usually held by the residing king or lord. His place would be to serve as host, and make the bot for the od, and also to judge whether one's bot was serious and likely to be fulfilled. This would not be like a court judge saying yea or nay, but simply a refusal to lend his speed to the deed one oathed to do, and thus not endanger the tribe's mgen. Finally, the ealu bora was perhaps the most important position. The ealu bora was always a noble woman, often a queen, and it was her hand that poured the first drink thus sacralizing it in the ways of the Norns, Waeliglcyrgien, and Idesa; something, no werman could do. When doing so she might pay a compliment to those being served as a form of encouragement to do great deeds. She also probably served as the peacemaker when quarrels broke out, no one wishing to offend the likes and power of a queen. Noble women in the Elder Period were the most powerful of men. It was they that actually made many of the political decisions and ensured that the thews were kept. It was Gurn that charged her sons with avenging their sister's death, and Latin sources make it clear that elderly women made many of the political decisions concerning the Germanic tribes. Many a warrior might offend a king, few sought to offend his king's queen. Within the Miercinga Rce there are three forms of symbel that are performed, these vary only in their outlines, the basic premise behind the three forms nonetheless are the same. Symbel: Most symbels follow the pattern, Eric Lord Wdening set forth in his article An Anglo-Saxon Symbel. This rite is usually referred to as symbel, and can be seen with only slight variation amongst odsmen and Asatruar alike. His outline has only been slightly modified here, but follows the same general pattern: 1) Seating - Celebrants should be seated according to their rank and seniority in the mel, officers should be at the symbelgifa's table, and the symbelgifa in the high seat. In many cases this seating is discarded with, and nearly always is amongst Asatruar.

2) The Wonde - Wonde is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction based on the Old Norse word vigja "to make sacred, to separate from the ordinary and mundane and make a part of the gods' realm" This corresponds to Edred Thorsson's "Hallowing" in the Blessing outline in A Book Of Troth. Its purpose is to make the site of the feast sacred, and to ward it against unwanted intruders of the spiritual kind. With symbel this is largely optional. Ideally, if the mood for symbel is right, time and space should lapse as celebrants enter the flow of Wyrd's Well. Few wights would be willing to violate such, or the fri that even Loki would not break. 3) Forespeech - This is a speech made by the symbelgifa or host of the symbel to sit everyone down to symbel. It should be simple, but eloquent, and its only purpose is to get people ready. Wednesbury od, used to use a paraphrase of lines 489-490 in Bowulf.

Sit now to symbel and unseal thy mettes Siges rethe say as they soul whets.

4) Pouring - The ealu bora or horn bearer pours the ale for each symbler in turn as they make their boasts. First is the symbelgifa as he or she must make the fulls. With each celebrant the ealu bora should say something favourable, preferably in alliterative verse. 5) The Fulls - The symbelgifa wassails the three most popular gods of the mthel, followed by a wassailing of the mthel's mgen, and finally the bregofull, a boast of the mthel's plans. Alternatively, the host can merely hail their own god or goddess and every participant can boast a god or goddess of their choice. 6) The Minni - Each celebrant speaks of and drinks to their dead kinsmen and friends. 7) Gift giving (optional) - Gifts can then be exchanged, beginning with the symbelgifa. Gifts to the kindred are given to him first, followed by gifts to him personally. Then each person is given a gift according to their station and rank. 8) Gielps and Bots - Each celebrant, according to rank and station within the kindred, or according to honor amongst guests may make a gielp and or bot. They may also wish to tell jokes, lead a song, or recite a poem. From here on, symbel usually takes a life of its own. It is not unusual, at least in the Miercinga Rce, for symbels to run well over their allotted times, and for even non-drinkers to feel an other worldliness. It must be stressed here though, a gielp is not a simple boast or the false bragging of Shakespeare's Falstaff, it is a truthful recitation of one's past accomplishments that did something good for one's self or the folk, preceded by a statement of whose one's forebearers were. Similarly, a bot is not a simple promise, but a holy oath enforced by Wyrd with the most powerful of obligations to complete. Even the gods participate in symbel and they are held to their words by Wyrd just as we are.

If the gods cannot escape Wyrd with false oaths or idle boasts, the n how can we? It is best to be truthful in such matters. Once a boast is made, the yle may challenge it if he sees due cause and the symbelgifa may wish to lend his speed to the deed to help the celebrant if it is a great deed that benefits everyone. If the yle challenges, the celebrant may respond with another gielp, and reiteration of the bot, and this may continue until both are satisfied with having made their points, or the ealu bora or symbelgifa intervene. The symbelgifa can then lend his speed, say it is a good bot, or simply but tactfully say that the deed may not be successful. Whatever is said must be carefully worded so as to not affect the celebrant's mgen if he is being truthful. The bots and gielps continue in rounds until all has been said that can be said or the "officers" (the scop, symbelgifa, yle, and ealu bora) deem it should end. At that time the symbelgifa should say a suitable endspeech and close the rite. High Symbel: High Symbel is only preformed by odsmen for the most part, and rarely seen in the general Heathen community. It is intended only to be performed by those of high arung i.e. a leader of the folk. The rite presented below is a consolidation of research done by Eric Wodening in his article An Anglo-Saxon Symbel, Steve Pollington in his academic work The Mead-Hall, and Paul Bauchatz's academic work The Well and the Tree. The only major difference between High Symbel and Symbel is in the opening rounds. Otherwise, everything that applies to Symbel applies to High Symbel. The outline for these opening rounds is drawn from Pollington's work, The Mead-Hall pages 42 to 47 with additional elements added from Eric Wodening's outline seen in An Anglo-Saxon Symbel. 1) Summoning - The guests are summoned to the hall by a horn. Pollington notes that on the Bayeux Tapestry, a horn blower is shown. 2) Entrance of Guests into the Hall - The guests enter and wash their hands. Pollington points to a verse from the Havamal, "Water and handcloth and friendly word, a chance to speak, guest friendship will he gladly find, kindness and attention" (Pollington, p. 42). 3) Seating - The symbelgifa as in regular symbel seats each person according to arung. The symbelgifa then takes the position before the high seat. 4) Symbelgifa Forespeach - The symbelgifa opens symbel with words similar to those from Bowulf lines 489-490: "Sita nu to symle ond onsla meoto, sigehre secgum, swa in sefas hwetta (Sit now to symbel and unwind your measures, victory hearted heroes)," and then sits down. If folks are not already seated they should do so at this point. 5) Ealubora Forespeach - The Ealubora then enters with the horn and mead. She greets all present, and then presents the symbelgifa with the horn. According to Pollington, Enright, and others this may have involved a ritual formula much like Wealtheow's words in Bowulf lines 1169-1175: "Onfoh issum fulle, freodrihten min, sinces brytta! u on slum wes, goldwine gumena, ond to Geatum sprc mildum

wordum... (Take this full, my lord dryhten, hoard sharer, you be happy, warriors' gold friend, and speak to the Geats with mild words...)" 6) Bregofull - The symbelgifa then performs the boasts to the three gods and goddesses worshipped by his or her household, followed by a minni to the ancestors, and finally, the bregofull, a boast of what his or her folk will do in the coming year. 7) Guest Speech - If there is a guest of arung close to the symbelgifa, they are then given the right of guest speech. The ealubora will take the horn to them, and they will greet the symbelgifa, and make a bot (which may be a boast to help the symbelgifa or his or her own folk in some way, a minni in praise of the gods, or simply a toast of some sort). The yle may of course challenge (as they may anyone save the ealubora and symbelgifa). 8) The First Full - The ealubora then takes the horn to each person by arung. They may make a bot, boast to the Gods, or ancestors . The ealubora then takes their seat, and the task of carrying the horn about is taken over by others. 9) Gift giving (optional) - The symbelgifa may then give gifts to those present. Theoretically this can be done at anytime during symbel however 10) Lo (optional) - The Scop may then sing a song, either in praise of the gods, the folk, or the symbelgifa. 11) The Fulls - From here on High Symbel follows the same pattern as Symbel does with the ritual rounds. People may make a gielp and bot, sing a song, toast someone, recite poetry, even tell jokes. The yle, of course, can challenge any boast. The ealubora may also decide to pour mead for anyone at any time along with flattering speech. Gebeorscipe: Gebeorscipe is the term that the scholar Pollington uses to refer to other forms of drinking rounds seen in the lore. They are, what in modern Heathenry would be called an "impromptu symbel;" the sort that happen around a camp fire when one Heathen says to another, "Hey lets symbel." As such, it will have many of the same elements of symbel such as boasts, the rounds, gielps and bots. However, it is likely to be very less formal. As such there are no hard and fast rules for Gebeorscipe, the only one perhaps being that it goes in rounds, and there perhaps be initial boasts to the gods and ancestors. This may be the most common form of symbel in modern Heathenry due to its simplicity. The Roles in Symbel: Symbelgefa - The symbelgefa is the host or hostess of the symbel. This may be the owner of the house it is held at, or the leader of the group hosting the symbel (in the case of a odisc group, their hlford or hlfidge). It is the symbelgefa who has final approval on boasts if the yle challenges, and also sees that the frith of the hall is maintained (though this is primarily the role of the ealubora).

Ealubora - The "ale bearer" is usually going to be a woman. This is not some sort of sexism, but based in ideas held by the ancient Heathens about the sanctity and high status of women. In ancient times, it would have been the lady of the hall. Her purpose was to maintain the frith of the hall, however she saw possible. Enright in Lady with a Mead Cup theorized that in many cases, she may have even used her abilities as a seeress in judging boasts. As such she may have been the antithesis of the yle, but instead of ridiculing those that made bad boasts, she flattered those that made good ones. She also served to advise her husband and others as the symbel went on. In ancient times, much business was conducted during symbel, and with her words, she could ensure the best for her tribe. In essence, she was a lady of decorum, regal in bearing, and wise in words. In addition to this, Bauschatz in The Well and the Tree, felt that because Wyrd was seen as feminine (as were the Norns in the Eddas), that perhaps the mead had to pass through a female's hands to make the sacred connection to Wyrd. If that is the case, the ealubora may be the most vital of all positions in symbel. Many in Modern Heathenry have continued this tradition by at least having a woman pour the mead into the horn, even though a werman may bear it about. The ealubora therefore should be the highest ranking woman of a group. yle - In ancient times, a yle was a sort of wiseman, ritual poet, orator, and judger of men's words. In symbel, the yle serves one purpose, to challenge boasts he or she deems false, and thus antagonize the boaster into being truthful. The yle only uses blunt honesty to accomplish this, but they can be, as Unferth was in Bowulf, brutal with words. Enright saw the yle as a balance to the ealubora, one chiding, the other flattering. There is no reason a yle should be much different today in their duties. Scop - In ancient times a scop would tell the old tales of the tribe's ancestors, heroes, and gods and goddesses. As such they played a role in making the link to Wyrd in a very important way. Today, modern poets can do the same in symbel. Gloman - The gloman was not much different than the scop, save they would not have been likely to hold an official position. Glomen were musicians and sang songs, played the harp and pipes to entertain folks during the symbel. The same, of course, can be done by musicians today. Byrele - The byrele was the cupbearer, a position which was usually filled by a female (esp. since they would be assisting the lady of the hall), but often filled by young males (in the same sort of role of pages in the Middle Ages) in ancient times. Today, a byrele would be any cup bearer other than the official ealubora. Duruegn - In ancient times, the duruegn's duty was to guard the door, welcome guests as they enter, and not permit the unwanted to enter. The same role can be used today, and indeed, is helpful in keeping a rite from being interrupted. A Few Rules For Symbel: Symbel is a sacred rite, and it therefore should not be abused While it is a solemn occasion, it is solemn in the sense of a funeral for your dog that always bit you. Therefore, it should be filled with a good share of laughter and happiness and even rowdiness. However, rudeness should not be allowed, or drunkenness. A few simple rules for symbel are as follows:

1) The fri of a symbel is sacred, no one should be allowed to break the peace or commit violent acts in the symbel hall. Violators should be immediately removed, no questions asked, physically if necessary. 2) Celebrants should not get dead drunk. Symbel should have its share of drinking, but it is not a "beer bust," a wild party (though at times symbel may seem that way), or a place to suicide via alcohol poisoning. And NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE should be allowed to drive home drunk. If you feel you've had too much, make small sips of the ale instead of larger ones, extending your drinking time. If all else fails, stop making bots and gielps, and simply yell "wassail!" to others' boasts. And then find a place to sleep at the site or someone sober to drive. 3) If, in a state of drunken zealousness you make a boast the symbelgifa or yle feels you cannot keep, try to prove them wrong and do what you oathed to do. DO NOT hold a grudge against someone for doing their religious duty in symbel, even if they allowed personal prejudice to affect their judgment. In such a case, by your behaving honorably, it is their honor that is lessened not your own, and they are not likely to challenge you again in symbel. Too, remember that a symbel's frith is rigidly enforced. Open debate is welcome, and even pointing out flaws in someone's honor with insults, but half truths, flat out mockery of honorable actions, and lies are not. And few true Heathen would have a problem with someone expounding such being ask ed to outside, as unor did Loki in the Lokasenna. 4) Do not make passes at married ale bearers or the spouse of another. Causal flirting is okay, but it might be good to keep this line of the Havamal in mind: "Be especially wary of ale and of another man's wife." This goes for ladies too. Alcohol and anything beyond flattery can bring on jealousy and a fight. Conclusion: Symbel along with the housel is one of our most sacred rites and should be done often. A few conventions concerning symbel might be mentioned. The greatest of symbels is at Yule tide, when the dead are closest, and we are more in touch with our past. Some kindreds hold several symbels throughout that holy tide. As for the ale, a keg of beer is always good to have on hand, as are nonalcoholic drinks for non-drinkers (preferably juices high in vitamin C). The fulls however should be made with homemade mead or beer properly hallowed, and most kindreds prefer to exhaust their home made supply before touching anything from a brewery. Symbel can be done with any type of alcohol, though mead is preferred by many and it seems to have been preferred in the Elder Period as well. Theoretically though, even mixed drinks or plain water could be used. For non-drinkers, something high in vitamin C like orange juice seems to work best. A vitamin C high can, like alcohol help one achieve an altered state to go into the flow of Wyrd more easily. Also, it is best if a great horn is used for the fulls and boasts while each celebrant has their own horn for wassailing a well done boast or performance of a song by the scop, gloman, or other celebrant. And finally, if you have no boasts to make at symbel, tell a joke, sing a song, or entertain the crowd while others are contemplating what to say. If you have the skill to do so, the poetry of the Elder Tongues is quite beautiful, and never fails to impress, and gives you the advantage of adding to the tribe's boasts.

Webmaster's Note: Sumble is also denoted by Old Norse Sumbel and Old English Symbel. Bibliography Bauchatz, Paul, The Well and the Tree, Paul, The Well and the Tree, University of Massachuetts Press; Amherst, 1982 Conquergood, Dwight, "Boasting in Anglo-Saxon England, Performance and the Heroic Ethos," Literature and Performance, vol. I April 1991 Gronbech, Vilhelm, Culture of the Teutons, Oxford University Press; London, 1931 Enright, M. J. , Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy, and Lordship in the European Warband, Dublin, 1976 Opland, Jeff. Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry: a Study of theTraditions. New York: Yale University Press, 1980 Pollington, Steven, The Mead-Hall: Feasting in Anglo-Saxon England, Anglo-Saxon Books; Norfolk, 2003 Wodening, Eric. `An Anglo-Saxon Symbel." Theod. Watertown, NY, Waelburges 1995.

A Sample Rite With Liturgy In Anglo-Saxon

1) The Nedfyr - The Nedfyr or "Need Fire" is the sacred fire of the temple or ritual area. Nearly all European peoples had fires in their temples that were never allowed to go out. In Northern Europe, such fires were made in places other than the temples, and were traditionally started by a fire drill or fire bow. It was said that the Need Fire could drive away evil spirits and disease, and thus has become a part of the modern ritual setting. 2) The Wonde - Wonde is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction of the Old Norse verb, vigja "to make sacred." The purpose of the Wonde or "sacralizing" is to separate the ritual area from the ordinary, mundane world and make it closer to that of the Gods. In ancient times, this could be done thru fire (the ancient Icelanders used to carry a torch around their farms to ward them),or thru a ritual formula like the Old Norse "orr uiki " "Thor make sacred." It is similar to the Wiccan idea of erecting a circle and calling the quarters, but its primary purpose is not to ward the area, so much as to make it more inviting to the Gods. In the Miercinga Rce, we use the phrase "Thunor woh", along with the ritual action of circling the area with fire, or with rope of a natural fiber and staves of hazelwood to create a barrier.

Wonede Song Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh,

unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Hallowing - The food and drink are then passed over a flame, and the sign of the hammer is signed over them. By passing the food and drink over the flame, the priest is driving off any spirits that may be residing in the food. The hammer is then signed over them to make the food and drink sacred. The hammer is the symbol of the god Thor or Thunor, the god that wards all things that are good. 4)The Blessing - Next is the blessing. The mead used in the ritual is considered to contain some of the Gods' spiritual strength. It is therefore sprinkled on the area, the wofod (altar), and the gathered folk to transfer some of the Gods' spiritual strength or mgen to the folk; thus blessing them with whatever gifts the Gods might give in return for the ritual.

5) The Bedes - Bedes means "prayers" in Anglo-Saxon, and are the invocations to the Gods.

Wdnes Bed (Parts taken from Bltword)

Ws u Wden hl---Ws u hl wundra hlford, Ws u celic hl---Ond spd simble hafa. u scyledest Ymir--- Middangeard scpe, His hafodbn t hrfe---His bld t hranrde, His flasc t folde---His bn t beorgum, His agbrawas---T Middangeardes burge; u nme flogenne spearcas---Ond sette on swegle, Sw Mana leohte---Ond goda lomu. Hlig Scieppend---Frynst Scop; u heng nihta eall nigone---Hwonne rna u nm, Wittig dryhten on windig trow---Ws wi gare wundode. Bealweorc u wga Gunnla---Mid wiglu hfde wn willan, u sypa meadu Suttunges---Ond stl hit aweg. Manig scia sigebeadu---t nlic u selest, He gielpa warloga---fter he wierna m gieldum; Ac weorlic men winna---e he ga t Wlhealle, Sw ic sing w---t symble on heallum. Wden sigefder---Esa mihitig wealend, Sdht ond Wegtamere---Grat wittig dryhten, Wsdomes wru---Wlhealles hlford,

Ealdor cyninga----Eelrces cynn, Cynedm wealdend---Ond cyriga wles; Ic bidd w n---Gefst blade ond blisse, Weorcsige ond wordsige---Wele ond wstme Nim re dada ond e giefa---Tac wn dlu ond re gieldu.

(Rough translation) Wassail Woden---Wassail wonders' lord, Always be hale---And speed always have. You took apart Ymir---When Middle Earth you shaped, His skull for the roof---His blood for the seas, His flesh as the earth---His bones for the mountains, His eye brows---As Middle Earth's wall; Then you took flying sparks---And set in the skys, For man's light---And gods' brillant rays. You hung nights all nine---When the runes you won, Witty drihten on windy tree---With a spear you were wounded. You wooed Gunnla---With wiles had your way, You drank Suttung's mead---And stole it away. Many seek battle victory---That only you can give, Then they call you oath breaker---When that price they withhold,* But worthy men ever strive---Then they go to Valhalla, So I sing to you---At symbel in halls. Woden victory father---Aesir's mighty ruler, Broadhat and Waytamer---Great wise drihten,

Wisdom's column---Vallhalla's lord, Elder king---Noble ruler's kin Kingdom ruler---And chooser of the slain; I bid you now---Give us bliss and prosperity, Work victory and word victory---Wealth and harvest. Take our deeds and our gift---Take your portion and our yield. *i.e. They're not willing to pay Woden's price though they agreed to it.

7 The Housel - The horn and bread are passed amongst those present. 9) The Yielding - All the leftovers, as well as food already promised to the Gods are then thrown into a fire with the words "Ic giefe Wden" "I give this to Woden." 10) The Leaving - The rite is formerly adjourned.

An Anglo-Saxon Birth by Swain Wodening

Birth Rituals: Not much information survives on birth rituals. Going by Germanic folklore, the father was definitely expected to be present at the birth of a child, and to provide the mother moral support and help ease the pain during the birth its self. This is seen especially in the Scandinavian countries. An old German practice that has been preserved was for the midwife to lay the newborn after birth, on the floor or ground, where upon the father picked it up. This seems to have meant that the father claimed the child and it was not to be exposed. In the Norse areas this seems sometimes to have been incorporated into the naming rite, and done on the ninth day. Within the lore its self, most brith rites deal with the goddesses and Idesa (Disir). Sigrdrfuml verse 9 advises "Biarg-(help-) runes thou must know, if thou wilt help, and loose the child from women. In the palm they must be graven, and round the joints be clasped, and the Dsir prayed for aid. (Thorpe Translation)" And in ddrnargrtr verses 7 and 8 we are advised "Then speech the woman so weak began, Nor said she aught ere this she spake: "So may the holy ones thee help, Frigg and Freyja and favoring gods, As thou hast saved me from sorrow now." (Bellows translation). Modern Heathens therefore should be ready to pray to Frige (Frigga) and Freo (Freya) during the birth, and invoke the Idesa (Disir) prior to it as well. Name Giving: After the birth, the primary activity of an infants early life took place on the ninth day after the child was born. This was the day the child was formally named and brought into the family. The Vatni Ausa or Nefn Fostir is well preserved in the sagas, and may well be the most mentioned Heathen rite in the lore. Mrin var vatni ausin og etta nafn gefi. Hn x ar upp og gerist lk mur sinni a yfirlitum. au smdust vel vi Glmur og Hallgerur og fr svo fram um hr. So the maiden was sprinkled with water, and had this name given her, and there she grew up, and got like her mother in looks and feature. Glum and Hallgerda agreed well together, and so it went on for a while.(Njal's Saga Chapter 14, DaSent translation) rsteinn orskabtur tti son er kallaur var Brkr digri. En sumar a er rsteinn var hlfrtugur fddi ra sveinbarn og var Grmur nefndur er vatni var ausinn. ann svein gaf rsteinn r og kva vera skyldu hofgoa og kallar hann rgrm. Thorstein Codbiter had a son who was called Bork the Thick. But on a summer when Thorstein was fiveand-twenty winters old, Thora bore him a man-child who was called Grim, and sprinkled with water.

That lad Thorstein gave to Thor, and said that he should be a Temple-Priest, and called him Thorgrim. (Eyrbyggja Saga, Chapter 11, Morris and Magnusson translation) ra l barn um sumari, og var a mr; var hn vatni ausin og nafn gefi og ht sgerr. Thora bare a child in the summer; it was a girl. She was sprinkled with water, and named Asgerdr. (Egils Saga Skallagrmssonar, chapter 35, Green translation) By comparing the many different accounts of the Vatni Ausa, Edred Throsson reconstructed the naming rite in an article in the compilation work Green Runa as follows: "Ek verp vatni etta barn a, ok gef honum nafnit ______________(name) (eptir afa/ommu sinum/sinni.)" (English translation: "I throw water on this child and give it the name _______________ (after its grandfather/grandmother) (or some other ancestor). One can do an Old English translation of this. For a boy this would be as: Ic weorpe wter on bearne, ond giefe hine naman _______________ (ftre his Ealdfder). or for a girl: Ic weorpe wter on bearne, ond giefe h naman _______________ (ftre hre Ealdmodor). One would of course want a longer ritual than this though, so it is suggested one add a blot and perhaps a symbel to the naming ceremony, not to mention flesh out the naming rite its self. An outline for such a ritual might go as follows. Items needed are a blot bowl, and some water: The Naming: 1) The Opening: The folk are called to stand around the altar, the mother holds the child. 2) The Naming: The mother hands the father the newborn, and then picks up the blot bowl filled with water. The father then dips his fingers in the water, and says the following for a boy: Ic weorpe wter on bearne, ond giefe hine naman (name). Or for a girl: Ic weorpe wter on bearne, ond giefe h naman (name). He then sprinkles the water on the baby's forehead. 3) The Closing: The father then hands the mother the baby, and invites all to take part in the hsel to follow. Baby's First Blot or Baby's First Hsel:

The goddess Frge should be invoked for the baby's first blot as she is the guardian of the newborn. Also invoked should be the ancestors especially the Idesa (Dsir). A basic blot outline can be seen at: http://haligwaerstow.ealdriht.org/blot.html. The first to be blessed during the blessing part of the blot should be the baby. Immediately, following the blot, all should be seated to feast. By now, baby should be ready to nurse, although he or she may need to go to sleep. If the babe needs to sleep, that is fine. He or she would not be the first to sleep through a feast in their honour! Baby's First Symbel: Following the feast should be a short symbel in the baby's honour. The rounds would begin with the traditional first three, but the fourth round would be toasts to baby, or lullabies in the baby's honour. Following the fourth round, would be gifts to the baby. After the fourth round, the symbel may precede as usual. To read more on symbel goto http://haligwaerstow.ealdriht.org/symbel.html. A baby's naming rite is its first public ritual and therefore should be conducted with much joy and honour. It could well set the tone for the rest of the baby's life

An Anglo-Saxon Heathen Wedding by Swain Wodening

The Proposal in Ancient Times: Not much evidence exists on how weddings were performed by any Germanic Heathen folk, much less the Germanic tribes of what is now England. However by borrowing elements from the Icelandic sagas, and incorporating elements that may be Heathen in origin, a reliable marriage ceremony can be reconstructed. The following ritual outline is drawn in part from an article by Gunnora on Viking weddings, an unpublished article by Eric Lord Wednesbury of the Winland Rice of Theodish Belief on Anglo-Saxon weddings, and two articles by Winifred Rose Hodge (see the bibliography for details) on weddings within Asatru and Heathenry. Marriage amongst the ancient Heathens was an important institution. It meant a financially stable environment in which children could be raised. And it essentially was thought of as a contract or bargain between two families. Many of the pre marriage rituals were to ensure that the future wife and any children the marriage may produce were cared for. Thus marriages were negotiated by the parties involved. A werman wishing to have a woman in marriage would approach her family with prestigious friends to negotiate it. If an agreement was struck, these friends served to witness on handa sellan the handshake that ended the agreement the couple should be wed. At this time the morning gift was agreed upon as well as the handgeld, and other specifics. The prospective bridegroom had to come up with the brdcap paid to her family to completely seal the pledge to marry. The brydcap also called the mund or handgeld was to prove that the groom could support his future wife. However, it also had many and varied spiritual connotations. The concept of mund, which is very similar to ideas about frith appears in common association with weddings in the ancient Heathen belief. Mund meant not only the handgeld, but could also refer to "protection." This not only meant physical protection, but also spiritual protection as well. The handgeld also carried with it the mgen or hamingja of the groom, and its intent was to reimburse the bride's family for their loss of mgen, the spiritual 'luck' or 'power' of the family the bride carried with her. Women were seen as very powerful, carriers of the family mgen, and more intimately connected to the kinfetch as well as the Idesa of the clan than men. They served as head of the household, and did many of the chores that ensured the community would survive. Therefore when they left to marry, the family suffered a great loss. To a lesser degree, the handgeld was to reimburse the family for her loss of labour, but in no way should it be seen as a purchasing of a bride. Instead it was an attempt to equalize gift for gift. This gift for gift scenario is seen throughout the ancient marriage process, and was a way of exchanging maegen and hamingja between the couple and their families. It was in essence, fusing members of the two clans into one family. The exchange continued through the wedding ceremony. In various Heathen areas such customs as exchanging rings, swords for keys, mead, and cake are seen. Such customs were very old and dated from at least the time of Taticus' writing of Germania. In it he says that brides were obtained by payment of a dowry by the groom in the form of sword and shield,

cattle and bridled horse. On the morning after the wedding, the groom also had to give his new wife a morning gift, the morgengifu. This was hers to keep and use the entirety of her life. Finally, in addition to the groom paying the handgeld and morgengifu, the bride's family had to pay the brdgifu. This was the bride's dowry, forever hers and untouchable by her husband. It was to ensure, in event of the husband's death or divorce, that her and her children were provided for. The following ritual is broken into three parts, the first part is the agreement on the handgeld, morgengifu, and brdgifu. This is to be performed prior to the wedding, at the beginning of the "engagement." Since modern views on marriage differ a great deal from those of ancient times, the negotiation is likely to be between the bride and groom, and not necessarily their families. The second part is the wedding ceremony its self. Finally is the brdeala, the "wedding feast" or husel. The Handsel or Handfstnung: If after the proposal by the woman or werman from the other has been accepted, they can if they wish negotiate the handgeld, morgengifu, and brdgifu. This can be done in fun, or seriously with the exchange of engagement rings or other gifts symbolic of their love and the mgen being exchanged. Once all has been agreed upon, they can conclude the agreement with the following words spoken by the groom (adapted from one done in Heathen Iceland) and a hand shake with witnesses present: "We declare ourselves witnesses that thou, (bride's name), bondest me in lawful betrothal, and that with a handshake thou pledge me marriage in exchange for the handgeld and morgengifu promised, and engagest me to fulfill and observe the whole of the oath between us, which has been said in the hearing of witnesses without wiles or cunning, as a true and honest oath." The Wedding Ceremony: Items Needed: The rings The groom's ancestral sword A new sword to be given from bride to groom A sauna or sweat lodge Prior to the wedding the bride should go to the stnba or sauna or sweat lodge (see article on sweat lodge ritual at sauna.html), if one is available, attended to by her bride's maids. This was a step perhaps in ritual purification for the wedding ceremony. There she sweats and then baths. Her and her attendants would then dress her in her wedding gown and crown her with the wedding wreath or bridal crown. This whole time she should not be seen by the groom or the groomsmen. The groom too attends to the act of purification, going to the stnba, and bathing. Once through, he dresses in his wedding attire and straps on his ancestral blade. 1) The Wedding Trip:

The bride goes to the site of the wedding. She is proceeded by a young kinsman bearing the new sword to be giving to the groom. The groom likewise, bearing his ancestral blade accompanied by the groomsmen goes to the site. 2) Hallowing of the site: The Weofodthegn hallows the site and then makes a brief statement as to why they are gathered that day 3) Exchange of handgeld and brdgifu: The handgeld and brdgifu are then exchanged. This may be done with the following words: Weofodthegn to Groom "Do you have the handgeld as you oathed to have?" Groom "Yes" Groom to Father of bride: "I give you this, the handgeld as I oathed to do." A few words may be added describing the handgeld. Weofodthegn to father of the bride "Do you have the brdgifu as you oathed to have?" Father of bride to bride: "Yes" Father of bride to bride: "I give you this the brdgifu. It is yours to have and hold all of your days." Weofodthegn: "The brdgifu and handgeld have been gifted and given. The holy oaths given have been held. Now let the bridegroom and bride exchange their oaths" 4) The Exchange of swords: The groom then gives the bride his ancestral sword. Something like the following words should be said: "I give you this sword to save for our sons to have and to use." The bride then gives the groom the new sword with something like the following words:

"To keep us safe, you must bear a blade. With this sword keep safe our home." 5) The Exchange of rings, the oaths, and the keys: The couple should then exchange vows and rings. These oaths are best written by the couple and should involve any pre-marital agreements that were made. Both oaths should, but need not have to invoke the goddess Wr (Vr) as keeper of oaths. Both the groom's oath, and the bride's oath should end with something like "With this ring I thee wed," with the placement of the wedding ring upon the other's finger. The bride's ring is offered on the hilt of the new sword symbolizing his trust in her. Finally, all of the groom's keys are given to the bride, as she is now keeper of the household. 6) Pronouncement: The Weofodthegn witnessing the vows then pronounces the couple werman and wife and states whatever else is prescribed by his state or nation for a legal wedding. The Brdeala: Ideally the "bride ale" should take place immediately after the pronouncement with no break in the ceremony. However, if this is not possible it is permissible to break the wedding vows and brdeala into separate ceremonies. Regardless, all should be seated at the start of the rite. A brdealaI is little different from a standard blot. The following is an adaptation of the standard Ealdriht husel outline for the purpose of a wedding: Items Needed: Hammer hallowed to Thunor A "Loving Cup", a bowl or kasa (ON) with handles Feast Gear Blot bowl Blot tine 1) Hallowing of the bride - The Weofodthegn hallows the bride by laying the Hammer in her lap. And says something like the following: "Frige bless the bride, hallowed by the hammer in sacred hall." The Weofodthegn then helps the bride to her feet, and proceeds with the blot. 2) The Hallowing - The bride takes the blot bowl, and the "loving cup" and fills them with mead. The Weofodthegn then passes the drink and food over a flame, and sains the hammer over them. He or she may wish to say something like "wassail this food!" The flame and the words are intended to ensure that the food be food that brings health, by driving away any illness causing wights.

