Haustblót 2012

If you look at the holidays that I have listed on one of the information pages, you will notice that I have Haustblót and Vetrnætr listed as separate holidays. There are some sources in the Icelandic sagas that have celebrations at the end of the harvest season separate from the Winter Night festivities. Others, in a devious plan to make life difficult for us a thousand years on, have them celebrated at the same time. Some groups, like the Troth, have it as a single holiday while others, notably the Ásatrú Alliance, honor them as different holidays. As for the various and sundry European organizations, I can’t say how they do it. If you will, please allow me to explain why I do things the way I do.

First, it should be mentioned that I live in the Metro Atlanta area. I don’t tend to crops. My new home doesn’t even have a small garden, and likely never well, as I am technologically inclined but haven’t been given much skill with tending to green things that grow out of the ground. Trust me, it’s just bad. Even so, I do come from farming families and I am somewhat aware of the needs and demands of a farm and the work that goes in to raising crops and livestock. This is the key reason that the agrarian holidays still mean a lot to me, even though I am a suburbanite who is surrounded by more technology than greenery.

Right about now, the harvest should be finishing up. The warmer weather we enjoy in North America does throw off the older Scandinavian cycle by a bit, but not too much. It’s close enough that we can get a reasonable approximation in our urban world. For those that actually have home gardens, they know the seasonal cycles well enough to know when to adjust things for their lives. For me, I aim for something that fits my lifestyle. I know that in the South East there is still more time to harvest the remaining crops and in some areas where apple orchards are common, they would normally be working to get things in before it gets much cooler. This year has seen a rather mild September after an early warming. This has thrown things off a little, but so goes the world.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t say it was cold yet, but we have had a few night time Lows under 60°F. This is the key reason that I don’t celebrate Haustblót and Vetrnætr at the same time. I prefer to put Winter Night near the end of October, which is when it looks like it would have been. By then, we will be feeling the coming of winter. Also, in the old days, that would be the time when they would have finished the slaughter, not around this time of year. I know that the culling of the herds is about to get under way where my maternal family is. They don’t do that at the same time they are clearing the fields. Too me, these are separate things and need separate considerations.

Now, after all that justification, lets move on to celebrations of the holiday. The truth is, I’m not planning very much this year. I’m not even planning to do a “formal” blót. I am skipping all of that this year because I’ve been sick and I simply don’t have the energy to do a long blót. Instead, I am planning to make it quick and simple. I am going to make my usual offering of beer, something I think is very appropriate for a harvest festival, and I am going to say a prayer to FreyR, the álfar, and the landvættir. I will also say a prayer to the Æsir and the Vanir but I am mostly focused the Freysblót and álfablót customs in thanks for a good harvest. I am also going to ask that help be given to those who are tending apple orchards this year as they are having a rough go of it. The early warming was followed by a cold snap in April that did a lot of damage to this year’s crop. I heard one farmer talk about how he expects next year to be a boon year because the trees are resting this year. I hope he’s right. This is what I am hoping FreyR will consider lending his might to.

All in all, it will be simple this year and I’m okay with that. No company for the holiday, and I don’t have it in me to entertain company. A simple but sincere offering in thanks for the mostly good year and the way things have improved feels most appropriate. I have a special beer I am planning to give, a sahti from Sam Adams called Norse Legend. The name alone makes it just a bit humorous and it brings a smile to my face just thinking about how appropriate it all is.


Comments

Haustblót 2012 — 7 Comments

  1. Hmmm… what are the historical sources for the dating of Vetrnætr ??
    over here, some academic researchers are of the opinion that they could be linked to the Disarblot, which certainly falls in Mid-february (Disting) and if so, they do not belong in the season of Alva. However, I do not say that the academics I mentioned must be right – everyone might still celebrate when Frej gives them the urge, or message 🙂 – local kindreds will and always had their own tradition…

    http://tannhauser3.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/after-the-heimdallsblot/

    Well met and best of greetings, after Höstdagjämning or höstblot

    Signe Särimner !!

