By Eowyn OR
The Engraving shows three people elevated on a sort of throne, each with drinking cups in their hands and surrounded by attendants: this is the nobleman regaling with his friends and banqueting in merriment of Easter after the selfdenials of Lent. The Anglo-Saxons called April Oster-Monat and in English, the prefix of ‘Ost’ to a word meant ‘East’ e.g. Ost-End means East-End and indeed, ancient observations show the wind blows predominantly from the east in April.
Hence, ‘Easter’ refers to the feast of Oster. The different vessels from which the drinks are being imbibed reflect the clear distinctions in rank: the noblemen, elders and the wise drank rather more expensive wine from goblets whilst the younger folk and those of lesser rank drank mead from horns. However, the horn was significant in the transfer of inheritances: estates were held in fee by a horn and inheritances were transferred by the transfer of a horn. In the Sacristy of York Cathedral is ‘the horn of Ulphus’ from a Danish nobleman by that name who, by drinking from the horn in a ceremony, passed all his lands to the church so his sons would all be made of equal financial status after his death. Despite differences in status, the custom of pledging appears to have been universal and according to the old chroniclers, it was the first wine-pledge that delivered Britain into the Saxon’s hands, when Rowena betrayed Vortigern: this is Robert of Gloucester’s record of this first wassail paraphrased:
‘”Health, my Lord King,”’ the sweet Rowena said;
“Health,” cried the Chiefton to the Saxon Maid;
Then gaily rose, and, ‘mid the concourse wide,
Kissed her Hale lips, and placed her by his side.
At the soft scene such gentle thoughts abound,
That healths and kisses ‘mongst the guests went round:
From this social custom took its rise;
We still retain and still must keep the prize.’ Chroniclers noted this Saxon custom as being practised before Hengist’s time.
Blot: Sigurd (Festival of the Homeland) is named after the hero Sigurd, known also as the dragon slayer and from where the Christian myth of St George arises. We hail him and in this blot, we are shown the importance of confronting life’s evils as opposed to ignoring them- a principle that should be applied at both the personal and wider level of loyalty to our folk. We must conquer that which would harm both, for what harms one harms all. But we must have the wisdom to discriminate between the dragons we should befriend and those we must slay- true gold versus the false. The truth is symbolised by the flag- a red cross on a white background: red for energy, life, blood and its magick; white for the light of Odinism, joy, nobility, inspiration. Together, the naudhiz rune and Heimdal’s need-fire: the forces that seek to oppress us and our folk must be courageously fought and the need-fire within forges the will necessary to fight oppression; thus, naudhiz represents the anvil on which a stronger human being is forged in the fires of truth and inspiration. Our Gealdor is the Othalla, rune of ancestral lands and heritage. We must fight for that which is ours by right through ancestry, our lands and our heritage we carry within our blood. Othalla also teaches the need to assure we own our possessions as opposed to them owning us. Like elemental earth, it follows the directions of natural law, which is permanent. Odal is the land in which Yggdrasil is rooted and Sigurd is an old Earth hero, who abided by natural law and understood the need to cleanse the lands of evil that good may return; for all moves in spiralling cycles and a Ragnarok always brings rebirth.
Re-membering April This is an expansive month: it shouts at us to wake up and live! The earlier yellow flowers of primroses and daffodils are now being usurped by more colourful tulips, forget-me-nots and grape hyacinths. Having trained the body to appreciate a good healthy diet in general and hopefully, having given our eating habits something of a ‘spring-clean,’ it is time to add in some helpful tonics as a boost to aid the cleansing process further. The body must be strengthened and boosted to withstand the more dynamic energies of summer. Integral to our blot is the lesson in the need to create good foundations for future growth based upon solid preparation, and the body is no exception to this rule. Therefore we must learn to discriminate between what is good and healthy for us at all levels as opposed to that which might harm us. Hence, it is the time to eliminate unhealthy processed foods from our dietary repertoire once and for all, and instead, to replace them with good, wholesome organic produce. Many towns now have suppliers who do box schemes where local, organically grown fruit and vegetables are delivered to your own door. These are a great way of helping to turn the tide back towards the timeless laws of local community living and eating uncontaminated seasonal produce, whilst putting you directly into the ‘spirit of place’ and thus keeping money from the pockets of those subscribing to the alien philosophy of globalisation- all in one easy move! Mother Jorth also supplies us with natural tonics for free by way of herbs growing in the locality. Dandelion is a superb liver, blood and kidney cleanser as well as being a tonic: wash the leaves from young plants and use them in teas, salads, soups etc. Nettles are a great source of calcium phosphate, iron and many vitamins and minerals: pick the young leaves and put them into stews etc or drink the infusion as a tea. Please note: do not use polluted herbs from roadsides or that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides in some gardens, on verges and farmland. Increase your exercise levels and include some stretching exercises; or even start practising yoga: your body and mind affect each other in a feedback cycle so a stiff body will tend to encourage rigididity of thought and adaptability and vice versa. And of course, less tension will improve coordination, balance, blood flow and help reduce aches and pains generally.