3) The Blessing - The bride blesses the groom and the groom her. The bride then assists the Weofodthegn in sprinkling the gathered folk by carrying the blot bowl around as he or she blesses the folk.. 4) The Fulls - The bride and groom use the loving cup to make their toasts to the Gods. Frige and Freo are the most important to toast as they are the goddesses to ensure a good marriage. When their toasts are made, both drink from the bowl at once. 5) The Housel - The food and drink are consumed. Following the feast, one may hold a symbel or dancing or any number of activities. Eventually, however, the brdhlp should take place. In ancient times, this was a race by the seperate wedding parties to the new home. The party that lost has to serve the other at the next feast. Regardless, of who gets there first, the groom blocks the door, and carries or leads the bride across the threshold. The month following the wedding was called the hunigmona our word "honeymoon." For the net month, the couple should drink mead. And the next morning, the morgengifu needs to be given from the groom to the bride. Under Icelandic law, witnesses were required, and no doubt the same was true of the Anglo-Saxon. However, in todays age, one may wish to waive this protocal. Conclusion: Many customs survived in connection with weddings that may or may not have been Heathen. One should feel free to adapt these into the above outline, or to change the outline entirely when designing an Asatru or Heathen wedding. Bibliography: Courtship, Love and Marriage in Viking Scandinavia by Gunnora Anglo-Saxon Marriage by Eric Wodening (unpublished) Brides and Hamingja by Winifred Hodge Rose

An Anglo-Saxon Heathen Funeral by Swain Wodening

Modern Asatru and Heathenry in general seems to have no set way of performing funerals. Yet the funeral rite is one of the best preserved in the lore. In the Eddas, we are treated to Balder's funeral, Beowulf contains three funerals alone, and then there is Ibn Fadlan's account of a Rus funeral. Most of the funeral rites preserved are cremations, of these, three are ship cremations in, or on the edge of water. This seems in contrast with the archeological record which shows mounds were often built away from water, and that inhumation as well as cremation was practiced. For Anglo-Saxon Heathens, reconstructing a funeral rite based on ancient principles is fairly easy. We need look no farther than the funeral of Beowulf:

Then the bairn of Weohstan bade command, hardy chief, to heroes many that owned their homesteads, hither to bring firewood from far -- o'er the folk they ruled -for the famed-one's funeral. " Fire shall devour and wan flames feed on the fearless warrior who oft stood stout in the iron-shower, when, sped from the string, a storm of arrows shot o'er the shield-wall: the shaft held firm, featly feathered, followed the barb." And now the sage young son of Weohstan seven chose of the chieftain's thanes, the best he found that band within, and went with these warriors, one of eight, under hostile roof. In hand one bore a lighted torch and led the way.

No lots they cast for keeping the hoard when once the warriors saw it in hall, altogether without a guardian, lying there lost. And little they mourned when they had hastily haled it out, dear-bought treasure! The dragon they cast, the worm, o'er the wall for the wave to take, and surges swallowed that shepherd of gems. Then the woven gold on a wain was laden -countless quite! -- and the king was borne, hoary hero, to Hrones-Ness. THEN fashioned for him the folk of Geats firm on the earth a funeral-pile, and hung it with helmets and harness of war and breastplates bright, as the boon he asked; and they laid amid it the mighty chieftain, heroes mourning their master dear. Then on the hill that hugest of balefires the warriors wakened. Wood-smoke rose black over blaze, and blent was the roar of flame with weeping (the wind was still), till the fire had broken the frame of bones, hot at the heart. In heavy mood their misery moaned they, their master's death. Wailing her woe, the widow [footnote 1] old,

her hair upbound, for Beowulf's death sung in her sorrow, and said full oft she dreaded the doleful days to come, deaths enow, and doom of battle, and shame. -- The smoke by the sky was devoured.

The folk of the Weders fashioned there on the headland a barrow broad and high, by ocean-farers far descried: in ten days' time their toil had raised it, the battle-brave's beacon. Round brands of the pyre a wall they built, the worthiest ever that wit could prompt in their wisest men. They placed in the barrow that precious booty, the rounds and the rings they had reft erewhile, hardy heroes, from hoard in cave, -trusting the ground with treasure of earls, gold in the earth, where ever it lies useless to men as of yore it was.

Then about that barrow the battle-keen rode, atheling-born, a band of twelve, lament to make, to mourn their king, chant their dirge, and their chieftain honor. They praised his earlship, his acts of prowess

worthily witnessed: and well it is that men their master-friend mightily laud, heartily love, when hence he goes from life in the body forlorn away. (Frances B. Grummere translation)

While Beowulf's funeral consisted of a cremation with the building of a mound, there is no reason we cannot use some elements of it for a modern funeral, be it cremation or inhumation. Ibn Fadlan's account of the Rus shows a slightly different outline, most of the elements being of a sort we cannot use. However, only the Beowulf account really need concern Anglo-Saxon Heathens. The parts that can be easily used should be clear. Wiglaf spoke some words, Beowulf's men placed the grave goods on the pyre with the body, Beowulf's queen sang a dirge. Then once the mound was built 12 warriors circled the mound on horse back singing songs of praise for Beowulf. This can be broken down into an outline usable for a modern funeral: 1) A eulogy. 2) Placement of grave goods. 3) A dirge sang by a female relative. 3) The burial of the body or ashes or spreading of ashes. 4) Songs of praise for the deceased done by 12 people circling the grave. This would have all been preceded in probability, by a wake where the relatives would sit with the body as was the custom to do until recent years even in the USA and most of Northern Europe. We also know from the Icelandic sagas, and Anglo-Saxon sources that a funeral feast would have followed, although it may occur months after the funeral. The Laxdaela Saga, portrays the funeral feast of Hoskuld as a rather lavish affair, several months after the funeral. This feast was referred to as erfi or minni in Old Norse, the ierfe hsel or *ierfealu1 in Old English. The funeral feast served two purposes. The first was to honour the dead, and the second was to give the heirs a chance to exert their rights to inherited property. Several funeral feasts are seen in the Lore. We know from the Lore, that they generally followed the same pattern of a blot. However, a few funeral feasts seem to have been more like a symbel, or consisted of a feast and a symbel, for instance the Funeral feast of King Harald Gormson in Heimskringla: The first day of the feast, before King Svein went up into his father's high-seat, he drank the bowl to his father's memory, and made the solemn vow, that before three winters were past he would go over with his army to England, and either kill King Adalrad (Ethelred), or chase him out of the country. This heirship bowl all who were at the feast drank. Thereafter for the chiefs of the Jomsborg vikings was filled and drunk the largest horn to be found, and of the strongest drink. When that bowl was emptied, all men drank Christ's health; and again the fullest measure and the strongest rink were handed to the Jomsborg vikings. The third bowl was to the memory of Saint Michael, which was drunk by all. Thereafter Earl Sigvalde emptied a remembrance bowl to his father's honour, and made the solemn

vow, that before three winters came to an end he would go to Norway, and either kill Earl Hakon, or chase him out of the country. (Samuel Lang translation) At the funeral feast, the minni of the deceased was made by the heir. The heir would then do a beot as one would in symbel, a vow to do something. In King Svein's case, he drank to his father's memory, and then vowed to take Ethelred the Unready's kingdom. Each heir in turn would drink to the respective deity of that round, and then one of them would drink to the deceased's memory and follow this with a vow. Following this, the rounds seem to have proceeded as that of a symbel. Using this information we can reconstruct the funeral rites to some degree of certainly. There would be the funeral its self, followed some months later by the feast or husel, with a symbel immediately following. The Funeral Rite or Lcthenung: 1) Preparation of the Body In ancient times, the women of the family washed and prepared the body for burial or cremation. Today, this is taken care of by a funeral home (largely due to laws in the various states that dictate this be so). However, modern funeral homes have several practices not in keeping with the Lore. Nails of women are not trimmed as we are told the nails of all corpses must be in the Voluspa. Too, bodies are not buried with shoes on now adays. Since Christians do not believe in grave goods, and clothing is merely for the benefit of the living when viewing the body, shoes are seen as not needed. However, the ancient Heathens sent their dead off with "Hel shoes" so that they could walk to the afterlife in relative comfort. Heathens therefore need to request of the funeral director that nails be fully trimmed and that shoes be placed on the body. 2) The Wake or Waecce: There is little information on what form wakes took in ancient times. Judging from what information survives on the funeral its self, Germanic wakes were probably a time of lamentation. It is doubtful they were seen as joyous occasions as is the case with Irish custom. 3) The Funeral or Lcthenung: As noted above, a funeral ceremony can somewhat be reconstructed from Beowulf. a) The Eulogy or Minni: This is best done by a close friend of the deceased. In all the surviving descriptions of Heathen funerals, none seem to indicate that a priest was present or even necessary. The exception being the "Angel of Death" in Fadlan's account. Even then she seem only to be present to dispatch those wishing to enter death with the deceased. Eulogies are not easily written. Modern ones typically state the person's date of birth, their parent's names, the names of survivers, and note major events such as marriage. They

then go on to talk about accomplishments of the individual, or favorable personal traits. There is no reason this cannot be done with a Heathen eulogy or minni. b) Placement of grave goods: The heirs should then place anything they wished buried with the deceased by the coffin or in it. Ancient grave goods ranged from simple to elaborate. Regardless, they nearly always included a toiletry set, jewelry, and tools of the deceased's trade. Egil's Saga speaks of smiths being buried with smithing tools and archaeology has shown this to be true. Warriors were buried with their swords, spears, and shields. Women were often buried with spindels, and other items involved with house holding. c) A dirge sang by a female relative: We have no idea what kind of funerary songs were sung. They were no doubt mournful as every description in ancient times from the Roman accounts to the Sagas portrays them as mournful in the least, wailing at their worst. Probably, for the sake of the survivors' ears, something sorrowful, but beautiful should be sung. This may mean a new song must be composed in short order, as we have no songs surviving from the ancient era (and modern Heathen songsters do not seem too keen on composing funeral songs just to be ready for when needed). Some of the Skaldic eulogy poems may serve as a guide, or such items in the Lore as Ragnar Lobrok's death song. d) The burial of the body or ashes or spreading of ashes: In the Beowulf account, it took ten days to build the mound. Today, it would not take nearly as long to bury a body, even if a mound were being built. No special ceremonies seem to be connected with the burial or burning of the body. With the cremation funerals portrayed in the Lore, folks seem to have just stood and watched. e) Songs of praise for the deceased done by 12 people circling the grave: Following the completion of the mound, at least in the Beowulf account 12 horsemen circled the mound singing songs in honour of the dead king. This is probably impractical now, and indeed this part of the funeral account may be a borrowing from Homer's Illiad (though it may be common Indo-European practice too, the Hittites also seem to have circled the grave mound of the newly buried). None the less, it could be incorporated as the last act of a funeral rite. While one could probably not get 12 horsemen, and they probably would not be allowed in a public cemetery regardless, one could have 12 singers circle the grave singing songs in praise of the deceased. We are not told what direction they circled, though it was probably clockwise given most rites preference for that. Again, a look at many of the Skaldic poems might give one an idea what these songs may have consisted of. 4) The Funeral Feast or Ierfe Hsel: a)Husel:

The funeral feast is likely to have consisted of a husel followed by a symbel in ancient times. It is not known what Gods the feast is likely to have been dedicated to. However, the patron Gods and/or Goddesses of the deceased are a likely guess. This can be performed as a standard Husel as outlined in the article on the husel at the Ealdriht website. b) Minni: The Minni seems to have differed a great deal from the standard symbel in its initial rounds. The first round was to the deceased followed by a vow by an heir, this is likely in ancient times to taken the form of a bragafull. The second to a diety followed by one to the deceased and then by a vow by an heir. The third followed this pattern, being first to a diety, then the deceased, followed by yet another vow by an heir. Thereafter, the order seems to have followed that of an open symbel, although no doubt, plenty of toasts were made to the deceased. The opening rounds can be roughly outlined as below: 1) Closest Heir (the spouse or eldest child): a) Minni: The primary boast of the deceased given by the eldest and closest of the heirs. b) Bragafull: An oath made on behalf of all the heirs by the eldest as the new head of the family. Once this is done, the eldest heir may step up to and sit in the High Seat of the deceased (in modern times this would probably be the deceased's favorite chair). 2) Second Closest Heir: a) The God Full: This full is to one of the deceased's patrons made by the second closest heir. b) Minni: The second closest heir then drinks a horn in memory of the deceased. c) Bragafull: An oath is then made by the second eldest. This should be a personal endeavor that would benefit the entire family. 3) Third Closest Heir: a) The God Full: A toast is made to another of the deceased's patrons or favorite Gods by the third eldest heir. b) Minni:

The third closest heir then toasts the deceased. c) Bragafull: Finally, the third closest heir makes an oath to accomplish some task. 4) Open Rounds: From here on out the Minni takes the form of standard symbels. The funeral feast seemed in ancient times as much to celebrate the succession of the heirs to their inheritance as it was to celebrate the deceased life. At several funeral feasts in the Heimskringla, gifts were even given. Bibliography: Beowulf Davidson, H.R. Ellis. Pagan Scandinavia. Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1967 Grimm, Jacob. Teutonic Mythology, v.2. Dover, New York, 1966 Groenbech, Vilhelm. The Culture of the Teutons. Humphrey Milford, OxfordUniversity Press, London, 1931 Gundarsson, Kveldulfr, ed. Our Troth. Ring of Troth, Seattle, 1993 Lang, Samuel, tr. Heimskringla: A History of the Norse Kings. Norroena Society, London, 1907 Footnotes: 1. A reconstruction based on Old Norse arvl "heir ale" and Old English byrdfealu "bride ale."

An Anglo-Saxon Heathen Sauna Rite by Swain Wodening

"Sauna-like sweat baths, too so important in Amerindian cleansing rites - were also used by Germanic healers; the technique of bringing water together withheated rocks to produce the therapeutic steam, called stanb "stone bath" by the Anglo-Saxons, is very widespread" (Glosecki, Shamanism in Old English Poetry, p. 128). Many rituals have been forever lost with little or no information to form a basis for their reconstruction. We know they existed, as they are mentioned in the lore, but that is about it. Such is the case of the sauna or "sweat lodge." We know certain ceremonies were connected with them as they were used in conjnction with weddings and other sacred times. But we know no details. There therefore have been attempts at reconstructing some form of sauna rituals. Most have been based on Native American practices as their sweat lodge rites seem very similar to our ritual of symbel. Even were their rites not similar to one of our own, they still follow a logical pattern the ancient Heathens could identify with. The following ritual is based in part by one designed by Ivo Domnguez, Jr. His version can be seen at: http://members.aol.com/ivod/nsweat4.html and a chapter on sauna in Our Troth by Eric Wodening and KveldulfR Gundarsson which can be seen at: http://www.thetroth.org/resources/ourtroth/sauna.html The ancient Heathens probably did not use structures such as the domed Native American sweat lodge. However this type of structure is convient and easy to use. Information on how to build one can be found at http://www.welcomehome.org/rob/sweat/sweat.html For the stones, it is recommended you use some form of lava rock or other igneous rock (basalt, red granite, lava rock). Sedimentary rocks like sandstone can explode and break when water is poured on them, though not violently. Rocks with quartz or white granite in them however can explode violently and should not be used whatsoever. Coal and slate too under no conditions are to be used as they will burn in the fire before ever making it into the lodge. Items Needed: 9 or More Stones (lava rock is best) Large Fire Pit Wood to heat the stones Water Towels Whisk made of bundled birch twigs Sweat lodge

Someone to tend the fire (The "Fire Warder") Someone to pour the water (The "Water Tender") Water bucket (preferably stoneware and not metal) Wooden or stone dipper

1) Sacralizing the Area: If one is not using a regular ritual spot, they will want to form a frithstead or ve around the fire pit and the lodge. This may be done by using the Wonede Song of the Ealdriht, the Hammer Rite of the Troth, or similar ritual. If using the Wonede Song, say the following in Old English or English while bearing a torch or candle around the area:

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

2) Placing the stones In the fire pit build a platform of logs and smaller wood. Make sure to have enough tender near the edge of the base to ignite the larger wood. Generally it is best to use 4 large logs to build a retacngular platform. Then fill in the platform, with a bit of tender. Atop the platform, almost like wickerwork lay small sapling size branches. It is on these that the stones will rest. Make sure that you do not pack the wood too tightly, or the fire will not get air and will die out frequently. Once the platform is built, place the stones. Many Native Americans have traditions associated with placing the stones, and Ivo Domnguez, Jr uses one in his ritual as well. However, perhaps it is enough to bless each stone by saying something like "Thunor woh isne stan" (Thor make sacred this stone) as one places each stone. The stones should be evenly spread over the "wickerwork" top of the platform. 2) Need fire:

Once the stones are placed, one should start the fire. Need fire was a special kind of fire built by friction and whose smoke was thought to drive away disease and pestilence. Many areas in Northern Europe would build these fires and then drive their cattle through them. It is thought that at one time all ritual fires in Northern Europe may have been built this way. Therefore it is fitting to try to start the fire to heat the stones using a fire drill and tender, and to utilize some form of ritual. The following words may be said while starting the fire:

Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

4) Gathering the folk: The folk are gathered to go into the sauna. Due to the intense heat a good lodge can generate, nothing more than skirts and kilts should be worn. Folks can go in nude if they wish. Absolutely no metal can be worn as it will literally sear you body wherever it touches you. For a similar reason, metal buckets and dippers should not be used. The folk progress to the sauna and enter. Songs may be sung on the way, or it may be done in silence. Seating should be done in order of age and/or arung "honouring." Special guests should be seated nearer the pourer as should kindred leaders and other notables.

5) The Rounds In this particular sauna rite nine rounds are done. At the beginning of each round, a stone is brought in by the fire warder (who knows to bring one in when the pourer opens the flap). The lodge is then closed and the Water Pourer then sprinkles it with mugwort (or if one wants they can use one each of the nine herbs of the Nine Worts Galdor) and says "Wes hal woh stan!" or "Wassail holy stone!" He or she then pours water on the stone and begins the prayers for the round. The prayers then proceed clockwise aroound the lodge. The rounds are to: a. Gods b. Disir c. Alfar (Ancestal males) d. Heros e. Family f. Friends g. Community h. Oaths i. Closing prayers. During the ritual, the pourer may pour more water on the stones as he or she sees fit. The prayers can take the form of the boasts of symbel. At the close of each round, participants may wish to lightly beat themselves with the birch whisk. This brings the blood to the surface of the skin and aids in purification. Birch, by the way was generally used as a way to drive away illness causing wights, and is seen used in whisks even today in Northern European suanas. 6) Closing the Rite: Once the final round has been completed the pourer should give a brief prayer to the Gods in thanks for the cleansing of the bodies present. The pourer then should open the flap, and lead to folks to stand by the fire. A very brief blot can then be conducted and the folk dismissed. Conclusion: Sauna is meant to be a ritual of bodily cleansing. In ancient times it was done prior to weddings, and even duels. Even though we have lost the way the ancient Heathens may have performed it, through modern innovation we can refind a way appropriate to our times and approved of by the Gods. Bibliography: Sauna from Our Troth by KveldulfR Gundarsson and Eric Wodening Norse Sweat by Ivo Domnguez, Jr Shamanism in Old English Poetry by Stephen Glosecki Teutonic Mythology by Jacob Grimm

A Simple Altar Dedication

by Swain Wodening

For the ancient Heathen, making an area sacred was a simple task. Many of the areas had been used for centuries in the worship of our Gods. Even in Iceland, we know from the sagas that sacred items and even the temple pillars were carried from Norway to their new homes by such folks as Thorgrimr (see Kjalnesinga Saga Chapter 2). This made their job somewhat easier. Still, we know from hints in the lore that they must have had ways of making items and areas sacred. The "land taking" rite in the Icelandic Landnamabok may have been just such a rite, as it claimed one's land and seperated it from the wilds. We also know from the Eddas, and runestone inscriptions that Thunor was often invoked to make an item sacred. Fire was also used in blots to hallow the food and drink (this we are told in the Heimskringla). Combining all these items one can produce a simple altar or weofod dedication ceremony much like the one I have below:

Items Needed: Blot Bowl Blot Tine Horn Weofod Mead Torch or candle

1) Set up the altar just as you would to do a blot. 2) Circle the weofod ("altar" or "harrow") bearing a candle or torch while chanting or singing the following in English or Old English. The purpose of this is to make the space around the altar sacred. The concept of circling with fire is taken from the Land Taking rite in the Icelandic Landnamabok. The idea of "making sacred" is rooted in concepts such as the Norse v and Anglo-Saxon frithstead, and further supported by phrases found on runestones invoking Thunor to make sacred the stone:

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan,

Bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) Call on Thor as the hallower to make the altar sacred. These words are usually best your own. I usually state something simple however like "Thunor weoh weofod." "Thor make sacred this altar." And follow this with a list of possible threats to those that might harm the altar and how Thunor will protect it. 4) Do the weofod's first blot calling on the gods to bless it and sprinkle it with mead. One should do a prayer to each of the major Gods and Goddesses, dedicating the weofod to them, and asking them to bless it. You have already made the altar sacred (seperated it from mundane space) and hallowed it (made it complete), now you are seeking the blessings of the Gods upon it. 5) Close the rite with words to the effect that the weofod will be used well in the name of the Gods. This ritual can be as elaborate or as simple as one wishes. It can be modified to bless specific items or even a plot of ground.


Holy Tides

It is unclear how many holy tides the ancient Anglo-Saxon Heathens actually celebrated. It is known from Anglo-Saxon records that the Anglo-Saxon witanagemt met most often on St. Martins Day (November 10th), Christmas, and Easter or Whitsunday (Liberman, The National Assembly in the AngloSaxon Period). These dates correspond to when Anglo-Saxon kings are reported to wear their crowns (Chaney, Cult of Anglo-Saxon Kingship, p. 65). They also correspond roughly to the ones mentioned by Snorri in the Heimskringla: skyldi blta mti vetri til rs, enn at mijum vetri blta til grrar, it rija at sumri, at var sigrblt "On winter day there should be blood-sacrifice for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third sacrifice should be on summer day, for victory in battle." (Ynglinga Saga Chapter 8) These dates come out as roughly sometime in October, Yule (Dec. 21st), and Eostre. That there may have been more Anglo-Saxon holy tides are known from Bede and his description of the Anglo-Saxon pagan calendar in De Temporum Ratione. Bede starts the Heathen year with Modranect, the Mothers Night. It falls between rra Geola, our December and fterra Geola, or January, and is the period today we know as Yule (which is now no more than a synonym for Christmas for most people). Of Solmona, roughly our February, Bede says the Anglo-Saxons offered cakes to their Gods, and thus it was named the month of cakes; he also mentions Hremona, roughly our March as when the Goddess Hree was worshipped, followed by Eastremona when the Goddess Eostre was worshipped. He does not name Lia as a sacred month, however, that it falls on Midsummer, there may have been a holy day corresponding to Mid-Winter or Yule. This is pretty much confirmed by Midsummer celebrations that survived into modern times in England. Bede then mentions Hligmona, roughly our September, which was called holy as in Bedes words because our ancestors, when they were heathen, paid their devil tribute in that month. The next potential holy tide mentioned by Bede is Bltmona, roughly our November. The name its self means sacrifice month and was the time when animals were slaughtered for the coming winter. It follows Winterfylle which corresponds to the Norse Winter Nights. That All Hallows, St. Martins Day, and Guy Fawkes Day all important English holidays fall in these period would seem to indicate the actual holy tide took place at the junction of the two months. The three great holy tides of Anglo-Saxon paganism, Yule, Easter, and Winterfylleth can be thought of as High Holy Days, while the others as simply holy days. Modern Heathens have added to and changed this list. Those listed here are the ones celebrated by most adherents of the Anglo-Saxon troth. Below, the major holy tides.

Asatru and Heathen Yule

Yule called in Old English Geol began with the rites of Modraniht or the Night of the Mothers. Bede refers to this sacred night as the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon New Year in his De Temporum Rationale "The ancient peoples of the English computed their months according to the course of the moon ... However the year began on the eighth day before the Calends of January [December 25] where we now celebrate the birth of our Lord. And the same night now sacred to us, they then called by the pagan name Modranect, Night of the Mothers, on account, we suppose, of the ceremonies which they performed overnight." In all likelihood, Modraniht was in some way connected to the cult of the Mothers. Altars all across the Lowlands, in England, France, and in other areas were erected to the "matrons," by Germanic mercenaries in the service of Rome. In some cases these altars were more than mere votive stones, but made up part of greater cult centers such as those at Nettersheim and Bonn. The "mothers" were shown with fruit baskets, plants, trees, babies, children, cloths for wrapping babies, and snakes. Most feel that this cult of "matrons" can be linked to the Norse idea of the disir or ancestral women who had a sacred night to them in the fall at Winter Nights (commonly referred to as Disablot. In the Norse Sagas we are told that boar was eaten at this time of year, and that it was sworn oaths upon. "One time Hethin was coming home alone from the forest on Yule eve. He met a troll woman riding on a wolf, with snakes as reins. She asked his leave to keep him company, but he would not. She said: "That shalt thou rue when drinking from the hallowed cup." In the evening vows were made: the sacrificial boar was led in, men laid their hands on him and sware dear oaths as they drank from the hallowed cup." As the boar is sacred to the God Ing (Freyr), it is known that at least one day of the 12 nights was sacred to him. In addition, Woden played a role in Yule as the Wild Hunt is said in many of the Norse sagas as well as in English and Germanic folkore at that time, not to mention his byname in Old Norse of Jlnir. Sample rites for Yule can be found at Geol.

Yule Rituals

These rites were written for Yule four years ago as part of the official Ealdriht celebration. There are seven of them. The intention was that one could potentially do something for each of the 12 sacred nights filling out these rites of their own. Additional information on customs can be found on Miercinga's Yule Page.

Frith eac gear! Swain Wodening,

Mdraniht : Blot to the Mothers :

1) The Nedfyr Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil,

Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde Wonede Song

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee

Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing 4) The Hallowing 5) The Bedes

Friges Bed

Hal Frige mdor---myge Wdnes, l of mid n lodum---lohtmd bist, rne hieldst---rmheort bist, mearum ond mmum---meduradenne, for gesimgen ---symle aghwar; eodor elinga---arest gegretest, forman fulle---t Fran hond,

ricence geracst---ond rad witst mann, Frige eallcnwestre---frfel gyden, Esageardes cwn---cwmlic hlfidge. Biergst byrdum ---bearn weardst, Agnar Grgies sunu ---setede cyning, Wdne tacede---wealdend ws.

Hail Frigga Mother---Woden's mirth, dear to the folk---you are light hearted, hold secrets---and generous are, with mares and treasures---when the mead is dealt out, for warriors---at symbel together; always the princes---you greet first, first the full---to the lord's hand, greatness you attain---and for Man counsel know, Frigga all knowing ---cunning goddess, Asgard's queen ---pleasing lady. You guard births---ward the young, Agnar, Gearth's son---you sat as King, Woden you showed---who the ruler was. (lines 2-7 based on Maxims II)

Idesa Bed

Wesa Idesa hal---wesath hal odes mdora,

rd giefa eow---runum ond hyhtum, Eladfdra bryda---beag-gifas weardas, lifceara full---lofas mga, weadia us --- ond eower wela leania weldaedu---ond wreca woh ddu, rihtes tacn ---stieria us trow, eldmodra eoda---lria us eawas, gar ond fri---frine eow!

Wassail Disir---wassail tribal mothers! rede you give us---runes and hope, forefathers' brides---ring givers' guardians, full of life care---dear to families, watch over us---and our well being, reward good deeds---and punish wrong deeds, right's token---steer us true, tribal foremothers---teach us thews, good harvest and frith---I ask of you!

7) The Housel 8) The Yielding 9) The Leaving

Gol Dg

Blot to Fre

1) The Nedfyr Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde Wonede Song

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg.

unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing 4) The Hallowing 5) The Bedes

Ingui Fran Frolsdg Bed

Ic lte ---lodfruma Wena, gielde ond gielpe---gale t , Ing Fda---Fra eallmihtig, urh felda---fr in wgn, fyrndagum ---frifullfyl, bearn hlopon---urh blstman, ond lufras---lagon n meoda, sw earlas sungen---saton t symle, cwne cwadon---cwmlicum wordum. Sumor lac---sylh n felda, sw Ealdras---ealdgedagum, tdg w---trowa , weora ---Wena cyninge, Esaweard---eallmihtig Fra. Ws hal---woruldes god, Ws hal Fra---on fm Gerd grow,

beorht blwende---mid bearne, Wena bearn---woruldes blstm. Blts s---blum smarum, micelum frium---frondscipe ece, bearnum frgum---Ingui-Fra.

