People usually want to know is what we do at our rituals, and the meaning of what we do.
This write-up is intended to provide a guide to the Asatru blot in general, and Raven Kindred South's blots in particular. If you are starting your own group, feel free to utilize our blot structure, or change it in ways that are meaningful for you.
Our blots begin with everyone present chanting "Odin, Vili, Ve" three times.
When we were first starting out, back in 1990, we were lucky enough to meet Alice Karlsdottir. She used this chant, we liked it, and have used it pretty much ever since. This chant works very well in terms of setting the mood and getting people to orient towards the ritual. The aural resonance that occurs when you have over ten people doing the chant in an enclosed space can be quite dramatic.
Esoterically, this chant can be viewed as invoking the Gods who were present at the very beginning of all things, before the Nine Worlds, before the Sun and Moon, before humans-at the beginning at the ritual. At this time, we acknowledge the God (or Gods, depending on your point of view) who have the greatest ability to bring forth reason and holiness from chaos. At this point of the ritual, I try to turn my mind to Odin, Vili and Ve, and how they fought Ymir, and then ordered the Nine Worlds, created humans, etc.
Thor's Hammer, Mjolnir is the tool with which Thor continually fights back the Jotuns, it's the means of bringing his goats back to life, and also traditionally used to bless a bride at a wedding. In other words, the Hammer is an object of protection, and a bringer of fertility and new life. A representation of the Hammer is commonly worn by members of the Asatru religion.
The Hammer-rite establishes the holiness of a place. We consider it to be superfluous when a place is used consistently for rituals, or when other rituals have occurred recently in the area. The Hammer-rite is different from a Wiccan Circle in that it does not create separate sacred space. For myself personally, the "feel" of a Wiccan Circle tends to be a sense of being enclosed, almost like I'm in a greenhouse. The Hammer-rite to me feels more like the ringing of a bell, a sort of "clearing" of the air.
We had originally had two Hammers in our Hammer rite, we'd invoke a Hammer of Fire and a Hammer of Ice. As best we can remember, this was inspired by a comment from Kveldulf Gundarsson. Fire and Ice can be viewed in a sense as being analogous to the Wiccan elements, yet are undeniably Norse.
Also, in keeping with the idea behind the Odin-Vili-Ve chant, Fire and Ice are the two opposites that were present at the beginning of the world. Esoterically, Fire and Ice can be viewed as chaos and stasis. Nothing but the most extreme frost and fire beings can live in either, but where the two of them meet, a dynamic order conducive to Gods, humans and many other beings becomes possible. In other words, acknowledging Fire and Ice, and indicating that we are between these two opposite forces establishes that we are in the place that is the essence of dynamic order, and is most conducive to ourselves and the Gods.
The only trouble with having the two Hammers in the Hammer rite was that the idea that it was fire and ice, and not north and south kept getting lost. It's hard enough to convey the idea that what we're doing is not the same as a Wiccan circle, so we finally decided to drop to one Hammer.
Even now, we still get a grumble or two from purists who note that it seems "awfully on the Wiccan side", and I gather we've had visiting Wiccans surreptitiously fill in the "missing Quarters" during our rituals. Occasionally I debate whether it might be best to drop it altogether, however, I admit, I rather like it and am reluctant to give it up.
How does one make the sign of the Hammer? Trace an upside-down "T" shape in the air in front of you, while saying something appropriate like, "Hammer of Thor, Hallow and Hold This Holy Stead".
Some people worry about which direction they should trace the Hammer in. If doing things from right to left or left to right worries you, work out to your own satisfaction what it should be, but personally, I've never lost any sleep over it. I tend to make the Hammer sign from left to right, mainly because that's the direction writing goes in.
We were somewhat dissatisfied with the fact that our blots were very good at honoring one particular member of the Aesir and Vanir, but the Aesir and Vanir as a whole didn't really get acknowledged in our rituals. So we took to adding a general prayer at this point, fairly simple, thanking the Aesir and Vanir for their blessings.
Invocations concentrate on God or Goddess being invoked. If you really aren't sure what to say, mention some of the attributes of the Deity being invoked, some of their titles, who they are related to (Mother of, Son of, etc.), and voila, you have an invocation.
It should be noted that Asatru has a relatively egalitarian attitude towards the Aesir and Vanir. One respects the Gods, but the respect offered is more closely akin to the way one deals with a respected elder member of one's family. There is no "sin" involved in disagreeing with or being severely aggrieved with a particular God or Goddess. As part of this, the worship of the Gods is free of kneeling or other gestures of subservience. The most commonly used stance for invocations is standing straight up and with one's arms raised (more or less in the shape of a Elhaz rune).
Often, after the invocation, our most common "thing" we do during ritual is a guided meditation. Or a reading of something appropriate. For readings, Kevin Crossley Holland's Norse Myths has lots of beautifully written tellings of the myths, and the Hollander edition of the Poetic Edda is very poetic.
At this point, the person officiating at the ritual raises the horn into the air. They are symbolically "offering" it to the God or Goddess being honored. It is appropiate to visualize the God or Goddess "drinking" from the horn being offered, and imbuing it with their might. When the person holding the horn "feels" like it has been accepted by the God or Goddess, they should lower it, and begin the next part of the ritual.
When we were first starting out, everything that we read on the subject suggested pouring some of the drink into the blot-bowl, dipping an evergreen twig into the bowl, and then asperging all present with the evergreen twig. We initially experimented with this, and decided there was something faintly silly about asperging a group of three people (the number of people we started out with).
We finally settled on what we eventually nicknamed the "mini-sumbel". We pass the horn for three rounds, the first round is always dedicated to the God or Goddess being honored at the blot, the next two are open. Besides getting rid of that silly feeling, we liked passing the horn because it got people more involved in what was going on.
FYI, it is not a requirement to drink alcohol during the blot. There are various methods of dealing with this, but a traditional way of symbolically taking part in a toast without actually drinking is to kiss the horn.
Sort of like the invocation, only you're thanking the Deity instead of invoking them. (Please note, this is not a "dismissal", a concept from Ceremonial Magic.) I always emphasize that the Deity being honored is one whose blessings we feel in our day-to-day lives, in other words, getting across the idea that these Gods don't just wink into existence during a blot, and disappear after the blot. This may sound obvious, but in some Neo-Pagan groups this is not necessarily the operative assumption.
Our libation part of the ritual comes from (of all places) an ADF Druid grove. At this point, if the ritual had occurred inside, the person who will be libating takes the blot bowl and starts to head outside. Everyone should follow. Outside, we usually walk a (very) short distance away from where we initially did the ritual. In either case, after everyone has gathered, (and settled down) the person carrying the blot-bowl raises it and says:
"From the Gods to the Earth, to Us,
From Us, to the Earth, to the Gods.
A gift for a gift. Hail!" (libates)
The Rite has ended".
We had a hard time finding something truly decisive with which to end the ritual. Finally, we hit upon the pouring of the blot-bowl as a way of getting across, "Yes-the-ritual-is-over-and-we-can-kick-back.", which is the main reason we've retained it even at most outdoor rituals.
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