Suggested Keyword: Foundation
The Engraving depicts a shepherd seated upon a bank looking at a lamb that the labourer holds. May was known as ‘Trimilki’ because folk milked their animals three times daily. Sheep were an important source of clothing for the Anglo-Saxons and whilst linen clothing was worn, wool would be more practically warm in a country whose population was surrounded by forests and damp marshes. The fleece brought home by the shepherds in the summer was duly spun through the winter by the women, whatever their rank. The tool was the spindle or distaff and it is from that we derive the word spinster for an unmarried woman. The Anglo-Saxon ladies attained a high degree of skill in the ornamental work on clothing and Norman historians praised their excellent skills in embroidery. Quality and decoration of clothing denoted rank: noblemen and women wore beautiful clothing. The men wore cloaks and tunics and bandaged or cross-gartered their hose, whilst the ladies wore a long ‘gunna’ or gown over a closer fitting one with tight sleeves and a hood or veil. Meanwhile, the closer fitting tunics of the labourers were also much plainer and more practical.
The poet Spenser wrote of May:
‘Then came fair May, the fairest Maid on ground,
Deck’d all with dainties of her season’s pride,
And throwing flowers out of her lap around:
Upon two Brethren’s shoulders she did ride,
The Twins of Leda; which one either side
Supported her like their sovereign Queen:
Lord! How all creatures laugh’d when her they spied,
And leap’d and danc’d as they had ravish’d been,
And Cupid self about her fluttered all in green.’
Blot: Ragnar Lodbrok (Commemoration of the Vikings) celebrates the Aryan concept of the individual as initiator, pioneer and leader. Many great acts of history, such as crossing Polar Regions, have been a consequence of the indomitable spirit, which inspires action and maintains us in pursuit of that action, despite obstacles, physical tiredness or danger. In this blot, we hail the dynamic aspects of our Gods and commemorate Viking courage and enterprise: we are encouraged to emulate them. The point of conflict is a liminal state between chaos and order, vibrant life and shadow- a point of creative impulse and stability. Courageous acts give shape to shapelessness and as their successors; we carry this courage and valour in our blood. Only by believing in ourselves and the things we do, instead of merely talk about them; and only by becoming cunning and strong ourselves, rather than seeking this wisdom from strangers, will we remain free and strong. Otherwise, we will be dominated by others. The Vikings were also great travellers and our Gealdor- Raido- reflects this. It is the wheel which carries things forward, whether by physical travel in a cart; a spinning wheel marking the metamorphosis of wool into yarn; the passage of the sun, seasons and hence time; the circumference of experience. It is the driver and the vehicle, a process by which a destination is reached. And that process and its destination are defined by courage and will to good.
Re-membering May: This is the season of dynamic organic growth; life surges upwards and outwards with a glorious freedom and indomitable energy. But inherent in this is also the potential for destruction: excessive freedom can create stress. Much like a burst of energy entering an old vessel and shattering it if it is fragile, so too must we become flexible but strong to accommodate these energies. Indeed, there is a surge in death rates amongst older folk at this time, as they may be unable to mediate these strong, earthing energies. It is the season of blatant sexuality and folk festivities to this day reflect this with Maypole dances, recalling the time when people would go ‘a-Maying,’ bringing in armfuls of greenery- especially hawthorn- in celebration of fertility: the Maypole is blatantly phallic and symbolises- amongst other things such as seasonal cycles- the male phallus (sky) plunging into the female (earth). This is the time for really mediating with you bodily consciousness: feel the shift in energy towards physical dynamism; feel how it affects you and be aware. Of course, to do this effectively, it is important that the accumulated stodge from the winter months is completely shifted, otherwise the benefits of the changes will be severely dampened at many levels of being. May is the cusp on which our beings move through the physical expression of energies into their more emotionally-based expression in summer. It is the time to detox. Now detoxification is a thorny subject for some people; indeed, there are a lot of charlatans offering panaceas for huge quantities of money and I am not recommending these- in some cases extremeroutes. But detoxification of the body is important: our body faces the ravages of numerous artificial chemicals daily, quite apart from the products of its own metabolism that need excreting. Our ancestors used to face regular periods lacking in food, so detoxification would naturally occur; but few of us nowadays are ever exposed to such conditions. So a detox programme gives the body a rest and a boost, whilst grounding a pathway towards better health in the future. There are various methods: fruit fasts, three days on just water, alkaline flush programmes involving just raw vegetables etc. A simple method is to have one day weekly drinking only springwater. There is no scope within this article to outline the methodologies and I suggest anyone who is interested should research the subject further themselves and check out my references. Any programme though does well to be supported by adequate exercise and lymphatic boosting therapies such as massage, manual lymph drainage, osteopathy etc.