I bow to you---Vanir's leader, song and boast---I sing to you, Ing Froda---Frey almighty, through fields---fared your wain, in olden days---frith fullfilled, children leaped---through flowers, and lovers---laid in meadows, as earls sang ---seated at symble, queens spoke---pleasing words. Summer draws on---plows in the field, just as the ancestors---in days of old, today we---place faith in you, worship you---Vanir king, The sir's protector---almighty Frey. Wassail---world's god, Wassail Frey ---in your embrace Gerd grows, bright blooming ---with child, Vanir child---the World's blooming. bless Us---eternal,

with happy children--Ing Frey!*

7) The Housel 8) The Yielding 9) The Leaving

Gol Niht

Blot to the Wild Hunt: 1) The Nedfyr - The Nedfyr or "Need Fire" is the sacred fire of the temple or ritual area. Nearly all European peoples had fires in their temples that were never allowed to go out. In Northern Europe, such fires were made in places other than the temples, and were traditionally started by a fire drill or fire bow. It was said that the Need Fire could drive away evil spirits and disease, and thus has become a part of the modern ritual setting. It can be a candle, a fire in a firepot, or a bonfire outside. A rite can be performed with the creation of the need fire. Following is a short charm which can be sung or chanted.

Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate

embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde - Wonde is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction of the Old Norse verb, vigja "to make sacred." The purpose of the Wonde or "sacralizing" is to separate the ritual area from the ordinary, mundane world and make it closer to that of the Gods. In ancient times, this could be done thru fire (the ancient Icelanders used to carry a torch around their farms to ward them),or thru a ritual formula like the Old Norse "orr uiki " "Thor make sacred." It is similar to the Wiccan idea of erecting a circle and calling the quarters, but its primary purpose is not to ward the area, so much as to make it more inviting to the Gods. In the Ealdriht, we use the phrase "Thunor woh", along with the ritual action of circling the area with fire, or with rope of a natural fiber and staves of hazelwood to create a barrier.

Wonede Song:

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing - Next is the blessing. The mead used in the ritual is considered to contain some of the Gods' spiritual strength. It is therefore sprinkled on the area, the wofod (altar), and the gathered folk to transfer some of the Gods' spiritual strength or mgen to the folk; thus blessing them with whatever gifts the Gods might give in return for the ritual. 4) The Hallowing - The food and drink are then passed over a flame, and the sign of the hammer is signed over them. By passing the food and drink over the flame, the priest is driving off any spirits that may be residing in the food. The hammer is then signed over them to make the food and drink sacred. The hammer is the symbol of the god Thor or Thunor, the god that wards all things that are good. 5) The Bedes - Bedes means "prayers" in Anglo-Saxon, and are the invocations to the Gods.

Wdnes Bed: (Parts taken from Bltword)

Ws u Wden hl---ws u hl wundra hlford, ws u celic hl---ond spd simble hafa. u scyledest Ymir--- Middangeard scpe, his hafodbn t hrfe---his bld t hranrde, his flasc t folde---his bn t beorgum, his agbrawas---t Middangeardes burge; u nme flogenne spearcas---ond sette on swegle, sw Mana leohte---ond goda lomu. hlig Scieppend---frynst Scop; u heng nihta eall nigone---hwonne rna u nm, wittig dryhten on windig trow---ws wi gare wundode. Bealweorc u wga Gunnla---mid wiglu hfde wn willan,

u sypa meadu Suttunges---ond stl hit aweg. Manig scia sigebeadu---t nlic u selest, he gielpa warloga---fter he wierna m gieldum; ac weorlic men winna---e he ga t Wlhealle, sw ic sing w---t symble on heallum. Wden sigefder---Esa mihitig wealend, Sdht ond Wegtamere---grat wittig dryhten, wsdomes wru---Wlhealles hlford, ealdor cyninga----eelrces cynn, cynedm wealdend---cnd cyriga wles; ic bidd w n---gefst blade ond blisse, weorcsige ond wordsige---wele ond wstme nim re dada ond e giefa---tac wn dlu ond re gieldu.

(Rough translation) Wassail Woden---wassail wonders' lord, always be hale---and speed always have. You took apart Ymir---when Middle Earth you shaped, hs skull for the roof---his blood for the seas, his flesh as the earth---his bones for the mountains, his eye brows---as Middle Earth's wall; then you took flying sparks---and set in the skys, for man's light---and gods' brillant rays. You hung nights all nine---when the runes you won, witty drihten on windy tree---qith a spear you were wounded.

You wooed Gunnla---with wiles had your way, you drank Suttung's mead---and stole it away. Many seek battle victory---that only you can give, then they call you oath breaker---when that price they withhold,* but worthy men ever strive---then they go to Valhalla, so I sing to you---at symbel in halls. Woden victory father---Aesir's mighty ruler, Broadhat and Waytamer---great wise drihten, wisdom's column---Vallhalla's lord, elder king---noble ruler's kin kingdom ruler---and chooser of the slain; I bid you now---give us bliss and prosperity, work victory and word victory---wealth and harvest. take our deeds and our gift---take your portion and our yield. *i.e. They're not willing to pay Woden's price though they agreed to it.

Wildes Hunt:

Deorc bist niht---deocra so dryht, a urh nihtes wolcnu rdst---wulfas b hire sde, Hunt nfre endst---mid hundas nfre cwel! Wes hal hunt---wes hal huntas, wulrful bist hire dryhten---Woden sigefder. Gegange him slwlic---Petersilie on hond, Mid hunt u meaht faren---geond fger nihtes lyft,

wulrful bist hire dryhten---Woden wundorfder!

Dark is the night---darker the band, that thru the skies ride---wolves by their side, the hunt that never ends---with hounds that never die. Hail the hunt---hail the huntsman! Glorious be their leader---Woden victory father, approach them slowly---parsley in hand, with the hunt you may ride---across fair night skies, Glorious be their leader---Woden wonder father!

7) The Housel - The horn and/or bread are passed amongst those present. If a feast is in conjunction with the blot, it would be at this time. 8) The Yielding - All the leftovers, as well as food already promised to the Gods are then thrown into a fire with the words "Ic giefe Idesa" "I give this to the Disir." 9) The Leaving - The rite is formerly adjourned.

Second Day:

Foregenga Blot "Ancestors Blot"

1) The Nedfyr Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw

brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde Wonede Song

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg.

unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing 4) The Hallowing 5) The Bedes

Forgenga Bed

Wesath hal odes mdora---wesath hal odes fdras, scieppenda lg---scinende owas. Ealdendgas---ealdoras lrdon, goda ond gifa---gielpa ond gydna, beorga ond hearha---beda ond weorscipe. geogu geleornodon---ond lrdon. Swa lria us---ond ldi us, on s ond treow---on sidu ond owas. Welg odes mdora---odes fdras.

Wassail tribal mothers---wassail tribal fathers, shapers of law---shining thews! In days of yore---elders taught, of gods and gifts---of boasts and goddesses, of burial mounds and sacred groves---of prayers and worship, youth learned---and taught. So teach us---and lead us in truth and troth---in custom and thews. Go well tribal mothers---tribal fathers.

Additional personal prayers to sepecific ancestors as needed, you may wish to light a candle for each one (doesn't hurt to borrow some symbolism here and there). 7) The Housel 8) The Yielding

9) The Leaving

Third Day:

Edgeongan Blot/ Idunna Blot

1) The Nedfyr Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde Wonede Song

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site,

and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing 4) The Hallowing 5) The Bedes

Edgeongan Bede:

Edgeongan pples gyden - geifre geogua goda, rad ond gold wstmas - pplas eallgeonges, sceinde bld -healf swa scr swa u, on in ortgeard wx -pplas goda ond hledas, swa eald nfre weax -grg nfre wend. Aweg t rymham -yrsas bron, hwonne Puca mid wrenc - getihtde t weald, Godas agon - Puca wes owon - , Fron hafoces hama -Puca flag t yrslond, hnut macode e- swa wes in hlot, hwonne sageard flag- segyden on hond

ham to sageard -hwr pplas weax. Ortgeardes gyden -giefre hl gdes Wesa hal in trowas - wes hal in trow, Wes hal pplas- pllas eallgeonges!

Idunna Prayer:

Idunna apple goddess - giver of youth to the gods, red and gold fruit - appleas of everlasting youth, Shining fruit - half as beautiful as you, Grows in your orchard - given to gods and heros, sothey never grow old - so gray they never go. Away to Thyrnheim - Thruses did carry, When Loki with a trick - lured you to the woods, The Gods interrogated - tortured loki, So with Freya's falcon coat - Loki flew to Thursland, Into a nut he made you - So was your lot, When to Asgard he flew - Aesir goddess in hand, Home to Asgard - whereapples grow. Orchard goddess - giver of good health, I wassil your trees - I wassail your troth, I wassail apples -fruit of everlasting youth!

7) The Housel 8) The Yielding

9) The Leaving

Note: Since this blot is to Idunna, it is also a good time to sing some wassails.

Fourth Day:

Ylfe Blot:

1) The Nedfyr Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde

Wonede Song

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing 4) The Hallowing 5) The Bedes

Ylfe Bede

Wesa hl Ylfe---hlig Frean egnas, gdspd Ylfe---ic sing ow! Fricien ymbe hyrgenna---ond hrpa Frumgre, fricien ymbe hagas--ond on holtas, singa wlum ond wilgiefum---we ond wuldorword! Gstlice mundien s---giestlic wihtas, scienende wihtas---scaperas wilgas, bringe witt ond wisdm---gratan mihte ond mgne!

Elves Prayer

Wassail Elves---holy thegns of Frey, goodspeed to you elves---i sing to you. Dance around the graves---and boast Woden, dance around the hedges---and the forrests, sing for the dead and good gifts---wod and glorious words, Spiritually guard us---guestly wights, shining wights---shaper of wiles. bring wit and wisdom---great might and main!

7) The Housel 8) The Yielding 9) The Leaving

Fifth Day

Sceuda Blot "Skai Blot"

1) The Nedfyr Nedfyr Sperca, sperca, smoc on smic glde weor glm, brn, brn, blaest onblaw brand weor blle, fre, fre, fs fcnu

bringe fri ond frofre.

Spark, spark smoke and fumigate embers become bright, burn, burn kindle and blow Torch becomes fire fire, fire drive away evil, Bring frith and comfort.

2) The Wonde Wonede Song

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, ond bode men fri fremman, leg ic bere t belcan, bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

unor woh, unor woh, unor woh isne ealh.

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site

Fire I bear around this sacred site, and bid all men make peace, flame I bear to enclose, and bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.

3) The Blessing 4) The Hallowing 5) The Bedes

Sceada Bede

Wes hl Sceada---hlig gyden, rymmham bist in ham---yrses burga. Sceada wlitescene---ne slpt mid s, mwas wp--wec on dgrd, fugol flag---for dopum, sw beorgas weof---yrses burga. Wraca gyden---wintres gyden, huntress-ond rymmham hlfdige. Wes hl Sceada---hlig gyden!

Skai Prayer

Wassial Skai---holy goddess, rymmham is your home---Thurse's enclosure. Skai fair of face---you not slept by the sea, gulls' noise--woke you at daybreak, birds that few---froth from the deep, so to the mountains you returned---thurses' enclosure. vengence goddess---winter's goddess, huntress-ond rymmham lady. Wassail Skai---holy goddess!

7) The Housel 8) The Yielding 9) The Leaving

Yuletide Rituals and Sedes (customs)

Modern followers of Asatru and Heathenry have at their disposalcenturies of customs concerning Yule. Many of these date back tothe time when it was the ancient Heathens who celebrated the tideof the ancestors, frith, and gift giving. Many of these canbe used to enhance the blots and symbels done during this period,and therefore are presented here with a brief description. By using the rites designed for each of the Twelve Nights ofYule, as well as the traditions here it is hoped you can have afuller holiday experience. Dreams: One ancient belief is that dreams duringthe Twelve Nights predict the events in one's life for the comingyear. An interesting activity would be to keep a log ofone's dreams for each of the Twelve Nights. Gift Giving: The tradition of gift giving goes backto Heathen times when gifts were exchanged throughout theYuletide and not only on one day of the tide. Therefore it isfitting Heathens do this as well. Gifts need not be expensive andoften handmade gifts are better than something purchased at astore. Ideal gifts are those relating to our religion,books, ritual gear, art, tapes, and of course drinking horns. Holly, Ivy, and Yule Dcor: At Yuletide the Elder Heathens decoratedtheir homes with ivy, holly, and boughs of evergreens. Ribbonswere also used and the entire home covered with garlands andwreathes. Modern Heathen should do not less in anattempt to capture the Yuletide spirit. Below are three of themore common house decorations. Yule Tree: The tradition of the Yule tree comes fromGermany. Originally it is believed the trees were decorated outside and gifts left for the land wights. This custom can still be observed in other parts of NorthernEurope. With Christianity, the trees were brought inside tohide from the church. Modern Heathen trees can be decorated withHeathen symbols as well as the commercial lights, glitter, andornaments. If one wants they an decorate a tree outside insteadas the Heathens of old did. Yule Wreaths: Modern tradition uses a Yule wreath at theMothers' Night symbel as an oath ring. This wreath is oathed uponas well as wished upon, and then burned at the Twelfth Nightblot. Therefore these wreathes are best made out of naturalsubstances such as cedar branches. Other wreathes can beused as decorations around the house.

Lights: In the more northern countries, Lucy Daywhich was a festival of lights is celebrated and seems an ancient holiday in connection with Yule. Candles,torches, and other forms of light were left burning to light up the night skies. Today we can useelectric lights for the same purpose. Hoodening: A tradition well recorded in England,but probably beyond the means of most Heathens to perform isHoodening. The tradition of dressing in animal skins andperforming plays, dances, and processions is a practice observedthroughout all of the Germanic area, but is recorded particularlywell in parts of England and Scandinavia. As early as thefifth century this practice was condemned by the Church. Archbishop Theodore condemned those "who on thekalends of January clothe themselves with the skins of cattle andcarry heads of animals". While St. Augustine condemned the"filthy practice of dressing up like a horse or stag in the5th century." Men in skins with animal heads are acommon theme in early Heathen art. Hoodening is a practice that wasobserved in Kent and the Isle of Thanet on Christmas Eve... areasthat have remained Anglo-Saxon since the intital invasion of thetribes. Hoodening consisted of carrying either the skull of areal horse or a wooden one from house to house on a pole. The jaws of the horse head were rigged to snap by a stringbeing pulled. The head was then carried by one of the Hoodeningparty, who was covered in furs or hides. The rest ofthe party, also dressed in furs, carried handbells ringing themwhile singing songs. For this they are given gifts usually in theform of money. It was considered bad luck not to give tothe Hoodening party. There were several reports in the 19thcentury of folks being extremely frightened by this, tho thosefrom the area seem to have been amused. In the modern era,Hoodening has taken on many aspects of the hobby horse plays andmumming. Below is one of the songs from a modern Hoodeningparty:

Boy and horseare friends once more Head and eyes no longer sore Dobbin now is all submission Having learned his hardest lesson Half starved he is now, poor nag Something please to fill his bag Do not burst out the door Give us something, good friends, for ...

If ye the Hooden horse do feed Throughout the year ye shall not need. Morris Dancing: Not quite as impractical as Hoodening isMorris dancing. Morris dancing, particularly the varietyconsisting of sword play also took place during the Yule tide.Morris dancing to quote Linetwigle of the Ealdriht in her paper, Dancein Northern Tradition consisted of "stamping, leapingand hopping, rapping of swords or planting rods against theground (these denoting a connection to fertility of the land),and the wearing of bells, plus a plethora of regionalvariations." Morris dancing also consisted of blackening ofthe faces (as did often mumming and hoodening) to either scareoff evil spirits, or to mock the Wild Hunt. Mumming: Something more practical for Heathensthan Morris Dancing or Hoodening is mumming. Mummer playstake place in all of England, usually in pubs, and like Hoodeningseem to date back to the Heathen Era. All of the playsconsist of five to twelve cast members and follow the same basicplot. 1) A hero returns from a distant land. 2) The hero ischallenged and killed. 3) A doctor is called and revives thehero. 4) All hostilities are ceased. Some see this as aritual reenactment of the birth and death of a sun god. This is highly unlikely, as Heathen lore seems to have preservedno myths of this particular type. More likely the playswere for entertainment value alone, and if anything to celebratethe healing powers of the gods, particularly Woden as a healer,and to educate that Yuletide is a time for frith and wishs thatcome true. Day 8 of the Yule rites presented here consists of aMummer Play. Sword Dancing: Another form of dance performed at Yuletide besides the Morris Dances were the Sword Dances. These were at one time performed with thelong sword and seem to be quite ancient. Most of the dances consist of a procession and the clashing and leaping ofswords as well as the formation of various patterns with theswords. Often the dance ends with a mock death and revival by a"doctor" as with the Mummer Plays. Wassailing: The wassailing of Victorian timesresembled carolling more than it did its earlier counterpart, and is the form most are familiar with. Ancient wassailing consisted of making the drink wassail,originally mulled ale, curds, apples, and sometimes nuts. Agroup of wassailers would then go out with bowls filled withwassail from house to house and wassail the apple and cherrytrees with songs and loud noises to ensure a good crop from theorchards the next year. A few wassailing songs survive, but theseseem to be of a later variety. Yule Log:

The Yule log has not survived intomodern celebrations for the most part, and for most modern Heathens would be difficult to do without a fireplace orwood burning stove. You may therefore wish to set up asymbolic Yule log. You can carve it with wishs for the NewYear, garland it, do what you wish. If you have a place youcan burn it outside during Yuletide, you may wish to do so. Traditionally, the Yule log was broughtin on Mothers' Night, it was then set ablaze and hoped to burnall Twelve Nights (remember this log was nearly an entire tree tobe burned in the long pits of a long house). Differentareas had different customs concerning the Yule log. Everywhere the log was garlanded and decorated with ribbons prior to the processionto the longhouse. The procession was, as mostprocession during the holidays, a joyous one. Once burningno one could squint in the presence of the log, nor werebarefooted women allowed around it. In Yorkshire,England, they practised what is called mumping or gooding. Children would go begging and singing from house to house as thelog was brought in. In other areas, the children wereallowed to wassail the log the first night and drink to it.

Apple Tree Wassail

Oh apple tree, we'll wassail thee And hoping thou wilt bear For the Lord does know where we may go To be merry another year

To grow well and to bear well And so merrily let us be Let every man drink up his glass And a health to the old apple tree Brave boys, and a helath to the old apple tree

Gower Wassail

Hearthe tune

A-wassail, a-wassail throughout of thistown Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown Our wassail is made of good ale and cake Of nutmeg and ginger, the best we can bake

Al dal di dal di dal Dal di dal di dal Dal di dal di dee

Sing deero, sing daddy Sing too ral di do

Our wassail is made of the el'berrybough Although my good neighbors I'll drink unto thou Besides all on earth, we have apples to store Gods let us come in for its cold by the door

We know by the moon that we are not toosoon And we know by the sky that we are not too high We know by the star that we are not too far And we know by the ground that we are within sound

Now master and mistress let your companyforbear To fill up are wassail with you cider and beer We want none of your pale beer, nor none of your small But a drop of your kilderkin, that's next to the wall

Now master and mistress if you arewithin Pray send out your maid with her lily-white skin For to open the door without more delay For our time it is precious and we cannot stay

You've brought your wassail, which isvery well known But I can assure you we've as good of our own

As for your jolly wassail, we care not one pin But its for your good company we'll let you come in

Here's a health to Heathenry and theirdrinking horns May Frey send these people a good crop of corn Of barley and wheat and all sorts of grain May Frey send Heathenry a long life to reign

Now Master and Mistress, know you willgive Unto our jolly wassail as long as you live And if we do life to another new year We'll call in again just to see who lives here Gloucestershire Wassail

Hearthe Tune

Wassail, wassail all over the town Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee

So here is to Cherry and to thehouseleek Pray Frea send our master a good piece of beef And a good piece of beef that may we all see With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee

And here is to Woden and to his good eye Pray Frea send our master a good Yuletide pie A good Yuletide pie that may we all see With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee

So here is to brave Hama and to hisbroad horn May Frea send our master a good crop of corn And a good crop of corn that may we all see With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee

And here is to Bragi and a horn of beer Pray Frea send our master a happy New Year And a happy New Year as e'er he did see With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee

And here is to Thunor and to his boldtales Pray Frea send our master he never may fail A bowl of strong beer! I pray you draw near And our jolly wassail it's then you shall hear

Come butler, come bring us a bowl of thebest, And we pray that your soul in Valhalla will rest But if you do bring us a bowl of the small Then the Wolf take butler, bowl and all!

Then here's to the maid in the lilywhite smock Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin For to let these jolly wassailers in.

Songs for HeathenYuletide Book I By Winifred Hodge

This gathering of Yule songs is madeon behalf of Haligwaerstow, Holyward Guild of the AngloSaxonEldright, for the furtherance of all Heathen faith and worship. The cassette tape of these songs (withor without accompanying booklet) can be ordered from Winifred 1. The Holly and the Ivy: Song for Mothernight (Traditional English carol, adapted byWinifred to be sung for the first day of Yuletide, Mothernight,December 20, in honor of our tribal mothers, disir, idesa,kinfylgja, and the other womanly wights with whom our folk isblessed!)

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown. The glowing of the Yule sun, and the running of the deer, The blowing of the winter winds: call our Heathen Mothers near!

The holly bears a blossom, white as lily flower, Our Mothers bear their babies dear, come to their living hour. The glowing of the Yule sun, and the running of the deer, The blowing of the winter winds: call our Heathen Mothers near!

The holly bears a berry, as red as any blood, And ghostly Mothers come in dreams, to speak their kinfolk's good. The glowing of the Yule sun, and the running of the deer, The blowing of the winter winds: call our Heathen Mothers near!

The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn,

Of Heathen Mothers, wise and strong, our folk of old was born. The glowing of the Yule sun, and the running of the deer, The blowing of the winter winds: call our Heathen Mothers near!

The holly bears a ruddy bark, bitter as green gall, Now Heathen Mothers stand by us, give rede and ward to all! The glowing of the Yule sun, and the running of the deer, The blowing of the winter winds: call our Heathen Mothers near!

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown. The glowing of the Yule sun, and the running of the deer, The blowing of the winter winds: call our Heathen Mothers near!

2. Sunwheel: (This song is for celebrating bothYule and Litha, Midwinter & Midsummer. During Yuletide,it'ssuggested for celebrating the solstice day--December 21 or 22,depending on the year.)

O Sunwheel bright, the Sunwheel's flame Rolls down the hills where Gods once came. They come again, their mighty strides Draw us, their folk, close to their sides. Come one, come all, unto the call, Come Gods, come Goddesses and folk, all!

O Sunwheel clear, your burning might

Has marked our deepest wisdom-sight. Midwinter, midsummer, gladness & tears: You turn the corners of all our years. Come one, come all, unto the call, Come Gods, come Goddesses and folk, all!

O Sunwheel shining, flame of our soul, Now through your burning we are made whole. The needfire's smoke of summer does heal, While Yule log's blessing brings us weal. Come one, come all, unto the call, Come Gods, come Goddesses and folk, all!

O Sunwheel spinning, Sunna's might, Thor's whirling Hammer, Gungnir's flight, >From Freya's glowing Brisingamen, Your main flows out, you draw main in. Come one, come all, unto the call, Come Gods, come Goddesses and folk, all!

O Sunwheel golden, strength of the land, Mark earth and sky with your blazing brand! Rune of giving, sigil of might: Your power shines holy in Heathen sight! Come one, come all, unto the call,

Come Gods, come Goddesses and folk, all!

(Words: Winifred. Tune: TraditionalEnglish "Sussex Carol." )

3. Gods Bless You, Merry Heathen Folk!

Gods bless you, merry Heathen folk With luck & health & weal! Remember all your forebears dear With horns of Yuletide ale! Call out your boast, lay orlay bright That well the Norns may deal! For our Gods now have called to us--have called, heart to heart, For our Gods have spoken deep within our souls.

Bright Yrminsul, the Yuletide Tree Roots deep within the Well, The Worldtree arches overhead, Its age no one can tell. The ancients whisper in our ears: We dream beneath their spell-For our Gods now have called to us--have called, heart to heart, For our Gods have spoken deep within our souls.

Between time past and time to come

A shining bridge is spun Of lore and love and faithfulness, All that our deeds have won. Roll up your sleeve, reach out your hand: Our work is just begun-For our Gods now have called to us--have called, heart to heart, For our Gods have spoken deep within our souls.

Glad Yuletide now we bid you all With horns of flowing mead! Bright Yuletide feast in Heathen halls Shall make us glad indeed! With frith and faith and wisdom's deeds We plant the glowing seed-For our Gods now have called to us--have called, heart to heart, For our Gods have spoken deep within our souls.

(Words: Winifred. Tune: (guess what!)"God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen!")

4. Yule Feasting Song: (A light-hearted feasting song thatwill go down especially well with folk and Gods after severalwellserved rounds of blot or sumble!)

Ingvi-Frey, the King of Bliss, Lord of love and gladness, Giver of the harvest gifts,

Let him banish sadness! Chorus: Hail him now and give him thanks, Ask him for his blessing! Always give back gift for gift: Let not friendship lessen! Freya, golden Vanadis, Mighty Queen of magic! Join us for our Yuletide feast, Share our fun and frolic! Ask him for herblessing! Always give back gift for gift: Let not friendship lessen! Mighty Thor the Thunder-God, Midgard's great defender! Redbeard, share our meat and mead, Lest you grow too slender! Ask him for his blessing! Always give back gift for gift: Let not friendship lessen! Sif the shining Harvest Queen, Thor's beloved helpmate, Thrudheim's gracious chatelaine, Bless us as we fill our plates! Ask him for her blessing! Always give back gift for gift: Let not friendship lessen! Chorus: Hail her now and give her thanks, Chorus: Hail him now and give him thanks, Chorus: Hail her now and give her thanks,

Woden, Wish-God, wisdom's Lord, Wod and wonder-bringer, Tell us of your treasure-hoard, Give holy mead to singers! Ask him for his blessing! Always give back gift for gift: Let not friendship lessen! Frigga, hearth and home's bright core, Giver of life's blessings! Keeper of the secret lore, Including lore of dressing! Ask him for her blessing! Always give back gift for gift: Let not friendship lessen! Chorus: Hail her now and give her thanks, Chorus: Hail him now and give him thanks,

(Words: Winifred. Tune: "GoodKing Wenceslas")

5. Boar's Head Carol: (Traditional medieval English carol,words adapted by Winifred. Though the original carol issupposedly Christian and has lines in Latin....with the focus onthe Boar and the mention of the King of Bliss, one really wonderswho the song was originally intended for!)

The boar's head in hand bear I, Bedecked with bay and rosemary, And I bid you good Heathens be merry, Together on this holy day!

Chorus: Odin, Thor and Ingvi-Frey, Frigga, Freya bless this day!

The boar's head, as I understand, Is the fairest dish in all the land, When thus bedecked with a gay garland, Presented on this holy day!

Chorus: Odin, Thor and Ingvi-Frey, Frigga, Freya bless this day!

The steward hath provided this, In honor of the King of Bliss, Who on this day to be feasted is! Now glad betide Frey's holy day!

Chorus: Odin, Thor and Ingvi-Frey, Frigga, Freya bless this day!

6. O Tannenbaum

(Traditional German song honoring the fir tree.)

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Wie treu sind deine Bltter! Du grnst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, Nein, auch im Winter wenn es schneit! O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Wie treu sind deine Bltter!

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Du kannst mir sehr gefallen! Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtzeit Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut! O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Dein Kleid soll mich was lehren! Die Hoffnung und Bestndigkeit Gibt Trost und Kraft zur aller Zeit! O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Dein Kleid soll mich was lehren!

Literal (not poetic) translation:

O Fir Tree, O Fir Tree, How true are your leaves! You're green not only summertime, But also winter, when it snows! O Fir Tree, O Fir Tree, How true are your leaves!

O Fir Tree, O Fir Tree, You can please me greatly! How oft has not on Holy Night A tree of yours brought me delight! O Fir Tree, O Fir Tree, You can please me greatly!

O Fir Tree, O Fir Tree, Your dress shall teach me something! The hope and steadfastness Give comfort and strength for every time! O Fir Tree, O Fir Tree, Your dress shall teach me something!

7. Ullr's Yule Gift

Forth we go Into the driving snow!

Yule tree seeking, Yule tree lofty, Forth we go! Yule log's might and main we'll bring, With Yuletide blessing, needles green, Into the fire's glow.

Cold winds blow, Sun is sinking fast! Winds are whipping round our heads, Cold winds blow! So our hearts are filled with dread: Where are we now? Naught can we see Within the blowing snow.

Look you there-Footprints in the snow! Criss-cross pattern, snowshoe-sign, Look you there! Mighty strides a man is taking Forth into the forest deep, His steps will show us where.

Round about, Snowshoe tread is there, Ringed around a mighty tree! Round about,

Ullr's marked his gift to us! So let us take it, hasten home, Give thanks with a glad shout!

Well we know Now our pathway home! Snowshoes' shining trail we see! Well we know Ullr's path; our Winter God Gives us his blessing, we are glad: Let us invite him home!

Home we go, Out of the driving snow! Yule tree sought we, Yule tree bear we! Home we go, Yule log's might and main we bring With Ullr's blessing: let us sing Around the fire's glow!

(Words: Winifred. The tune is from a 16th-century Latin carol, "Psallite Unigenito," that was taken from an earlier German tune) 8. Deck the Hall: (Traditional English carol; the tune is originally Welsh.)

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la, la la la la! Don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la la, la la la la la! Troll the ancient Yuletide carol, Fa la la la la, la la la la!

See the blazing Yule before us, Fa la la la la, la la la la! Strike the harp and join the chorus, Fa la la la la, la la la la! Follow me in merry measure, Fa la la la, la la la la la! While I tell of Yuletide treasure, Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Fast away the old year passes, Fa la la la la, la la la la! Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, Fa la la la la, la la la la! Sing we joyous all together, Fa la la, la la la la la la! Heedless of the wind and weather, Fa la la la la, la la la la!

9. Yrminsul: (The music is from a pre-fifteenth-century German tune now used for the carol "Lo How a Rose." Words in German and English by Winifred. Be aware that the English and German verses are of similar meaning but not word-for-word translations.)

Da ist einen Baum entsprungen, aus einem Gaffen karg, Wie uns die Alten sungen, von zauberhaftiger Art. Er reicht von Himmelfund, Noch bis die tiefste Quelle: der ganze Welt der Grund.

