As this blog entered 2022 I said that I would spend more of my prose on holidays, not just U.S. but some of the old Norse holidays. For the new reader, I am a pagan. Let me be clear here though, paganism like any other religion has a wide swath of individuals who practice. The level of zealousness in said practice can vary person to person, season to season. You see this in all religions really, some more than others. I no longer practice as much as I used too. There was a time when I was younger I insisted on a yule log instead of an Xmas tree, I participated in other pagan ceremonies as well.
Those days are passed for me, I am older and wiser and realize now that spirituality doesn’t lie within external expression but rather internal reflection and external application. Maybe I am lazy, or more diplomatically, more comfortable with life. At 52 I have enough of a back story to pull from to make the present more seneschal and the future less harrowing. Some call it wisdom, but I digress…
But you are here for Thorrablot….
First let’s get one thing out of the way. In Norse lore, a blot is a blood sacrifice to the gods. Yes, a living thing is sacrificed (killed) in the hopes that it will please the gods and they will give you their favor. There should be no illusion about this, a thousand + years ago your pagan ancestors were sacrificing humans and animals to their gods. Maybe they weren’t Norse ancestors but somewhere in your vast family tree.
The Thorrablot was specific to Thor, as you might have surmised who, in ancient times, protected Midgard (earth) from the frost giants. It was believed that prayer and sacrifice to him would make the winter more bearable. With religion we have to be very careful on the nuances of words. “Frost Giants” reads literal but the giants likely meant the large storms, winds, cold, snow cumulatively. For most ancient peoples the natural world and its events were oft described by unnatural causes, like giants as an example.
This particular blot happened mid-February usually and is often combined with Disting. They are basically one in the same but I suspect subtlety different depending on the region you lived. There was a sacrifice and a feast and essentially the gist was “please god(s) let us survive the winter”. Today many Norse pagans follow Asatru which is kind of a blanket/catch all for everything Norse paganism today. Its codified holidays, assigned its meaning, even made official holidays etc.
Do we celebrate anything like this today? Sort of, we have ground hog’s day a pseudo mechanism by which we try and determine how much more winter there is. That’s all our pagan ancestors were trying to do as well. They didn’t have oil burners in their home and amazon and door dash weren’t a thing yet for food, so their stress level in the middle of winter was slightly higher…..
So the next time you are out this week and if it is very cold, imagine life in 692 and you are freezing your ass off. You might pray to whatever god would listen too….
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