Looking for Seidr? The primal witchcraft of Old Europe?
Then you have found it ..
For me, the beauty of Scal Cu is its Nothingness.
Every aspect of the Wheel is allotted an energy:
half is male / god, and half is female / goddess;
then the elements have their shares;
and the numerous attributes and correspondences.
Not Scal Cu.
It is the Phantom Wolf .. a dark figure in the periphery ..
ever present but just out of sight.
It is a feeling, a tingling of the flesh,
that rush in the belly that tells you something
is about to happen but doesn’t give any details.
For some .. this is terrifying .. so accustomed, as some are,
to knowing a thing, or being prepared for a thing ..
even if it’s only an inclination of an idea.
And it is always this way .. the not-knowing.
I’ve experienced several decades of Scal Cu
and the only certainty I have is ‘Expect Nothing’.
As much as Seiðr is Wyrd Consciousness ..
Seiðr is Soul .. the singular path of Soul.
Seiðr seeks the divine in purpose through practice.
Seiðr is no jarl, karl or thrall, but an autocracy ..
an individual apotheosis of steadfast Stang and Stone.
If one has no control of their life,
which is the physical manifestation of the Soul,
they do not know Seiðr.
If one is ever buffeted by change, drama and turmoil,
which are the ripples ever sent out by other beings,
then one does not know Seiðr.
When everything is spinning out of control ..
Seiðr is the Still Eye Within the Storm.
As Tyr, Seiðr is the Pole Star around which all Worlds turn ..
As Donar, Seiðr is the Hammer from which all havoc is wrecked ..
As Frija, Seiðr is the Much-Knowing from which solutions are seen clearly ..
As Wodan, Seiðr is the Journey from which all answers are found ..
As Phantom Wolf, Seiðr is the primal fount – steady and open,
shrouded in shadow and mist – that leaves one either spiritually mute
and soul-confused, or gifted with the seeds of growth and renewal.
You see, one must atone during Scal Cu to be truly purified ..
a process that may take decades.
Once accomplished, one emerges with Forn Þreifa (divine touch) to heal,
with Spá to see, with prosperity to grow, and with strength to transform.
Scal Cu is wild and untamed .. so dangerously useful.
It is the wild howl, the amber beast, but more than anything else,
it is the desire to eliminate and eventually devour all that is unreal.
~ ~ ~
As I noted last year, I was unable to find any information the Eleventh and Twelfth Night of Yule. I opted instead to write on both nights, in two parts .. you can read it here.
This year, on Eleventh Night, I would like to discuss the Yule Log. Many of the Old Ways are found in ‘Christmas’ today, like the decorated tree and mistletoe, but often, the Yule Log is overlooked. Perhaps because we no longer rely on wood to heat our home, so many homes do not have fire places or hearths.
Across Old Europe, the Yule Log played a significant role. For example, the bonfires often mentioned in relation to this tide, seldom mention how, at the end of Yule, a brand of this fire, with ashes, were carried into the fields to bless them. The practice of carrying a purifying fire around the fields and orchards, and scattering its ash to promote fertility was once widespread. In some places, the Yule Log’s ash was mixed with drink, and both poured upon crops and drank by all gathered. Pieces of the Yule Log – charred remnants – were carefully collected, wrapped in linen and hung in the home or carried on a person to bring about good luck.
On this night then, consider the significance of the Yule Log .. its ash and charred remnants. If one was able to keep a fire buring for all these twelve night (or candles, as some do today), then consider the idea of collective good fortune. Consider, if you will, how the Yule Log was once held sacred, capable of perpetuating the well-being of the homestead and family, of bestowing fertility upon land and beasts, of re-vitalizing drained energy to re-invoke the powers of Light and Promise; in short .. Healing! Something clearly worthy of having a horn raised over: the triumph of darkness! Hail the Holly King!
Without a detailed account of how the Twelve Days of Yule were celebrated (let alone that any given day had specific emphasis), I have chosen to write on these days as a way to discover Old European Heathenry. Last year’s post was also on the Solar Ship; a subject Tacitus mentions among the Germanic Suebi .. from Germania 9:
Pars Sueborum et Isidi sacrificat:
unde causa et origo peregrino sacro,
nisi quod signum ipsum in modum liburnae figuratum docet advectam religionem. Some of the
Suebi sacrifice also to Isis.
