I spoke my Dedicant’s Oath during my grove’s Harvest Home ritual. I completed my full year of High-Day attendance at Midsummer and had originally planned to give my oath during Lughnasadh. But as Lughnasadh approached, I realized I wasn’t going to have all of the required reading done in time. I decided to re-schedule my oath for Harvest Home. In hindsight, this was probably best. Although the Cross-Quarter High Day in August has always been one of my favorites, my grove always celebrates it as a Celtic Rite. Norse may not be my hearth-culture either, but most of the Norse gods are also my gods, so it was a better fit in the end. The patron of the rite was Tyr and the Gatekeeper, Heimdall.
Because I honor seven deities equally in my home practice rather than having a single patron, I gave separate offerings to each as well as to my ancestors and the nature spirits. I felt a little uncomfortable taking up so much time making these offerings. By the time I got around to speaking the oath itself, I felt like I had outstayed my welcome as the center of attention.
There was some confusion concerning when I would be giving the oath during the ritual. I got the impression that the officiant (who was not the senior druid this time) was not even aware that I would be doing my oath that day until I got there. This only increased my anxiety about taking up too much time. I ended up consuming all of eight minutes for my oath and its surrounding activities, which really isn’t all that long, but I felt like it was at the time.
I had all of the words for my praise offerings and the oath memorized. My anxiety about being the center of attention for so long was somewhat alleviated by the fact that I didn’t mess up my words. I brought a print-out of the text with me just in case, but I never needed to consult it. I had pre-planed the order I would give the offerings and the only mistake, if I can call it that, was that I switched the order of two of them. No one in the group could have known, but I picked up the offering for Frigg when I meant to pick up the one for Fréo. As I was about to speak my praise to Fréo, I noticed I had the wrong item in my hands. I froze up on the inside for what felt like a long time, but it wasn’t. To onlookers, everything ran smoothly. I hardly consider myself articulate on an average day, so some muse must have been with me that day to help all the words come out right.
I am especially happy that I have a recording of the whole affair, well most of it anyway. I probably would be writing a much more critical review of myself had I not the video to assess myself from a different perspective. All of the thoughts going through my head would be all I have to go on. I wouldn’t have known that my “very long time” was only 8 minutes. I wouldn’t have known that my words came out more confident-sounding than I perceived them at the time.
My husband was the camera man, as he had been at previous rituals since he, as an agnostic, doesn’t participate in the ritual itself. I always ask that he use my phone to take photos and to film. This time, he used his own phone, which had little space left on it for media. As a result, my post-oath omen-taking was cut off. When he first told me, I thought he missed more than just the omens. I was distraught and let it be known before apologizing to the group for inviting negative energy into the ritual.
I took omen after speaking my oath but before blessing the pendants I had acquired specifically for the purpose. I used my own handmade set of Anglo-Saxon runes to take omen and I asked the following questions:
- Do the Kindreds accept my oath and sacrifices?
- What do they offer in return?
- What more do they ask of me?
The responses were Ger, Tir, and Yr respectively. Ger corresponds to the Elder Futhark Gera and Tir to Tiwaz. Yr is unique to the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc. I took Ger to mean that my oath and sacrifices were accepted but also to be a reminder that my oath is a lifetime commitment. As Tyr was patron of the rite, I took his rune to indicate that the Kindreds offer me their support; that they are present in my life and listening. Amazingly enough, the omen taken by the officiant for the rite as a whole was also Tir/Tiwaz. Tyr was definitely with us that day. Yr indicates that the Kindreds ask me to continue my studies and perhaps specialize in a particular skill set. Yr represents the English longbow, mastery of which, at the time the rune-poem was written, was limited to a select few.
After taking omen, I asked the Kindreds to bless two Thunor’s hammer pendants, one in silver and one in bronze. I got two so that I can always wear one no matter the colors of my outfit. The pendants are modeled after the 6th century hammer found in Kent, England. Up to this point, I had been wearing a Norse Mjölnir, but I wanted something specific to my hearth culture for my oath.
