You might call it Halloween, someone else might call it Alfablot

It is the Friday before Halloween, and where I live that’s a big deal. Its a fun holiday and it should be better this year as covid restrictions are relaxed (at least where I am). We get a lot of kids at our house nearly 100 every year. We live in one of those developments where people drop their kids off, its safe lot of houses, one way in and surrounded by deep woods. The town I live in also has a curfew on Halloween, 8PM. It’s not a militant curfew, I mean the cops aren’t out in riot gear… but at 8PM they ask you turn your light off and not hand out any candy.

But, how did all this start?

“Today’s religion is tomorrows myth” a wise man. Many celebrations, holidays and religious observances are overlap, borrowed or redundant. When we as a species were in our formidable years around 2000 years ago, religions competed with one another for followers. This isn’t meant to be cynical it’s just how it was. That doesn’t detract from the piety of those at the time, but religion was different then, faith was an absolute. Meaning, there was no internet, cell phone, most people couldn’t read.

Here we are on the cusp of the western worlds holiday season. Halloween ushers in the season, we get veterans day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Day all within 70 days ( a touch over 2 months). Where do these holidays come from? You likely know some of the stories, you likely know, as an example, that the “12 days of Christmas” run nearly concurrently with Chanukah.

So, what are some of the other holidays that coincide or more accurately, preceded our current festivals? For Halloween there is Alfablot. Here is a link that describes it in more detail

What did your ancestors think?

In short, Aflablot is the sacrifice of the elves. Elves in the Viking world mostly represented dead spirits. So, this was a celebration of the dead, for lack of a more eloquent, and lengthy discussion. Sound familiar? Your Norse ancestors would have celebrated this blot toward the end of October. It was after harvest when the world was becoming bleak and barren.

In antiquity, in the Norse world, this was the time of the dead. You prepared most of the year to survive the winter and this was a time when people died to the elements and illness. The Alfablot was a singular ceremony, meaning each house conducted their own, in an effort to reach ancestors and elves in the hopes of communal discourse.

The hope was you would be able to convince the spirits to protect your house and family. There were no trick or treats but, indeed it was similar to Halloweens origins in spirit. Its symbolic of the end of the harvest, a preparation for winter. This Halloween, have fun, enjoy the celebration where you are as winter is coming (Is that you John Snow?).

Happy Halloween and Happy Alfablot !

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Leif Erikson

Ode to Leif Erikson

For my international readers today is Columbus Day in the U.S. and for some of us get a paid day off. As most of you know Columbus is the man who sailed west from Europe in 1492 (his first of three voyages) and “discovered America”. Well he actually ended up somewhere in the Bahamas and it is true that he as the first European that we know if in that part of the world.

Columbus is given credit for “discovering” the new world and setting in motion a series of events that would ignite colonialism, slavery, the Napoleonic wars on and on. Of course he couldn’t have known the consequences of his voyage, it was over a century later when many of the European colonial power finally fought things out. It was nearly 500 years that the European colonial powers were finally dismantled into the modern countries we have now, it took two world wars but we got there.

I’m not sure why we celebrate Columbus honestly, I mean I like having the day off but Europeans coming to the new world had, in a lot of cases horrific outcomes.

Yet, 500 years before Columbus “discovered” the “New World” a man by the name of Leif Erikson, a Viking explorer was blown off course enroot to Greenland and stumbled upon what is today Newfoundland in Canada (curious name choice eh?). There was no colonization, slaughter of the indigenous people, no slavery (although Vikings did take slaves). He sailed home and wrote about it.

Now there was a settlement and trading fort set up by Leif, again centuries before Columbus birth. It was found recently (in archeological terms anyway) in the 1960’s it is called L’Anse aux Meadows

The view from L’Anse aux Meadows

The site in of itself is proof that Europeans were in the “New World” centuries before Columbus, yet we still celebrate Columbus Day. So here is my tip of the hat to my Norse ancestors and my Viking ancestors and to Leif Erikson the true first European to visit the Americas. I think as time passes and we look at what we celebrate and why we gain more historical perspective. In writing this piece and reading about Columbus and Erikson I am perplexed as to why we celebrate Columbus at all, by all accounts he was a horrible person and his actions created horrific conditions for South America.