I cannot determine the reason and origin of the foreign cult,
but her emblem,
fashioned in the form of a Liburnian* ship, proves that her worship comes from abroad
*Modern-day Croatia; a Slavic tribe
Ship rock art is found at several locations in Old Europe, mostly dating to the Bronze Age (3d millennium BCE). Generally, these depictions detail the journey of the Sun as it ‘navigates’ the Milky Way, or ‘heavenly highway’ of lore. The sheer number of ancient stone sites that precisely mark the equinoxes and solstices is enough evidence to affirm the Old Europeans as #SkyWatchers, and by extension – and documentation – superb navigators. The stars and constellations found along the Milky Way’s undulating contours were well known to the ancestors of yore. And if I were to freely interpret here, I would compare the Milky Ways’ center, with its radiating spokes, to the spinning wheel upon which the Goddess Frigg weaves the Wyrd of Life itself.
Another interesting perspective is the idea of the ship as lineage. Hávamál 10 and 11, for example, are what I refer to as “companion verses”, in that they have identical verbage, acting as a continuation of an idea. Further, they are examples of Galdr.
In these verses the word ‘lineage’ is *byrði, which means both “birth, descent; lineage”, and “board side of a ship”. Overall, there are eight references to ships in Havamal (that I have been able to identify).
Now, from a cultural perspective, there are numerious historical references to the cradleboard, where a child was swaddled, and to burial-boards being used in death rites. Freely considering the ship imagery on runestones and carved on wooden objects at burial sites, the board as lineage could easily be representative of life’s journey from cradle to grave – born upon a ship’s board, perhaps as a solar symbol (akin to the Sun Chariot).
If so, not only is this a lovely idea to consider .. but quite fitting on this Eighth Night of Yule.
~ ~ ~
Photos: Fossum Panel, and Trundholm Sun Chariot, Nordic Bronze Age, Denmark
Last year, for Sixth Night, I wrote on Mother Earth. However, I understand this tide and time of year to be more male than female, so I want to talk about the Dark Lord.
In several posts on my author’s page, I mentioned Him as the ‘Horned God’, and it has been expressed to me that, to some Heathen ears, this sounds ‘wiccan’ or ‘new age’. To them I counter: ‘Or perhaps you have become too Christianized and/or sanitized in your Heathenry.’
Frey’s name is rooted in Old English hlāfweard, meaning ‘loaf-ward’; making him a lord who both guards and dispenses resources to the folk. As the lord of horse, boar and stag – recall his horse Freyfaxi – he represents sexual virility (and there are accounts of a horse’s penis being used as an object of worship). During Yuletide, oaths were sworn in Frey’s name as ‘Tusked God’, and specifically as Hjörtr-got, ‘Stag God, Horned God’, for he gave up his sword to gain the love of a woman – the beautiful Gerðr, a Gygjar – and from that day forth fought with a stag’s horn. Frey is then, Heathenry’s Horned God.
As Ing, which is Old High German for Freyr, who represents ‘all men’; and from Grímnismál 5, we learn his is King of Elfheim (Elf Home). The Rune ingwar is named for him, and coupled with its #SeidrRune, ard, represents the connective threads between ancestors and men.
He sits upon Hliðskjálf, oaths are made using his name, he rides at the forefront of the Wild Hunt (atop Gullinbursti), traverses all worlds in a ship, and goes to battle with a stag’s rack. Far from a ‘lord of peace’, he casts quite the formadible and chthonic Wildman image – capable of both violence and frith. All of this, and much more, make him the most viable candidate for what would survive as the Horned God of Old Europe (similar to both Cernunnos and Herne).
Whatever the case, I choose to see him in this way, and have for many decades; so upon this Sixth Night I will raise an Oath Ring and call His name aloud, and in so doing, my voice will ring true amongst the Altmag!
Last year, on Fifth Night, I wrote about the Mothers. Because of calendar reckoning, I did that yesterday; so today I will look at traditional food and drinks.
We each have our own unique Yule (Christmas) memories. I grew-up in a folkloric family (Celtic, Theosophist, and Masonic) .. brimming with rich traditions, each with a meaning ready to be discovered. But the kitchen at Yule! Roasted Goose and Cranberry Bread with fatty hand-churned butter, Mince Meat and Spiced Beef with wild harvested Juniper Compote! As the decades have flowed, I remember the scents and laughter, not the presents. Ahh .. memories can be wonderful things.
Today, I still relish traditional recipes. I scour the minds of elders, equally as I surf the internet looking for recipes from Old Europe. For me, Yule is not a standard American table of turkey and/or ham with mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and the questionable greenbean casserole (all of which resembles Thanksgiving Part II). No, my table varies widely. Ive prepared Irish and Norwegian meals, Russian and Bulgarian meals, German and Italian meals, and more – all from top to bottom, or from main dish to dessert to everything inbetween.
