Norse 101, Part 2

Norse 101, Part 2

Happy Friday!  Ready for the Norse creation story?  Sure you are!  I’ll warn you, it’s a bit weird.  So, pop some popcorn, grab a drink, and get comfy.  

Before the world was created, there was a void called Ginnungagap.  To the north of this void was a land of ice called Niflheim, and to the south was a land of fire called Muspelheim.  The two lands expanded and grew closer and closer until the flames from Muspelheim began to melt the ice from Niflheim.  The drops of melting ice ran together and formed the first giant, called Ymir.  When Ymir would sweat, he would reproduce more giants.  Yes, from his sweaty armpits came the giants.  But wait, it gets weirder.

As the ice continued to melt, it eventually freed a cow named Audhumla.  She fed Ymir with her milk, and fed herself by licking the salt from the ice.  As she licked, she freed another being named Buri.  He was the first of the Aesir, which is the race of the Gods who live in Asgard.  Buri had a son named Bor, who married a giantess named Bestla.  They had three sons: Odin, Vili, and Ve.  The three brothers killed Ymir, and from his body, they created the world.  Ymir’s blood became rivers and oceans.  His skin and tissue became the soil.  His hair became the plants, his teeth became the rocks, and the clouds were once his brains.  The dome of the sky is the inside of his skull.  Gruesome, isn’t it?  The next time you’re at the beach, swimming in the ocean, think about what you’re doing according to the Norse myths.  You’re bathing in the blood of the first giant!  Yikes!

There are a few different versions of the story about the creation of the first humans.  One translation says that it was Odin, Ve, and Vili, three brothers, who made them.  Another version names Odin, Lodhur, and Hoenir as the brothers and creators of humanity.  At any rate, the story goes that the three brothers were walking on a beach and came upon two logs of driftwood.  They shaped the logs into the first man and woman, and named them Ask and Embla.  But Ask and Embla had no spirit, no breath.  The version of the story that I like best says that Odin gave them breath and spirit, Hoenir gave them senses, and Lodhur gave them blood and healthy color.  Some scholars believe that Lodhur is an earlier name for Loki, and I’m inclined to agree.  If you’re particularly interested in that speculation, I’ll be happy to direct you to some sources.  

Ancient creation stories like this one do sound incredibly strange to our modern ears.  Nowadays, we have myriad theories about our universe, how it works, and how it all came about.  Our ancestors did not.  They had absolutely nothing to relate it to.  Can you imagine the first time that the Norse were told this story?  I often wonder how it went down.  Did the Gods try to relay this information through a volva (a seeress or shamaness)?  Did someone back then “horse” or allow a God to skinride them to tell the tale of creation?  Did They zap Themselves down to Midgard and tell us?  I had this scenario playing out in the back of my mind while I was preparing to write this article, and I felt inspired to draw it out as a short comic strip.  I am by no means artistically inclined, and you’ll see the obvious influence of the “Cyanide and Happiness” comics.  But this is how I imagine it might have gone when the Gods tried to explain the universe to the Norse.  Yes, it’s tongue-in-cheek, yes it’s a bit tacky.  What can I say?  I’m a Lokean, and Loki lends a lot of inspiration to me.  Enjoy my artistic rendition, and I’ll see you here again next Freyja’s Day for the third installment of Norse 101.

Norse Creation Story

Harvest Festival RItual and Celebration on the Night Before Samhain for Covens or Families

This ritual is for the third harvest festival on the night before Samhain. It does not include anything towards horoning our ancestors but is enjoyable for children just learning the Pagan path.

What you will need:

A Space outdoors

Some type of Fire

A Pumpkin carve by each person participating

An Altar set up with minimal tools (Atheme or Ceremonial Knife, Cauldron, Autumn fruits and or vegetables your family or coven members will like to eat raw Something to represent each Element and the Goddess and God you choose to invite to celebrate with you. For suggestions check out this website )

A Cutting Board

The Ritual Ideas

Please make any changes to this ritual that would fit in with your personal path better.

Start the fire in the middle of where the sacred circle will be made. Set up the altar approximately 5 to 6 feet or more in behind the fire (you want enough room between fire and altar for people to be able to walk through safely). You want the South part of the altar to be in line with the fire you have made (in some places this may have to be done in a grill because fire pits or rings are not allowed.) Remember it is safety  and abiding by locals laws that must come first when first lighting the harvest fire. Set the Altar up as you would for any ritual using the friuts and vegetables to decorate it.

Next make a path wide enough for two adults to walk it side by side using the carve pumpkins on either side of it to light the way to where the circle will be. How far apart they are depending on how big of a space you have to work with, how many carved pumpkins you have and how far apart they are to be spaced. (Some years we have each had to make to pumpkins because we were given a large field to use for the night and it was almost a mile to where the circle was being held. Another year with my children our six pumpkins were about a foot apart because the path to our backyard was so short.)

This is also a fine night to dress in a costume as this is more a festival ritual to have fun and celebrate the last harvest then a serious ritual to honour our ancestors. Make sure if costumes are worn especially by children that the distance between the fire and altar is large enough that a stray sash, cape, skirt, etc can not catch fire on accident.

