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Blót

(From Bifrost.no)

The blót is the central ritual in Asatru/Fornsiðr. This is what establishes and strengthens the bonds between men and gods. It also brings the participants together in a mutual experience.

I want you to know that there is no right or wrong way to do this. There aren’t many reliable sources and the modern practice is a combination of material from the sources that do exist and new ideas.

Trial and error have led to a number of elements that work well. The list of elements below is a list of elements that are often used in Bifrost blóts. Bifrost is the Norwegian Asatru Fellowship.

To qualify by Bifrost’s definition, the blót should contain four permanent elements. These are; consecrating the site (lyse i ve), reading a text (kvad), a ritual sacrifice and rounds of honorary toasts. There will often be a gode or gydje leading the ceremony. This is often the person who did most of the planning. There are also people who have taken these titles permanently.

The Ve is preferably a nice, secluded place outside, for example a clearing in the woods, on a beach, a lookout point. What’s important is that you find it appealing and that it feels right for you. Public parks etc. can also be used if you consider onlookers, dogs and other disturbances. It’s also possible to do this indoors, if necessary.

Marking the area

Mark your area (often a circle) by for example using torches or maybe tea lights in jars for safety. Many start in the North and walk clockwise. Ask the vættr to protect your ve for North, and use other gods or beings for the other directions.

You can also create your own invocations, if that feels better for you. Light the torches/candles as you do this (if you use such things). Many do their blót at night, and this adds to the ambiance. The participants may either stand inside the circle from the start or enter after this is done.

Consecration

This is also one of the initial elements. You declare that the area is hallowed ground where the connection between the worlds is open and gods and other powers are welcome to join you. This is an example from the pages of Bifrost (adapted to English):

‘This site is now sacred, and I bid all Æsir and Vanir, vættr and jotnar, men and women and friends welcome to this blót. This vé is now hallowed ground. This earth shall not be soiled with the blood of battle. This air shall not be filled with unkind words. Our minds shall not be filled with hate and envy. This vé is only for good friends, gathered to honor gods and forefathers in a dignified manner. So shall it be in this vé.’

Invocation

A blót often has a purpose. This might be to ask Thor for protection or Odin for wisdom etc. It’s also common to associate it with the changing of seasons, for example welcoming spring or celebrating a solstice. This gives you a theme which lets you pick appropriate gods and powers to invoke.

Invocation may be done by reading a text or singing a song. If you choose a text, it should say something about why you’re having the ritual, what you wish to achieve and why you wish to honor those specific gods/powers. There are lots to choose from.

Norse Mythology has a large amount of gods and other characters, so there’s no reason to stick to just Odin, Thor and Freyja. If you wish to concentrate on a specific property of say Odin, you could use one of his other names which are associated with this property. If you use a song, it should have a simple melody and be repetitive.

Sacrifice

You can have a larger ritual sacrifice for the whole group and/or smaller, personal sacrifices from the individual participant. Solid sacrifices are burned on the bonfire (if you have one), while liquid sacrifices are poured onto the ground so you don’t put the fire out.

Examples of appropriate sacrifices: Odin likes wine, Thor likes dark beer, and eggs are good if you sacrifice for fertility in spring, bread, grain and apples are good for harvest sacrifices, for love you can use flowers or love letters.

The more symbolic it is, the better, it should be associated with how the deity/power is portrayed in the mythology, something you put some personal creativity into making. Remember that it’s a gift for someone you wish to befriend and exchange services with, so you wouldn’t want it to be something that’s worthless.

Think of it as something you would give to your mother or your best friend. Food is a good choice, jewelry, and things made from natural materials. Remember that it’s preferable that it can be consumed by fire or biodegradable. Sacrificing blood or live animals is no longer common or required.

Performances

Readings and other performances are common. Examples can be reading out loud from the Edda, poems, singing, rhymes, playing a musical instrument etc. Choose something that you feel is appropriate for the occasion. Your imagination sets the limit.

Toasts

You let a bowl or a horn go from one to the next among the participants. The first round is often reserved for the deity/power/purpose for which the blót is held. You take the horn (or bowl), lift it and say a few words – maybe just the name, thanks or cheers – as much as you feel like saying, have a sip and pass it on. The following rounds are open. Everyone salutes the gods/powers they wish to honor.

It can also be a toast to family, friends, and abstract concepts like friendship, love or other things of personal importance. If you for some reason don’t want to drink (for example pregnancy), you pour a small amount on the ground instead. When the rounds are finished, it’s customary to sacrifice what’s left in the horn to the local vættr as a thank you for being allowed to use the location.

Conclusion

Invite the invoked powers to join in a feast, put out any and all flames and give thanks to the powers for taking part in your ritual. Clean up after yourselves; don’t leave any garbage lying around. Show respect for nature and leave the location as you found it.

The Feast

The feast is a very important element of a blót. You have a friendship with the gods/powers you invoked, and you’d want your friends to be at your party, wouldn’t you? Therefore, you go to a suitable location, maybe someone’s home, or if the weather allows, continue outdoors. Good food and drink is a given.

To give a toast and a salute to the animals whose lives were taken is counted as an honorable thing to do. Enjoy the experience, the company, the heat from the bonfire or fireplace (if you have one) and the feeling of being connected to the world and the powers around you.

Remember that this is just a suggestion. Simplifying is allowed, especially if you celebrate alone. It’s also possible to be more elaborate than this for special occasions.

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