Der Baum worum ich singe, davon die Seherin sagt, Als Yrminsul geehrt wurd', die Ernte alter Tat,

Hlt jetzt noch Heil und Rat; Aus Kerne Yrminsuls hin, erleuchtet das Julrad.

There is a Tree grown mighty, from out a bleak gap sprung, Of kind and form most wondrous, as those of old have sung. >From highest heaven unfurled, Rooted in deepest lifesprings: foundation of the World.

The Tree of which I sing now, as spoke the Seeress' rede, As Yrminsul was honored, harvest of ancient deed, Holds yet its holy truth; >From deep within its being, the Yulewheel shining forth.

Der Baum worum ich singe, davon die Seherin sagt, Als Yrminsul geehrt wurd', die Ernte alter Tat. Hlt jetzt noch Heil und Rat; Aus Kerne Yrminsuls hin, erleuchtet das Julrad.

Wassailing Songs: Following are three traditional English "wassailing" songs to wrap up our Yuletide concert! The word "wassail" is a contraction of the Old English waes hael, and refers to the practice of wishing someone good health and wellbeing, while drinking and perhaps pouring a blot of drink to seal the wish. Wassailing was done especially during Yuletide, and included the farm animals,the orchard trees and any other special trees. Later the custom extended to one's social superiors and fellow villagers,with wassail songs sung as young folks "went wassailing," singing for good luck and blessings around the village and collecting drink, food, and/or money at Yuletide. It was (still is) sort of a combination of our Christmas caroling and Halloween practices in this country, all rolled up into one occasion. In the "Gloucestershire Wassail," you can see how the practice of wassailing the farm animals was retained. In all the songs, the practice of wassailing one's social superiors is shown, since they were the ones

expected to contribute the most money,drink, and/or food to the wassailers. In both the "Gloucestershire Wassail" and "We Wish You a Glad Yuletide," you can see a trace of a threat, however humorous, if the person being wassailed does not "cough up the goods," which is reminiscent of old Halloween practices.

10. Wassail Song: (English traditional. Words slightly adapted by Winifred. Recommended for singing on New Year's Eve.)

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green, Here we go a-wandering, so fair to be seen! Love and joy come to you, and to you good wassail, too, All Gods bless you and send you a happy New Year, All Gods send you a happy New Year!

We are not daily beggars that roam from door to door, But we're your Heathen neighbors whom you have seen before. Love and joy come to you, and to you good wassail, too, All Gods bless you and send you a happy New Year, All Gods send you a happy New Year!

Gods bless the master of this house, likewise the mistress too, And all the little children that round the table go! Love and joy come to you, and to you good wassail, too, All Gods bless you and send you a happy New Year, All Gods send you a happy New Year!

Good master and good mistress, while you're sitting by the fire,

Pray think of us poor Heathens who're wandering in the mire! Love and joy come to you, and to you good wassail, too, All Gods bless you and send you a happy New Year, All Gods send you a happy New Year!

11. Gloucestershire Wassail (Cherry and Dobbin in this song are a team of plough-horses; Broad May, Fillpail and Colly are milch cows. I changed the words "our master" to "our neighbor" in this version, in each verse. Gloucestershire is pronounced "Gluster-sheer." Words slightly adapted by Winifred.)

Wassail, wassail all over the town! Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown! Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree; With a wassailing bowl we'll drink unto thee!

So here is to Cherry and to his right cheek, The Gods send our neighbor a good piece of beef, And a good piece of beef, that may we all see, With a wassailing bowl we'll drink unto thee!

So here is to Dobbin and to his right eye, The Gods send our neighbor a good Yuletide pie, And a good Yuletide pie, that may we all see, With a wassailing bowl we'll drink unto thee!

So here's to Broad May and to her broad horn,,

The Gods send our neighbor a good crop of corn, And a good crop of corn, that may we all see, With a wassailing bowl we'll drink unto thee!

So here is to Fillpail and to her left ear, The Gods send our neighbor a happy New Year, And a happy New Year, that may we all see, With a wassailing bowl we'll drink unto thee!

So here is to Colly and to her long tail, The Gods send our neighbor you never may fail! A bowl of strong beer, we pray you draw near, And our jolly wassailing again you shall hear!

Come, butler, come fill us a bowl of the best, Then we hope that your soul in Valhalla will rest; But if you do draw us a bowl of the small, Then the Wolf take butler, bowl and all!

12. We Wish You a Glad Yuletide!

(Words slightly adapted by Winifred.)

We wish you a glad Yuletide, we wish you a glad Yuletide, We wish you a glad Yuletide, and a happy New Year!

Yule blessings we bring to you and your kin, We wish you a glad Yuletide, and a happy New Year!

We all want some figgy pudding, we all want some figgy pudding, We all want some figgy pudding, and a cup of good cheer!

We won't go until we get some, we won't go until we get some, We won't go until we get some, so bring it out here!

We wish you a glad Yuletide, we wish you a glad Yuletide, We wish you a glad Yuletide, and a happy New Year! Yule blessings we bring to you and your kin, We wish you a glad Yuletide, and a happy New Year!

...and glad Yule and happy New Year to you, one and all, from Winifred!

Wassail Recipes Wassail (non-alcoholic)*

5 qt Apple cider 1 1/4 c Brown sugar 1 1/4 cn (6 oz) frozen lemon juice Concentrate 1 1/4 cn (6 oz) frozen orange juice Concentrate 7 1/2 Whole cloves and allspice 1 1/4 tb Ground nutmeg 30 Cinnamon sticks

Put cider, sugar and fruit juices(undiluted) in large pot. Tie cloves and allspice in cheesecloth.Add to cider with nutmeg. Cover and simmer for 30 min.Remove spice bag. Serve hot in mugs with cinnamon stick ineach mug.

Makes 24 6 oz servings.

*Can be made alcoholic by using hardcider Ale Wassail

Ale or dark beer - 3.5 litres (6 pints) Sugar - 110g (4 oz) Sweet sherry - 200 ml (7 fl oz) Grated nutmeg - 1 tsp

Ground ginger - 1 tsp Apples - 7, hot, cored, baked

Gently heat all the ingredients exceptthe apples in a large saucepan until the sugardissolves. Place the apples in individual Wassail bowls and add the hot liquid.

Serve with dessert spoons. Wassail (REAL alcoholic)

16oz of Frozen, Sliced, SweetenedStrawberries 16 oz of Scotch 1 liter Grape Concord Wine 8 oz. Brandy 8 oz. Vodka 1 liter May Wine

Find a One Gallon or larger jar. Take16oz of Frozen, Sliced, Sweetened Strawberries and placethem in the jar. Add 16oz of Scotch and let sit for 24-36hours. Then add 8oz Vodka, 8oz Brandy, 1 liter Grape Concord Wine, and 1 liter May Wine. (May wine is hard to find soI use Chateau La Salle - Blanc). Mix well and serve in 3ozservings at room temperature. (Or you can try it chilled!)

Serves 7

A Mummers Play:

Part of the Yule season in England hasalways been celebrated by Mummer Plays. No one iscertain whether these plays date to Hetahen times or not, thoevidence shows that they and sword dances do share a commonNorthern European origin. Vikings dressed in fursperformed a "mummer play" for the Byzatine Emperor inthe 11th century crying "Jul, Jul." This play is adapted from one of theThames plays (from which I adapted the ending) and theQuedgeley Mummers' Play (from Gloucestershire, England, whichappears in full). It requires seven characters (whichcan be doubled up on), and simple props. I have Heathenized some of the langage and character names, but for mostpart the play is intact. If any of the motas can gatherenough actors (or leave out unnessary parts), it would beworth while to revive this Yuletide tradition!

The Characters: Old King Penda Second Man (can also play Jack Winny with quick costume change) The Weofodthegn (priest)(can also play father Yule with quickcostume change) The Leech (Leech) Jack Winny Gudrun Tinker Father Yule

Props: Two sticks for swords A pill box or pouch and M&Ms or other harmless"pill." Suitable Costuming

The Play:

Enter King Penda

King Penda: Make room, make room, I do presume, Please to give me leave and room to rhyme For I've come this Glad, Glad Yule time I'll show you a gallant act, activity of youth, activity of age, Such as was never acted on a merry Andrew stage. I am King Penda, a noble Knight, I lost my blood by a Christian fight, by a Christian fight, It is the reason Which makes me carry this very weapon Walk in my eldest son.

Enter Second Man

Second Man: Here comes I as bold as thee, And with my sword I'll try with thee, Ill cut thee, I'll hew thee as small as flies, And I send thee to the Cook shop to make mince pies. Mince pies hot, mince pies cold, Let thee and I fight very bold, To battle to battle betwixt thee and I

To see which on the ground shall lie.

They fight-King Penda falls-theWeofodtegn calls:

Leech, Leech, play thy part, King Penda is wounded in his heart Five pounds I freely would lay down If that noble Leech could be found, To cure this man that's on the ground!

Enter Godruna Tinker.

Godruna Tinker: He's just a-coming, Sir, See, Sir, comes the healer. Here's the man that travels much for the good of hiscountry.Don't go over the country like those Christain believers did and they other she-shaw quack Leechs, kills all and cures none just for fun.-

The Leech: I've a box of pills, cures all ills, the stitch, the

palsy or the gout, pains within and pains without, mully grubs squally grubs, tight looseners on the chest, wind inthe knee and many other things which I shall not be able tomention to-night, or any other night. Take one o' my pills andtry it, and if this don't cure that man never believe meany more. Rise up King Penda and fight again.'

King Penda rises

King Penda: Come in Jack Winny.

Enter Jack Winny

Jack Winny: Where's that scoundrel that calls me Jack Winny ~ I am a man of fame Comes from Thame, I can do as much as thou or any man again.

Leech : What canst thou do?

J W. : I can cure the Jackdaw with the tooth-ache Or the Magpie with the headache!

Leech: How canst thou do that?.

J. W. Cut their heads off and throw them in the ditch.'

Leech: That's a safe cure-safe cure, Come in Godruna Tinker, ale and wine, strong beer drinker!

Enter Godruna Tinker.

Godruna Tinker: I'll tell the landlord to his face His chimney corner was the place Where I sat and blacked my face When Joan's ale was new, When Joan's ale was new, my boys, When Joan's ale was new.'

Jack Winny takes offense

J.W.: I am the landlord of this place,

By my chimney corner you did not blacken thy face!

Then enter Father Yule

Father Yule: I am Father Yule! Hold men hold! Be there loaf in your locker, and sheep in your fold A fire on the hearth, and good luck for your lot, Money in your pocket and a pudding in the pot Hold, men hold! Put up your stick and remember Yuletide Frith!

Merriment abounds

owomeoluc Rites and Sedes (Customs)

owomeoluc (an Anglo-Saoxn word either based on the Celtic Imbolec or vice versa) was one of the tides most persecuted by the Christian church. Of its rites, only the blessing of the plow was allowed to continue along with the observation of the ground hog's habitual looking for his shadow. According to the Heimskringla, "In Svithjod it was the old custom, as long as heathenism prevailed, that the chief sacrifice took place in Goe month at Upsala." The Old Scandanavian month of Goe falls in our month of February. These sacrifices were offered frith ok sigr, for frith and victory. owomeoluc was the time when the ewes first began giving birth to their lambs, and ewe milk was thus available. It was also when the thaw began and ground could first be broken for the spring planting. Tied to the first tilling of the year, were the various plow rites. It was possibly this time of year when the goddess Nerthus was taken around to villages, as this is when plows were decorated and taken from village to village in medieval England. Drawing on the Aecer-Bt and the activities of the medieval celebrations, these plow processions may have taken the following form: Two nights before the blessing, a torch processional would have collected the necessary sod from the corners of the farmstead, probably by proceeding sunwise around the bounds of the land. Those familiar with the Icelandic "landnama" rite should see the original purpose of the torch processionals. By going around the bounds of the land sunwise with torches, and taking the soil of the four corners, the land is being reclaimed for its owners. Then before sunset the next day, this soil mixed with the products of the livestock (milk, honey, tallow) would be set back in the earth. That night a housel may have been held, and at sunrise the plow would have been blessed and used to dig its first furrow (into which was buried the first seed and a cake), pr obably after a processional through the streets of the village. Such rites may have been accompanied by plays depicting the marriage of Heaven and Earth (Fra and Gerr or Wden and Eore), as the lines of the Aecer-Bt imply. Ewemeolc was the first fertility rite of the year, and so these rites must have played an important role in the lives of the Elder Heathens. It is also possible that this is when the masked dances took place (dancers dressed as animals), though they ma y well have taken place at Easter. A throughly English holiday, this holiday as it comes down to us has strong Celtic influences. Many features however such as the charming of the plow and groundhog festivities appear on the continent, and seem wholely Germanic. Some believe the Dsablt of the Norse also took place at this time, and celebrate it January 31st instead of during Yule. Charming of the Plow This was also the time when the plows were blessed. Originally in HEathen times this would have been done in the fields. With the Conversion, of course, farmers still feeling this need brought their plows to the village priest. Groundhog

Watching to see if the groundhog saw his shadow started in Germany, and was there badgers or bears. Over the years it shifted from the observation of those animals to the groundhog. Heathens that have a groundhog handy (which are probably quite few) could go out to onserve them early morning, perhaps even create rites to go with it. Home | Holidays

Solmonath Rites and Sedes (Customs)

Solmonath also called owomeoluc (an Anglo-Saoxn word either based on the Celtic Imbolec or vice versa) was one of the tides most persecuted by the Christian church. Of its rites, only the blessing of the plow was allowed to continue along with the observation of the ground hog's habitual looking for his shadow. According to the Heimskringla, "In Svithjod it was the old custom, as long as heathenism prevailed, that the chief sacrifice took place in Goe month at Upsala." The Old Scandanavian month of Goe falls in our month of February. These sacrifices were offered frith ok sigr, for frith and victory. Bede mentions Solmonath as the time when the pagan Anglo-Saxons gave cakes to their Gods. Solmonath was the time when the ewes first began giving birth to their lambs, and ewe milk was thus available. It was also when the thaw began and ground could first be broken for the spring planting. Tied to the first tilling of the year, were the various plow rites. It was possibly this time of year when the goddess Nerthus was taken around to villages, as this is when plows were decorated and taken from village to village in medieval England. Drawing on the Aecer-Bt and the activities of the medieval celebrations, these plow processions may have taken the following form: Two nights before the blessing, a torch processional would have collected the necessary sod from the corners of the farmstead, probably by proceeding sunwise around the bounds of the land. Those familiar with the Icelandic "landnama" rite should see the original purpose of the torch processionals. By going around the bounds of the land sunwise with torches, and taking the soil of the four corners, the land is being reclaimed for its owners. Then before sunset the next day, this soil mixed with the products of the livestock (milk, honey, tallow) would be set back in the earth. That night a housel may have been held, and at sunrise the plow would have been blessed and used to dig its first furrow (into which was buried the first seed and a cake), pr obably after a processional through the streets of the village. Such rites may have been accompanied by plays depicting the marriage of Heaven and Earth (Fra and Gerr or Wden and Eore), as the lines of the Aecer-Bt imply. Ewemeolc was the first fertility rite of the year, and so these rites must have played an important role in the lives of the Elder Heathens. It is also possible that this is when the masked dances took place (dancers dressed as animals), though they ma y well have taken place at Easter. A throughly English holiday, this holiday as it comes down to us has strong Celtic influences. Many features however such as the hallowing of the plow and groundhog festivities appear on the continent, and seem wholely Germanic. Some believe the Dsablt of the Norse also took place at this time, and celebrate it January 31st instead of during Yule. Hallowing of the Plow: This was also the time when the plows were blessed. Originally in Heathen times this would have been done in the fields. With the Conversion, of course, farmers still feeling this need brought their plows to the village priest.

Groundhog: Watching to see if the groundhog saw his shadow started in Germany, and was there badgers or bears. Over the years it shifted from the observation of those animals to the groundhog. Heathens that have a groundhog handy (which are probably quite few) could go out to onserve them early morning, perhaps even create rites to go with it.

Eostre Rituals and Sedes (customs)

Easter is the celebration named for the goddess Eostre, whom we know little about. She is only mentioned by name once, and that is by Bede. However, her name survived as a native month name in both German and English, and in connection with a holy festival at that time. Her name is believed to be cognate with our word east so that she may be she was goddess of the dawn as well as spring. Folklore surrounding Easter holds that water gathered at dawn is particularly holy, and it is said maidens in sheer white can be seen frolicking in the country side. In England, Easter was the time when the boundaries of farmsteads were beaten with besoms and birch sticks. The young folk along with the procession were also switched lightly. This "beating of the bounds" was probably done to drive away ill wishing wights. Besom and birch were the traditional material for which illness causing wights were driven out of those with illnesses, and that they are used to beat the bounds implies similar purposes. It is to be noted much of Easter seems linked to purification. Water from brooks collected on Easter morning as well as the dew was considered "holy water, " and Easter saw bonfires which at other times were used for purification. Young women in early times would go to brooks or streams to wash at dawn, as the water then was thought particularly holy. Below are a few Easter traditions, the modern Heathen can use to enhance the holy tide. Bonfires: Easter like Wlburges and Midsummer saw bonfires being lit atop hillsides. And like Wlburges and Midsummer many rites such as fire leaping were associated with the fires. Cross Buns: As far back as Easter customs have been recorded have appeared cross buns. Traditionally eaten at Easter, we know not truly what their significance are. In England, it is believed they had healing powers, while other places believed that is they were hung in the kitchen, they would keep away evil. The cross in the buns may be the rune Giefu. As Giefu is the rune of gift giving and one of exchange, this could be the true meaning behind them. Decorations: The ancient Heathens decorated for every holy tide. They garlanded trees, houses, ritual items, and themselves. Easter was no different and saw wreathes of wheat and ribbon. In Germany, even now, eggs are blown out and hung on trees. Today, in America, this custom of decorating trees for Easter is coming back, and certainly worthwhile for us Heathen folk. Easter Bunny: The Easter Bunny or Hare was first recorded in Germany as bringing eggs to children. There children build nests, for the hare to lay its eggs in. The hare is a symbol of not only fertility, but also somewhat of

parenting as hares and rabbits in general tend to be attentive to their young. In parts of England, they held hare hunts. The hare would had to be caught alive and brought into the priest, who would then serve a breakfast of eggs. Easter Eggs: Ideally the creation of Easter Eggs should be done the night before the celebration. This is so the eggs can be used the next day in various games and customs. Of course, there is nothing to keep parents form entertaining children with egg colouring Easter day either. Many customs are connected with the eggs. Egg tossing was done in many parts of Northern Europe. If you caught the egg unbroken, it was thought a sign of good luck. Egg rolling was customary in parts of England. They would take eggs to the top of a hill and roll them down. This could be adapted into a race if one so desired. Of course Easter egg hunts can always provide entertainment for the children. At one time eggs were exchanged on Easter, much like Yule gifts to symbolize friendship. Easter Parade: Easter was also the time of processionals when everyone dressed in their very best clothes and in Heathen times probably proceeded to the hof or ritual grove. Most likely these would be summer clothes newly woven and sewn during the winter. Easter Play: Easter was also a time when a ritual battle between the Winter and Summer took place. These mock fights were much like the Mummers' Plays of Yule. The opposing sides one representing Winter, the other Summer would face off in a sword dance. Other times the plays involved a battle between the hag of Winter versus the maiden of Summer. Vigils: In many areas it was custom to keep a vigil the night before Easter to watch the rising sun. This could be worked in with bonfires ceremonies by modern Heathens, or even with the collection of holy water. Winter Effigy: Other places an effigy of Winter would be beaten and burned. This custom can be seen in both England and Germany. This effigy could be a corn dolly or a stuffed dummy.

Easter/Ostara Recipes

Hot Cross Buns Dough: 1 tsp granulated sugar 1/2 cup warm water (105-115F/40-46C) 1 package bread yeast (fast rising) 2/3 cup milk 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp salt 1/4 cup butter/margarine/shortening 1 egg, beaten 3 3/4 to 4 cups whiteflour

GLAZE: 1 egg yolk 1 tbsp water

Dissolve the yeast in one teaspoon warm water, then heat milk to lukewarm. Stir in a quarter cup of sugar and salt. Mix milk mixture, 1 cup flour, and the egg with the dissolved yeast. Beat for three minutes. Stir in remaining flour gradually. Knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your fingers. Set oven to 80 degrees, place dough in oven for an hour to half hour. Take dough out of oven and divide into 16 balls, then flatten each. With the dull side of a knife mark the giefu rune into the top of each. Place back in oven at 80 degrees and bake for a hour to a hour and a half. Paint buns with egg yolk and water mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Tansy Pudding 2 eggs 5 floz double cream

1 thick slice white bread in crumbs 2 teaspoons finely chopped Tansy 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest 3 eating apples, peeled cored and sliced 1 oz butter

mix together ingredients except apples and butter allow to stand for ten minutes (now do the apples!) melt butter in frying pan, add apples and cook gently until tender (5 mins) pour egg mixture over cook on low heat until almost firm - do not stir finish under grill until golden brown on top cut into slices, spinkle with sugar and serve at once


Wlburges/Bltan Rites and Sedes (Customs)

Bltan was another spring festival for the anceint Heathens. Wlburges Night was thought the night when witches ride by many anceint Heathens and this may reveal a link to the German goddess Holde (who may indeed be Frigga). Holde was considered the goddess of witches by medieval Germans. Many areas saw this as the time when witches and other wights rode thru the air, and thus a time when the gods needed to be invoked. On this night prayers were said for the cattle, sheep, and goats, with special reference to keeping ettins away. And in many areas it was the time for a great feast as well as bonfires. Many of the celebrations took place atop mountians and hills (which in Germany were conected to Holde and witches). Love and courting seems to be a central theme amongst many of the folktales surrounding Wlburges. Many customs relate to courtship rituals. The gathering and giving of flowers from young beaus to maidens, the Maypole Dance the next day, as well as the frocking in the woods of Wlburges Niht. Early morning saw children gathering flowers, and in many areas the Maypole dance. In Germany, new trees and saplings were transplanted and nearly everywhere houses were decorated with fresh flowers. In some parts of England, this is when the Hobby Horse plays took place. Other areas crowned a May Queen who would declare winter to finally be defeated (going back to the ritual battles of Easter between Summer and Winter). Hobby Horse: The Hobby Horse is a traition practiced in some parts of England to this day. It resembles in many ways the Hoddening done at Yule tide in Kent, and may be one and the same thing performed at different tides. For more ifnormation read the article on Hoddening under Yule Tratitions. May Carols: Song played an important role in the festivals of the medieval Germanic peoples, and therefore we can only assume it did with the anceint Heathens as well. Like Yule, Bltan seems to have been a time of songs and singing. Maypole: In areas where there were not permanent Maypoles, one would be erected on the morning of Bltan. The poles were always made from straight sturdy tress, usually close to 9 feet tall, tho later permamnent ones go up to over 100 feet. The Maypole is in many ways similar to the Irminsul of the Saxons and one has to wonder if the Old Saoxns danced about it come May Day monring. Maypole Dance:

There were a wide variety of Maypole dances some involving ribbons, others not. The earliest sources seem to indicate the dances were done without ribbons. A very good article by Alissa Sorenson provides information on Maypole dances as well as other traditional dances. May Queen: In nearly all areas where Heathendom once thrived, a May Queen was selected from amongst the maidens of the village. Morris Dancing: In some parts of England, Wlburges was the time when Morris Dancing took place. Again refer to Alissa's article on dance.

Bltan Songs

Sumer is Icumen In:

Sumer is icumen in, lhude sing cucu. Groweth sed and bloweth med and springth the wode nu. Sing cucu. Awe bleateth after lomb, Lhouth after calve cu; Bullock sterteth bucke verteth Murie sing cucu. Cu, cu, cu, cu Wel singes thu Cu cu Ne swik thu naver nu. Sing cucu nu, Sing cucu.

Hal-an-tow Hear the tune.

Take no scorn to wear the horn, it was a crest when you were born, Your fathers father wore it and your father wore it too.


Hal-an-tow, jolly rumble oh! We were up, long before the day - oh, to welcome in the summer... to welcome in the May - oh, The summer is a comin' in and winter's gone away - oh.

Robin Hood and marion have both gone to the fair - oh, and we were to the merry greenwood to hunt the buck and hare - oh.


What happened to the spaniards that made so great a boast - oh, Why they shall eat the feathered goose and we shall eat the roast - oh.


The Aesir and Vanir bless you with all their might and might - oh, And bring firth to our Walburgia, bring frith by day and night - oh.

Chorus Padstow Morning Song Unite and unite and let us all unite, for Summer is a comin' in today And whither we go we will all unite, in the merry morning of May.

Arise up, Mr. _______ and joy to you betide, for Summer is a come intoday, And bright is your bride that lies by your side, in the merry morningof May.

Arise up, Mrs. _______ and gold be your ring, for Summer is a come intoday, And give to us a cup of ale that merrier we'll sing, in the merry morningof May.

Now fare you well, and we bid you all good cheer, for summer is a comein today, We'll call once more unto your house in another year, in the merrymorning of May. Swinton May Song All in this pleasant evening, together come as we for The summer springs so fresh and green and gay, We'll sing you of the blossom and the bud on ev'ry tree, Drawing nearer to the merry month of May!

Rise up! The Master of this house, all in your chain of gold for The summer springs so fresh and green and gay, We hope you're not offended with your house we've made so bold, Drawing nearer to the merry month of May!

Rise up! the Mistress of this house with gold all on your breast forThe summer springs so fresh and green and gay, And if your body is asleep we hope your soul's at rest, Drawing nearer to the merry month of May!

Rise up! The Children of this house, all in your rich attire for The summer springs so fresh and green and gay, May ev'ry hair upon your heads shine like a silver wire, Drawing nearer to the merry month of May!

Gods Bless this House and Arbor, your riches and your stores for The summer springs so fresh and green and gay, For ev'ry blessing on your heads we wish you ten times more, Drawing nearer to the merry month of May!

So now we're going to leave you in peace and plenty here for The summer springs so fresh and green and gay, We will not sing you May again until another year, For to drive you these cold winter nights away!

Wlburges Recipes

May Wine Place in a bowl: 12 sprigs young waldmeister 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar 1 bottle Moselle or other dry white wine (1 cup brandy)

Cover the mixture for 30 minutes, no longer. Remove the waldmeister. Stir contents of bowl thoroughly and pour over a block of ice in a punch bowl. Add: 3 bottles Moselle 1 quart carbonated water or champagne


Midsummer/Litha Rites and Sedes (Customs)

The showcase of Midsummer was its bonfires. Presumably these were lit in the method known as "Need Fire" using only a fire drill or fire bow (never flint and steel). Need Fires were used in times of need to drive petilance away from cattle, and this was done at Midsummer as well. On the Eve of Midsummer, folks would gather and build bonfires, drive cattle through the smoke and then conduct a "watch," that is they tried to stay up all night. Lovers would leap through the fires, presumably to encourage the crops to grow. Others woud leap through them for good luck or health. Flowers were thrown into the fires and folks danced and made merry about them. Midsummer Eve was also a time of courtshp. Young couples that had met at Walburga woud continue their courtship, or get married. Also on Midsummer Eve folks would gather flowers to decorate the homes the next morning. Many medicinal herbs were also gathered. Among the favourites were St. John's Wort, Vervain, Mugwort, Feverfew, Rue, and "Fern Seed." Worts harvested on Midsummer were thought very powerful, and not a few had special properties. Roses picked on Midsummer Eve were thought to last until Yule, and Mugwort placed in a grain bin on midsummer was thought to keep mice away. Yarrow hung up at Midsummer was thought to keep all healthy for the year. Other herbs were used in love divination. Supposedly if a young maid scattered fern seed on th ground before her, and then looked back over her shoulder on Midsummer Eve, she would see her future husband. There were many other formsinvolving Orpine and Thistle as well. The next day, all the wells were cleaned and decorated witht he flowers gathered the night before. In addition to the flowers, Rowan and Birch were favoured for decorating for their beautiful branches. Wreathes made of Nine worts or woods were said to be esp. powerful. Some of the worts used were Wolvesbane*, the English Daisy, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Oak leves, Rowan, Birch, Orpine, Thistle, and Yarrow. There were many others no doubt, now forgotten, or remembered only in local customs. All of the homes and wells were decorated and birch branhes laid around the flax fields. Wells were thought particularly holy at this time and water drawn from them said to heal all sorts of ailments. *Very poisonous and NOT to be used! Bonfires As stated above the bonfires were probably lit using a fire bow or fire drill, and more than likely consisted of nine woods. Processions would form to go to the place of the fire with everyone carrying a torch, ever house would be lit as well. Once at the fire and it was started, folks would dance and sing about it, leap thru it, and throw flowers into it. Many would stay up all night and in England this was called the "watch." To stay awake all night was thought to give one good luck and health.

Burning Wheels Another Midsummer Night activity was to send burning wheels and barrels down hillsides. Processions and Warding Many would wonder from bonfire to bonfire bedecked in garlands and accompanied by morris dancers or a hobby horse procession carrying torches. Other folks would circle their homes and buildings to ward them for the coming year. NO MIDSUMMER SONGS OR FOODS AVAILABLE.

Hlafmaest/Freyfaxi Rites and Sedes (Customs)

Hlafmaest is a modern holiday based on the Christian holiday of Lamass or "loaf mass." Hlafmaest is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction by Garman Cyning of Theodish Belief. It means "loaf feast." Modern Asatru sometimes calls it Freyfaxi, but there is no evidence it was sacred to Frey or of an ancient holiday with that name either. Nonetheless, in Scandanavia, Germany, and England a festival took place near or on the first of August. In the Anglo-Saxon calendar one of the names for this month was Thunormonath "Thunder or Thor month." It could well be that this festival to celebrate the start of the harvest was sacred to Thunor. In Iceland, it took place near the time of Thingstide. Thunor (Thor) is one of the gods of Thing. Hlfmst or Lamass was the first harvest of the year, when the wheat and first apples were gathered. As such it has much in common with Harvest Home, and many of the rites are analogous. The last load would have be en brought in with a harvest doll proceeding it, and then would have come the threshing. Many rites must have accompanied the threshing because it would have to be a community project. Possibly there were threshing songs that were sung as the work got d one. The first loaves of bread would have then been baked and blessed. No doubt some of these were offered to the gods. The common lands of the village were opened for winter pasturage at this time and remained open until Feb. 2. Bondsman generally paid their rent at this time as well. Even though our society is no longer an agricultural one, no one could deny we must still eat. Therefore, it is fitting that perhaps we go to the store, and buy some flour, and make bread the "old fashioned" way to give to the gods.