As I wrap up this final essay for my DP documentation, I feel accomplished and amazed that I actually did it all, but I also feel the sweet sorrow that accompanies the completion of any chapter of one’s journey. I may pursue further studies within ADF, in fact, I am almost certain that I will. But not right away. For now, I am going to focus on my hearth practice as it is and appreciate what I have accomplished up to this point.
OATH RITE TEXT: I stand here at the Sacred Center to make an Oath to the Kindreds that I hold most dear to my heart. Beloved Kindreds, hear my call and join me as I offer up these sacrifices and give my oath as an offering in your honor.
Mighty Ancestors, you of my blood and you of my heart, accept this offering and my good will.
Noble Ones, Fae of this place, accept this offering and my good will.
Thunor, Middangeard’s protector, you who has been my guide long before I knew your name, accept my offering.
Fréo, beautiful Lady, you who has taught me much about self-love and respect, accept my offering.
Hela, Mistress of the Underworld, you who has motivated me to learn about my ancestors, accept my offering.
Frige, Queen of Ésengeard, you who encourages me to be self-reliant, accept my offering.
Móna, shimmering God of the Moon, you who has been there for me in my darkest hours, accept my offering.
Hrethe, mysterious Lady, you who has taught me never to give up hope, no matter how grim the situation, accept my offering.
Woden, wise All-Father, you who pushes me to face the hard truths for my own good, accept my offering.
And now, before all in attendance here, I make my oath.
I oath: to keep the feasts and observances of Saxon Druidry, following the Wheel of the Year; to seek the Old Ways and adapt them to modern life; and to keep the memory of my ancestors alive in my heart.
These things I swear by the well that flows in me, by the fire that shines in me, and by the tree that roots and crowns my soul. Before all the Powers here, I swear it, lest the three Worlds rise against me! Mighty Kindreds, accept my sacrifice and oath!
Do the Kindreds accept my offerings? Ger
What do they offer me in return? Tir
What more do the they ask of me? Yr
Finally, I ask that the Powers gathered here bless these þunreslecg pendants as a symbol of my devotion and a reminder of the oath I have made today.
Ancestors – tea
Noble Ones – oatmeal
Frige – home-baked brownie
Mona – Sambuca
Hrethe- ribbon bow in yellow and purple
Woden – rune
Thunor – beer
Freya – ribbon bow
Hela – rose from my rose bush
When I started out on the DP, I was already confident about my choice to follow an Anglo Saxon hearth culture. But I was also curious about the Norse and tentatively planning to add Celtic deities to my personal pantheon at some point.
Yet, as delve deeper into a regular devotional practice, I find that I am becoming increasingly more settled into the Anglo Saxon path. Even the Norse deity-names I held onto out of familiarity are fading from my tongue. It used to feel weird to refer to Freyja as “Freó.” The name was to foreign to me, but now I am beginning to use it comfortably. Mona I referred to variably as either Mani and Mona, with no particular preference. Now, however, I definitely favor “Mona.” Woden and Thunor were always “Woden” and “Thunor” to me, so no change there. I immediately used the Saxon names for deities who joined my personal pantheon most recently.
I mingled with Loki and his family for a brief time. I even purchased a devotional piece of jewelry for Loki. But Hel is the only one of his posse with whom I have remained close. I still wear my Loki necklace, though, to signify that I am Loki-friendly.
I have what I feel is a complete personal pantheon. I dedicate one day of the week to each of my Hearth Gods. I have also dedicated a High Day to each of them. Since I do not have a single patron deity and I consider all of my hearth gods to be matrons and patrons in a sense, figuring out how to handle praise offerings, especially in group ritual, was about to become a challenge. Until now, I made High Day offerings to each deity as I became acquainted with Him or Her. The offering was my way of acknowledging that deity’s significance in my life and formally admitting them to my pantheon. On a few occasions, I made more than one praise offering, but as I move into the future with a fully formed pantheon of 7, I need to work out a system for public High Day offerings that isn’t too excessive or exclusive. This is what I came up with:
- Because she is a goddess of witchcraft and fertility.