This year, because of a delightful find at a local international market, we are preparing a Moroccan meal: Camel Stew, Traditional Fruit Couscous, and Flaky Flatbread. Which doesn’t mean we have left-off the traditional things we enjoy, like Mince Meat Pie – with its shaved butter crust from a Medieval recipe; just that we are ever discovering new additions like Cardamon Citrus Cheesecake (a bit of a homage to the Moroccan meal), and Chocolate Coconut Butter Pistachio and Cranberry Bites (a new endeavor).
My point here, on this Fifth Night of Yule, is that traditions are the cornerstone of being Heathen, equally as the making of new ones!
Pic: The Chocolate Cardamon Orange Ginger Cheesecake!
Many Heathens today celebrate Mother’s Night either before, during or after Yule. Other than seeing this as ‘confusion’, I tend to see it as the good folk today trying to reintroduce this Old Way into their daily life.
Last year, I wrote about Mothers and Mother’s Night .. you can visit that here.
Mōdraniht – Old English ‘Mother’s Night’ – is an Anglo-Saxon celebration. We know this because the Venerable Bede, a Medieval English Historian, left us an 8th century record. This account, De temporum ratione, is a valuble treastise on the reckoning of time; as a #Seidwoman, I am particular concerned with Mundalfari’s Wanderings.
What Bede tells us about Mother’s Night:
Incipiebant autem annum ab octavo Calendarum Januariarum die,
ubi nunc natale Domini celebramus.
Et ipsam noctem nunc nobis sacrosanctam,
tunc gentili vocabulo Modranicht, id est, matrum noctem appellabant:
ob causam et suspicamur ceremoniarum, quas in ea pervigiles agebant.
Beginning the year on the 8th calends of January [25 December],
when we celebrate the birth of the Lord.
That very night, which we hold so sacred,
they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, “mother’s night”,
because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night.
In that ‘mothers’ and ‘foster mothers’ are mentioned frequently in Heathen Lore, its easy to ascertain the Germanic Matres and Matronae, the Nornir, Gygjar, and powerful Seidbearing Foster Mothers who were held in high esteem by the Germanic tribes – who were further known in Scandinavia as the Dis, and who clearly are celebrated at Disting, or the Dis’ Thing (“assembly”)
Speaking confidently, I am part of an annual Thing / Assembly of women, so can attest, at the least, several aspects of this rich female tradition live on. Further, to my knowledge, I was the first to suggest that Hel / Helja be honored during blot; an idea considered quite blasphemous at the time (circa 1980), but today, thankfully, is openly considered and/or practiced. In any event, I am not suggesting that my Germanic ancestors worshipped a sovereign, nurturing and maternal earth goddess, as popularly seen in Neo-Paganism. What we know is that there is a rich tradition of Huldrefolk – mostly dark, aluringly beautiful, black veiled, and dangerous women who often used Seidr. These ‘hidden women’, such as Helja and Frau Holle, Hludyn and Gullveig-Heid, were particularly targeted by the Church; who wanted their pale ‘virgin’ alone, to rule the minds of men.
The Heathen tribes knew that women, are anything but pale or virginal, weak or unfulfilled, ineffective or vacous. Our Goddess’ are wild and fierce as storm clouds, savage and unforgiving ocean waves, passionate and Wise Women who weld Seidr as a sharp sword. Equally as they were the undaunting defenders of hearth and kin, working tirelessly to feed their family, heal them with herbs and stones, and #galdr the Gygjar to aid them in their daily lives.
Yes, these are the gusty women of Heathen Lore who should be remembered on this Fifth Night. A handful of these Women include:
–Alusneihae, mother who ‘sings of sacred words’, and
–Aufanie, the ‘generous ancestral mother’.
–Friagabis, the ‘generous, open-handed’ mother, and
–Garmangabis, the ‘richly giving’ mother.
–Nehalennia, the ‘death mother’, and ‘seafaring mother’, and
–Saitchamiae, the ‘mother of magic’; who all #Seidbearers should know.
So on this night, hail the Mothers and Strong Women – equally your mothers and wives, daughters, sisters, and aunts.
~ ~ ~
The Matronae, A Print by Monica Sjöö
Art art bottom:
There are not many details regarding the Twelve Days of Yule. I don’t think there were specific days for specific things, probably just the many activities in the twelve days allotted. Today, some have questioned the number of twelve days, but even today I see this in Europe, where many will go on vacation for 12-14 days, seemingly all at once. For example, I’ve seen German towns virtually close for ‘vacation season’. Whatever the case, if we are wondering and searching for things to do – for Yule Traditions – then these twelve days becomes an opportunity to explore the many ways our Altmag found wunjo.