Harvest Rites and Sedes (Customs)

Often called Harvest Home in England, this holy tide falls on the fall equinox. Harvest falls in the middle of harvest in some areas, for others it is the end. For this reason, it and Winter Nights share some customs like the Last Sheaf. Harvest home also shared many customs with Lammass. Again a procession with the last sheaf as the harvest doll took place. Other Harvest customs are unique to it alone such as its version of the Mummer's Play called "RiseUp, Jock." It has much in common with the Yule mummer's plays in that a young king dies and is brought back by a healer with a bag of tricks much like Saint George. In England songs like Harvest Home were sung when the last load came in, as songs similar to John Barleycorn would have been sung while harvesting. It was at this time beer was started brewing, while the barley was still fresh, and a symbel probably would have been in order. In parts of Germany, a goat was slaughtered and roasted at this time, and meant to symbolize the "oats goat." In modern Germany, Erntefest is their Thanksgiving taking place on the first Sunday in October. Several customs survived. One very strange one in Cottbus, Germany involved building an oak leaves gate, on the gate was hung a dead cock. Mean would then race for the gate and try to tear a wing off the cock. The one that got a wing and made in thru the gate was the Kral. Falling near Erntefest is Michaelmas which takes place on Sept. 29th. Ironically this date was also cited by Grimm as Zisa's Day, a day sacred to Tiw's (Tyr's) wife. It is therefore reasonable to think may of Michaelmas's customs were originally Heathen in origin. Such customs are giving water to wolves, letting cattle into the wood was no longer allowed until the end of winter (as the wood belongs to the wolf after Michaelmas), and that the winter fodder for the cattle must be collected by then. The Last Sheaf As the festival closing harvest, Winter Nights has many customs connected to the last sheaf. In areas as varied as Sweden and Germany, the last sheaf was left for Woden's horse. Often this was done at Winter Nights, tho it could be the three harvest festivals, Hlafmaest, Harvest, and Winter Nights celebrated the harvest of three different kinds of crops. Wheat, barley, and other grains do not all ripen at the same time. Therefore there could easily be a Last Sheaf for each grian crop.

Harvest Songs Harvest Supper Song Hear the tune

Here's a health unto our master, The founder of the feast; I hope his soul, whenever he dies, To heav'n may go to rest; That all his works may prosper, Whatever he takes in hand; For we are all his servants, And all at his command.

chorus: Then, drink---boys---drink; And see you do not spill, For if you do, you shall drink two, It is our master's will.

Now harvest it is ended, And supper it is past, To our good mistress' health, boys, A full and flowing glass, For she is a good woman, And makes us all good cheer Here's to our mistress' health, boys,

So all drink off your beer.

chorus: Then, drink---boys---drink; And see you do not spill, For if you do, you shall drink two, It is our master's will.

Here's a health unto the woodcutter, that lives at home at ease ; He takes his work so light in hand, Can leave it when he please He takes the withe and winds it, And lays it on the ground, And round the faggot he binds it, So let his health go round.

John Barleycorn Hear the tune

There was three men came out of the west, Their fortunes for to try, And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn should die. They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, Throwed clods upon his head,

And these three man made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.

Then they let him lie for a very long time Till the rain from heaven did fall, Then little Sir John sprung up his head, And soon amazed them all. They let him stand till midsummer Till he looked both pale and wan, And little Sir John he growed a long beard And so became a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp To cut him off at the knee, They rolled him and tied him by the waist, And served him most barbarously. They hired men with the sharp pitchforks Who pricked him to the heart, And the loader he served him worse than that, For he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him round and round the field Till they came unto a barn, And there they made a solemn mow of poor John Barleycorn.

They hired men with the crab-tree sticks To cut him skin from bone, And the miller he served him worse than that, For he ground him between two stones.

Here's little Sir John in a nut-brown bowl, And brandy in a glass; And little Sir John in the nut-brown browl Proved the stronger man at last. And the huntsman he can't hunt the fox, Nor so loudly blow his horn, And the tinker he can't mend kettles or pots Without a little of Barleycorn.

The Mow Hear the tune

Now our work's done, thus we feast, After labour comes our rest; Joy shall reign in every breast, And right welcome is each guest: After harvest merrily, Merrily, merrily, will we sing now, After the harvest that heaps up the mow.

Now the plowman he shall plow, And shall whistle as he go, Whether it be fair or blow, For another barley mow, O'er the furrow merrily: Merrily, merrily, will we sing now, After the harvest, the fruit of the plow.

Toil and plenty, toil and ease, Still the husbandman he sees; Whether when the winter freeze, Or in summer's gentle breeze; Still he labours merrily, Merrily, merrily, after the plow, He looks to the harvest, that gives us the mow. Harvest-Home (slightly adapted for Heathenry)

Come, Roger and Nell, Come, Simpkin and Bell, Each lad with his lass hither come; With singing and dancing, And pleasure advancing, To celebrate harvest-home!

Chorus. 'Tis Frea* bids play, And keep holiday, To celebrate harvest-home! Harvest-home! Harvest-home! To celebrate harvest-home!

Our labour is o'er, Our barns, in full store, Now swell with rich gifts of the land; Let each man then take, For the prong and the rake, His can and his lass in his hand. For Frea, etc.

No courtier can be So happy as we, In innocence, pastime, and mirth; While thus we carouse, With our sweetheart or spouse, And rejoice o'er the fruits of the earth

*The original says Ceres the Greek goddess of grain

Harvest-Home Song

Our oats they are howed, and our barley's reaped, Our hay is mowed, and our hovels heaped; Harvest home! harvest home! We'll merrily roar out our harvest home! Harvest home! harvest home! We'll merrily roar out our harvest home! We'll merrily roar out our harvest home!

We cheated the parson, we'll cheat him again; For why should the vicar have one in ten? One in ten! one in ten! For why should the vicar have one in ten? For why should the vicar have one in ten? For staying while dinner is cold and hot, And pudding and dumpling's burnt to pot; Burnt to pot! burnt to pot! Till pudding and dumpling's burnt to pot, Burnt to pot! burnt to pot!

We'll drink off the liquor while we can stand, And hey for the honour of old England! Old England! old England! And hey for the honour of old England! Old England! old England!

Winter Nights/Winter Fylleth

Winter Nights/Winter Fylleth Rites and Sedes (Customs)

Winter Nights was the Icelandic name for this festival, Winter Fylleth was the name of the Anglo-Saxon month it fell in. Many modern Heathen combine it with the modern Halloween, and refer to it as All Hallows. The date of Winter Nights is uncertain. It would seem that it fell around October 15th. From the name of the Anglo-Saxon month, it could have fell on the first full moon after the autumn equinox. Two very important blots are thought to have taken place at this time. The disablot and the alfarblot are both mentioned in Icelandic sagas and thought by many to be a part of Winter Nights. This would make the festival one dedicated to the ancestors, and explain how Anglo-Saxon areas quickly adopted the Celtic festival of the dead, Samhain, in the guise of "All Hallows Eve." It is also sacred to Frea (Frey). In Gisla Saga, it is stated Thorgrim conducted a Frey's blot at Winter Nights in thanks for the harvest. Winter Nights would seem to be the most important of Icelandic festivals, maybe even more so than Yule. In other Germanic areas neither Winter Nights or Winter Fylleth are mentioned. However, this may be because the holiday was moved by the Church. St. Martin's Day (November 11) is widely celebrated in Germany, and may have been the continental German version of Winter Nights. Also falling at this time is Bonfire Night in England. Altho this holiday is said not to date before the Guy Fawks plot to blow up the English government in the 17th century, it seems to be much older. Like Bonfire Night in England, St. Martin's Day involved the building and burning of bonfires. Much like Halloween, children in Germany would go from house to house on St. Martin's, reciting verses, and being rewarded with sweets. The Netherlands also burns bonfires on St. Martin's Day, with processions of lights going to the bonfires. Both in Germany and Scandanavia, geese are killed and eaten, their feathers saved for pillows and other uses. Winter Nights was also when the fall slaughter began. The month immediately following Winterfylleth in the Anglo-Saxon calendar was called Blotmonath for perhaps that reason. . The Last Sheaf: As the festival closing harvest, Winter Nights has many customs connected to the last sheaf. In areas as varied as Sweden and Germany, the last sheaf was left for Woden's horse. There are many ties to the last sheaf being given to Woden and the Wild Hunt as well. The general thought being that the Wild Hunt began to ride at this time and stopped riding at the end of Yule. In some areas, it was made into a corn dolly, and paraded through the village. "Trick or Treating" or Souling: Both modern Halloween in England and America, and the St. Martin's Day celebrations in Germany involve children going house to house getting treats by either threatening a trick (in America and England), or reciting verses as in Germany. This custom dates back to an older one called "souling." On All Hallow's Eve, folks would go from house to house begging for "soul cakes." These were little square

cakes with currants. In exchange for the cakes, the "soulers" would say prayers for the dead kin of the cake givers. Apple Bobbing: Bobbing for apples also seemed to have been practiced on the various holidays that was made up Winter Nights. In England a sixpence was often also put in the tub with the apples. Of course, the person that got the sixpence got to keep it. Apples were used in other ways, often being set out with the last sheaf for the Hunt. And of course cider is the drink of preference. Feasts of the Dead: Both the Celtic holiday Samhain and Winter Nights were festivals to the dead. Therefore the fact they merged to become the modern holiday Halloween should not be alarming. As Heathens, such Celtic practices as Jack o Lanterns fit well with Germanic customs such as bonfires and trick or treating. Primary tho, should be an effort to honour the Idesa (Disir) and Ylfe (Alfar) with blots and feasts. This can be conducted as any blot to the gods would, perhaps followed by a feast, and then a minne drinking (a special symbel in memory of the Dead).

Winterfylleth Songs Souling Song Hear the Tune

A soul, a soul, a soul cake Please, good lady, a soul cake An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry Any good thing to make us all merry One for Peter, two for Paul Three for Those who made us all

Gods bless the master of this house, the mistress also And all the little children who around your table grow Likewise your men and maidens, your cattle and your store And all that dwells within your gates we wish you ten times more

The lanes are very dirty and my shoes are very thin I've got a little pocket I can put a penny in If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do If you haven't got a ha' penny, then Gods bless you

Barring of the Door Hear the Tune

It fell upon the Winter Nights time And a gay time it was then, oh When our goodwife got puddings to make And she's boiled them in the pan, oh.

The wind so cold blew south and north And blew into the floor, oh Quoth our goodman to our goodwife Get up and bar the door, oh

My hand is in my hussyfskap Goodman, as you may see, oh If it shall never be barred this hundred year It will ne'er be barred by me, oh

They made the pact betwixt them twa They made it firm and sure, oh That the first that ever a word should speak Should rise and bar the door, oh

Then by there came two gentlemen At twelve o'clock at night, oh And they could neither see house nor hall Nor coal nor candle light, oh

Now whether is this a rich man's house Or whether it is a poor, oh But never a word has one of them spoke For the barring of the door, oh

So first they ate the white puddings And then they ate the black, oh Though muckle thought the goodwife to herself Yet ne'er a word she spoke, oh

Then said the one unto the other Here man, take ye my knife, oh Do ye take off the old man's beard And I'll kiss the goodwife, oh

But there's no water in the house And what shall we do then, oh What ails ye at the pudding brew That boils into the pan, oh

Oh, up then started our goodman And an angry man was he, oh "Will ye kiss my wife before my eyes And scald me with pudding brew, oh"

Then up and started our goodwife Gave three skips upon the floor, oh "Goodman ye spoke the foremost word Ye must rise and bar the door, oh"

Ideas for Monthly Blessings and Holy Tides

The worship themes outlined below are optional suggestions for Ealdriht members' local and personal celebrations. Three Holy Tides are "officially" celebrated by the whole Ealdriht together: Mothernight/Yule, Eostre, and Hallows/Winternights. The Ealdriht rituals for these holy days will soon be available in the section on Needful Ealdriht Holy Tides. The rest of the celebration themes described here are for use as one chooses. There is more information about Holy Tides and their historical celebration in Thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht Handbook chapter on Worship: Holy Tides, and in the Webpage section about Upcoming Holy Tides, as well as longer articles about specific holy days and practices in the section on Haligwaerstow Articles. The Anglo-Saxon names of the months/holy tides are included in parentheses, though the Angelseax most likely measured the beginnings of their months by the phases of the moon rather than by calendar days as we do. In some cases, we have indicated one of the Worlds that might appropriately be celebrated during a particular holy tide. Commentary is included where the suggested celebrations differ from modern Asatru practice, giving reasons why one might consider the celebrations here suggested instead. Yuletide: December 20 through January 1. (Geola) Mothernight: Frige, Idesa and all Mothers. December 20. Yule Sunwending: Sunwheel and the turning of the Year. Solstice Day. Other themes for Yuletide celebrations: Yrminsul/Yggdrasil/World Tree All-Gods Feast Feast of Kinship: All Family, living & departed. Feast of Holy Kingship: Ing-Frea/Freyr Feast of Holda/Berchta & her Procession of Souls Feast of Woden Wish-God Celebration of Bragi and all performing arts

New Year's Eve: Feast of Holy Wells: Wyrd's Well, Mimir's Well, Hvergelmir. (Soothsaying) World to be celebrated: Middangeard/Midgard. Comments on Yule: A celebration of the three holy Wells has been added on New Year's Eve. It is important to celebrate these wells and what they mean, and New Year's Eve seems a good time to do this. First, Yuletide is when we celebrate the Tree, and the Tree and the Well go together. Second, the Wells are a description of the process of absorbing all that has been done (Mimir's Well), processing it (Wyrd's Well), and using that as the basis for all that will come, along with the insertion of new--and perhaps random--elements (Hvergelmir). New Year's Eve is traditionally a time when we look at what has been done, and speak of what we will do in the year that is coming. Also Yuletide as a whole is a time of formal boasting on the same subjects. Thus, celebration of the Wells on New Year's Eve seems highly appropriate, and should include soothsaying (spaeworking, runecasting, scrying, and/or other forms of divinatory soothsaying). This is all a lot more meaningful than getting drunk to celebrate the new year: our focus is on remembering and foreseeing, not on forgetting and losing everything! January: Mid-January. Feast of Skadhi, Ullr and all Wise Etins (Wyrdae, Mimir, Bestla, Bolthorn, Gerda, usw.) Theme: Wild nature and its fierce, hidden wisdom. World: Etinhome. (Aeftera Geola) Comments on January: It is good to make time to celebrate the wise Etins who give us/have given us much, as well as celebrating the wild powers of nature that all the Etins represent. January seems a good time to do that, along with a celebration of our winter deities, Ullr and Skadhi. February: Early February (traditionally February 2 is the feast of light & fire, February 14 the feast of love). Feast of Baldr and Nanna. Themes: Rebirth, light in darkness, fire, love. Fire-tide. (Suhlmonath) Comments on February: In closely-related Celtic traditions, February 1st or 2nd celebrated the firegoddess Brigid, including her purifying powers. Christian tradition, so often built upon a Heathen foundation, celebrates this time as Candlemas, the purification of the virgin Mary. Then, there is the tradition of Valentine's Day, celebrating love. In thinking of love and fire and the power of a pure mind, and thinking of light in the darkness of February's winter days, Baldr and Nanna come to mind. Their brightness, their love, their burning death, their clear cleanness of thought and deeds, the hope of them as the seed of new life after destruction, waiting now in the dim halls of Hel, lighting it with their feasting: all these seem most appropriate to celebrate as the candle's flame lights the dark days in the depths of winter. March: Spring Evennight/Equinox. Feast of Nerthus, Frey and Gerda. Themes: Charming of the plough, Aecerbot ceremony, sacrifice for returning life. (Hretha or Hrethmonath) Comments on March: Though many modern Heathens celebrate Ostara on the spring equinox in March, it was the month of April, not March, that was named "Eostre" by the Heathen Anglo-Saxons, and it was named so because April was when they celebrated Eostre's holy tide. March was named after a different goddess, Hretha, by the Angelseax, possibly meaning "wild, fierce." But the earth begins to awaken and turn toward the sun during the equinox, and this seems a good time to celebrate Nerthus in the

traditional ways, along with the tale of Freyr and Gerda, the charming of the plow and the blessing of the land in preparation for the planting that will come. April: First part of April. Feast of Eostre/Ostara, Idunna, and Ylfe. Themes: New life, cleansing and renewal, new beginnings. World: Elf-Home. Fire-tide. (Eostre) May: May-Eve or early May. Feast of Waelburga and the Wise Goddesses (Holda, Freo/Freya, Wyrdae, Frige as Seeress, Frige's wise maidens, many other Germanic goddesses). Themes: Magic, witchcraft, dark/bright contrasts, soothsaying, landwights, sacrifice for wisdom, dancing and mumming. Fire-tide. (Thrimilchi) June: Sunwending/Solstice. Litha. Themes: Sunna and the Sunwheel, fertility, Freya and Freyr as Summer Queen and King, growth, blooming, Fulla for abundance, sacrifice for love. Also Tyr, Forseti, Var and Syn in honor of Thingstide and the maintenance of a peaceful community. World: Wane-Home. Fire-tide. (Aerra Litha) July Early/mid-July. Feast of Thunor, Sif and their Children. Themes: Daily life, living as a community, working, farming, strength & endurance, values/thews. Ties in with Hlaefmaest celebrations. (Aeftera Litha) Comments on July: July, with its hot, sultry weather, the ripening of the grain, and the focus on farming and our dependence upon the production of food, seems a good time to celebrate Thor and his family. The love between Sif and Thor ripens the grain, and the strength, honesty and hard work represented by the whole family undergirds our life, too--our life of work, family and community. So this a good time to celebrate Thor's family and the traditional Heathen values associated with family and community life, including the value of hard work. August: Beginning: Hlaefmaest/Lammas-tide. Theme: John Barleycorn, sacrifice for material harvest. August 25/late August: Woden's Discovery of the Runes. Theme: Sacrifice for spiritual harvest. (Maedmonath or Waedmonath ) Comments on August: John Barleycorn is the traditional English figure of the grain-man or corn-man, always sacrificed at harvest, always springing up again at seedtime. Woden's discovery of the runes is a modern Asatru observance, and fits well with the theme of sacrifice for harvest. September: Mid-September: Harvest Home; theme: Harvest celebration. September 29/late September: Feast of the Warders. Theme: Warriors and warders, Tyr, Heimdal, Thunor, Freyr, Freya as warrior, Frige/Hlin as warder, Woden and Frige on Hlidskjalf as watchers, heroes, valkyrja/disir, sacrifice for the good of all, a harvest of frith, well-being of the community. World: Ases' Garth/Asgard. (Haervest) Comments on September: The Feast of the Warders. This feast is based on the holy day that American Heathens celebrate on November 11, Veteran's Day. Presumably the choice of November 11 for Einherjar Day was influenced by its use in the U.S. as Veteran's Day already, and certainly there is nothing wrong with doing it this way. But we have moved this suggested theme to September 29th or thereabouts because, again, of a Christian holiday at that time that we strongly suspect is based on

earlier Heathen foundations. September 29th is Michaelmas, the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and the focus is very much on the angels as the host of heavenly warriors, fighters for good, with the archangel Michael as their captain and war-chief. Considering how many of the Christian holy days are reworked Heathen ones, it is likely that this one is, also. Another reason to suspect that what is now called Michaelmas has important Heathen roots is that Michaelmas in England is traditionally one of the days of reckoning and accounting, going way back in history. Rents and payments are due then, assizes are held, and other public functions are observed then. In research for the article about "Waelburga and the Rites of May," it was found that Mayday (Waelburges Day) is another such day of reckoning, and the reason is that Thingstides were held on that day during Heathen times, and the tradition has been carried over and maintained into modern times. If that happened with Waelburges Day, one rather suspects the same thing happened with Michaelmas. The association of a Thingstide with a day of celebration for holy warriors and warders certainly makes a lot of sense. The third reason for moving the Feast of the Warders from November 11 to September 29 is because in the older European tradition, November 11 is not only Martinmas--the day of St. Martin--but is also called Hollantide. There are important, but different, things to celebrate in conjunction with these holidays, which are discussed in the comments about November. October: Late October: Winternights/Winterfylleth/Hallows-Tide. Theme: Idesa, mound-Alfs, forebears, heritage, the past, Mimir's Well, sacrifice for forebears, soothsaying. World: Hel. (Haligmonath) Comments on October: Here we have combined the Disablot and Alfablot with the traditional Hallowstide or feast of all souls that gave rise to the holiday of Halloween, which is a contraction of "AllHallows' Even(ing)," namely the day before All-Hallows. All Saints Day is still celebrated as a Christian holiday on November 1, followed by All Souls Day on November 2. Halloween is therefore now believed to be the "playtime" of evil spirits, before the "good spirits" --the hallows-- are celebrated and strengthened on the following holy days, ousting the evil spirits. As we well know, Heathen holy beings were re-envisioned as evil beings by the Christian church, and the whole set of traditions and superstitions related to this holy tide--combining Halloween, All-Saints and All-Souls--seems to indicate that there are very strong Heathen roots associated with this time. The traditions of the Disablot and the Alfablot fit in beautifully with the idea of celebrating the hallowed souls of all our dead, and all combine together to make a rich and fitting Heathen holy tide during the period between October 15th, the traditional date for the Disablot, and October 31 as Hallowstide. Some of the Anglo-Saxons also called this time "Winterfylleth,"or winter full-moon, indicating the appropriateness of celebrating this holy tide at the full moon during this period. November: November 11: Hollantide. Themes: Woden, Holda and the Wild Hunt, Valkyries and Woden's Ravens. November 23: Feast of Weyland and Dwarves. Theme: Smiths, crafts of all kinds, craft mysteries & creativity. World: Dwarfhome. (Blotmonath)

Comments on November: See the comments on September, for part of the reason why the feast of warders, or Einherjar Day, was transferred to September. The remainder of the reason is that November 11 is most likely connected with the celebration of some other important Heathen observances. November 11 in the Christian calendar is St. Martin's Day. St. Martin was a very obscure saint and usually the saint's day of an obscure saint is not one that anyone would pay much attention to. However, this date is important enough in English and European life that the day is well-known and is referred to as Martinmas. It is a weather-marker day, and is associated with a number of superstitions and folk traditions. As a number of scholars have attested to, many of the Heathen gods and goddesses were simply renamed and transformed into Christian saints. It is thought that St. Martin is a transformation of Woden, which would certainly explain why "Martinmas" is an important day, better than the association of that day with an obscure saint would explain it. Another term used for November 11 is "Hollantide." Though not entirely certain of the derivation of this name, it may be suspected to relate to the Germanic goddess Holla, also known in various different aspects as Holle, Holda, and Hella. This goddess, famous in the Heathen Germanic countries of the European continent and still a feature in folk-tales today, has many characteristics in common with Woden, and is in some places called "Frau Wode" or "Frau Gode," namely Mrs. Woden. She leads the Wild Hunt, she gathers the souls of the dead and rides with them in her train, she blesses or curses as she rides by, and brings fertility to the land, all of which Woden also does. So, combining these implications together, a feast on November 11 is suggested, that is dedicated to Woden, Holda, and the Wild Hunt, with the addition of Woden's ravens and the Waelcyriges or Valkyrja to be honored. Indeed, this theme or focus also captures one aspect of the Einherjar--that of the wodfilled warriors, as opposed to the more sober and responsible aspects of the warders which are celebrated in September. So, the celebration of one aspect of the Einherjar (and also the Valkyrja) on November 11 will still remain. Celebrating the Wild Hunt at this time makes good theological sense, as a linkage between the celebration of the idesa, mound-alfs and hallowed souls in October, and the fullscale unification of all these themes at Yuletide: forebears, Wild Hunt, Woden and Holda, Mothers, fertility and good fortune, and so forth. Weyland's Day is celebrated in this country on Thanksgiving Day. In England, it is celebrated on November 23--right around the same day--because this is St. Clement's day, the patron saint of smiths. St. Clement is seen by scholars as a christianization of Weyland himself, so it certainly makes sense to celebrate Weyland on "St. Clement's" day! What goes around, comes around.... The calendar as a whole: This series of celebrations flows thematically throughout the year: remembering and honoring the wildness of nature in January, followed by hope, goodness, the hidden seed, light-in-darkness in February, awakening Earth in March, the beauty of awakening souls of nature in April, uniting of roots and shoots, depth and height, dark and bright in May, leading to the full-blown richness and magic of fulfilled summertime & its might in June, coming "down to earth" with Thor and his thews of the common man, the community and everyday life in July, sacrificing for good harvest: John Barleycorn for a material harvest, and Woden's sacrifice of himself for a spiritual harvest in August, celebrating the warders and those who sacrifice their lives for the good of all in September, celebrating

the souls of all our forebears, of those who have given us their heritage, in October, entering into the Wild Hunt of wod-filled souls rushing across the land in November, harbingers of both woe and weal, with the might of their wod leading to the culmination and wrapping-up of everything we have celebrated throughout the year, in the far-reaching celebrations of Yuletide, and the honoring of Wyrd, the Wells and the Tree, as we prepare to set forth into the new cycle again. During the course of this cycle, seven of the Worlds and their respective folk are honored: Middangeard or Midgard at Yule, Etin-Home in January, Elf-Home in April, Wane-Home in June, Ase's Garth or Asgard in September, Hel in October, and Dwarf-Home in November.

The Hof And Other Holy Sites

The Hof or Ealh: Our spiritual forebears first worshipped in groves as stated by Tacitus and revealed by the original meanings of the meaning of the words for "temple." Anglo-Saxon bearu and hearg were both used for "grove," long before they came to mean "temple." Gothic alhs and Anglo-Saxon ealh are also related to Indo-European words meaning "grove." Heathens continued to worship in groves until the the conversion to Christianity was complete. The Elder Heathens treated these sacred sites, whether grove or temple, as separate from the outside world, and fenced them off with ropes, hedges, or fences. Such an enclosure, was called a v in Old Norse. V derives from Old Norse vgja "to make sacred, separate from the mundane." These sites were also called stafgarr in Old Norse and frigeard in AngloSaxon. Such enclosures surrounded sacred sites like temples, sacred wells, mounds, trees, and so forth. No violence could be done within them, and to commit violence could result in death for the violator. The enclosure was an an important part of a ealh, and this probably explains why hedges seem to have played such an intricate part in Heathen belief. The Anglo-Saxon word hg "hag" derives ultimately from the same word as Anglo-Saxon haga "hedge or haw." The ealh at Yeavering had an enclosure about it, as did the one described in Kjalnes Saga. The ealh itself at Yeavering was of long house design, about 35 feet long and 17 feet wide. The interior of it is not clearly known, although there was a pit of oxen skulls by the east door (about one foot wide, six feet long, and half a foot deep), and at the southern end appears to have been a partition. A line of small postholes run across the southern end and in front of these are three large free standing post holes. These had been filled in with gravel before the building had been burned. It is believed this is where the wofod may have stood since the area seems to have been enclosed in a small apartment. Bede says the ealh at Goodmanham in Northumbria had such enclosures and evidence suggests the one at Harrow Hill in Sussex may have. This parallels the description of Thrlf's hof in the Eyrbygga Saga and that of Ingmundr's hof in the Kjalnes Saga. The hof at Yeavering had buttressed outer walls and inner walls lined with wattle and daub. There were two doorways in the center of the long walls, and the main pillars which supported the roof were one at end each of the short walls. Directly north and in line with the hof is what appears to have been a dining hall of similar long house design and size. To the west of the hof, was a kitchen/slaughter house where the sacrifices were prepared for the feasts. Northwest of the ealh, on a Stone Age burial mound, stood a rather large pole, reminiscent of the Old Saxon Irminsul. Unfortunately, for all this information from the archaeological digs at Yeavering, we know little detail of the interior of the hof. What we do know of the layout of the temple at Yeavring is outlined in the diagram below

Other Holy Sites: Many of the words for "holy site" or "altar" come from words that originally meant "grove" or a wooded area. Old English hearg and bearo both refer to groves and holy sites. The trees within such groves were held to be sacrosanct and could not be stripped of boughs, and were never to be cut down on the penalty of death. According to Groenbech, around such groves, or any holy site would be a fence of staves, which served as a sacred enclosure. Other sources tell us of hedges about such sites. Within the grove would be a hearg, a heap of stones serving as an altar and were from the tress hung the hides of sacrifices, and in the grove, placed the various votive offerings of individuals. It can be assumed that wohs, images of the gods would also set near the altar. Within the groves were often sacred trees or poles such as the Old Saxons' Irminsul. A tree was said to stand near the temple at Uppsala, and throughout the lore are references to trees thought to be holy. In the Middle Ages, such trees were still garlanded, even though they no longer received Heathen sacrifice. Thought particularly holy were oaks, sacred to .unor; ash, which resembled Yggdrasil; hazels, whose wood served as the fence for a thing or other sacred/legal site; elders and elms, which represented the feminine principle. Other trees such as birch and yew also received much reverence. The yew in particular appeared in ancient grave yards and was also thought to resemble Yggdrasil, while the birch has a rune named for it. Other natural sites served as holy steads, particularly those of great beauty. Thingveillr in Iceland was chosen in part for its great view of the country and its wondrous beauty. Waterfalls, mountains, springs, and rivers have all served as holy sites. Finally, the mounds of the dead also served as sacred sites. There were barrows near the temple at Uppsala and near the hof at Yeavering in Northumbria.

One may with relative ease create their own sacred site or ve even in their own back yard. To do so, one will need the following things: 1) A hearg or altar. 2) A form of enclosure for the site such as a privacy fence. 3) Wohs or idols of the gods if desired. The layout of such a frithgeard is largely up to the individual, but the hearg should be in the north. It may be a pile of stones, or a wooden table, and may be inscribed with holy signs or runes. It may be surrounded by wohs or allowed to stand alone. Sacrifices may be allowed to remain on it for the gods to consume. The site itself may be surrounded by a fence, traditionally made of hazel, although a natural enclosure of trees or a hedge may do as well, or even a temporary one of rope (vebond). One may want to add other features, such as a fire pit, or one's own sacred tree. During times of the holy tides, one may wish to decorate the area with garlands and wreaths made of biodegradable materials, tie ribbons to the trees, or set out candles. Such decor can be timed to the season; Easter eggs for Easter, Yule wreaths for Yule, and so forth. If one is fortunate enough to have property of their own other than their own backyard to set up a frithgeard, they will want to go about a selection process. Groves are the most desirable sites if one is fortunate enough to own a wooded tract of land. However, nearly any natural site will do that gives off a feeling that is mystical and spiritual. One will want to select such a site first on the feeling it conveys, and second on whether or not the land wights are friendly. One can win the friendship of the land wights by performing simple rites to them, giving gifts of bread, milk, or porridge. Such a site can be set up in the same way as a frithgeard in one's backyard, only more elaborately. One may one to use a natural enclosure such as a blackberry bramble or construct one of wood. The hearg and firepit can be larger and be permanent features, and one can choose one of the larger trees as the sacred tree. If at all possible, such sites should be as secluded as possible. There are a few rules regarding such holy sites. No weapons that have not been blessed for religious use should be brought into the enclosure. Only sacred speech should be allowed within the frithgeard, and no tree within the enclosure can be harmed in any way. Having one's own holy stead gives one a place to worship the gods on a daily basis, hold small gatherings, and brings one nearer the gods. If one has a backyard, or a farm or other piece of property to establish a small holy site, they by all means should do so. If no such site is available, a room in one's house or apartment dedicated to the gods will so. A table or desk can serve as a small altar and one can keep their wohs of the gods close by. Like the outdoor holy site, the indoor altar room can be decorated to fit the occasion or holy tide. Finally, temporary holy staeds can be created using a portable altar, rope of a natural fiber, as poles made of hazel or birch. One will want to rope the area off and set the portable altar up in the north. A gift needs to be given to the land wights of the area, but after that, one can perform any rites needed. The ancient Heathens worshipped in groves, at river banks, and under waterfalls. It should be no different for ourselves today, and having one's own site can lead to years of joy and pleasure in worshipping the gods.

