The Asatru Ritual Day, Part 2
So far in this series we have discussed the purpose of ritual, and the Warding rite. In this article we will talk about some things that may challenge mainstream consciousness -- please read with an open mind.
As I mentioned in Part 1: aside from the primary elements of Blot, Feast, and Sumble (which will all be detailed in an upcoming article), some kindreds develop their own customs and traditions that are based in different parts of the lore, and included in the ritual day. In this article I will be discussing one such custom; the honoring and acknowledgment of the Land Wights, also called Landevette.
There is a long, even ancient tradition of honoring the "Vette", or spirits of the land, earth, water and air. In parts of Scandinavia even today people will pour out the first drink of beer to "The Vette", many times without even knowing why they are doing it; it is a tendril of an ancient custom that has survived the modern age.
The Vette, means essentially, spirit. In english we call them Wights. They are not spirits in the hollywood sense like ghosts, rather, they are actual beings that share our realm with us, but remain unseen to most, more like the leprechaun's of Ireland. The Wights are said to inhabit natural structures like large rocks, waterfalls, trees, caves, deep depressions, etc.
One might ask "If they exist, why can't we see them?" To that I would answer that there are many, many accounts of them having been seen both in the lore and in recent history, there are many accounts of them communicating with people in dreams as well. But, they are not always seen, and I have my own personal theory about that.
I have had many "encounters" with wights in which they made their presence known in the physical world without me seeing them. My theory is that they resonate at a slightly different frequency, just out of phase with our natural world, which is why they can inhabit stones. Occasionally, when their frequency changes, that is when they can be seen more readily.
It isn't such a far reach to imagine, after all, even the Abrahamic faiths have their own brand of other-wordly beings such as Angels, demons, and Nephalim, sometimes winged beings who are not always seen, creatures who operate outside of natural law.
All through the lore there is mention of various Wights, the foremost being Dwarves, Elves, Nisse, Trolls, and Ogre's. There are tales of "halflings", people who are part human and part dwarf or Elf. I am sure many of these tales have been exaggerated over time to fairy tale proportions, but they started from somewhere, from some grain of truth from someones experience.
With all that being said, we have still not covered the question of *why* our ancestors thought it prudent and wise to develop relationships with and honor these other-worldly beings. The answer lay in the fact that the wights are our neighbors. Just as our actual human neighbors can affect the quality of our daily lives either for positive or negative, the Wights that we share the earth with also impact our daily lives, it's the same thing. All indigenous people understand and practice this to some degree, coincidence? I think not.
In Egil's Saga, one of the many Icelandic tales, Egil Skalagrimsson used a 'Nithing Pole' curse and turned it against all the Wights of the land so there would be no rest in that part of Norway until King Eric and Queen Gunnhild had left; the Wights drove them out, and that can be validated in the historical record.
You can see now why some Heathen groups make a special point to honor the Wights of their land, especially if they have a 'Horg' or dedicated altar place where they gather. My kindred has made a special alter specifically for the Wights of the land.
Following the initial Warding ceremony, a designated member of the Gothar (clergy) will praise the Wights, and make an offering that he/she has prepared; usually simple foodstuffs like bread, oats, honey, fruit and so on, the offering may also be adorned with flowers and other participants may add to the offering in the form of silver coins -- because Wights are known to appreciate shiny objects.
In this way our relationship with the Wights of our land is strengthened. We have animals and crops here, so their cooperation is appreciated. But even an urban kindred holding ritual in a City or State park would be well served to pay tribute to the Wights who dwell there.
In the next article, part 3, we will discuss the three Norns and what role they play as we proceed further into the examination of an Ásatrú ritual day.