For this Third Night then, I would like to focus on the Six Fehus; namely, Ƒlag, Ƒolk and Ƒamily, Ƒlax, Ƒodder and Ƒrith. (Last year’s Third Night post)
–Flag is short for ‘flagstone’. The oldest form of this word is from Indo-European (f)plak-, meaning ‘flat piece, stone layer, flat sea’. Not used today, a flag was the flat stone used as the frontal portion of a fireplace. Later still in Middle English, the word became hearth, as in hearthstone, or the floor of a that extended into a room. This same word is rooted in heathen, for Heathen means, ‘folk of the hearth; folk of the heath’. Yet another meaning of flag is ‘cut piece of sod’, which was a portion of earth that was removed to build an outdoor fire, or to swear an oath under. The ancient Heathens routinely swore oaths standing beneath a flag.
When considering forn sidr, the Old Ways, there is nothing more important than the flag, for this is where folk and family gather – to warm themselves, to tell stories or relate the events of their day, to learn of the Old Ways, to cook and eat hearty and healthy food. Flag is the heart-space of every home, the ‘domestic sun’ of vibrancy and vitality. In Heathenry this is the Lady, the inner sun of every family, for in Heathenry, the sun is female – the primal warmth of transformation and purification.
–Folk means ‘people or tribe’, specifically, the Old European tribes. From Indo-European pele- meaning, ‘plenty, accomplish, full’, and is even related to the Hindu word poori, which is a flat bread made at the hearth. Folk are the originators and carriers of custom and law, tradition and belief, from the household to the ruling court. We see these words today in: folk lore, folk wisdom, folk music, folk tale, folk life and folk art – all things that Heathens draw upon to further their Folkway.
–Family is an Anglo-Saxon word and means, ‘related by blood’. Likewise, the maxim ‘blood is thicker than water’ is Anglo-Saxon, and means ‘it is better to seek kindness from a kinsman than from a stranger’; or, where water soon evaporates and leaves no mark, not so blood. Within Heathenry family is the smallest unit of measurement, for ‘no man is an island’.
–Flax too has Indo-European roots – (f)plek- means ‘flax, pliant, braid, weave, entwine’. Native to Old Europe, flax is a slender plant with beautiful blue flowers and has been used for countless generations as a fiber and food seed (yielding linseed oil). It was the primary cloth among the ancient Heathen tribes, used in the making of linen. In my book, Völuspá: Seiðr as Wyrd Consciousness, I describe the primal grandmother, Bestla, who is the ‘woody fiber’, the “food-conducting fiber, used in the weaving of rope, baskets, and hair” and fetters. Flax is a tool of prosperity, lineage and the Summer Solstice. It is health, beauty, spiritual viability and the comprehension of morality. Finally, flax is the bringing together of a man and woman – the binding thread of a Handfasting – for where Frey is the spear, Freyja the spindle, where Frey is the leek, Freyja is the linen.
–Fodder has an Indo-European root and means ‘to protect, feed, protector’; which includes Forn Threifa (‘ancient healing touch’). It is also seen in the Anglo-Saxon word foster which was a common practice among the Old European tribes. To foster someone meant to feed and clothe them (in flax / linen), to teach them, to protect them, to care for them as your own. Being or becoming a foster in Heathenry – as of old, so today – means to be trothed to someone, something that, historically, was considered just as reliable as family, or ‘related by blood’.
–Frith means ‘free from conflict’ and is from the Indo-European root pri-, meaning ‘free, not in bondage’; in Old English fraien means ‘free from disturbance’; and Old High German fridu means ‘safety, compound’. Other definitions of frith include:
-Free from being subjected to others, not restrained;
-Free to determine one’s own actions, at liberty;
-Not confined or imprisoned;
-Clear of offense or crime, without guilt.
The closest ideas we have to this word are: familiar, sincere, faithful, certain and honorable, and a word commonly heard in Heathenry today: troth. Most scholars today believe the staff or wand to be a symbol of frith. In Heathenry the word Völva means ‘staff bearer’, and certainly we have all seen pictures of witches on broomsticks. The staff is a medium of freedom – free from the constraints of establish society, not subjected to another via the might provided by the Lord and Lady, free to determine one’s own actions, to bend and shape will to one’s own measure.
Clearly, these are more than ancient ideas; these six are so important that most of us are familiar with them even today, in any number of combinations:
-Faith, Folk and Family;
-Flags, Flax and Fodder; and
-Flax, Fodder and Frig. (Frig is tha Germanic goddess; also known as Freyja);
In all, these six create a powerful Bindrune, one that captures the very essence of Heathenry and the Old Ways.