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Yule: Norse Winter Solstice

The hall is set as a feasting-hall, with places for all to sit around the perimeter. At the north is the harrow, bearing the Yule-log, images of the Deities, the Horn and the Blessing Bowl, with a sprig for sprinkling, and the offerings. In the center is the Tree, decorated with pine boughs. At it's base are the Fire and the Well, with an Offering Bowl to receive libations. At the two sides of the harrow are the tables holding the feast.

Pre Ritual Briefing/Claiming & Saining

A druid briefs the public on the general outline of the rite, and runs through the words (spoken) and tune (sung) of the chants being used. Meanwhile, other druids claim & sain the ritual space.

Grove Attunement

The Druids lead a meditation intended to attune the company to the Earth and Sky powers and to join the company in spirit. This might conclude with an intoning or a proper chant or hymn.

Processional:

Song: Here We Come A'Wassailing
Chorus:
Now is winter time strangers travel far and near,
And we wish you, send you a happy new year.

Opening Prayers

Welcome to all who come to keep the Old Ways. We are here to honor the Gods, to keep the feast of Yule. Let us begin by remembering the Mother of All.

A: Earth Mother:

An offering of Grain is made to the offering bowl, saying:
Hallowed Woman of the Earth
We give this gift to you
Frau Holda, riding forth this night,
Look kindly on our work,
Berchta, beldame of the wheel,
Spin us good wyrd tonight
Mighty Mother of us all
Pray, fill our house with joy!

B: Invocation to Odin

Spirit of Bardic Inspiration:
Odin the One-Eyed - Rune-Lord of Wisdom - Hear as we hail you - Honor our working. - Waken our word-skill - Quicken our magic - Skald-speech be in us - By your great Blessing, -- Odin.

C: Outdwellers:

An offering is made to the south of the Grove, saying:
Hear me all you wights unhallowed,
Etins, trolls and all the Out-garth,
Ravers, enemies of Asgard,
Here we give you proper honor.
Take this gift, here freely given,
Trouble not our holy working,
For our hall will be well-warded,
By the Redbeard's mighty hammer.

D: Purification

Fire and Water: Druids draw water from the Well and light a censer from the Fire. They quickly cense and asperge the company, while the company chants:
By the might of the waters,
And the light of the fires
This grove is made whole and holy!

Triads: Fire, Well & Tree

Silver is offered to the Well, Oil to the Fire, and Incense and Water to the Bile as the Company sings.
Song: Portal Song
Chorus
By Fire and by Water, between the Earth and Sky,
We stand like the World-Tree rooted deep, crowned high.

Come we now to the Well, the eye and the mouth of Earth,
Come we now to the Well, and silver we bring,
Come we now to the Well, the waters of rebirth,
Come we now to the Well, together we sing:

Chorus

We will kindle a Fire, Bless all, and with harm to none,
We will kindle a Fire, and offering pour,
We will kindle a Fire, A light 'neath the Moon & Sun,
We will kindle a fire, our spirits will soar.

Chorus

Gather we at the Tree, the root & the crown of all,
Gather we at the Tree, Below & above,
Gather we at the Tree, Together we make our call,
Gather we at the Tree, In wisdom & love.

Chorus

Hammer Rite

A priest/ess goes to the four quarters and makes the Hammer sign, saying:
Hammer in the (East), hallow and hold this holy stead.

then goes to the center and makes the sign overhead saying:
Hammer above us, hallow and hold this holy stead.

and then toward the ground, saying:
Hammer below us, hallow and hold this holy stead.

Statement Of Purpose And Precedent

We gather here on the Feast of Yule, the Beginning of the Sacred Year, the Time of Turning. Our larders hold what gain we have reaped from our labors.
While we notice now the long darkness in which we spend many hours, in the Scandinavian countries the darkness is more absolute. Such a desolate time inspires feasting and the celebration of light. Evergreen trees and holly, which remain green throughout the long nights and bitter cold, are a promise that life is not fled, but will return to the land and bounty return to the folk.

On this day we honor all the Aesir - Gods and Goddesses of the Folk - and Frey and Freya. While not originally of the Aesir, Frey, (whose name means "Lord") and Freya (whose name means "Lady") offered to dwell with the Aesir to seal a peace treaty between them and the Vanir, the Gods of the common people and of the Earth.

