This ritual is intended to be performed in Solmōnaþ (essentially, in February). Some of the concepts in this blot may be very familiar to you if you have any experience with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the day that Christians, especially some Catholics, contemplate their own mortality and the ephemerality of life. Ash Wednesday has a convoluted history that I really do not feel the need to get into. This is not an Ash Wednesday ceremony because it is not a Christian ceremony, but is inspired by Ash Wednesday and the theme of contemplation of one’s own mortality. This concept was not foreign to the ancient Anglo-Saxons and much of this ritual makes use of exerts of translated Anglo-Saxon texts about death and burial, most notably a section of an ancient poem called The Grave.
May the gods guide us,
May our oaths keep us,
May our deeds free us,
May our ancestors aid us always.
May the gods banish from this land and wood all ill and wrong,
Hallow this space; shield this area from all baneful wights,
Let the gods’ blessing be over our heads!
(Light central fire)
(Old English, from the Anglo-Saxon Rune poem)
Ear byþ egle eorla gehwylcun,
ðonne fæstlice flæsc onginneþ,
hraw colian, hrusan ceosan blac to gebeddan;
bleda gedreosaþ, wynna gewitaþ, wera geswicaþ.
The earth, the grave, is loathsome to each and every one of us,
when the firm flesh begins,
the corpse cools, the ground chooses within the black to bed;
the blood falls joy departs, men lay still.
(Circle the group, helping to lay everyone on the ground in turn)
For you there was a dwelling built ere you were born;
there was earth meant for you ere you came out of your mother.
But it was not arranged, nor the depth measured,
nor could it be then said, how long you would be.
Now I bring you where you shall be,
now you must be measured and the earth after.
This house of yours is not highly timbered,
It is short and low, then you lie therein:
The heel-ways are low, side-ways short
The roof is built full near your breast so you shall dwell in earth full cold.
Dim and dark, Doorless is that house.
There you are fast bound and death has the key.
I speak to you truly
we are all of the earth,
I call her here now,
erce erce erce eorþan Modor,
Eorthe we call to you now
Jorð you are know to the Norse
Folde you are know to the English
Mother Earth, Folde, Eorþe
look here and see these too your children.
You have nourished us,
every morsel we have eaten was created from your bounty.
You have created us from the soil of the earth
as surely as your soil grows the wheat of the fields.
And yet all things have a time,
all things grow and must then depart.
We too must depart this land.
You have reserved a place in the earth for us
We return to you our flesh when we die
Our bodies lie in the mould and soil in that house
While our spirits travel the well-worn path to Hell
The gods have given to us the promise of life after death,
to walk the ways to Hell and join the spirits of our ancestors
if we can make the journey and pass the gates.
We all walk that road, regardless
Regardless of age
Regardless of fame
Regardless of fortune
Regardless, we are all equal in this, all of us
All of us leave the world with things unfinished, unsaid, and unknown.
Those who follow after us finish and find what we leave behind.
Mighty Eorþe, goddess of the earth and mother to us all, the soil of the earth bears life for us all. Yet this is not life eternal here in this flesh but instead we live on borrowed time for we must return to the earth and we must begin the journey to what awaits us afterwards leaving our flesh behind.
Eorþe grant that these ashes, mixed of soil and mead, be a sign to us that we should remember where we have come from and where all life comes from and where we must return for this unites us all, every one.
(To each come and while they lay on the ground)
From the earth you have come and to the earth you must once more return.
(Mark in ashes on head with rune)
Rise and give your offerings to Eorþe.
I give this cake in thanks to Eorþe.
(Put cake in the earth)
Alive again we pass the horn, full of mead and life.
Raise it up in thanks for the joys of living and joys of the flesh,
in thanks for Eorthe!
(Raise horn and hail)
We pour out to you this day Eorþe, in thanks for your many gifts.
From the gods, to the earth, to us
From us, to the earth, to the gods
A gift has been given, may it be well received
So let it be.