Tools of the Worshipper

Every worshipper needs equipment to help him or her in his yields and prayers, and this is especially true of a heargweard or other priest. Barring a full fledged ealh or hof, the following list of items may come in useful. 1) Blowing horn 2) Bltorc 3 Hlaut-teinn 4) Hselft 5) Oath Ring 6) Rcelsft 7)Seax 8) Symbelhorn 9) Wofod. Additional items may be necessary depending on one's patron deity such as a spear for worshippers of Wden, a hammer for those of unor, and so forth. Blowing Horn: If one is the leader of a kindred or expects to host large blots and symbels often, they will want a blowing horn to summon folks at outdoor gatherings. A blowing horn is very easy to make or may be purchased from a craftsman. Bltorc: Anglo-Saxon bltorc (bltbolli ON) is the term used for the bowl that holds the mead for the blessing. It is also called the blessing bowl. It generally sat on the wofod, and should be made of copper or wood. In it sat the hlaut-teinn. Hlt-teinn: Old Norse hlaut-teinn (also called a strkkull), was the term used for the aspergum or "sprinkler of holy liquid." Hlt-taacuten is an Anglo-Saxon reconstruction of the term. It was usually a fresh oak branch or a branch of a similar holy tree. Hselft: Anglo-Saxon hselft was used of the cauldron the feast was prepared in or the kettle in which it was served. It should be of stoneware, although iron could be substituted (do not use copper as it can cause copper poisoning). Oath Ring: The oath ring was an arm band containing at least 20 ounces of silver worn by the wofodegn at special occasions, and at all other times resting on the wofod . Oaths were sworn upon it at Thing and on other occasions. Rcelsft: An incense burner in which one can burn dried herbs or incense. It is also called a strf&aelligt, and in Old Norse, a glker) in which to burn incense (called in Anglo-Saxon rcels or str). It should be of the fire-pan variety, and be made of stone. Seax: The seax was the standard knife of the Elder Heathen, and was used by nearly everyone. For religious use, the blade must be kept clean and sharp, and never put to mundane use. Symbelhorn: A drinking horn to use at symbel, and in personal rites. Wofodegns will want a great horn. Wofod: Anglo-Saxon wofod was the term used for altar, along with the less common term hearg, which was usually used of a temple or grove. Its Old Norse cognate hrg, however generally meant any altar. Modern practice tends to use hearg for outdoor altars, Old Norse stalli for indoor altars, and wofod for both. Altars outdoors were almost always of stone, while we have no idea what those used indoors were like, though wood was the most common building material by far for everything. The

wofod can be engraved with holy signs, or left plain. It should be in an enclosed area, or at least covered when not in use. On the wofod should set the bltorc and oath ring. Wohas "idols" of one's patron gods should be set facing it. Outdoor wofods can be constructed by piling up stones. In such a case, an area needs to be marked off around it as the v or frigeard, if possible with rope (in Old Norse called vbnd), or a planted hedge. Other tools: A fire drill or a fire starter kit for starting need fires, a cloak to meditate under, and a set of runes tines also come in useful. Ropes of a natural fiber (flax or cotton if possible) along with staves of hazel or oak come in handy for vbnd. Most of these items can be made by hand, and there are articles on how to make many of the ritual items in books such as Gundarsson's Teutonic Religion.


lfar (ON)/Ylfe (AS) The Ylfe are the elves of Northern European mythology. Generally divided into different races, the term elf usually refers to the Ljosalfar (ON), the "Light Elves", beings of great beauty that often associate with the gods. They are said to be quite powerful and have been known to give aid to men and gods alike. They live in Alfheimr which was given to the god Fr&acuutea (Freyr) as a gift for his first tooth and it could be the god is seen as their ruler. They had close associations with the gods and seem to be creatures of light and good. The other variety of elves are the Dokkalfar (ON) and the Svartlfar (ON). The Dokkalfar or the "Dark Elves" are dark beings and many link them to the Niflungar of the Sigurd lays and many hold they dwell in Niflheimr, although this is also said of the Svartalfar by many today. Others feel the Dokkalfar may be the souls of dead men dwelling in mounds. It is difficult to say as even the ancient lore seems confused on the point. There may be no confusion at all however, as it could be that the dark elves dwelling in Niflheimr are nothing more than dead souls. The Svartalfar on the other hand may not be elves at all, but dwarves. They are said to dwell in Svartalfarheimr and to be ruled by Dvalin, who gave them the runes. One should be wary of calling on any of these creatures' aid as they may be tempermental or seeking their own aims. They are also thought to cause illness as many old terms for disease like elf-shot show. Elf shot was essentially dart shot into a person by the elves to cause illness, presumablly for some affront the human had made to the elves. Cofgodas (AS) A group of spirits friendly to humans that help around one's house. Generally they are seen by those with second sight as small humans. Sometimes they are mischievous, but rarely dangerous. They generally dislike lazy humans as they themselves are hard workers. Some cofgods do become nuisances hiding things, making noise, and knocking things over, but generally a simple spell will rid the house of such pesky types. Disir (ON)/Idesa (AS) The idesa or as they are called in Old Norse the disir are ancestral women of great power that often help the families they belong to. Many are of nearly goddess level although even a few living mortal women were counted amongst their number in ancient times. They were afforded worship in ancient times and in the Ynglinga Saga a feast held in their honor is described. The disir often appear to members of their families to help or often punish and are said to appear in dreams. They should not be confused with the wlcyrgen (valkyrkur) who are handmaidens of Wden (Odin). The idesa of one's family may be called upon in some spell workings esp. those dealing with family matters. They are esp. helpful with childbirth and also attend deaths. Dvergr (ON)/Dweorgh (AS) The dwarves may be one and the same as the black elves of Norse myth. They appear throughout Northern European folklore as small stocky humans with thick beards and an ugly appearance. Everywhere they are associated with subterranean realms, often with mining and the working of precious metals. The dwarves of Norse myth were not at all kind creatures, two of them being responsible for the death of Kvasir. Other places they appeared more benevolent and were always considered the greatest of smiths, crafting some of the gods jewelry and weapons. It is said Fro (Freya)

slept with four dwarves for her necklace, the Brsingmene and that they made such things as Thunor (Thor)'s hammer. Apparently, like the elves the dwarves were also seen as causing illnesses as two Anglo-Saxon charms appear in the Lacnunga to rid one of dwarves. Huldrufolk (Norwegian) A group of woodland spirits that have the fronts of men, but the hollowed out backs of trees. They are basically one and the same as the wood wives of Germany. In Germany they are often linked to the goddess Holda. A special variety the Elle of Denmark are said to guard the Elder Tree. Generally all these beings seem to be the same type. They appear as beautiful children from the front but have a tree trunk for the back. They generally shy away from Mankind. Jttin (ON)/Eoten (AS) The ettins are a type of powerful being on par with the gods and elves. Usually they are thought of as giants, though not all of them are so large; they can be human sized. Many ettins are friendly to the gods such as the sea ettin gir who regularly had the gods as his guest and on a par with them. Others seem to oppose the gods at times. Generally they are wise and quite powerful. Mimer, counted as the wisest being of all, numbers among them as does the Norse god Njrd's wife Skai. Still it is unwise to use them in spell working. Landsvttir(ON)/ * Landwihta (AS) The Landsvttir are land spirits, the guardian spirits of the woods, forests, and streams. Usually friendly they prefer not to be disturbed by modern man. They do befriend humans though and have been known to give aid to growing crops and in other such agricultural pursuits. The Land Wights dislike blood and violence in general. They do appear in a variety of forms and this may be due to shape shifting abilities. They seem strongest in the untamed wilds and this may be because they shy away from civilized areas. Mare (AS) The "nightmare," A mare is a type of wight responsible for causing men to have nightmares. Mares are the most powerful of demons and are to be avoided at all costs. Said to ride humans to death and cause night terrors, the mare has no redeeming qualities. They are generally viewed as hideous creatures with rough features. Nykr (ON)/Nicor ( AS) A Nixie is a water spirit usually associated with rivers and believed responsible for drownings and floods. The nixies are generally thought of evil creatures preying on human flesh. Like the mare they should be avoided. Many areas of Europe once felt these powerful water demons demanded a sacrifice each year, least they flood the fields or drown someone. Pki (ON)/Pca (AS) A small demon similar to a goblin with the habits of a poltergeist. This concept, though somewhat diluted, survived into the Middle Ages to become the "Puck" familiar to us from Shakespeare and other English writers. In parts of England, they sometimes left out bowls of curds and cream for the puck. In most ancient times however they were on par with the mare and thought quite evil. It could be that Loki was in truth a pca. The earlier views of the puck as an evil being are most likely the most accurate and fall in accord with Loki's character perfectly. In Christain Anglo-Saxon texts the Devil is often refered to as the Puck, and this could be a memory of a being in Heathen beliefs on par with or perhaps even Loki himself. The other obvious choice would be Surtr, but then this great fire demon has little in common with the Puck's abilities.

Rsi (ON)/hrisi (AS) A word for a type of giant for described as fair to look upon and not to be much greater than human stature. They are said to be of low intelligence though and to like throwing boulders at each other. Generally, however they seem helpful to Mankind, but due to this low intelligence that usefulness isn't much good. urs (ON)/yrs(AS) The thurses are a type of giant not to be confused with the ettins. They often aren't very intelligent (though there are exceptions like Surtr), tend to be ugly, and are usually associated with some elemental or natural force (fire, ice, frost, etc.). Generally they seem to be in opposition to the gods and to unor (Thor) in particular. Unholda (AS) A group of evil wights whose names are paralleled by one in High German. The Unholden seem to be a group of evil wights in opposition to the goddess Holda. They may be evil dead or a variety of other wights, the folklore is unclear. At any rate the beings are quite evil and should be avoided. Valkyrja (ON)/Wlcyrgie (AS) The "Choosers of the slain." The Valkries are Wden (Odin)'s hand maidens said to protect his heroes through life and to choose amongst the dead who goes to Valhalla. They serve as purveyors of wisdom, protection, and at death to help the fallen hero make the difficult journey to Valhalla. The Valkyries are often associated with the Norns and this may be due to their role at death. In myth they have been seen as both very fierce ugly hags relishing in blood shed and as beautiful young women living to serve the hero to which they are assigned. Both aspects are most likely true. The former view seems to go back to an earlier time when they were seen, like their god, as beings of rage and wind, the fury of battle. However, this does not stop them from taking on other aspects of Wden which are much gentler. Wden was also seen as a agricultural god in Germany, known for the giving of gifts and even a great degree of kindness. His advice in the H;vaml reveal the god to be much more concerned with common sense than necessarily uncontrolled rage. It could be that the Valkyries who also imbued wisdom carried these kinder qualiites as well, and that the separate views of their personalities are only a reflection of a more complex figure. The Wild Hunt Legends of the Wild Hunt are found throughout Europe and in Germanic countries the leader of the Hunt is usually held to be Wden. The Hunt is seen as being souls of the dead riding the winds of winter storms often on horse back with their hunting dogs in pursuit of whatever gets in their path. Legend holds that if one sees the Hunt they must join it or else go mad. The only defense against this being to ask the Hunt master for a sprig of parsley. In Germany there is a second version of the Hunt lead by the goddess Holda which consists of the souls of dead infants.


Gods of the Miercinga Rce

Detailed information on the Gods of the pantheons of the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles is forever lost. We know from mentions in Anglo-Saxon literature that Wden, unor, Ing, Eostre, Hrede, Eorthe, and Seaxneat were worshiped. We know further from place names that Tiw, Frge, and Fro were also worshiped. Finally, we can infer from continental sources in the homelands of the Anglo-Saxons and their neighbors that such Gods as Irmin, Holda, Fosite, Nehalennia, and Nerthus may have also made up the pantheon. For the most part we are indebted to the Norse and Danish sources as well as German folklore, not to mention our own ongoing experiences with the Gods and Goddess for information.

The se (sir)

Wden, Woden, inn, Odin Woden (NE)/Wden (AS)/inn(ON) Wuodan (OHG)/*Vdans (Go)/Wda (Fris.)

Woden is perhaps the most documented of the Heathen gods, both in the ancient lore and modern writings. His name derives from words such as Old Norse rr and Anglo-Saxon wd, both meaning "madness, fury, inspiration." This "fury" can be seen when he acts as leader of the Wild Hunt, a group of specters riding the winds of winter storms with their hounds preying upon those unwise enough to go out into the night air alone. Stories of the Wild Hunt are scattered all over Europe, and in most Germanic areas one of the leaders of the Hunt is none other than Woden himself. It can also be seen when one examines tales of the beserkers, warriors dedicated to Woden that would go into a battle frenzy, killing all that got into their path. This image of Woden as a god of the fury can be seen throughout the lore. He bears such name as Yggr "the terrible" in the Eddas. The tales of beserkers come from the Scandinavian countries and Iceland, while the tales of the Wild Hunt come primarily from Germany, and our earliest records such as Tacitus show he is a battle god. Woden as god of fury is also Woden, god of violent death. To reach his hall Valhalla (Anglo-Saxon *Walheall; Old Norse Valhll), one must die a battle death (altho many scholars such as H.R. Ellis Davidson have shown any violent death will do). He is also god of the hanged, his primary human sacrifices in ancient times being hung and stabbed with a spear such as King Vikar of Gautreks Saga. Other followers of his, met such varied deaths as drowning and being thrown in snakepits. Yet, Woden, god of fury and violent death was also the god of poetry and speech. The Eddas speak of how Woden won roerir... "the mead of inspiration" which allows poets to compose great poetry; how he won the runes, and gave man the gift of "divine breath." The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem credits Woden with being the origin of all language.

s bi ordfruma lcre spce, Wsdomes wru ondwtena frfor Ond eorla gehwm adnes ondthiht

One of the sir is the primal source of all speech Wisdom's support and wisemen's help, And every earl's riches and happiness.

As god of poetry, Woden was also god of galder(AS), "magical incantation." In the Hvaml, Woden is shown to have won the runes for the gods and men. He is also mentioned by name in The Nine Worts Galder, an Anglo-Saxon charm for healing some ailments, as having given nine healing herbs to Mankind. Woden is again mentioned in the Second Merseberg Charm as a healer, which shows him healing a horse with a broken leg. Here we see a kinder, gentler Woden. The same Woden whose horse German peasants once left a sheaf of corn for. These two seemingly opposed views of Woden as battle god and Woden as god of healing are difficult to reconcile. Yet, both views seem to revolve around the concept the ancient Heathens refer to as wd, a word that had meanings ranging from "fury to inspiration." According to Eric Wodening in his article Wode and the Daimonic, wd can be equated with a psychological construct known as the daimonic. Psychologist Rollo May defines the daimonic as "any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person." He also sees it as the center of all self assertion, not to mention the link between that which is mortal and that which is divine. Most of all, May sees the daimonic as being the drive behind all self assertion, be it rage, love, or the need to create poetry. Eric Wodening therefore views the daimonic as being equivalent to wd; "wode is the faculty by which all human beings can enter into a higher state of self-awareness, thus entering the realm of the divine. In other words, wode is the source of all daimonic urges." This somewhat reconciles Woden as being god of war and god of healing. All these seemingly extreme aspects of the diety stem from that creative force known as wd, and are merely variations of the same divine nature. Fire after all can be used to burn an enemy's house down, or warm one's own. Similarly, wd can inspire one to compose poetry, go into a beserk rage, or perform healing magic. This view of wd as Rollo May's daimonic is somewhat confirmed by Woden's byname of Oski (ON) which means "wish." The word oski and its Anglo-Saxon cognate wsc are related to words dealing with desire and the will. May maintained that the will must be used to control the daimonic for one to achieve mental health. In Woden we find the daimonic and will combined. It is somewhat fitting that the god of "shamanic ecstasy" not to mention wisdom would rule such qualities as required for an "integrated self." This would also somewhat explain how Woden can be both healer and god of the fury for both stem from how the god uses wd or "inspiration." In war, when ruthlessness is called for, the wd would be used to call up the berserk rage, while in times of illness it may be used to heal. Much like a knife, wd can be used to kill or heal, it all depends on how one chooses to use it. Finally, Woden was also seen as the King of the gods and the god of kings. In this, he was often called "oath breaker," as many of the kings dedicated to him eventually lost their lives in battle. A careful look at the lore however will reveal that it is not Woden that was the "oath breaker," but the kings. In Gautek's Saga, King Vikar promised Woden a sacrifice when his ship was caught in stormy seas in return for good weather. Lots were drawn and King Vikar's lot was drawn. Yet, instead of offering himself as a sacrifice, Vikar planned a fake one, calf gut would be put around his throat instead of rope, a twig would serves as the tree, and he would be poked with a small stick instead of stabbed with a spear. He would thus cheat Woden of his sacrifice, and preserve his life. Woden transformed all these items into the real thing none the less, and received his sacrifice anyway.

Ancient Germanic kings were credited with the gift of rd, or the ability to "intuit" divine wisdom. This ability was also seen amongst the skalds and in such "shamanic" deeds as "mound sitting" (sitting out on a grave to get inspiration form the dead), and "going under the hide." (sitting out with a cloak or hide drawn over one's head in mediatation). This is perhaps Woden's greatest aspect, that of god of wisdom. In his own quest for wisdom, Woden hung on the world tree to win the runes with a similar account about him winning healing herbs, gave up an eye to drink from Mimer's well, and send out his ravens daily. Woden's quest for wisdom is perhaps endless, even near Ragnarok in the Elder Edda, Woden is seen consulting an ancient seeress for knowledge. Woden is a very complex god governing a great deal of human and divine life. He is a god of kings and a god of healing, he is a god of war and of poetry. To better understand him, is to first gain his gifts, wisdom, the ability to control one's wd, and the runes or "mysteries." If one does not understand these things and is unable to work the ancient forms of magic known as seir and galder it is doubtful one will ever understand the god Woden.


Wden's wife and the most powerful of the the goddesses, Frge's primary domain sems to be the household. This domain of hers is not that of the household we think of today however, for Northern European women were fully their husbands equals and often made the most vital decisions in household affairs. Like Wden she is a figure of immense wisdom. She is said to be all knowing and to know the orlogs of all men and things. However, she never speaks these things. Frge in myth gave Wden advice on at least two occasions, actually tricking him to achieve the just ends in the situations. In the legend of the naming of the tribe of the Lombards the Vandals called on Wden for victory in battle. Wden states that whomever he saw first in the morning, he would award victory to. The Lombards, at that time called the Winni appealed to Frge for aid. Frge told them to have their women comb their hair over their faces and stand before the sunrise. Frge then moved Wden's bed so it faced the east. When Wden awoke that morning and saw the Winni, he exclaimed "Who are these long beards?' Frge responded "Now you have given them a name, you must also grant them victory." Frge plays the role of Asgardr's noble queen and as such bears the responsibility of any noble's wife. This role meant advising her husband and making many decisions herself. It was usually women who played the role of frpwebba or "peace weaver" the one who makes and maintains peace. This role was one very necessary in ancient Northern Europe, making Frge a very important goddess in the elimination of strife. Frge was associated with spinning and weaving as a constellation in the sky was called Frigga's Distaff. It could be she spins the threads of men's lives that is then woven into the web of Wyrd. This would explain how she knows the orlogs of all men. In Lokasenna she is called "Fjrgynn's maid, that is to say his daughter or kinswoman. Fjrgynn is the masculine version of Thunor's mother's name which was Fjrgynn (although she was often also refered to as Jordhr). Frge however may not have always been the faithful housewife and "Queen of Heaven" that the Eddas portray. In Gesta Danorum Saxo tells a tale where she slept with a servant to get gold meant for an idol of Othinus (Wden) to make jewelry for herself. The probability is that this myth has been seriously altered, and it is not unlikely Saxo confused it with a tale about Freo (Freya). But Saxo also states she slept with Mithothyn and Ullerus. This is similar to the accusation Loki makes in the Lokasenna that "ever hast been fond of men, since Ve and Vili, it is said, thou, Vidrirs wife, didst both to thy bosom take." A point to be made in the "Queen of Heaven"'s name though, often following the death of a King, the wife would take the next King as her husband. In Saxo's tale, Othinus disappeared, and may have been thought dead, and Loki could be referring to the same circumstances. As for taking two lovers at once, since it is apparent Mithothyn and Ullerus were co-ruling, it may be she was seen as married to Wden's office and not the God himself.

Still there may be more to Frge than loving mother and "Queen of Heaven." The German goddess Holda may be yet another guise of Frge. While many have connected to Hel due to mistaking one of her other names Holle for Hlle (the High German cognate for "hell"), and still others see her as Freo, it is not unlikely she is Frge. Like Frge she is named as Wden's wife, and Holda was a maternal goddess, concerned with motherhood and spinning like Frge. She abhorred laziness and punished those who could not finish their spinning and weaving in ample time, yet being a kind goddess, she rewarded the hard working. She is seen in the folktales as being associated often with water, and ponds from which the souls of babies are drawn. This brings to mind the name of Frge's hall Fenselle (Fensalir) "hall of the fens." In parts of Germany, it used to be said when it snowed that "Holda was changing her bed," a domestic duty that brings to mind Frge turning Wden's bed in the myth of the naming of the Lombards. It is also a natural phenomea associated with the sky, fitting for the queen of the Ese (Aesir). Thus far Holda and Frge would seem to be the same. However, in the folklore of Germany, Holda is also shown to have a wild side. She was said to lead the Wild Hunt in Hesse and Thuringa mounted on a great black horse, sounding a horn and cracking a whip with her hair flowing wildly behind her. The phrase "to be taken away with Holda" was even used in parts of Germany to refer to an uncombed head of hair. Yet one only needs to recall that in many Germanic countries Wden led the Wild Hunt, and therefore it should not be unusual for his wife to also. Often instead of the wild hounds, huntsmen and horses, Holda's Hunt took the form of children, siad to be the ghosts that died unbaptised. Again, this would make sense if Holda is Frge. Holda is also said to appear variously as an old hag, a beautiful young girl in white, as being dressed in straw and accompanied by women with sickles, and as a beautiful lady with a hollowed out tree for a back. Many scholars feel therefore she is a goddess of vegetation, and associated with the Wood Wives, and other wights of the wood. All of these views are easily reconciled though. Frge is the ultimate mother figure in Eddas, refered to as mother of the se, not to mention portrayed as the grieving mother of Balder. Frge is sometimes identified with Finally, Snorri states in the Prose Edda, Frge sought an oath from every living thing not to harm Balder. This is something a goddess of nature could do. To this wild side though was an even darker side, Holda as Goddess of the witches. In the Middle Ages in Germany, it was commonly believed that the witches rode every Walpurgis to the Broken, a peak in the Hartz Mountains. This also occured at the Meiner in Hesse. There they danced the night away. These witches were said to shape shift, fly, use potions, use knot magic, and cast spells. Many confuse their work with the seir practioners of the Eddas and Icelandic sagas, but the two arts seem fundamentally different. Seir commonly sought to control the mind and manipulate parts of the soul. It involved the use of a high platform and deep trancework. The witchcraft associated with Holda however relied heavily on potions, spells, and knotwork. Instead of a high platform and trancework, dancing, fires, and cauldrons were more the tools of the trade. It could be Holda was seen as Goddess of withces due to her ability to spin. Spinning and weaving could also be used for magic, as when in Eyrbyggja Saga, Katla weaves a shirt for Odd that when he wears it he could not be wounded. Holda is in all essences, a female counterpart to Wden, like him she leads the Wild Hunt, like him she recieves dead souls, and like him she uses magic, but particularly a form of magic more closely associated with galdor than Freo's seir. The only missing counterpart to this is Holda as

"Queen of Heaven" to match Wden's king of the se. However, if Holda is indeed Frge then Wden and his wife would match trait for trait.


unor may have been the most widely worshipped god of the ancient Northern Europeans, more places bear his name than any other god save possibly Wden. He was also one of the three gods whose images stood in the great hof at Uppsala, the other two being Wden (Odin) and Fra (Freyr). unor was the most popular god of the common folk and this is largely due to his position as bringer of the rain for crops, defender of man, as well as his associations with justice. unor is the god of the thunderstorm and the rain, things necessary for the growth of crops. But unor is no simple storm god for it is he that defends both man and god from the giants. In the Voluspa, only unor comes to Middangeard (Midgard) to defend Mankind. This made him ideal for the act of hallowing and many passages in Old Norse refer to men invoking unor to hallow ground or items for a sacred purpose. In the rymskvia the hammer is laid on the bride's lap to hallow her ("bri at vgia" ). And on several ancient rune stones "or uiki runaR" "Thor make sacred these runes" is engraved. One of his nick names in fact is Vurr "he that makes sacred." The Nordendorf fibula from Southern Germany has an inscription "Wigithonar," which is closely related to the phrase used on the rune stones. In essense unor makes things sacred, open to the realms of the Gods and under their protection. At the same time he closes such things to the giants that live outside the realms of the Gods. unor is seen as a god of raw strength and even mgen. This is tied to his position as hallower for it is the strength of one's mgen that truly defends against evil. The symbol of unor's hammer was seen as a talisman of great power being a representation of that god. It is he that largely defends the Gods from the giants, and the one that takes Loki to task in the Lokasenna. He is the son of Eore (Jord) and in the Anglo-Saxon charms her name is always invoked for "might and main." unor is no mere brute though. One of his names is Djphugar "deep thinker," and he more than out witted the dwarf Alvss in the Alvssml, keeping the dwarf awake until sunrise with a contest of knowledge. He also has connections with magic, as seen with the runestone mentions above and a phrase from the Korpbron runestone, "sii ur" "rr, perform seir." unor was also seen as god of the ing or the assembly and as responsible for the support of society. In Iceland, this association was especially strong as assemblies met on Thursday "Thor's day." The oath ring of the temple was held to be sacred to him and this may reflect both his being God of the ing and the one who makes things sacred. unor's wife is Sif (Sib) and he has a daughter ryd (rr) by her. His sons Modig (Mi) and Maegn (Magni) he sired with a giantess named Isernsaex (Jarnsaxa).

The Lore of Tiw/Tyr by Gary Stanfield

This is a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the lore of Tiw. I use Old Norse and Old English names for Tiw and other wights interchangeably. This is simply easier than translating names from sources. However, it is not my method to assume that Nordic religion was uniform over time and space. Basically, I start with Old Norse sources depicting Icelandic and Norwegian religion at the time of conversion (The Eddas), then ask how things differed in other times and places. In the discussion that follows, I examine first the Eddas, for they are our main primary source on the Teutonic high deities. The Eddas give more detailed and explicit information than any other source, and data from other sources must be evaluated in large part on the basis of Eddaic knowledge. Subsequently, I analyze other the other evidence of all types. After going over the evidence, I discuss prior analyses in Teutonic Religion (Gundarsson, 1993a) and Myth and Religion of the North (TurvillePetre, 1964). I show that those works, which are among the better analyses by Pagans and academics and which provide a good basis for much of the present study - leave a need for the present essay. Finally, I summarize the evidence. The Poetic Edda: In the following sections, I summarize briefly the sections of the three poems that relate directly to Tr. The internal summaries are terse, as some of the analysis is put off in favor of a section which summarizes both the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda. Translations I am using for the analysis of The Poetic Edda include Bellows (1923), Hollanders (1962), Larringtons (1996), and Thorpes (1906). The edition I used for examination of the Old Norse is Neckels (1936a and b). Larringtons translation is based on Neckels translation as revised by H. Kuhn in 1983. Hollander says he "followed Sophus Bugges text in the main", making some emendations of his owns. Hymskvia: This is a brief synopsis of the story. Some of the Asgardians wanted a wight named gir to brew ale for them. gir asked for a gigantic cauldron. Tr advised Thor that one could be had at Trs fathers house. Tr and Thor went to Hymirs house, and adventure because Hymir was a frost giant, therefore an enemy of Thor, and not fond of his son either. After visiting and fighting, Thor took one of Hymirs cauldrons back to Asgard. We are told that Tr gave Thor advice on where to get a cauldron out of faithfulness/fidelity. This tells us that not all the deities were equally interested in the project of getting an ale-brewing cauldron for gir. Moreover, Trs participation, which was out of his loyalty to the community of Asgard, indicates that Asgardian loyalty exceeded his loyalty to (undesirable) kin. Comparing this with Stanza 17 of the OERP,

where Tiw "healde trywe wel" (keeps faith well) with "elingas" (noble ones), not just with everyone. You have to deserve his unswerving loyalty. Other stanzas give information about this gods varied relatives. Trs biological father was ugly, mean, and stingy. He was physically huge and a frost giant. Trs grandmother was a nine-hundred-headed monstrosity and not much of a hostess. His mom was beautiful and socially gracious. This poem tells us that Tr is not as physically strong as is Thor. However, Tr was strong. Lokasenna: In this poem, Loki exchanges insults or at least intended insults with the Asgardians. The myth is analyzed comprehensively in a recent booklet (James, 1997; Stanfield, 1997d) In this poem, Trs handicap and the way he got it (Fenris-binding) are mentioned twice in the intro prose and in the dialog. This heroism of Trs is perhaps a major emphasis of the religion. The emphasis is all the more emphatic since the mention of Trs sacrifice in the prose introduction is "gratuitous". In the poetry section, Tr is dealt with in Strophes 38-40 (Larrington, 1996). In the dialog, we see that Tr regarded the loss of his hand as less than Fenris loss of freedom. This means that freedom is one of his concerns. This point is also brought out by Trs mentioning the issue of freedom as he praises Frey as a liberator. In this passage, Loki taunts Tr by saying that He has some flaw in dealing with people. In this context, Tr tries to make peace by calming Loki -- implying that Loki's remarks are improper. Here is the strophe (# 39) in which Loki replies (Neckel, 1936a):

egi , Tr! - kunnir aldregi bera tilt me tveim: handar innar hgri - mun edk hinnar geta, er r sleit Fenrir fr

This is a nearly literal translation:

Silent you, Tr! - You understandings never carry towards with hands further right - remember the/that be able to

which broke/tore Fenrir off/away

The general idea is clear. Loki asserts that Tr is unable to bring about peace between persons because of his physical handicap, which is a sign of his adherence to the sir. This does highlight a truth about Tr: He is not a god of outer balance, but of action. He is off-balance (asymmetrical) and moving more often than most. From this and Hymskvia, we see that His loyalties are clear and undivided. This passage also tells us something about Loki and about a contrast between Teutonic and Greek Paganism. Stanza 39 of Lokasenna implies an unpleasant attitude toward left-handed people. However, it seems to be Loki who is prejudiced against left-handed people, not the true deities. Something like this can be found in the Greek myth of the castration of Uranus, which explains why the left hand is the hand "of ill omen" (Graves, 1960: 37). In Teutonic polytheism, this prejudice is associated with an unsympathetic character. Stanza 40 shows a humiliation of the mighty god of victory. His wife bore Lokis offspring while married to Tr, and no compensation was paid. Tr had no comeback for this. It shows Lokis power or Trs lack of legal or political talent. This is consistent with the idea that Tr is not good at building coalitions. Sigdrfuml: Tr is mentioned early in a series of stanzas following a narrative-prose resume of the character Sigdrifa. Most translators show these as Strophes 6-19, but Hollander has this series in 7-21. This is a series of rune magic stanzas, so Tr is associated with rune magic. Moreover, in this passage only Tr and Mimir are mentioned explicitly, so this is quite an honor and statement of function. Tr is mentioned here over Oin! The first strophe in this series tells us that Tiw is the god of victory. And He is especially the god of victory in armed combat. He is strongly associated with swords, although He might also be associated with other weapons. This is the stanza in question, first Neckels edition, then Larringtons translation:

Sigrnar skalt kunna - ef vilt sigr hafa, Ok rsta hialti hiors, Sumar vttrimom, - sumar valbostom, Ok nefna tysvar T.

