|Freyja, by Arthur Rackham|
image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Our community Autumn Equinox was celebrated in the Norse tradition of Hausblot, or Fallfest. I attended alone, much to my discomfort, but this particular celebration was not developed/adapted for children & my familiarity with these rites told me that the presence of our children would not be in keeping with the intent of this event. I knew however, despite my conflicting feelings, that of any & all the celebrations hosted by our pan-pagan family, this would be the one which would most speak to me personally.
My pagan roots were set among the Ásatrúar -- their rites are familiar, stirring, honest & potent. It has sometimes mystified me how I never came to embrace Norse Heathenry, but when I examine things fairly, I know that while their values, rites, lifeways & traditions draw me, their cosmology & more importantly, their gods do not.
The event was planned & coordinated by our community's sole Norse devotee. It began with a blót* in honour of Odin, followed by a wonderful, warm feast. In certain regards, the blót seemed more formal & involved than the blóts-of-yore, but I think some of this is due to selective memory, while some of it is probably because this event was developed for a diverse & public audience. It seems to me my friends-of-yore were much louder too... in fact, I am sure of that, but we were a great deal younger then, a bit more rowdy & much more vociferous. Regardless of how memory matches reality, I must give kudos to Shanley for an artfully developed rite & in particular, for his verse & how he represented our house fires in this ritual. It was very beautiful, symbolically & literally.
There was some song practice following the feast & we were blessed to have our talented & multilingual songstress sing the verses of Herr Mannelig for us so that we might only struggle with the refrain. I had the luck of being seated beside her & I had one of those moments of utter awe & appreciation for the gifts of our human faculties... the gifts of community too.
A sumbel* followed feasting & song practice. This was a long rite, lasting nine rounds & two, maybe closer to three hours (not the longest in Heathen history, I am certain!) before we needed to end -- possibly prematurely for some -- due to time & other commitments. There is little I can share about what transpired. All speech in sumbel is sacred speech & it is not my place to repeat it.
I went to this event knowing that I would need to address my outstanding debt to Freyja. I decided to bring some of my apple seeds & restate my oath. I also wanted to read a poem in Her honour -- on behalf of myself & Heather Awen -- so I made certain that this would be in keeping with our host's intentions for the sumbel. It was an honour both to publicly extol Her before my tribe & to represent the voice of someone who has given me a great deal of inspiration.
I chose a poem written by Hoen Falker of the Visigoth Tradition, Clan Falker & translated by Solange Stanquini. English is obviously not the first language of the author, nor do I believe it is that of the translator, so the poem has some translational idiosyncrasies. However, I found it so beautiful, so moving, that I chose to use it despite a few uncertain lines. I made a handful of small adjustments to assists the flow, but otherwise the poem is as I found it here: Chant to Freyja. My thanks to the author for such a sincere, emotive piece.
Poem in Honour of Freyja by Hoen Falker
Oh, loved goddess of Elfos, Humans & Valquiras,
that in the starry night,
reigns with replete kindness!
At the thresholds of the world
dressed of hawk
giving a present with talents
the treasures where You pass through!
In the shining lands & meadows of the whole people,
it's her glance at rest.
Prostrated, to You I offer
amber & flowers,
tears & laughter.
For my Lady,
the human homes in Your mesh.
Mounted on Her high boar,
She helps in the battles.
Your illuminated face in the winds of the heights
for who the fire,
front to the ice,
is like softness.
She is Lady,
of felines & hawks.
My ancestral Ones live close to You.
The half of my songs,
I offer to You.
To You I offer
a burning fire of memory.
You are goddess Freyja,
of the Vanires,
the most beautiful woman!
The arches of Your eyes
like wings of swans.
Your eyes are sunny emerald seas.
Your red mouth is our blood on contemplated snow.
When falls the afternoon,
You become an invisible shine,
for Your destroyed lovers.
for You my more beautiful desires,
I will order for the enchantments
& I will see then of the lonely death.
I will wake up.
It will be Your smiling
with all your beloved damsels...
The discovery of your forests
will bring the rain
& to my inert, cold body,
the life will return.
* There are many sources for information regarding the rites & traditions of the Ásatrúar, most of which I am sure are quite excellent. I chose Raven Kindred Online because it actually represents the spirit of my pagan family "of yore." Its authors were among my people & their ways were how I came to understand Ásatrú. You can find the rest of them (almost) at Raven Kindred North.