This isn’t a history focused blog, from time to time I do pieces on all sorts of topics. Columbus Day has always been one of those odd holidays in the U.S. it’s the kick off of fall, people are gearing up for the holidays, and the 4th quarter of the year has officially begun. I never questioned it or wondered about it, maybe it’s time to revisit whom we are celebrating and why? If we know Columbus wasn’t the first European to visit the Americas why celebrate him? Further, why celebrate the exploration at all? Once you delve more into the history of the outcome the more you might ask the same question.

Vikings were not great people, they were brutal like most peoples in antiquity. Life Erikson doesn’t come with the baggage Columbus does. If we are bent on celebrating discovery and the human drive to explore, I think that’s a positive thing. Why does it have to be any one person’s day then?

Anyway I’m don’t rambling. If you are celebrating Columbus Day this year, however you chose, perhaps you’ll tip the hat to Leif Erikson, I know I will.

Thank you so much for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Do you want to see more posts like this? Click here.

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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You might call it Halloween, someone else might call it Alfablot

“Today’s religion is tomorrows myth” a wise man. Many celebrations, holidays and religious observances are overlap, borrowed or redundant. When we as a species were in our formidable years around 2000 years ago, religions competed with one another for followers. This isn’t meant to be cynical it’s just how it was. That doesn’t detract from the piety of those at the time, but religion was different then, faith was an absolute. Meaning, there was no internet, cell phone, most people couldn’t read.

Here we are on the cusp of the western worlds holiday season. Halloween ushers in the season, we get veterans day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Day all within 70 days ( a touch over 2 months). Where do these holidays come from? You likely know some of the stories, you likely know, as an example, that the “12 days of Christmas” run nearly concurrently with Chanukah.

So, what are some of the other holidays that coincide or more accurately, preceded our current festivals? For Halloween there is Alfablot. Here is a link that describes it in more detail

What did your ancestors think?

In short, Aflablot is the sacrifice of the elves. Elves in the Viking world mostly represented dead spirits. So, this was a celebration of the dead, for lack of a more eloquent, and lengthy discussion. Sound familiar? Your Norse ancestors would have celebrated this blot toward the end of October. It was after harvest when the world was becoming bleak and barren.

In antiquity, in the Norse world, this was the time of the dead. You prepared most of the year to survive the winter and this was a time when people died to the elements and illness. The Alfablot was a singular ceremony, meaning each house conducted their own, in an effort to reach ancestors and elves in the hopes of communal discourse.

The hope was you would be able to convince the spirits to protect your house and family. There were no trick or treats but, indeed it was similar to Halloweens origins in spirit. Its symbolic of the end of the harvest, a preparation for winter. This Halloween, have fun, enjoy the celebration where you are as winter is coming (Is that you John Snow?).

Happy Halloween and Happy Alfablot !

Thank you for stopping by and supporting my blog! Want to see more posts like this? Click here.

Leif Erikson

Ode to Leif Erikson

For my international readers today is Columbus Day in the U.S. and for some of us get a paid day off. As most of you know Columbus is the man who sailed west from Europe in 1492 (his first of three voyages) and “discovered America”. Well he actually ended up somewhere in the Bahamas and it is true that he as the first European that we know if in that part of the world.

Columbus is given credit for “discovering” the new world and setting in motion a series of events that would ignite colonialism, slavery, the Napoleonic wars on and on. Of course he couldn’t have known the consequences of his voyage, it was over a century later when many of the European colonial power finally fought things out. It was nearly 500 years that the European colonial powers were finally dismantled into the modern countries we have now, it took two world wars but we got there.

I’m not sure why we celebrate Columbus honestly, I mean I like having the day off but Europeans coming to the new world had, in a lot of cases horrific outcomes.

Yet, 500 years before Columbus “discovered” the “New World” a man by the name of Leif Erikson, a Viking explorer was blown off course enroot to Greenland and stumbled upon what is today Newfoundland in Canada (curious name choice eh?). There was no colonization, slaughter of the indigenous people, no slavery (although Vikings did take slaves). He sailed home and wrote about it.

Now there was a settlement and trading fort set up by Leif, again centuries before Columbus birth. It was found recently (in archeological terms anyway) in the 1960’s it is called L’Anse aux Meadows

The view from L’Anse aux Meadows

The site in of itself is proof that Europeans were in the “New World” centuries before Columbus, yet we still celebrate Columbus Day. So here is my tip of the hat to my Norse ancestors and my Viking ancestors and to Leif Erikson the true first European to visit the Americas. I think as time passes and we look at what we celebrate and why we gain more historical perspective. In writing this piece and reading about Columbus and Erikson I am perplexed as to why we celebrate Columbus at all, by all accounts he was a horrible person and his actions created horrific conditions for South America.