Yule is the most holy of the Germanic Feasts and shares many of the functions and connotations of the Celtic Samhain Feast. The Gods and Goddesses are closer at this time as are the Dead, Trolls, Ettins, Wights and other magical and mysterious beings. Yule is a time to recognize boundaries, between future and past, ours and theirs, realized and unrealized. Oaths for the coming year are particularly appropriate at this time.
On this day, we take joy in our Tribe, and sing the Yule carols to drive the cold winter away from our hearts!

Now let us open the Ways Between...

Opening The Gates:

Oil is poured onto the fire, saying:
Warder of Asgard, Heimdall we hail you, Keen-eared and sharp-eyed, biding on Bifrost, Gjallerhorn's holder - to you we offer, Son of Nine Mothers, by Fire and by Water Watch us and ward us, we work the Old Ways, Aid us now, royal one, hold open the gates! Now we bid Bifrost be here among us Descend from dwelling of Gods, bright Asgard A rainbow of light from all ways flowing Carry our calling to all the Aesir By Nine Flames shining, By Waters flowing By Heimdall's magic Gates now be open!

Kindred Offerings

The druids make proper offerings to each of the kindreds, standing at the fire.

Offering to the Landvettir.

The Horn is filled with Cider and elevated, saying:
To all those who dwell in this land we give honor. Kindreds of the soil, of the waters, of the sky; clans of tree and herb, of stone and stream and lake; tribes of bird and beast and creeping things; you we remember with honor as we drink. In the season of the sleeping earth we ask the spirits of the land to loin us at our fire and feast, that all wights of good will may be blessed.

The Horn is passed as all sing a chant to the Nature Spirits.
Song: Chant for Nature Spirits
Fur and Feather and Scale and skin,
Different without but the same within,
Many of body but one of soul,
Through all creatures are the worlds made whole.

When this is done the remnant of the Horn is poured into the Offering Bowl, saying:
Let all the earth and sea and sky receive with us the blessing of Yule!
Landvettir, accept our sacrifice!
 

Offering to the Alfar and Disir.

Alfar we honor - Great men and Fathers, Who in their highday - Heros were reckoned, Likewise the Disir - Great and good women - Mothers, grandmothers, Peace-weavers, wise ones - Ancestors aid us, Hear as we hail you - Drink we this draught now, In honor and love

The Horn is passed as the folk sing
Song: Mothers and Fathers of Old
From far beyond this mortal plane,
Mothers and Fathers of Old.
We pray that you return again,
Mothers and Fathers of Old.
To share with us the mystery and secrets all untold
From the ancient ways we seek to reclaim
Mothers and Fathers of Old.

When it returns to the harrow the remnant is given, saying:
Hail to the Alfs, all ringed round us, the Fathers of the folk.
Hail to the Dises, all ringed round us, the Mothers of our might.
Hail to our kin, in the hidden lands, Hail the ancestors on this holy Yule!

Offering to the Aesir & Vanir

The children of earth call out to the Aesir and Vanir. Hear us, eldest and brightest.
To all you shining and deep ones, wisest and mightiest, cunning and fair, loving and comforting, gods and goddesses, we offer you welcome. To the gods and goddesses of this place, ancient and powerful, known to us or unknown, gods of this place, we offer you welcome. To all the deities of those here gathered, you whom we worship, you who bless our lives, o patrons and matrons, we offer you welcome. So, High ones, we call to you as our elders, in reverence and love, to join in our magic. Come to our fire, Aesir and Vanir; meet us at the boundary. Guide and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Deities, accept our sacrifice!

An offering of scented oil is poured on the fire as the cup is passed and the folk sing:
Song: Hail all the Gods!
Hail to the Gods!
Hail to the Goddesses!
Hail to the Holy Ones!
We sing together!
Power of the Sky!
Power of the Sacred Earth!
Power of the Underworld!
We dwell together!

Offering is made to the whole company of the Aesir, as well as Frey and Freya, using such poetry as the folk have in them. A Yule log is prepared with 9 candles which are lit as each Deity is honored.
We now make special offering to the Aesir...
Thor Loki Odin Tyr Heimdall Frigga Idunn Frey Freya

Key Offerings

Descriptive Invocations of Frey and Freya...

The Descent to Darkness:

Sunna sinks down into the dark sea,
Wolf and wind howl outside the walls
Now winter shakes out her snowy bed
Now are life-fires hid in yew-night
Odin's grey steed leads ghosts on the wind
Trolls fare from cliff-halls the etins are risen
Well are we warded who watch this night
By Fire and Water by Thor's great strength.