To walk the path of pumpkins start with the High Priestess and High Priest walking side by side, then next comes the Priestess and Priest and then the rest of the coven preferably in man and woman couples if possible with any children walking in front of adult coven members or paired with them.

If this is being done by your family have mom and dad or whichever parent or whatever adult is the head of the household be first in line, the children will follow with another adult at the end of the procession to the circle.

Everyone enters into where the sacred circle will be cast around the altar and fire entering from the south. The High Priestess and High Priest stop at the opening to the circle area and welcomes each person with the words “Merry meet may you enter into this sacred space with perfect love and perfect trust.” (The people do not have to have perfect love and trust in the High Priestess and High Priest but in the ritual that is taking plaace and their own spiritual path).

Once everyone has entered into the area the High Priestess will cast the circle and High Priest will call the Watchtowers. If you are doing this as a family you can decide who does these things.

Now the High Priestess blesses the Fire and altar. Using these words –

I bless this fire to keep our home warm and the lights on through out the cold months to come. To purifiy and prtect us. So mote it be.

Next the Fire Element on the Altar is blessed with the same words.

Next in a single file line each person passes through the area between the fire and altar fire. After a person has passes through the fires they go back to where their place had been in the circle.

The High Priestess and High Priest stay behind the altar to bless the fruits and vegetables and to call upon the harvest goddess and god to do the same. The High Priest blesses the furits and vegetables by say “From Mother Earth and the Elements we have been given this great bounty. We thank them for the nourishing things that will help to sastain us through the long, cold months. So mote it be.” The High Priestess then calls upon the harvest goddess to enter the circle and bless the harvest. USing these words “_________ please bless this food and empower it to help nurish and sastins us through the long, cold months.” The Hig Priest calls upon the harvest god to bless the harvest. Using these words “________ please bless this food and help empower it to help nourish and sustain us through the long, cold months. So mote it be.”

Next the fruit and vegetables on the altar are cut into individula pieces so each member of the coven or family gets a piece. With one small piece of each left over as an offering to the Goddess and God called up, Mother Earth and the Elements. After everyone has finished their portions the entire coven says “This is or offering to Mother Earth, the Elements, Goddess called in and God called in foour thanks for your help in the growing of this food and for the havest that it brought to us. We thank you for your power and help in making this food to help us through the long, cold winter months. So mote it be.” Place the food offereing on the ground to be eaten by wildlife.

After this the High Priest will dismiss the Watchtowers and the High Priestess will close the circle. Now it is time to take down the altar and stoke up the fire. Have some warm cider or hot chocolate or whatever you feel like drinking, enjoy the fire, tell stories or sing songs. This is a time for jubliation and merriment in celebration that the harvest season is over and help keep you warm thoughout the cold months from the love and postitive energy being brought about by spending timwith friends and/or loved ones.

Norse Pronunciations

Hi everybody!  Lady Beltane asked me to post a quick guide to pronouncing some of the Norse names.  They can be quite a mouthful, I’ll admit.  Here’s a short list of the names you’ll see in the Norse 101 Part 2 post tomorrow:

  • Aesir: eye-seer
  • Asgard: az-guard
  • Ask: ask
  • Audhumla: ow-DOOM-la
  • Bestla: BEST-la
  • Bor: bore
  • Buri: BOO-ree
  • Embla: EM-blar
  • Freyja: FREY-ya
  • Ginnungagap: Gin-oon-guh-gap (the G’s are hard, like in the word ‘go.’)
  • Hoenir: HUR-near
  • Lodhur: LO-thur
  • Midgard: MEED-guard
  • Muspelheim: MOO-spell-hime
  • Niflheim: NIFFLE-hime
  • Odin: OH-din
  • Ve: vay
  • Vili: VEE-lee
  • Ymir: ee-MEER
  • Volva: VOOL-vuh

I’ll post a pronunciation guide for each week’s lesson.  See you tomorrow!

Norse Volva

Samhain Altar in a Cup

Samhain Altar in a Cup photo

Samhain Altar in a Cup

Rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors), Mullein (abundance), mugwort (to aid in divination), calendula (to encourage emotional warmth and tolerance, compassion and the ability to truly listen to what others are saying) and a dash of Florida Water to banish negativity. I was going to include some acorns but couldn’t find my stash of them!

At Samhain, witches once gave one another acorns as gifts. During the Burning Times, giving someone an acorn was a secret means of telling that person you were a witch. Acorns are fruits of the oak, one of the most sacred trees to the ancient Celts. They are symbols of protection, fertility, growth, values, and friendship.

© 2015 Wolf Woman Ways

Samhain Call

Posted by Arthur Hinds:

“For the sacred ones, I stand and call with raised arms
I honor the names of the dead who shine in my heart.
I honor the names of the dead who shine in the hearts of those I love.
I honor the names of the dead who shine in my mind.
I honor all the dead whose names are unknown to me.
I am here and who I am because of you and the steps you walked.
I honor you and raise my hands to you.”