It is time for Thorrablot

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….

Fenrir has not broken his bonds…… YET

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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The Tradition of Christmas

As I am a pagan myself I get asked from time to time about Christianity. Let me be clear, I respect other religions and I think Christians are fine people. But what about the notion that “Christians stole Christmas, they don’t even know when Christ was born”.

This is mostly true, at least the part about when Christ was born. It’s very unlikely he was not born on December 25. That said I have a very simple answer for my pagan friends who believe Christians stole “Yule Tide” and made it Christmas. It’s done, railing against the past means you never move forward. Or as one of my Christian friends explained to me once in a reply blog post:

“The traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273. Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism. To this day some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because they think it is somehow tainted by the pagan festivals held on that day. But Christians have long believed that the gospel not only transcends culture, it also transforms it. In A.D. 320 one theologian answered this criticism by noting, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.”

I’m pretty sure he/she copied that from somewhere else but I like the ending. Have a great holiday no matter what path your spirit travels and for my Christian friends, Merry Christmas!

What is Yule ?

Many of my readers know I am a pagan. Now like most people who practice religion I am not devout. Many of you go to church regularly, or the mosque but pagans like me not so much. Most of my beliefs are remnants of the past. Specifically, the ways in which our ancestors lived before monotheism religions. The fact is, peoples of all races and times have had gods. Its only recently that we have devoted ourselves to ONE god.

So, what is Yule? Yule is a period of time around the winter solstice. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.

During this time the “Yule tide” is observed and celebrated which is where we get the “12 days of Christmas”. Christians when they spread their religion to northern Europe adopted several pagan customs to help ingratiate the populations into the new religion.

There is a great reference here This illustrates many of the similarities between yule and the Christmas season. From the site:

“Most of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of ”Christmas (such as the Yule log, Santa Claus & his Elves, Christmas trees, the Wreath, the eating of ham, holly, mistletoe, the star…) are derived from traditional northern European Heathen Yule celebrations. When the first Christian missionaries began trying to force the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to invent a Christian version for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. Halloween and Easter have been likewise assimilated from northern European Heathen religious festivals.”

There is so much more to expand on when it comes to Yule and ancient pagan practices. The Wreath, the Holy Tree, the Yule Log… on and on. Maybe this Christmas when you’re thinking about the season, harken back to your ancestors. I’m betting at least one of them, somewhere was celebrating Yule, dancing with their family and community, waiting for the long winter nights to slowly bring spring.

I hope you all enjoy this time of year and have some form of celebration in your life. No matter where you are from, your race, your gender, your sexual preference, your political affiliation I am glad you are here. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful Yuletide.

Karac

What is Yule ?

Many of my readers know I am a pagan. Now like most people who practice religion I am not devout. Many of you go to church regularly, or the mosque but pagans like me not so much. Most of my beliefs are remnants of the past. Specifically, the ways in which our ancestors lived before monotheism religions. The fact is, peoples of all races and times have had gods. Its only recently that we have devoted ourselves to ONE god.

So, what is Yule? Yule is a period of time around the winter solstice. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.

During this time the “Yule tide” is observed and celebrated which is where we get the “12 days of Christmas”. Christians when they spread their religion to northern Europe adopted several pagan customs to help ingratiate the populations into the new religion.

There is a great reference here This illustrates many of the similarities between yule and the Christmas season. From the site:

“Most of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of ”Christmas (such as the Yule log, Santa Claus & his Elves, Christmas trees, the Wreath, the eating of ham, holly, mistletoe, the star…) are derived from traditional northern European Heathen Yule celebrations. When the first Christian missionaries began trying to force the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to invent a Christian version for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. Halloween and Easter have been likewise assimilated from northern European Heathen religious festivals.”

There is so much more to expand on when it comes to Yule and ancient pagan practices. The Wreath, the Holy Tree, the Yule Log… on and on. Maybe this Christmas when you’re thinking about the season, harken back to your ancestors. I’m betting at least one of them, somewhere was celebrating Yule, dancing with their family and community, waiting for the long winter nights to slowly bring spring.

I hope you all enjoy this time of year and have some form of celebration in your life. No matter where you are from, your race, your gender, your sexual preference, your political affiliation I am glad you are here. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful Yuletide.

Karac

A Norse God House Found.

As we enter the winter season in the northern hemisphere I was reminded recently that Yule is right around the corner. This blog isn’t a pagan blog I don’t do a lot of pieces on paganism and the ancient ways but I am admittedly a pagan. Like so many other people out there I do not adhere to a strict doctrine of a religion. I am more spiritual and I find that “God” or “Gods” are usually manifestations of the mind to explain the unexplained and the human condition.

To be blunt, I don’t know if there is a god or not, or several. I believe in higher powers but the notion of some old guy sitting in the clouds watching my every move and recording it seems as far-fetched as a god riding on an 8 legged horse and hanging from a tree of wisdom.

In my –pagan- travels around the web I found a great article here, a temple to Thor and Odin has been unearthed.

From the article: “This is the first time we’ve found one of these very special, very beautiful buildings,” Diinhoff told Live Science. “We know them from Sweden and we know them from Denmark. … This shows that they also existed in Norway.”