As this proceeds, the lights in the hall are extinguished, until only the Fire and Heimdall's candle are lit. (The Priest/ess may add other trance induction if desired, in each stage of this work.) The Praise Offerings are given in the darkness,

Now Sunna stands in her lowest stead - Lost is all light.-.sleeping all life. The frost-cold wights hold icy rule. We hail the might - That howls now from the north. Odin, from Yew-Dales at Yuletide haring, Shield-God, ward us with thy strong bow. Skadi the Giantess skis from the north - Huntress, give us your holy rede. Freya's might hold us here in our hall - Golden Frey's might hold us in frith. All of ye Gods and Goddesses high, from darkness we hail you, from dragon-deep root - Lead us through darkness - through all dire dooms.

The Omen

The runes are cast to determine the wyrd of the folk saying:
Wisdom rising from Well's deep roots,
Runes of might roar in our minds
Up from the bairn-stock's eldest roots
Odin give answer: reveal the Gods' wills.

The Blessing:

Children of the Earth, in this season of darkness and potential, you are offered a boon! Choose now, and hold this prayer of manifestation of the returning light in your mind and heart as we draw at last, the Blessing. Let none drink of this vessel holding ill will to any here in their hearts! Let this be the cup of health, peace and fellowship!

Hallowing the Waters

By Aesir and Alfar and Dises mighty
By Thunar's strong striking
And Freya's Hearth-fire
We seek the shining
Of Yule-morning's magic
Sunna we call you.
Come forth from the night
Bear to us blessing
Of spring and then summer
Shine on our land
In our homes, in our hearts
Increase and bounty
Be ours and our kindred's
Rising light, welcome
we hail your returning.

The Blessing Bowl

A bowl of water is lifted and the Hammer sign is made over it, saying:
Now let the weal-might of Woden and Frigga of Tir and all Aesir Of Alfar and Disir And all goodly wights Shine in this Blessing We pray as your people Hallow these Waters O mighty and shining Offering we've given Pray gift us in turn Behold the Waters of Life!

The cup is passed in the usual way.
Song: Pour the Waters
Pour the waters, raise the cup, drink your share of wisdom deep,
Strength and love now fill us up, as the Elder Ways we keep.

Final Blessing: Priest/ess leads a recentering and focuses on the presence of the Blessing in the souls of the worshippers. She says:
Now let us rest in silence, with the Power of the Between in us, and know the blessing as it manifests itself in our lives...

Silence, for a time

Works

Works (if any) are brought before the Grove
 

Closing

When all is done, the druids lead a resettling, then begin to close the grove, saying:
We have been blessed by the Aesir, by Frey and Freya, offering we have given and Blessings we have received by the Landvettir, Alfar and Disir, Gods and Goddesses, But now it is time to return to our common world, to continue our holy feast here in our hall in our mortal realm, always remembering that we mirror the halls of the holy ones when our love for them is in our hearts and our bellies are full of their Blessing!

With joy in our hearts let us carry the magic from our sacred grove into our lives and work. Each time we offer to the powers they be come stronger and more aware of our needs and our worship. So now as we prepare to depart let us give thanks to those who have aided us.

Frey and Freya,
All: We thank you!
Aesir!
All: We thank you!
Alfar and Disir, Blessed Ancestors!
All: We thank you!
Landvettir, spirits of nature and this place!
All: We thank you!
To all those powers that have aided us, we say again...
All: We thank you!
Druids renew the company's centering once more:
Finally, see the receding mist fade completely away, the Well, Fire and Tree becoming the common tools they were before, and remember that while our grove fades, the vision and memories of our rite are there always for you to use, and to carry with you in our common world.

The druids go to the center, bearing the wand. They speak:
Heimdall, warder of the ways, for your presence and power, your guiding and guarding we say...
All: We thank you!

Druid makes the closing sign over the hallows with the wand, saying:
Now by the keeper of gates and by our magic we end what we began.
Now let the fire be flame
Let the well be water;
Let all be as it was before.
Let the gates be closed!
All: Let the gates be closed!

Then any unused offerings, return flow, incense, water etc. is given to the earth, saying:
Mother of all, to you we return all we leave unused. Uphold us now in the world as you have in our rite.
All: We thank you!
Go now, children of the earth, in peace and blessings. The rite is ended!

The bard leads a proper chant as the company processes out of the Grove.