Suggested Keyword: Dynamism
The Engraving shows the felling of trees for the supply of winter fuel. The height of summer is when the sap would be at its highest and so this wood could not be used as timber. In grants of land, sufficient wood for burning was constantly permitted to be cut and every estate had its appropriate quantity of wood set aside for fuel and building. The Anglo-Saxons referred to June as ‘Weyd-monat’ because those cattle not destined for winter fodder were taken to the pastures to ‘weyd’- or feed. The Teutons called a meadow a ‘Weyd’ and the word ‘wade’ derives from this: meadows and such-like were noted as being watery places.
Blot: Midsummer (Festival of Balder) celebrates the year’s coming of age’ into maturity. All life is hailed and we are reminded that it is cyclical: ‘If we do not know the dark and the cold, would we love the light and warmth so dearly?’ The days, weeks, months, years, decades, millenniums and ages are all cyclical: inherent in all is the need for the dark, resting, regenerative aspects of the cycles so that the light, dynamic, expanding, prolific growth might assert itself. Life is a series of cycles of Golden Ages and Ragnaroks at all levels. Thus, we especially remember beautiful Balder who falls to rise again when Hothar, his murderer, is avenged in an eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. This ‘falling’ as a consequence of deceit mirrors the battles faced by our folk: we are now faced by dark times in which our very souls are being attacked by alien creeds and rampant globalisation in an attempt to eradicate our heritage and identity as a magnificent folk who celebrate natural law. But we have survived these wintry blasts because the folk soul is strong and vital, sustained by the indomitable and eternal vigour of the fiery sunwheel. We must needs strive ever towards the light of health, strength, beauty and purity- for the new Golden Age- with courage and integrity, by making our bodies and souls right dwellings for the Gods and in due honour to the life that sustains them. Our Gealdor is Sowulo, the rune of victory and transcendence. It is a permanent and expansive light that replaces the spell of danger with the freedom to succeed; thus it heals physical, financial and emotional wounds by introducing new assets and raising folk above limitation.
Re-membering June: This is the month when the sun reaches its zenith at the solstice, before the daylight hours once again shorten towards winter. The thrusting energy of spring matures into the fiery heat of summer, the element we connect with our heart and emotions. It is quite likely that if you have followed a detox programme in the preceding month, emotional issues will have arisen as part of the process. This is because unexpressed emotions actually lodge in our bodies: the body and mind have been found to be linked by the neuro-psycho-endocrine system in which our consciousness flows throughout our bodies as well as our minds. The body-mind is a hologram in which every part contains the whole and thus, any changes within the mind or emotions are immediately conveyed to every cell in the body. Memories, emotions, hurts, fears etc are all tucked away in our muscles, tissues, fascia etc; for they are all energy, just as our physical bodies are too. Hence, this really is the best month to shift the diet into eating lighter, raw salads to help with weight control, to maintain a good exercise programme and to get ‘in touch’ with the body-mind through therapies such as osteopathy, massage, aromatherapy, shiatsu etc. Recognise that bad posture influences the mind and emotions negatively; analyse your emotions and discover what makes you ‘tick’ and equally, what aspects of yourself you try to hide from others and if so why? Listen to your body and recognise its reactions to situations. Most of all, enjoy the natural world, imbibe the sunshine, get outdoors and rediscover your passions in life: focus on the positive, the good and radiate joy. For this is what makes for stored health and vigour and strengthens the folk flame, which will carry you through the darker times. It is the Odic force and the very stuff of all life.
Suggested Keyword Passion
Knight, Charles ‘Old England: A Pictorial Museum’ (London: James Sangster and co, 1861) ‘
The Book of Blotar’ (The Odinic Rite, 1993)
Jane Alexander, ‘The Natural Year’ (Bantam, 1997) Volume 1
The Trollwise Press ‘Old Norse Rune Mysteries and Rune Codes’