The Norse began building these large “god houses”, as they’re called, in the sixth century. The god houses were much more complex than the simple sites, often outdoors, that the people previously used to worship the Old Norse gods.” It is a stronger expression of belief than all the small cult places,” he said. “This is probably something to do with a certain class of the society, who built these as a real ideological show.”

This is a great find and it may serve to do a bit more back work on softening the stigma of Norse culture. Of course we have all heard of Vikings, ruthless pagan raiders who terrorized the west after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Yes that’s part of their story, and a big part. They were also very spiritual people, as were most in antiquity. While we can haggle over whose god is the only god, like most civilizations the Norse had representation in their god hierarchy similar to the roman, Greeks, Egyptians and other ancient cultures.

Come from the land of Ice and Snow?

As others who have studied Norse mythology and the dark ages will tell you, they valued home, they valued family, and they strove for measures of equality. They celebrated the harvest, feared the winter and relished the spring and fall. Its great news when we find glimpses into our ancient past. Regardless of what you chose to believe or where your particular ancestors come from, it’s always interesting to see what our distant cousin’s lives through.

This find is great for archeologists and for pagans a like. It’s important for us to understand the reverence that was paid to the gods at the time. This was, for lack of a better term, how they understood they were supposed to worship god(s). They weren’t so unlike our modern interpretations of faith now really, perhaps even more devout. Yes they were Vikings, they were brutal but so were most people and most religions at one time or another.

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FALLFEAST – Pagan’s Rejoice !

It’s fall in the west. It’s likely that in a non covid year you would have some sort of festival near you happening. Oktoberfest’s are usually the most popular those combine to ancient festivals, the harvest and the feast of harvest.

As many of you know I am a pagan, no I don’t sacrifice animals, I am not a witch, lol. I simply try and celebrate the old ways, respecting nature, respecting the seasons.

Below is a page pull from http://odinsvolk.ca/ It illustrates what the Fall Feast is, and why or Viking ancestors celebrated it and how some of the old ways built community.

“Fallfest of is another joyous festival in the Asatru holy calendar, and falls on the Autumn Equinox, and is the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward; the equinox occurs around September 22 – 24, varying slightly each year according to the 400-year cycle of leap years in the Gregorian Calendar. Fallfest represents the second harvest of the season.

Celebrate your Ancestors, they are watching.

Bonfires, feasting and dancing played a large part in the festivities. Even into Christian times, villagers cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames, cattle having a prominent place in the pre-Christian Germanic world. (Though folk etymology derives the English word “bonfire” from these “bone fires,”) With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit their hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together.

Materially speaking it marked the beginning of the gathering of food for the long winter months ahead, bringing people and their livestock in to their winter quarters. To be alone and missing at this dangerous time was to expose yourself and your spirit to the perils of imminent winter. In present times the importance of this part of the festival has diminished for most people. From the point of view of an agricultural people, for whom a bad season meant facing a long winter of famine in which many would not survive to the spring, it was paramount.

At the equinox, the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. In the northern hemisphere, before the autumnal equinox, the sun rises and sets more and more to the north, and afterwards, it rises and sets more and more to the south.

In ancient times, our European ancestors celebrated their Harvest Feast, where they have found many reasons to be thankful and to celebrate. Our people have done this for as long as we can trace our history. Although what our people have felt thankful for has certainly changed over the many years, remember you sit down this year with your family, you’re participating in an ancient tradition. And it’s a great time to figure out what you’re thankful for.”

So many of our current traditions are based on our distant past. This isn’t a religious post, it’s actually an illustration of how close we really are. Have a great fall and a bountiful harvest. May you and your family be prosperous and may you come out of the dark days of winter in good health, and good spirits.

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What is Yule ?

Many of my readers know I am a pagan. Now like most people who practice religion I am not devout. Many of you go to church regularly, or the mosque but pagans like me not so much. Most of my beliefs are remnants of the past. Specifically, the ways in which our ancestors lived before monotheism religions. The fact is, peoples of all races and times have had gods. Its only recently that we have devoted ourselves to ONE god.

So, what is Yule? Yule is a period of time around the winter solstice. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.

During this time the “Yule tide” is observed and celebrated which is where we get the “12 days of Christmas”. Christians when they spread their religion to northern Europe adopted several pagan customs to help ingratiate the populations into the new religion.

There is a great reference here This illustrates many of the similarities between yule and the Christmas season. From the site:

“Most of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of ”Christmas (such as the Yule log, Santa Claus & his Elves, Christmas trees, the Wreath, the eating of ham, holly, mistletoe, the star…) are derived from traditional northern European Heathen Yule celebrations. When the first Christian missionaries began trying to force the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to invent a Christian version for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. Halloween and Easter have been likewise assimilated from northern European Heathen religious festivals.”

There is so much more to expand on when it comes to Yule and ancient pagan practices. The Wreath, the Holy Tree, the Yule Log… on and on. Maybe this Christmas when you’re thinking about the season, harken back to your ancestors. I’m betting at least one of them, somewhere was celebrating Yule, dancing with their family and community, waiting for the long winter nights to slowly bring spring.

I hope you all enjoy this time of year and have some form of celebration in your life. No matter where you are from, your race, your gender, your sexual preference, your political affiliation I am glad you are here. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful Yuletide.

Karac