Victory runes you must cut if you want to have victory, And cut them on your sword-hilt;

Some on the blade-guards, some on the plates, And invoke Tyr twice.

Actually, the first line of the Old Norse says "Victory runes you must know if victory you would have". You have to do more than just scratch the sigils in. You must have the esoteric knowledge of at least the victory-related rune lore. In this strophe, Tiw is obviously not invoked by a runic spell or by sigils. It is also clear that He is invoked in conjunction with "victory runes". They go on the blade, scabbard (or guard), and "plates" (hilt). Tr is invoked "twice". There would likely have been two distinct purposes served by the two separate invocations. Perhaps the two purposes would have been victory and shrewdness. You would seek shrewdness (or enlightenment) that the victory be worthwhile to ones party, thus that the victory be true. As we have seen previously in this paper, that both victory and wisdom are among Tiws functions. The Prose Edda: The Prose Edda is in part Snorri Sturlusons interpretation and paraphrasing of poetic myths. However, Snorri went beyond the poems in the Poetic Edda to get his sources. In turn, this means that we can profit by comparing the two Eddas. This is a god of heroes. In the Prose Edda, Tr is "the most daring and intrepid", "bravest and most valiant", or "boldest and most courageous". He is the patron of the surpassingly brave, and it used to be customary to say of an exceptionally brave man that "he is T'r valiant". He is the patron of men of action as well, for he does not hesitate to act at the moment when heroism is called for (Blackwell, 1906: 281; Faulkes, 1987: 24-25; Young, 1954: 53). Proof if this is the Fenris Myth. The Fenris Myth is told in detail and repeated in part at various points in the Prose Edda. This myth shows most of Trs outstanding qualities. He participated in the tricking of Fenris, doing the unexpected to trap the wolf in Gleipnir: this shows His tactical cleverness and skill. This god also was the one who made the sacrifice, so He was the bravest and most altruistic. He was also the bravest in being the only one willing to approach the wolf and feed him. (Oin foolishly decided to raise the wolf "at home" in Asgard despite divinations revealing the ill outcomes from all three of Lokis children by Angrboda.) By caring for the wolf, Tr showed a humane aspect. Tr is the most community-minded or public-spirited of the deities the others laugh at Fenris misfortune, but Tr suffers the loss of his right hand. We are not told if He has misgivings about His betrayal of Fenris, since they were friends, but this god is quite decisive and does not waver when He finds a course of action to be right. And Tr does not hesitate --His judgment is quick and sure. He did not try to smooth things over or find a compromise everyone could live with He brought victory to one side. This myth contrasts Trs courage, which is productive, with Fenris foolish courage to show his courage by submitting to the magical bondage (Young, 1954: 5558; Faulkes, 1987: 27-29).

In addition, it was customary to say of a very "wise" man that he is "Tr-wise." Faulkes (1987) interprets "wise" as "clever", Young (1954) has it "well informed", and Blackwell (1906) splits the difference with "wise". It is quite possible that the ancients intended both meanings of "wise". Tr is not a peacemaker, writes Snorri. On the contrary, He was well known as a god of war, and one of His nicknames was "Battle-God" (Faulkes, 1987: 126). Tr is one of the highest gods. He is named as one of the twelve male judges (with 8 goddess judges) (Young, 1954: 97). However, also named as among those judges was Loki. Not named as a judge was Oin, but He sat on a throne apart from, and implicitly over, the judges (Blackwell, 1906: 209). At Ragnarok, Tr and Fenris do not fight, as one would expect from the myth of the Binding of Fenris. Instead, Fenris sequentially fights Oin and Viar. Tr fights against Garm, the Hound of Hel. The fight ends in a deadly tie. The reasons for these matchups might include that the relationship between Fenris and Tr is complicated but not such that they are motivated to engage in direct combat unnecessarily. In addition, bravery is matched against the hunting dog from deaths realm and they struggle to a tie. Summation of the Eddas: Tyr represents qualities highly valued in a warrior, policeperson, or emergency worker. He is a god of heroes. In the poems, we see a god characterized by fierce and highly selective loyalty. He does not waver, compromise, nor equivocate. He is a god of action where others hesitate. He is decisive. He is not as powerful in brutish terms as Thor, but Tr is nonetheless quite effective because He is clever, determined, and courageous. He sees the overall, the Big Picture, where others might be more shortsighted, and He acts in his communitys interest. He might or might not experience fear, but he can knowingly face disaster or death. Trs partisanship is symbolized by his one-handedness and this in turn is connected with a myth in which he loses his hand by betraying a friend (Fenris) out of faithfulness to his own community. His onehandedness is also a pun, for it shows an imbalance. Of course a god of action would be off-balance more than would others, for He would be aggressively on the move. This is a god of mental abilities. The Eddas are ambiguous as to the nature of these mental abilities, leaving us to interpret "wise". Both "shrewd" and "knowing" are plausible in context, and like both are equally applicable. Tr is the most humane of the male deities. His caring for Fenris shows more kindness and responsibility toward someone who is not his offspring than we see from any of the female deities. This god comes from mixed and unlikely parents: ugly and obnoxious on His fathers side, beautiful and very pleasant-mannered on His mothers. His origins are not noticeably heroic, shrewd, nor wellinformed. Thus, Tr shows that we can rise above our beginnings. This god seems to have consciously decided to take sides with the Asgardian deities. This, too, is an example to us.

Tr is a god of magic, although not necessarily any more so than any other high deity. His association with magic in the rune poems and Sigdrifumal does not show that rune staves were used by people to invoke Him nor used by Him to exercise His powers. He is not specialized in rune magic. He is associated with the hidden meanings in the rune poems, just as Oin is associated with the hidden meanings. That is, Oin is a hidden meaning in the rune poems, and Tiw is a hidden meaning in the Old English Rune Poems Seventeenth Stanza (Stanfield, 1998c). Because of His partisanship, Tr is not a peacemaker nor coalition builder. He is decisive in a narrower way by taking sides. Tr is exalted among deities. It might seem ironic that a god of victory would experience occasional humiliation, as Tr does when facing Loki in verbal struggle or frustration, as He does when trying to lift the cauldron in Hymskvia. However, the deities of Teutonic polytheism are not absolute powers. This is a very different perspective on divinity than one encounters in Bible-related religions. The lack of conscious, absolute power anywhere is an important emphasis of Teutonic Pagan religion. This is a god who values freedom, as is shown in Lokasenna. However, He is not the most freedomfostering of the deities, as He admits. His fighting is in favor of enlightened wights, hence of enlightenment, but not necessarily directly in favor of freedom. When we consider Tiw, such factors as military discipline, self-discipline, government, and rules of conduct come to mind. These would be more emphases of Tr than would be freedom per se. In comparing the deities in terms of freedom, we seem to be dealing with a matter of emphasis. And we certainly seem to be dealing with a non-medieval frame of mind. He seems to favor a responsible freedom, a freedom of the enlightened. Most of this deitys outstanding qualities are shown in the Fenris Myth. That myth seems to have been very important to the ancient Norse if repeated references in other myths are a clue. Other Evidence: Evidence other than the Eddas includes the medieval rune poems, other philological evidence, archeology, history, folklore, and place names. I present evidence of each type in a separate subsection. On the whole, the evidence of these six types reinforces the impressions we get from the Eddas and helps build a more comprehensive picture of the focal deity. The Rune Poems: Only two deities are mentioned by name in any of the rune poems from the period prior to 1500: The Abecedarium Nordmanicum, the Old English Rune Poem, the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, and the Old Icelandic Rune Poem. Tiw is mentioned by name in the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme and the Old Icelandic Rune Poem, and Ing is in the OERP. This is quite an honor for Tr, for Oin is the god of the runes. Oin is implied by "ss" or another word for god in these poems, but "god" is not Oins name. Tiw is implied in the Old English Rune Poem, but not mentioned by name. The Abecedarium Nordmanicum does not say much. Yet, in its mysterious way this poem says a great deal. Halsall and Thorsson interpret the manuscript as saying that only Tiw, Birch, and Man are in the

middle (Dickins, 1915: 34; Halsall, 1981; Thorsson, 1987). Thorsson (1987: 104-105) interprets "in the middle" as meaning in Midgarth. We can infer that this means that Tiw intervenes in human affairs or that He is always with us. These statements are consistent other lore of Tiw (discussed in this paper). The OERP emphasizes Tiws reliability and partisanship. The Seventeenth Stanza of that poem uses a stellar constellation as a thinly-veiled metaphor for the god:

Honors a star that holds very true With ones elevated. Always on course Through darkest of dark-times and never the noble deceives.

His shrewdness and and knowledge guide his choice of friends. Indeed, his whole conduct shows a conscious and perspicacious choice of freld (life-course). He is very steadfast with those He has chosen, and who have chosen Him. He bids us to be men and women of high standards to which we are strongly committed. He offers us an example of stellar responsibility (Stanfield, 1998c). The ONRR emphasizes Trs heroism and relates this to everyday life. Thorssons (1993) translation: "Tr is the one-handed among the sir/The smith has to blow often." This verse juxtaposes two notions of sacrifice. On the one hand, there is the partial self-sacrifice of himself to Tr to the sir, and on the other hand there is the exertion by the smith under trying circumstances (of smoke, heat, and physical exertion). So the major emphasis of this verse is sacrifice on ones own part for gains that are shared with others. This stanza reminds us that there is profit in exertion and constructive sacrifice. We are reminded that investment of oneself which is unpleasant per se can be apart of very useful social life. There is an implication that this kind of investment is necessary, for the smiths products were necessities of life. We are told that hard work is analogous to heroic acts, for hard work is also valuable to the community, although hard work might not be glorified as is dramatic heroism. The OIRP reminds us of Trs exalted position as "ruler of temples", of all that the Myth of Fenris says, and of this gods resemblance to Mars (Thorsson, 1993). Being ruler of temples seems more a nickname for any deity with at least one cult than a name for Tr alone, for Vafrunismal also refers to Njor as ruler of "hofom ok horgom...hunnmorgon" (temples and altars innumerable) (Neckel, 1936a). Other Philology: There are three issues here. (1) It is necessary wrestle with the Tr-Mars relationship. Then, (2) I consider the Tr demotion hypothesis. Finally, (3) there is evidence of Trs popularity and the importance of his role in the Fenris Myth. The Tr-Mars Relationship:

Philological evidence tells us that Trs name was used to translate the name of Mars to Teutonic audiences. Tr was used to gloss Mars in the Old Icelandic Rune Poem. In the form "Tiig", His name was used to gloss Mars in Old English glosses (Halsall, 1987; Turville-Petre, 1964: 182). The use of His name to gloss Mars long after official conversion to Christianity implies that He must have been familiar to literate people on a very enduring basis. Further evidence of Tiws widespread importance and His deep emotional impact is shown by His being associated with an important Roman god. His name in Old English ("Tiw") was used to gloss Mars. In addition, Day-of-week evidence implies approximate correspondence between Tiw and Mars, for Tiws name is on the third day of the week in most Teutonic languages. For example, it is called Tuesday in Modern English or Dienstag in Modern German. This same day of the week is named after Mars in Latin countries, for example Mardi in Modern French or Martedi in Modern Italian (Davidson, 1964; Owen, 1985). Ah, but there is a catch to the equating of Tr with Mars! Mars was an agricultural deity, but Tiw is not associated with agriculture (Wiegel, 1973). Of course, we know that translations are not necessarily exact, so we should not expect Tr to be the same as Mars. Although we cannot infer Trs characteristics from what he know about Mars, there is a philological value in the association between the two deities. Namely, we know whom the Latin authors were talking about when they wrote of worship of Mars among the Germans. Latin authors were telling us that Tr was widely worshipped among Teutonic Pagans, just as Germanic authors are telling us that Tr was important among their high deities. The Tr Demotion Hypothesis: Now I turn to the Tr demotion issue. The case is presented in several places, but the most competent presentation in Modern English is Brian Branstons (1974: 72-91). Branstons discussion consists mostly of side matters, but at least he also handles the main issue. Basically, the case goes like this. Trs name is etymologically related to *Tiwaz (Proto-Germanic), Zeus, Jovis (Roman), Dyaus (Sanskrit), Deus (Latin), *Djevs (IE) or *Deivos (IE). There must have been a *Ziu in there somewhere in a Germanic language also. Tiwaz was the chief god of the Proto-Germanic peoples. We know this because his name in Old Nose certainly meant "god". In addition, deities in observed languages with names etymologically related to Tr's were all chief deities. Tiwaz was Sky God. This is inferred from other deities having been sky gods. Tr was the Allfather of Snorris myths. Oin could not be the Allfather because He was not present at the beginning of time. That must have been someone else. It must have been Tr. Those who offer that case mean well, and they must be given credit for that. Otherwise, the case is pretty flimsy. Fantasy is substituted for data as speculation is assumed to be fact. In some cases, data are contradicted. For example, Tiw was not present at the beginning of time he has a father, who

would be either Oin or Hymir depending in which ancient story you use. The reliance on etymology is excessive. A good case would have take more account of non-etymological data. His name meant "god", but Freys name meant "lord" and Freyas name meant "lady". These names cannot be taken to imply "supreme deity". Moreover, the absence of a supreme deity characterizes the Teutonic system. Then there is the Sky God idea. Surely, if Tiw had once been a Sky God, He would have vestigal weather functions related to that role. There is direct reference to Him only as God of War, never as Sky God. Branston brushes on past this issue after bringing it up. More to the point, in the ancient Teutonic religion there was no sky deity. Functions such as the sky, wind, or fire were assigned to giants in the Norse system, although deities might be mitigators or conscious manipulators of such functions. (See Bainbridge et al, 1993; Faulkes, 1987; Gundarsson, 1993a; Gundarsson et al, 1993a; Hodge, 1998; Karlsdttir et al, 1993; Hollander, 1962; Stanfield, 1998e; Stead, 1993; Thorsson, 1987). It is logical to regard a Sky Father-Earth Mother pantheon as a different pantheon in another religion entirely than to claim that the same deities appear in these pantheons and in Teutonic religion. Also, it seems reasonable to infer that deities with radically different characteristics and functions are different deities regardless of etymological considerations. (Yes, in this sense, very different Christian denominations could be seen as referring to different deities by the same word). And lastly, what is the profound importance of the Tr demotion hypothesis? If it were true that Tr was once a Sky Father or once the chief deity or only deity, what would that prove? What would this tell us about Teutonic religion? We know that historical Germanic religion differed from that for which there is no historical evidence. So what? Popularity and the Fenris Myth: The Fenris Myth is mentioned several times in surviving Old Norse literature. It appears to be referred or alluded to more often than many of our recorded myths, certainly more often that any myth centering on Oin. The repetition this myth evinces Trs popularity. Archeology: Philological use of a stone inscription (from the 200s CE) has been possibly mistakenly used to link Tr with Mars and hence with ingan. The expression "Mars Thingus" is found on a stone found beside Hadrians Wall. This is often taken to mean that Tiwaz is the God of the Thing, worshipped at a votive stone (Davidson, 1964: 57-58; Gundarsson, 1993a; Turville-Petre, 1964: 181). This assumes that a thing was only a legislative or judicial assembly. However, if a ing in the language of the soldiers at Hadrians Wall could have been any major council, "Mars Thingus" could have indicated a place for a council of war, military staff meeting, or corps headquarters. A ing in Old English could be any meeting or discussion (Hall, 1960). Other evidence shows that Tiw is not a god of coalition, compromise, debate, majority votes, nor due process. He is a god of clever intentions and therefore of fine planning. Tr is a god of Military deliberation, not of parliamentary processes.

History: Historical literature does not provide much material on this deity. There is speculation associating Tr with human sacrifice and a pillar or some pillars (for example: Branston, 1974; Davidson, 1964; Gundarsson, 1993a). For the most part, his stuff is very speculative. On the other hand, Turville-Petre (1964) does cite some evidence that human sacrifices were offered to Tiu. This evinces His popularity and status as a high deity. This also shows that there has been progress in enlightenment over the course of centuries.

Folklore: Folkloric evidence reinforces impression that ancient Teutonic peoples recognized an association between Tr and Mars. Folklore also implies that Tr was a very popular deity. Owen (1985) tells us that His name is in Tuesday. The Anglo-Saxon word Tiwesdg meant Tuesday and Tiwesniht meant Monday night (Hall, 1960). As mentioned above, He has a day of the week named after him in at least some Germanic languages. This unusual honor indicates substantial importance of this god. Over 50 deities are named in the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, but the vast majority do not have weekdays named after them. Other evidence sometimes given is relatively ambiguous. Owen (1985: 28-30, 57) says that the rune Tiw is the most common sigil on A-S cremation runes and he claims that its use often suggests invocation of the god. Owen also says that a horse sculpture on a hill indicates Tiw worship, but that is pretty farfetched. The horse is known to be associated with Frey/Ing, but not known to be especially associated with Tiw (for example, see Turville-Petre, 1964). The data show no evidence of festivals specifically in Tiws honor, no personal names referring to him, and no folk stories of His interventions in human affairs. These considerations cannot be allowed to devalue the other evidence of Tiws importance. We have high myths only from the Icelanders, who left no Tr-related place names. Moreover, we have no Old English personal names indicating attachment to Freya or Thor, whom we know to have been important in England. No person seems to have been named after Skai or Ull, who were high deities with cults, so we cannot infer that Tiw lacked a following if there are no personal names referring to him. It seems to have been quite unusual for an individual Teutonic Pagan high deity to have a regular festival. The indications of annual festivals for deities are only to be found in Heimskringla and De Temporum Rationae (Hollander, 1964; Jones, 1943). Place Names: Place name evidence indicates widespread worship. Tiw seems to have been most popular in England. There were also place names referring to this god in areas now in Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, and one in Norway. There was none in Iceland (Branston, 1974: 74; Turville-Petre, 1964: 181). Many place names in England evince this gods importance there. I derived the following list from scholarly books

and a road atlas. Keep in mind that a variant of Tiws name in Old English is Tig (Bartholomew, 1997; Branston, 1974: 74; Davidson, 1964: 60; Hall, 1960; Owen, 1985). Tysmere (Tiws Lake) Tislea (Tiws grove or open space) based partly on se leah, "piece of ground, meadow". Teusley (Tiws grove or open space), in Surrey Tysoe (Tiws spur of land), in Warwickshire and near a red horse sculpture on a hillside. Tirley (Tiw-Leah), about 5 miles north of Gloucester as the crow flies. Tisbury (Tiws burh), 10 miles east of Salisbury, close to the heart of West Saxony. Tigley (Tiws Leah) about 7 miles NE of Dartmouth as the crow flies, in Devon. Tifield (Sussex) Tewin (Hertfordshire) Teusley (repeat) in Surrey By comparison with other wights, Tiws place name frequency implies a high level of awareness on the part of the ancient English people. Owen (1985) claims to have found 11 place names associated with Thor (I would make that 12), 7 associated with Frigga, 16 associated with Woden, 2 associated with Grendel, and 3 associated with evil giants (I would make that 2). Associated with no individual deity but implying a place of worship are 32 place names. Tiws 10 place names put him high on the list. Summation of Non-Eddaic Evidence: Tiws importance to the ancient Germanic peoples is shown in many ways. We see the presence of His name in place names and a day of the week, we see mention of him in rune poems, and we see implicit assertions that He was as important in the Teutonic system as was Mars in the Roman pantheon. Also, He was one of the deities who received sacrifices of animals or people. Tacitus mentions him as being among the three most-worshipped gods of the Germanic peoples (Hutton and Warmington, 1970). He was certainly popular among the English. Despite His relatively exalted position, this was a god very relevant to the everyday lives of people. The Eddas and the OERP agree that He was an unusually reliable guide or ally. This was not a divine being who had to be demoted among divine beings. Moreover those who make the Tr demotion case ignore the fact that they are discussing different deities in different pantheons in different religions for different cultures. Selected Prior Analyses:

Gundarsson Kveldulf (1993a) says that there is an academic consensus that Tr is descended from an ancient Germanic sky god. Without openly disagreeing with that assertion, Kveldulf goes on to point out that the ancients did not equate Tr with Jupiter, but with Mars. Gundarsson does try to elevate this god by saying that in Tacitus Mars and Mercury were the highest Teutonic gods. This is not the case. Tacitus says in Chapter 9 that Mercury is the Germanics highest god, then Tacitus implies that Hercules and Mars are the next most worshipped (Mattingly and Hanford, 1970: 108). Gundarsson offers speculation that T&yaucte;r was once associated with pillars, but then admits that it was Thor who was associated with the house pillars in historic times. Gundarsson admits that the name of Tiws wife "has been lost". This refutes much of the contribution from Bainbridge that appears in Our Troth. Gundarsson emphasizes the relevant OIRP stanza, but his translation is just slightly too loose. If you think that the OIRP says that Tr is "the temples ruler", you get a different picture than if you see the more conservative translation "ruler of temples". Gundarssons interpretation implies that Tr is the patron god of temples. The correct version implies that Tr was worshipped in temples. Recall my remark under "Rune Poems" that Njor was called a "ruler of innumerable temples" (Neckel, 1936a). Much of Gundarssons discussion consists of filler material with little relation to Tr. It is like listening to or reading a US Senate filibuster speech. Turville-Petre: Tr is only a minor deity in that we know little of him these days, says Turville-Petre (1964). He was of great significance in Germany, Denmark, and perhaps in England. No evidence in favor of place names in Germany is offered, so I am skeptical of His importance in that region. Turville-Petre says that Trrelated place names were rare in Norway (and does not mention Iceland), but we know that one of the Old Norse rune poems says that he was popular. In addition, Turville-Petre points out that the Goths and Hermundurii sacrificed people to Tiu. Turville-Petre examines the evidence in the Sigdrifumal and in the rune poems and concludes that He "plainly had much to do with runes and with rune magic" (1964: 180). As noted above, I disagree with this interpretation. No high god seems to have been invoked with a simple rune stave (or sound). The evidence in Sigdrfuml implies that Tr was invoked separately from rune magic. Overall Summary: The lore emphasizes Tr as representing the most highly valued qualities of a soldier, qualities also highly valued in emergency workers, medical care personnel, or close friends. This much is so often noted that no citations are needed to prove the consensus.

The lore also relates Tr to more mundane pursuits. He is a lofty but attainable example to all who must work hard or to anyone who seeks enlightenment. He values freedom more than health or beauty. He is consciously selective of his friends. He is a god of cleverness, of strategy, of knowing. His decisions under pressure are shrewd. He is a warrior who did not come to negotiate, but he is a very kind and caring individual. Trs hostility is not the hostility of blind rage. His awareness of others worth is a basis of his loyalty. His importance seems to have been regional, but his region included a very large proportion of Teutonic peoples and those who left us much of our Germanic medieval literature. His importance shows through despite the myths having come to us from Iceland, where He was not as popular as He was elsewhere. He is not a god of balance. He is not a god who had to be demoted from supremacy. There is no evidence that the ancients associated Him with any special symbols, as Oin would have been associated with the spear or raven. He is not a bachelor god. He is not a god of electoral politics nor of negotiations. He is not a god of rune magic. Following is a bullet list summary. These blunt, succinct words do not suffice to describe a god.

Courageousness Shrewdness Knowing Loyalty Partisanship Self Discipline Action Orientation Applying Standards Decisive Consistent, Reliable Responsible Caring Aggressive Holy

Involved with Mankind Physically strong Determined Aware of others worth Able to rise above circumstances Able to rise above origins his own "man" Having enlightened priorities Having good judgement

References: Bainbridge, Willam, Gamlinginn, Dan OHalloran, and Lew Stead. 1993. "The God/esses of the Troth." In Our Troth, ed. Kveldulf Gundarsson, 53-61. Seattle, WA, USA: The Ring of Troth. Bartholomew. 1997. 1998 Routemaster Road Atlas of Great Britain. (Bartholomew Road Atlas Britain 1998). London: Bartholomew. Bellows, Henry Adams, transl. 1923. The Poetic Edda. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation. Blackwell, I. A. 1906. Younger Eddas. Edited by Rasmus B. Anderson and J. W. Buel, The Eddas. London: Norroena Society. Branston, Brian. 1974. The Lost Gods of England. New York: Oxford University Press. Davidson, H. R. Ellis. 1964. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. Harmondsworth, England, UK: Penguin Books. Dickens, Bruce. 1915. Runic and Heroic Poems of the Old Teutonic Peoples. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Faulkes, Anthony. 1987. Edda. By Snorri Sturluson (1220). London: Everyman. Graves, Robert. 1960. The Greek Myths. London: Penguin. Gundarsson, 1993a Gundarsson, Kveldulf. 1993a. Teutonic Religion. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications. Gundarsson, Kveldulf, Diana Paxson, and Lewis Stead. 1993a. "Etins, Rises, Thurses, Trolls, and Muspilli". In Our Troth, ed. Kveldulf Gundarsson, 245-260. Seattle, WA, USA: The Ring of Troth.

Hall, J. R. Clark. 1960. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 4th ed., with a supplement by Herbert D. Merritt. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. Halsall, Maureen. 1981. The Old English Rune Poem: A Critical Edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Hodge, Winifred. 1998. Personal correspondence. Hollander, Lee M. 1962. The Poetic Edda. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. Hutton, M. and E. H. Warmington trans. 1970. Germania. Tacitus in Five Volumes, ed. E H. Warmington. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. James, Alan. 1997. The Trial of Loki: A Study in Nordic Heathen Morality. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: ORA. Jones, Charles W. 1943. Bedae: Opera De Temporibus. Cambridge, MA, USA: Medieaval Academy of America. Karlsdttir, Alice, Diana Paxson, and Laurel Olsen. 1993. "Skai, Gerr, Earth, and Other Etin-Brides." In Our Troth, ed. Kveldulf Gundarsson, 206-215. Seattle, WA, USA: The Ring of Troth. Larrington, Carolyne. 1996. The Poetic Edda. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Mattingly, H. and S. A. Handford. 1970. Tacitus: The Agricola and the Germania. London: Penguin. Neckel, Gustav. 1936a. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmlern. Vol. 1. Text. Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winters Universittsbuchhandlung. Neckel, Gustav. 1936b. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmlern. Vol. 1. Kommentierendes Glossar. Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winters Universittsbuchhandlung. Owen, Gale R. 1985. Rites and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons. London: Dorset Press. Stanfield, Gary G. 1998c. "Excerpts from the OERP Book, Chapter 17 and Appendix C". The Rune 9 (Fall): 31-40.Stanfield, 1997d Stanfield, Gary G. 1998e. "The Nature of Easter and the Lore of Giants". Unpublished. Stead, Lewis. 1994. Raven Kindred Ritual Book, 3d ed. Wheaton, MD, USA: Asatru Today. Thorpe, Benjamin. 1906. The Elder Eddas. Edited by Rasmus B. Anderson and J. W. Buel, The Eddas. London: Norroena Society. Thorsson, Edred. 1987. Runelore. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.

Thorsson, Edred. 1993. Rune-Song. Austin, Texas: Runa-Raven Press. Turville-Petre, E. O. G. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. Wiegel, James, Jr. 1973. Cliff's Notes on Mythology. Lincoln, NE, USA: Cliff's Notes, Inc. Young, Jean I., transl. 1954. The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (circa 1220). University of California Press. Berkley, California.