- At first I wasn’t sure whom to honor at Midsummer. Additionally, I couldn’t figure out where to fit Mona into the High Day rights. I thought about offering to Sunne as a default, but she isn’t one of my patrons. I also didn’t just want to fit Mona arbitrarily into a leftover day. Then it occurred to me that the moon and Midsummer are a perfect pairing. Sometimes I need time for such correspondences to occur to me. The moon was an important Motif in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. A whole play named for Sunne’s time of year, but in it, the night and the moon take the lead.
- My favorite high day paired with my first deity ally. He tends to be associated with all my other favorite things, so why not a High Day too? Also, this is a harvest day, and Thunor is a harvest deity among other titles.
Harvest Home: Frige
- I was going to offer to Frige on Modraniht, which aligns with Yule, but I already have that time of the year set aside for Mona and Woden. Harvest Home felt like the next best option since it has a domestic feel to it.
Winterfylleþ: Hel and Ancestors
- Yet another obvious correspondence.
- Because traditional activities around this time of year are especially Earth-Centric: preparing the land for planting and burying offerings, especially cakes, in the ground.
- Eostre is technically for “Eostre,” but the Spring Equinox when we celebrate this High Day falls in March, which is Hrethe’s month.
The Winter Cross-Quarter is most commonly known as Imbolc among Neopagans. At this time of year, we can finally begin to see the effects of the Sun’s return. The Earth is awakening from her Winter slumber and the first signs of spring can be seen. This is the High Day of new beginnings. It is time to put in motion plans made during Yule for the coming year.
Solomoþ (or Ewemeolc) is the Anglo-Saxon holy tide associated with the February cross-quarter. Solmonaþ refers to the month of February. The word “sol” is variably translated as mud, cakes, or sun. Bede translates it as “cakes” due to the seasonal tradition of offering cakes to the gods, particularly to the Earth Mother (Eorðe). Ewemeolc refers to the lactation of the ewe’s which usually took place in early February (Albertsson, 157).
This is the time of year when the Saxon (and most Indo-European) pagans began preparing for the planting season. To that end, a “Charming of the Plough” ritual took place, during which ploughs would be brought out from storage and blessed to ensure bountiful crops.
Modern traditions for Imbolc include spring cleaning and lighting a candle in every room of the house to celebrate the returning light of the sun. Most Neopagans honor the Celtic goddess, Bride (or Brigid) on this day and it is customary to leave out a piece of cloth by the hearth overnight for Her to bless.
Albertsson, Alaric. Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2009. Print.
(End of DP essay)
As for my personal relationship with this holiday, it’s undergoing some changes. I never much cared for February. I often get seasonal depression in Spring. February may still look and feel like winter in most of the places I have lived, but I am most affected by time spent in anticipation. I love anticipating autumn and the winter holidays much more than living through them. Does that even make sense? I tend to live my life in the future. Yes, I know, bad, bad. I always hear how important it is to live in the present, and I have been making efforts to do so. However, I don’t exactly “not” appreciate the present. I don’t look to the future because I would rather be there (well, OK, I’ve been guilty of that a time or two), I like the feeling of the future in the present air. I love the present because I can feel what’s coming, and that feeling only exists in the present.
Anyway, February feels like Spring is coming. And Spring has never been my favorite season. It’s muddy. It’s slushy. If there was a lot of snow the previous winter, there is probably going to be a lot of flooding as it melts. And the bugs! Ugh the bugs. Yeah, ok, bad on me again for not loving the bugs. I love them from a distance. I try to be nice to them. I have a bugzooka for transporting them (alive) to the outside. But ugh, the sound of flies inside all year long because one or two inevitably sneaks in at some point during our comings and goings. Having to constantly shake out my shoes to make sure there’s nothing creeping in them. My terrible phobia of wasps…
Nevertheless, I have new ambitions for this spring time, so I am almost looking forward to it. I am going to plant my first garden! ٩(^ᴗ^)۶ And, with my husband’s help, I am going to make the back yard look more like the sacred space it is. I will be performing my own mini blessing ritual to prepare the garden tools and hopefully ward them against my not so green thumb. 🙂 Speaking of which, that little Money tree I bought last summer is still alive. 😮 I am off to a good start already :p