    • I’d have to sit down with my books to give you the most accurate answer, but I do believe the dating is derived from the Icelandic sagas. The one I can think of off hand that mentions it is Egil’s Saga Skallagrimsson. There appears to be different attitudes as to if the disir were made offerings in addition to the alfar. From what I can glean, many Icelanders might well have included the disir at this time because they don’t seem to have celebrated Disting, like the Swedes did.

  2. Thank you for a fast and well informed answer… The only factoid or reference I can find right now is Alf Henriksson´s standard “Isländsk Historia” or the history of Iceland in Swedish language, ISBN 91-0-047699-4 p.27 which states that “Vetrnaetr” was the beginning of the winter half of a year, and did fall on a Saturday in our contemporary month of October, it says, or half-way between Midvetrablot and Midsummarblot, which means that there is a strong correlation to the Autumn Equinox, at least, or perhaps Vetrnaetr and the Equinox can be synomymous, within an Icelandic context. To add to the confusion, Henriksson talks of Sumardagr in April, as the first day of summer (not the last of april, as in Sweden ?) … so YES you were right…there IS a very definite correlation, and Vetrnaetr is supposed to happen in October after all.. I stand corrected !

    • One of the things that makes what we do so difficult is that the documentation is mostly after the fact and records “conflicting” activities. This is one of the reasons why I choose to focus on our faith as a folk religion, as it would have been 1000 years ago, instead of some monolitich institutional religion with an Ása-pope sitting on some High Seat somewhere dictating that we all have to do it The Right Way.

      The Icelandic sagas give us some insight into customs and practices as they were recorded in one part of the greater Nordic world. What was done at Gamla Uppsala might have been vey similar to what was happening in Värmland but they would have both had their own regional variations. And that’s just in Sweden! The difference between Uppsala, Trondheim, Jelling, and Reykjavík could have been significant. We know that the Icelanders didn’t have Disting, but instead they held their Althing later in the year.

      We are lucky to have recorded what we do, but it also is limited in place and time. Still, we’re better off than a good friend of mine who is an Irish Celtic reconstructionist. If you ever want to hear someone rant about lack of resource material to rebuild from, he’s got a great one.

  3. Ahh.. perhaps, when I get older – and hopefully saner – I’m actually way past 30, but I feel young at heart as of yet – Folk Religion groups all across the globe (not just Asatruar perhaps, but also Wiccans, Slav Pagans, Irish Celtic etc ) will have reached a sort of balance within their groups between reconstructivism on one hand, and living folk tradition on the other… balance is sometimes hard to maintain… but then again – hard facts – always fun to pursue – as well as books – to acquire..

    • One of the things I see happening in American Ásatrú is a growing understanding of how we are a folk religion. It’s been a painful and often realization for me as well. So many times I see newcomers who started with Wicca that are holding on to Wiccan beliefs and practices and I just want to shake them and tell them they are doing it wrong! Now, I try to encourage them to understand that there is so much diversity and fullness within our troth that we don’t need those outside practices. Still, I’m not the Ása-pope and it’s up to each person to decide for themselves what they believe and how they express that belief. I believe that, over all, most people will fully embrace a Heathen world view and structure and there will be very few “Wicca-tru” practices. I don’t know if it was ever popular in Sweden but I’ve seen a marked decline in the use of the “Hammer Rite.” For this, I am grateful.

      At the same time, I am working on my own bookish nature. Learning is important, but so is doing. In order to practice our faith we have to move it forward and avoid becoming anachronistic. I refuse to wear “ritual garb” and my own name, not some Viking-esqu assumed name, works just fine for me. I belong to the SCA. If I want to go play pretend Viking, I’ll go to an event. When I stand in front of my horgr and raise a horn of ale to the gods I am not playing at anything and I don’t need to look or sound like some bafoon.

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