This isn’t a history focused blog, from time to time I do pieces on all sorts of topics. Columbus Day has always been one of those odd holidays in the U.S. it’s the kick off of fall, people are gearing up for the holidays, and the 4th quarter of the year has officially begun. I never questioned it or wondered about it, maybe it’s time to revisit whom we are celebrating and why? If we know Columbus wasn’t the first European to visit the Americas why celebrate him? Further, why celebrate the exploration at all? Once you delve more into the history of the outcome the more you might ask the same question.

Vikings were not great people, they were brutal like most peoples in antiquity. Life Erikson doesn’t come with the baggage Columbus does. If we are bent on celebrating discovery and the human drive to explore, I think that’s a positive thing. Why does it have to be any one person’s day then?

Anyway I’m don’t rambling. If you are celebrating Columbus Day this year, however you chose, perhaps you’ll tip the hat to Leif Erikson, I know I will.

Thank you so much for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Do you want to see more posts like this? Click here.

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.

Thank you for supporting my Blog, please leave a comment or a like and let me know you were here. Did you like this post and want to see another? Click here.

You might call it Halloween, someone else might call it Alfablot

“Today’s religion is tomorrows myth” a wise man. Many celebrations, holidays and religious observances are overlap, borrowed or redundant. When we as a species were in our formidable years around 2000 years ago, religions competed with one another for followers. This isn’t meant to be cynical it’s just how it was. That doesn’t detract from the piety of those at the time, but religion was different then, faith was an absolute. Meaning, there was no internet, cell phone, most people couldn’t read.

Here we are on the cusp of the western worlds holiday season. Halloween ushers in the season, we get veterans day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Day all within 70 days ( a touch over 2 months). Where do these holidays come from? You likely know some of the stories, you likely know, as an example, that the “12 days of Christmas” run nearly concurrently with Chanukah.

So, what are some of the other holidays that coincide or more accurately, preceded our current festivals? For Halloween there is Alfablot. Here is a link that describes it in more detail

In short, Aflablot is the sacrifice of the elves. Elves in the Viking world mostly represented dead spirits. So, this was a celebration of the dead, for lack of a more eloquent, and lengthy discussion. Sound familiar? Your Norse ancestors would have celebrated this blot toward the end of October. It was after harvest when the world was becoming bleak and barren.

In antiquity, in the Norse world, this was the time of the dead. You prepared most of the year to survive the winter and this was a time when people died to the elements and illness. The Alfablot was a singular ceremony, meaning each house conducted their own, in an effort to reach ancestors and elves in the hopes of communal discourse.

The hope was you would be able to convince the spirits to protect your house and family. There were no trick or treats but, indeed it was similar to Halloweens origins in spirit. Its symbolic of the end of the harvest, a preparation for winter. This Halloween, have fun, enjoy the celebration where you are as winter is coming (Is that you John Snow?).

Happy Halloween and Happy Alfablot !

The Svefnthorn – An old pagan trick to better sleep

As suffers of anxiety one of the best remedies we have to battle the condition with is sleep. Sleep is a wonderful, natural elixir for the soul. Your body, mind, spirit all refreshes after a good nights sleep. For the non pagans who read this blog, this is not meant to be an affront it is rather a part of our ancestors mythic past.

A wise man once said to me “today’s religion, is tomorrows myth” I wonder if the Romans thought that when pontificating about Zeus? For those of us with European heritage it is likely some of your beliefs or family traditions are derived or harken back to old Norse pagan practices.

The Svefnthorn (Old Norse svefnþorn, “sleep thorn,” ) is a symbol that features in several of the Norse sagas and in folkloric magical formulas recorded long after the Viking Age. During the viking age, many people still held pagan beliefs as Christianity had not yet taken a firm hold. The sleep thorn was a prominent rune stone that nearly everyone had, you placed it under your head to ensure you would sleep well. They believed that a good sleep was the key to a successful day.

The point? Not much has changed. A great nights sleep is paramount to a successful day. More over, as someone with anxiety we need the best sleep we can get and if that means reaching back to our ancestors to achieve it why not?

The next time you are riddled with anxiety, remember throughout history sleep has been a remedy for so many ails. Some of your pagan friends still practice this “trick to better sleep”

You are doing great, one day at a time.

Kemst þó hægt fari.
(You will reach your destination even though you travel slowly.)