In the Northern pagan Traditions, there was a celebration held in this time of the year, at the beginning of the autumn equinox, it’s called Haust blót, or the Autumn Sacrifice, and it is still held today by the neo-pagans who worship the gods from the Norse pantheon. As the season indicates, this is the time when the days grow shorter and darkness prevails until the winter time comes to an end. The last crops are coming to an end also, people start to gather their food and store it to survive the long and harsh winters of Northern Europe. Now, we can try to understand the pagan mind of our ancestors by looking at the natural world itself and how that influenced them. This was also a time to make festivities around the fire and praise, in a way, the Fire Element, because the world itself would take its colors, the fields are veiled by a cloth in tones of fire, dark yellow, red and oranges, the skies at dusk emit a red light that resembles blood, a warning that the days ahead will be hard, the forests and the mountains become silent, most animals also store food and hide in holes or inside old trees, others will hibernate, ravens will go to and fro, from place to place, in search of those who did not survived the hazards of the season and the harsh weather, so this is a time where everything becomes more magical and mysterious, but also the beginning of the trials that are in store for us, the ability to survive and prevail, in a way, a sort of battle between Man and nature, it’s exiting, because we humans love to be challenged, and during winter we are being challenged by the gods themselves, who manifest their powers through nature, and it’s a great honor to accept such a challenge and better still to be victorious at the end, it gives a certain feeling of being worthy.
This is the time to pray and to thank the Landvaettir, the spirits of nature, of the soils and the land, to pray to the ancestors who still look over their descendants and protect them, and in some
way still work the soils to provide better crops, so the family can survive in prosperity, happiness and wealth. People also prayed to the elves, who work along with the land spirits, to maintain the land fertile and the soils rich. People also pray to the God Freyr and to Freyja, the Gods of fertility, because the land itself also needs fertility, it needs to be prepared to be planted again, with new seeds, when the winter comes to an end.
With hard work, perseverance, patience and love the land gives us so much, enough to survive and live with health, and a gift always calls for a gift, so we in turn must give something to the land, a personal object, or food, the mead that is passed amongst the folk in the drinking horn, will be poured into the land, so our ancestors and the gods, may also drink with us, giving to them what we can create with the things the earth gives us. People dance and sing, tales of old are told, to remember the deeds of our ancestors, and so we might find inspiration and strength.
I know most “Christians” will just pray to their false god about helping them find their car keys, their favorite sports team getting a touchdown, punishing gay people, punishing women, or wanting nonbelievers to be burned at the stake for not believing in their god of love. But the Æsir are not the Abrahamic god(s). They actually expect honor, integrity, courage, and taking personal responsibility for your actions. And they expect us to treat others equally, unless they have forfeited those qualities and proven themselves to be an enemy.
Anyways, this OP are for those of us who recognize the old gods and our connection with the land, sea, and air. Today marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The Autumnal equinox occurs on Thursday (Sept. 22), at which time the sun will be directly over Earth’s equator. This means everyone across the globe gets a day and night lasting approximately 12 hours each.
My family will light a bonfire, have a small feast, toast Freyr and Freyja, and pour some ale on the ground to our ancestors.
What, if anything, does your family do during these ancient and very human celebrations of life and gratitude?