Bragi's name means literally "leader," in addition to "poetry," and therefore in Old English would be Brego. Brego does not appear outside the Norse myths, and not a few scholars feel he is either the mortal poet Bragi Boddason deified or an aspect of Woden (Odin). None the less, Brego sees frequent mention in the Eddas. Unfortunately none of these mentions give us much information. We are told he is the God of poetry and his wife is the young and beautiful Iun. We also told he is the son of Odin by Gunlod. It is Brego that relates the stories of the Gods in the Bragarur "Bragi's sayings" of the Prose Edda to Eagor (gir). Bragi is also present at the symbel in the Lokasenna, and the first of the Gods to respond to Loki:

A seat and place will the sir never choose for thee at their board; for well the sir know for whom they ought to hold a joyous compotation. (Thrope translation)

And throughout the poem it is he and Viar that try their best to keep the peace by flattering Loki. Viar poured him mead and gave him a horn. Loki then hailed all the se (sir) present save Brego. At which point Brego offers Loki a horse and falchion not to provoke the Gods. At which point, Loki implies Brego lacks the wit for a flyting, and Brego threatened to take his head were they not in Eagor's hall. Loki then accuses Brego of being "bold on the bench" and calls him a coward. Not much can be made of this exchange. Although as the God of poetry it would be fitting that Brego also serve as Woden's "court skald." He moreso than anyone save Woden himself would be qualified. The scholar Dwight Conquergood maintained in "Boasting in Anglo-Saxon England: Performance and the Heroic Ethos." that the tribal poets basically made the boasts for the entire tribe. That is, their poetic retellings of the myths and histories were the gielp of the tribe that corresponded to the beot which was the bragarfull made by the tribal leader (for info on gielp and beot read "Symbel"). If that is so then, Brego more than anyone could not risk offending Loki, or anyone for that matter. He would be "in conflict...... the most backward, and in the play of darts most timid". as opposed to his usual "wisdom, eloquence and flowing

speech. Flytings or "word duels" were insulting matches. The most memorable one in a ritual context occurs in the first symbel in Beowulf, when Unferth the Thyle challenged Beowulf's gielp and beot. However, Unferth was acting as Thyle, and here it is not Brego's place to challenge and outwit Loki but Woden the greatest of Thyles. For whatever reason he does not, and it falls to unor to "kick butt" on his arrival. What this reveals about Brego though is that he was foremost a poet and not a Thyle. Skalds as seen in the sagas generally did both the position of Thyle and Scop "poet". Thus Egil Skallagrimson could safely compose scathing poetry as well as that which glorified others. But in older times, a poet's position may have been to "glorify the tribe," and it may have been bad form to speak bad words of others. Such activity would have been reserved for Thyles, a combination "law speaker," "rhetorician" and "poet." As such, Brego would be ill equipped esp. when facing one as cunning with words as Loki. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Unlike her husband Brego (Bragi), Iun featured prominently in Norse myth. In Oin's Korpgalder, an obscure work, she was said to be Ivaldi's daughter, and to have been named by the elves. Ivaldi is mentioned only in reference to the dwarves that built Frea (Frey)'s ship elsewhere. They are called "sons of Ivaldi." Existence of her worship outside of the Norse though is not found. This is not to say that she was not worshipped elsewhere but merely that no evidence remains as with many of the Goddess cults. Iun is one of several youthful Goddesses whom as a whole have largely been overlooked in academic studies (whom prefer to look at the "Cult of Mothers," "Earth Goddesses." and such Goddesses as Freo (Freya) and Frige (Frigga)). Kveldulf Gundarsson sees her as a northern Eostre, an apt comparison perhaps save for the lack of apple symbolism with Eostre. Iun was counted amongst the most beautiful of Goddesses. On at least one occasion a giant tried to carry her off. Loki, Odin, and Thor had encountered jazi in the form of an eagle, and when he asked, they invited the him to eat with them. When jazi grabbed both of the thighs of the ox they were eating Loki smacked the giant with a pole. Enraged jazi grabbed Loki and carried him high and demanded Loki deliver him the Goddess Iun. Loki then lured Iun into the woods to look at some apples not unlike her own, where jazi snatched her. The Gods noticed her missing, called thing, and realized Loki was the last with her. They then drag Loki to thing, where Frey threatens him. Scared of the other Gods, Loki agreed to use Freya's falcon coat to fly and rescue her. Upon arriving in jazi's realm, he turned her into a nut and flew home while jazi was out in his boat. Getting home he found her gone and flew in pursuit of Loki and Iun. As he went to set down in Asgard, his wings caught fire from a fire the Gods had built, and he was killed. jazi by the way is Skai's father. And his death is what brought her to Asgard. In the Prose Edda, Snorri states that she keeps the apples that keep the Gods young. It is unlikely this is true, after all the giants in the Lore do not seem to need them. It is possible the apples play another role. Frige gave an apple to a king in the Volsunga Saga when he prayed for a son. It is possible therefore that the apples are not for the Gods, but we mortals. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


The Eddas have Forseti as the son of Balder and Nanna. However this is most likely a post Conversion development as Forseta appears to be the much older God. It is very unlikely a deified hero could have produced one of the greater se (sir). Snorri states of Forseti's home in sgeard (Asgard) that, ""Glitnir (Glittering) is the tenth (hall), it is supported with gold, and silver thatches it as well; and there Forseti dwells most of the day and settles all cases." In Snorri's Skaldskaparmal, he is listed among the se's 12 judges. He appears as a law giver amongst the Frisians who knew him as Fosite. In the legend, "Van da tweer Koningen Karl ende Radbod," Charlemange demands that the Frisians produce a law code. The 12 Elders of the Frisians managed to put him off twice, but finally were punished by Charlemange. He sent them out in a rudderless boat. The boat was overtaken by a storm, when a man appeared, and with a golden axe steered them to an island. Here he threw his axe to the shore and a spring appeared. He then ordered them to disembark the boat. Upon getting out of the boat each drank from the spring, it was then the man begin to speak, and gave them their laws. They thereafter called the island Fosite's Island or Helgoland "Holy Island." A sacred spring was there and no one could drink from it save in silence. We are told in various sources as well as The Life of Willibrord by Alcuin that the Christian missionary Wilibrord defiled the spring by baptizing three men in it. Some of his men killed a few of the sacred cattle. For this desecration, Wilibrord was nearly sacrificed but had the luck of the draw when they drew lots. As it was one of his men was killed, and he had to flee for his life. There seems to have been some confusion between Balder and Forseta in some areas. Saxo credits Balder with the creation of springs in his Danish Histories. No doubt when the Northman deified Balder they may have uspurped some of the older Gods attributes and gave them to him. Forseta's name means "one that sets before" i.e. one that sets laws. A fitting name for a God that appears to be the God of judges and Things. *denotes a reconstructed Old English word


Frige's sister and handmaiden, Fulla is rarely mentioned in the lore and never in detail. She is listed by Snorri as one of the twelve mos divine goddesses, The Lay of Gimnir as one of Frige's handmaidens, and mentioned in the Second Merseburg Charm as Frige's sister.. TheGisla saga Surssonar preseres a brief prayer said to her shortly before the hero's death:

My Fulla, fair faced, the goddess of stones Who gladdens me much, shall hear of her friend Standing straight, unafraid in the rain of the spears.

Her name would seem to indicate she is some sort of goddess of plenty, although as the Gisla saga would seem to indicate she may also have been a goddess of stones. Grimm felt her to be a moon goddess due to her name and relation in the Merserberg Charm to Sunna (see Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology").


Gefjun is a Danish goddess whose name appears in Old English as Geofon, a word for "ocean." There are Danish place names for her such as Gentofte and Genvn. Her name derives from the verb "to give" and is related to words seen amongst the Cult of Mothers practised by Roman mercenaries in Britain and on the continent. They usually had names like Garmangibi "Giving." In the Prose Edda Snorri relates the following tale of the creation of the island of Zealand: It is told of him that he gave a ploughland in his kingdom, the size four oxen could plough in a day and a night, to a beggar-woman as a reward for the way she had entertained him. This woman, however, was of the family of the sir; her name was Gefjon. From the north of Giantland she took four oxen and yoked them to a plough, but those were her sons by a giant. The plough went in so hard and deep that it loosened the land and the oxen dragged it westwards into the sea, stopping in a certain sound. There Gefjon set the land for good and gave it a name, calling it Zealand. But the place where the land had been torn up was afterwards a lake. It is now known in Sweden as 'The Lake'.[Malar]. (Young translation) In the Ynglinga Saga, Snorri also tells the tale, and adds that Geofon married Skjold, first king of Denmark and son of Woden. Skjold, founder of Skjoldung royal dynasty is the same as Scyld Sceafing mentioned in Beowulf, and ancestor of Hrothgar. Looking at this myth it becomes apparent that Geofon was associated with the tilling of soil, as having some connections with the sea (she created the lake), and the marking off perhaps of boundaries. Snorri also attributes her in the Prose Edda with receiving all women that die unmarried into her hall (this despite the fact she is married). In the Lokasenna Loki accuses Geofon of having sold herself to a youth for a ring or a jewel. Geofon seems to be the only literary evidence of a group of Goddesses that were known to be giving and open handed. As stated above names associated with giving appear frequently on the RomanGermanic altars in England and on the mainland, and H. R. Davidson maintains that the Old English Charm "A Field Remedy" or Acer-Bot which is considered to contain a prayer to a pagan Earth Goddess, may well be to such a Goddess. We do see the same elements in Geofon in the lines of the Acer-Bot, the plow, the asking of the one praying for the gift of a good harvest. In some areas of Germany there were plow processions instead of those using wagons (as Frea's) or ships (as in the Germanic Isis mentioned by Grimm), and plow blessings in the spring were nearly universal in Northern Europe. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Hama the watchman of the rainbow bridge (Bifrost) is one of the most often mentioned Gods in the Eddas. He is also one of the few Gods listed with several names, a trait scholars believe reflected the importance of a God or Goddess. In the Eddas, he is called Hallinsksi, Gullintani "gold toothed," and seems to be the mysterious Rgr of the Rigsthula. He is also called in some of the texts, Heimdali which means "ram" and may be a cleaver play on words. Finally, he is refered to in the rymskvia as the "whitest of the se" due to his purity, and Snorri in the Prose Edda too calls him the "White God.". His hall in *sageard (Asgard) is called *Heofonberg (in Norse, Himinbjorg) which means "Heaven Mountain." And he bears the *Giellerhyrn (Gjallarhorn) a horn with which to alert the Gods to attack on segeard. His Norse name HeimdallR corrensponds to one of Freo's (Freya's) other names Mardoll. The heim in Heimdall means "home" or "earth" while "mar" means "mare" or "sea." This is only one link between the Goddess Freo and and the God Hama. In the rymskvia it is Hama that advises unor disguise himself as Freo. He is also said to have done battle with Loki, both as seals, for the Goddesses' necklace Brsingamen. His connection with the necklace also appears in Beowulf.

Nnigne ic under swegle selran hyrde hordmaum hlea, syan Hama twg to re byrhtan byrig Brosinga mene, sigle ond sincft,--- searonias fleah Eormenrices, geceas ecne rd.

Ne'er heard I so mighty, 'neath heaven's dome, a hoard-gem of heroes, since Hama bore to his bright-built burg the Brisings' necklace, jewel and gem casket. -- Jealousy fled he, Eormenric's hate: chose help eternal.

This connection is strong enough to make one wonder if the mysterious Or who is said to be Freo's husband is not one and the same as Hama, who as Rgr roamed Middangeard.

Snorri references the lost Heimdallargaldr which says Hama was born of nine mothers. They are named in the Hyndlulj, "Gjlp bore him, Greip bore him, Eistla and Eyrgjafa bore him, lfrn and Angeyja bore him, Imr and Atla and Jrnsaxa. He was made greater with the main of the earth, the spray-cold sea and holy boar's blood". Some connect these with the nine daughters of gir and Ran despite the difference in names. Snorri also states that he "needs less sleep than a bird, and can see a hundred leagues in front of him as well by night as by day. He can hear the grass growing on the earth and the wool on sheep, and every-thing that makes more noise." These abilities are needed of course for his duties as watchman for the Gods. We are told in the Voluspa his hearing his hidden beneath the World Tree. There is one extant lay about Hama, and it is the Rgsula of the Poetic Edda. In it he roams the earth as Rgr and stays with three couples. First he stays with a couple known as "Great-Grandfather" and "Great-Grandmother" and begats on "Great-Grandmother" the child known as thrall. Next he stays with "Grandfather" and "Grandmother" and begats with "Grandmother" the child known as Karl. Finally he stays with "Father" and "Mother" and begats Jarl. Thus according to the lay the three classes of men were born. He later returns to teach Kon, son of Jarl runelore and how to rule. *denotes a reconstructed Old English word


Hnir's name is interpreted as being cognate to Old English hana "rooster" by some scholars. In the Eddas, Hana is known for his silence. When the se (sir) and Wena (Vanir) exchanged prisoners in the first war, the Wena cut off Meomer (Mimer)'s head because Hana would not speak. Prior to that they had made him their King but it became apparent when Meomer was not around his answers were noncommittal. Despite this in the Prose Edda version, Snorri credits Hana with bringing about reconciling the two families of Gods. Hana seems to have travelled often with the other Gods. He was on the trip that Loki assaults jazi, and has to agree to give him Iun. He was also with Loki and Odin when Loki killed Regin's brother in the Reginsmol of the Elder Edda. Also in the Elder Edda, in the Voluspa, it is Oinn, Hnir, and Lor that gave the three gifts to Ask and Embla. This account corresponds to one in the Prose Edda only it is Oinn, Villi, and V that give the gifts. It is Hnir that gives o or wd "divine inspiration", and he stands in the stead of Villi (who appears in Prose Edda account). This alone reveals Hana to be a complex God. His gift, wd is usually the province of Wden who is the "wd one," and it is Willi, whose name means "will" that appears in his place in the other account. Hana therefore seems linked to both wd and will. Elsewhere, Hana is barely mentioned. The Sogubrot calls him the most timid of the Gods. H.R. Ellis Davidson sees a comparison between the Norse belief that silence was a sign of wisdom, and Hana's silence. If that is so his gift of the wd and the possibility he and Willi are one and the same makes sense. Will combined with wd would it would seem result in wisdom. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Mmir's name if reconstructed in Old English would be *Meomer. Meomer appears throughout the Norse lore, in both Eddas, and Saxo's work. He is called the wisest of the Gods. His father was a giant named Blorn, and brother to Bestla, Wden's mother. He is therefore a maternal uncle to Wden. There is some evidence that in ancient Germanic society the maternal uncles as the closest provable male relatives were responsible for much of a child's education. If this was the case, it explains much about Wden and Meomer's relationship. In the Havamal, Wden boasts he learned mighty songs from the son of Blorn. When the se (sir) and Wena (Vanir) exchanged prisoners in the first war, the Wena made Hana (Hoenir) their king due to his handsome good looks. When it came apparent that Hana was depending on Meomer, the Wena cut off Meomer's head. Wden then preserved his head to consult when need be. Meomer appears as the guardian of the well *Meomresburna (Mmisbrunar). Snorri states in the Prose Edda, "And under that root, which is towards the frost giants is Mimer's Well, where wisdom and understanding are, Mimer keeps that well." To have a drink from Meomresburna gains one great wisdom, and in the Eddas it is said he drinks of it everyday. Apparently the wisdom gained is great enough from just one drink that Wden gave Meomer one of his eyes. Another being called Mmir appears in rek's Saga that is said to have taught both Sigurr and Weland to smith. Weland also forged a sword called Miming which appears throughout the lore. Finally, H in Saxo's version of the Balder tale, travels to the underworld to retrieve a sword from a "satyr" called Miming capable of slaying demigods. It would appear that the tale in rek's Saga, the name of Weland's sword, and Saxo's tale of an underworldly journey would point to the Mmir of the Eddas and the Mmir of rek's Saga being one and the same. If this is so, it would not be illogical or irrational for Wden's uncle to train his heroes. Paul Bauschatz in his work The Well and the Tree implies that *Meomresburna is one and the same as *Wyrdesburna (Urarbrunnr), the Well of Wyrd. If this is so Meomer could well be the cosmic memory. This would make him besides the Norns, the most powerful being in the multiverse. Of course, any being that can survive death, would have to be. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


"Vali, born to Rind in the western halls, will one night old avenge Odin's son. He won't wash his hands or comb his hair until Baldr's bane burns on the pyre. You made me speak, but you'll hear no more." (Baldrs Draumr Terry translation)

In the Eddas and Saxo as well (where he is known as Boe), Vli is born with one purpose, vengence for the diefied hero Balder. It is his place to send Hoder to his grave. Snorri tells us in the Prose Edda, he is a good shot and bold in battle. Snorri also states in Skaldskaparmal he was on the thing of twelve along with the likes of Tiw (Tyr) and Forseta (Forseti). He is the son of Rind, whose seduction is partly told in the Havamal, and grandson of Billing. The tale of Balder's death is a mystery, Saxo and Snorri give different accounts, and outside sources conradict neither. However, both agree on the subject of Vli completely with the exception of his name. As Balder's half brother, it falls upon Vli as a member of the family to avenge him. This was not only a right under ancient Germanic laws, but demanded of the victim's family. Vli, therfore can be seen as a God of lawful vengenace. According to the Voluspa, he and Viar will rule after the fall of the Gods in the new world. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Wr is the Old English cognate of the Goddess name Vor. Var and Vor are probably the same goddess their names are merely variations of each other. Var is said by Snorri in the Prose Edda to be "who is so wise and searching that nothing can be concealed from her. It is a saying that a woman becomes vor (ware) of what she becomes wise. " Vor is mentioned in the Elder Edda as the goddess of oaths, contracts, and also marriage. Wr, vor, and German wehr all mean truth as well as "pledge, compact, oath." It is therefore fairly easy to discerne what she is Goddess of. Ideally, she should be invoked at the taking of any oath, but esp. at marriage along with Lofn whom is siad to bring men and women together according to Snorri, and of course Frige (Frigga) and Freo (Freya). *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Wier is believed by some scholars to be the cognate of Old Norse Var. Wier is a son of Woden (Odin) by the giantess Grir (whose name may be related to Old English gri "true, sanctuary"), and the one that avenges him at Ragnarok. Snorri has little to say on Wier in the Prose Edda. He calls him silent and says he has a strong shoe. This shoe the ancients believed was made of every discarded strip of shoe leather, and is the one he uses to pry Fenris wolf's jaws apart killing him. Snorri also says he is nearly as strong as unor (Thor), strength he would need to kill the monster that took Tiw (Tyr)'s hand). Var's mother Grir helped unor in the Skaldskaparml supplying the weaponless God with iron gloves, a girdle, and staff. Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Some scholars feel Uller is the cognate of Old English wuldor "glory." In Norse place names his name appears variously as Ullinn, which would mean "master of glory" or "glorious one." His worship seems widespread in Sweden and Norway, but nearly unknown in other Germanic areas. This is not unusual though considering the loss of mythical material in the south due to the Church. There is one inscription found on a scabbard in Denmark reading wluewaR this is seen as meaning "servant of Ullr." Wuldorfder is often found used as a title of the Christian god in Old English poetry, and some feel this is a Heathen holdover refering to Ullr. Going by place names in the north however, he was at one time as widely worshipped as many of the other greater Gods. The literatur too reveals Ullr as an important figure. When Othinus leaves the Gods in Saxo's History of the Danes, it is Ollerus that co-rules in his absence. And in the Grimnismal, Odin states whomever removes him from between the two fires will be befriended by Ullr and all the Gods. It is perhaps significant that Ullr was the one God Odin named. Place names for Ullr nearly always end in v, hrgr, or hof words for places of public worship. This again reveals Ullr to be very important. In Atlakavia Gurum reminds her husband of the oaths he had sworn. Of the three the last was on Ullr's ring. Only one other God in the lore is associated with the oath ring and that is unor (Thor). Finally, Snorri in the Prose Edda said Ullr was good to call upon in single combat i.e. duels. In other cases this was linked to Tiw (Tyr). It would therefore appear that Ullr is indeed a powerful and respected God, having duties that match those of Woden, unor, and Tiw. Ullr is however primarily a hunting God. He is called in Norse bogass "bow god," veiss "hunting god," while his home was dalir "yew dales" (yew was the primary wood for bows). He was also referred to as ndurss "ski god" and Snorri states he was unmatched in skiing. *Indicates and Old English reconstruction


Ingui Fra/Yngvi Freyr

After unor (Thor) and Woden one of the most popular of the gods was without a doubt Ingui Fra. He is above all else the god of peace and the Northern Europeans gave him credit for times of peace and plenty. Ingui Fra was above all else a fertility god, seen as bringing fertility to the crops, livestock, and members of the community. This is not to say Fra is a pacifist, as some of his nick names suggests he did serve as a war god also. However, he was a god of defensive war, a sort of divine policeman. The boar was his symbol and any emblem of a boar was thought to bring protection to its wearer by the early Northern Europeans. Peace is necessary for good harvests. Unnecessary warfare pulled men out of the fields they were tending and often destroyed the very crops themselves, so Fra's position as provider of peace went hand in hand with his role as god of fertility. It was Fra who along with the goddess Sunne that was thought to send the sunshine necessary for crops and to send the gentle rains that were also needed. Fra was also seen as making livestock fertile so often rites were performed to him for this purpose. And just as he governed fertility in animals he also governed human sexuality, although this was usually the realm of his sister. Adam of Bremen stated that sacrifices to Ing took place at midsummer when weddings were preformed. In the Flateyjarbk, Gunnarr Helming posed as the God after having wrestled with the idol. He then rode with the sacred wain through from village to village. While this may be one of the earliest Swede jokes as they mistakened a mortal for their God, it also serves as evidence that like Nerthus Ing was taken about in a wagon. Wains seem to have been important to his cult as they also appear in the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem:

Ing ws rest mid Eastdenum gesewen secgun, o h sian eft ofer wg gewt, wn fter ran; us heardingas one hle nemdon.

Ing was first among the East Danes Seen by men but he since went eft (back) Over the wet way his wain (wagon) ran after Thus the Heardings named the hero

Like Woden, Ing is said to have fathered lines of kings, Yngling royal line of Sweden traced its ancestry to him. Fra is married to Gearde (Gerr) whom he sent his servant Skirnir to court for him as portrayed in the Skirnismal. Elfham (lfheim) was his tooth gift and he is its ruler. He is therefore connected to the Elves. Ing's ancient cult may have involved cross dressing. The Wodenic hero Starkad left the temple of Uppsala " at the time of the sacrifices, he was disgusted by the effeminate gestures and the clapping of the mimes on the stage, and by the unmanly clatter of the bells." Tacitus also mentions in Germania of the tribe the Naharvali "The presiding priest dresses like a woman; but the deities are said to be the counterpart of Castor and Pollux. This indicates their character, but their name is the Alci." The Alci have always assumed to be twin male Gods, but in truth they could just as easily be Ing and his sister Fro.


Fro is reputed to be the most beautiful of Goddesses, and is for the most part the Goddess of love. Her worship seems to have been widespread with many place names in Norway and Sweden and a few in England (although not nearly as many as Frige seemed the favored Goddess there). She is also a Goddess of magic and is said to have taught Wden seir. Seir was largely seen as a woman's craft and it would seem natural that such magic would fall to her. While Frge governs married love, Fro governs human sexuality and eroticism. She is the Goddess of unbridled passions and in some of the tales of the ancient Northern Europeans she is said to have even taken mortals as her lovers. Fro was also a war Goddess however, half the dead that die in battle are said to go to her hall, the other half going to Wden. This could be a more fierce side of the Goddess rarely spoke of today and lost in the ancient tales. Like her brother Fra (Frey) she was connected to wealth and plenty, but esp. to the kind of wealth associated with gems and precious metals. She was said to cry tears of gold for her lost husband Or who wanders the world. Fro possesses the necklace Brosingamen (Brsingamen) which at one point was stolen by Loki. The Flateyjarbk tells of how she slept with four dwarves in trade for them forging. Several giants sought Fro in marriage. rymr requested her hand in marriage for the return of unor's (Thor's) hammer, while the giant that built *segeard's (Asgard's) walls wanted the goddess for completion of it. Many today believe Fro was witch Gullveigr mentioned in the Eddas. She was riddled with spears and burned, and yet survived. This seems to have imparted her some mystic knowledge: "Heir hight she, when she came to houses, spae-wise vlva, she knew magic; she worked seir as she knew how to, worked seir, playing with soul - she was ever beloved to wicked women" (Voluspa 22) In the Ynglinga saga, it is said she taught seir to the se (sir), and like Woden though she knows the art of shape shifting. She has a coat of falcon feathers she can put on and fly. No doubt folks orginally believed she did so without need of the coat. In Old Norse Fro was also called Sr "Sow", Mardll "Sea bright", and Gefn "Giver." Her home in segeard is called *Folkwang (Folkvangr) "folk plain" and her hall, Setrmes (Sessrumnir) "many seated." *Indicates an Old English reconstruction.


Neor is Fra (Frey) and Fro's (Fryea's) father and was thought of as a god of the seas not to mention commerce. The name of his palace is *Nacatun (Natn) which literally means "harbor" or "place of ships." It is said he was invoked by sailors and fisherman alike for good seas. Like his children, Neor was linked to material wealth and especially fertility of the sea. He married the giantess Sceadu (Skai). Sceadu came seeking revenge for her father's death, and the se offer wergild. Sceadu said that the wergild be to make her laugh. Loki manages to accomplish this. The se allowed her to choose a husband, but it must be on the basis of their feet. She chose Neor as he had the most beautiful feet. The marriage did not work out though as she missed her mountains, he, his sea. Oaths were sometimes sworn before Neor in legal assemblies so that he may also have some connection to law. Njrr's name is cognate to that of the Goddess Nerthus mentioned by Tacitus in Germania and quoted below:. Nor in one of these nations does aught remarkable occur, only that they universally join in the worship of Nerthum; that is to say, the Mother Earth. Her they believe to interpose in the affairs of man, and to visit countries. In an island of the ocean stands the wood Castum: in it is a chariot dedicated to the Goddess, covered over with a curtain, and permitted to be touched by none but the Priest. Whenever the Goddess enters this her holy vehicle, he perceives her; and with profound veneration attends the motion of the chariot, which is always drawn by yoked cows. Then it is that days of rejoicing always ensue, and in all places whatsoever which she descends to honour with a visit and her company, feasts and recreation abound. They go not to war; they touch no arms; fast laid up is every hostile weapon; peace and repose are then only known, then only beloved, till to the temple the same priest reconducts the Goddess when well tired with the conversation of mortal beings. Anon the chariot is washed and purified in a secret lake, as also the curtains; nay, the Deity herself too, if you choose to believe it. In this office it is slaves who minister, and they are forthwith doomed to be swallowed up in the same lake. The ritual is similar to one in Gunnars ttr helmings whereupon it is Fra that is carted around place to place. It could be possible that Tacitus confused a Vanic male diety with a Goddess. Saxo in his account of Starkad's visit to one of Fra's temples mentions men dressing like women and effeminate gestures. It may well be the idol of the God Njrr was dressed like a woman and taken on the rounds, and this is what Tacitus's informant witnessed. Njrr does not appear in material before the Viking Age, and Nerthus is only mentioned the one time by Tacitus, so it is not unlikely. In the Lokasenna, Loki states that Njrr got Fra and Fro on his sister. So It could also be that Nerthus is that sister. This would be the prefered view as the deity Tacitus describes must have some connection with fertility of the land, while the Eddic Njrr is clearly a God of sea commerce. *Indicates an Old English reconstruction

Other Gods and Heros


agor does not appear in any of the continental sources or the Anglo-Saxon ones. However, the cognate of his Norse name gir did in the form of agor "flood, high tide." Apollonaris Sidonius also commented that when the Saxons would sail they would sacrifice one of every ten prisoners by drowning or hanging him the night before. Ermoldus Nigelus writing about 826 CE said the Danes, the Saxons neighbors on the continent worshipped Neptune. While Neptune may have been Njordhr, it is likely that such sacrifices were to agor or Ran as both were the closest thing the ancient Germanics seem to have had in the way of sea Gods. Snorri identifies him with Hlr "the shelterer" and Gymir "Concealer." Gymir was also the name of Gearde (Gerd)'s father, but it is not known if they are one and the same. The Vikings refered to the River Eider as "gir's Door." The name Eider its self meant "sea monster" in Old English. agor is not listed amongst the se (sir) or Wen (Vanir), however they do frequent his hall, and as such he played a major role in the Norse myths. In the Eddas, agor is portrayed as brewer of the Gods. The hall in the symbel portrayed in the Lokasenna agor's. The drown were seen as going to his hall, and those that had gold for Ran were treated kindly. Egil after one of his sons drowned, said in his poem Sonatorrek, "Could I have avenged my cause with the sword, the Ale brewer would be no more." Generally though it is Ran and not her husband that is accredited with the taking of life. Her name means "robber," and she was said to have a great net which with to drag down men. This is not much unlike the nixies of Germany folklore. Many areas believed that if the river nixies were not given a life a year, they would take one of their own. Apollonaris Sidonius siad in his commentary on the Saxons that they loved storms at sea so they could take foes by surprise. This was their reason for giving one man in ten chosen by lot to the sea, to keep them safe in the storms. agor and Ran were said to have nine daughters named in Norse as Himminglva, Dufa, Blhadda, Hefring, Unn, Hrnn, Bylgja, Bara, and Kolga. *Indicates an Old English reconstruction


"Eala Earendel engla beorhtast, ofer Middangeard monnum sended, and sodfasta sunnan leoma, tohrt ofer tunglas u tida gehvane of sylfum e symle inlihtes." (From the Old English poem Christ I)

As directly as I can it translates as:

Hail Earendel, angel brightest, over Midgard to men sent, as a steadfast sunbeam, where over stars thou while away, of thyself ever lighting.

This poem refers here to a heavenly body, presumably a star, which is curious as it speaks to a presumably semi-christian audience. Curious, because for a christian poem to make an angel of a star is to depart from christian doctrine. In truth, the name itself is believed to belong to the heathen figure of Germanic myth whom is recorded under the similar forms of his moniker in the following; Egil, Wandil, Aurvandil and Orvandil. The name occurs in Danish form through the pen of the Christian monk Saxo Grammaticus. Here as with all Saxo's debased figures, he stands as a human hero; Horwendil, yet we see him at least as the husband of one Gerutha, brother of Feng and father of one Amleth. The story in this form inspired Shakespeare's Hamlet, taking its name from the latter, Horwendil's son. Horwendil's father is mentioned as Gerwendil, although this has been rejected by many as an invention by Saxo, the 'Ger-' prefix meaning merely 'spear' or 'warrior'. It is more likely that in the original story Horwendil and his brother

are in fact the sons of the mystical 'sea-wight' Wade. Even Amleth himself is remembered by the Snorre Sturluson in Skldskaparml. In another source: Vlundskvitha, the hero Vlund or Wayland is given as the brother of Egil and Slagfinn. It is Egil (pronounced Ay-ell) that is taken to be Aurvandil, and Slagfinn to be Fengi. This in its turn does follow other clues, we can take the evidence of the artifact called the Frank's Casket for instance. This is a chest of carved whale-ivory from Northumbria, England circa. 700 CE, it depicts several scenes from different cultural backgrounds and influences and some are of ambiguous meaning. It does however bare runic and Latin inscriptions which help identify the characters portrayed in the amazingly detailed scenes. One scene probably depicts Wayland in the manner he is portrayed in the poetry of Vlundskvitha almost as if it was a direct illustration of the narrative. Another side of the casket depicts a figure firing a bow from a house against several attackers, over him stands the runic inscription: 'Aegili' the name of the hero, and therefore taken to be our Egil, the brother of Wayland, and a v