In Part One, I explained some basics of our hearth practice here at Þunresfolc Heorþ. Covering some key worldview points, and talking a bit about weofods. Both of which are the “bread and butter” of not only our own practice, but many others as well. I honestly cannot stress enough how important worldview is. Without it, there is simply no Fyrnsidu. It would just be a Heathen gloss to an otherwise Christian worldview that we in the West are imbued with, regardless of our custom or religion. This can be seen in more New Age varieties of practices that simply take things from Heathenry and others, but don’t learn about why those things are important. We also see this in it’s racist opposite, or so they claim to be.
Though, I do not think that the Christian worldview is “bad” or “lesser” than our own, it doesn’t resonate with me. I would assume, most of our readers being Heathen or Pagan in some way, it probably doesn’t resonate too well with most of you, either. That is okay, of course. There is no reason they cannot be who they are, nor we who we are.
That being said, being a very small group of customs compared to the wider world, and the ideology of globalization, sometimes we have to “play ball” their way. As in our lives in communication with the utangeard, no different from any of you, I’m sure. That is what happens when you are few to billions, of course. I see no point in any great animosity about it. We cannot change them, nor they us. So, as long as no one is harming me or mine, or being generally harmful, I say live and let live. After all, if we tell others how to live, who is to stop them from trying to dictate us?
Philosophical ramblings aside, now that some basics are covered, I’d like to move forward. In Part Two, I’d like to go over some more intermediate things. As this unfolds, you will find things being a little more open ended, and thus, subject to interpretation. It goes from more practical to more vague. From literal thoughts and actions, to things that are more up to interpretation. Styled to abstract. After all, the basics are where we find the most agreement, with respect to other Fyrnsidu based traditions. Things come down to interpretation after that. You will see a bit of the closed ended and a bit of the open ended here. Please be aware this is the perspective of one hearth. By no means am I representing the whole of neither Fyrnsidu in particular, or Anglo-Saxon Heathenry altogether. As this goes on, I speak for myself alone. Possibly Þunresfolc Heorþ as an entity.
One of the first things I’d like to talk about are some of the beings that Þunresfolc Heorþ acknowledges. These beings can be broken down into three very loose categories: Ancestors, Wights, and Gods. I will start with Ancestors, since that is one, the most common beings a Fyrnsidere are likely to commune with, after all, we directly (usually) come from them.
The importance of ancestral reverence cannot be overstated. You come from them, you are a part of them. You are the product of thousands, if not millions of years of people through countless generations. Each of those many people have led the way for you to be where you are today. So, at Þunresfolc Heorþ, our ancestors are honored with rituals. Of course, ancestral reverence isn’t always about love. If we knew all of our ancestors, there are likely some we would not like. Also, remember that frithbreakers do not count. Those who did things too horrible to mention, and were thus cut off from the family. Ancestral reverence is about realizing the fact that without the many people that led to your birth, you would not exist. That, if for no other reason, is why rituals are done for them.
Otherwise, an ancestor, at least in my eyes, may not always be blood. Adopted, and influential, in the direct sense, figures in one’s life could also count as ancestors. Generally, the strictest definition is blood. Regardless, it is that your life is possible because they existed, is why they are honored.
Wights come in so many varieties that it could take a full encyclopedia to list them off and describe them appropriately. The are wights in many locations. Particularly outside of cities, but they exist there, as well. Elves, for example, and dwarves could count as wights. There are land wights for any landscape, any bioregion, you name it. Some would consider mythological creatures to be wights (i.e. dragons, nicor, eotens, thyrses, and as mentioned, elves, and dwarves, etc.). There may even be one near you! Possibly taking up residence in a tree in your yard, or at a local park. Some are friendly, others not, and most are neither.
If you live near a place you believe a wight may be, it isn’t a bad idea to form a gifting cycle with it. Unless you believe it to be harmful in some way, that is. The beliefs regarding wights vary from person to person. For us, they are present in many places. Offering is given to nearby ones. Offerings that are basically a placation are given in places where we may need to be on a wight’s good side, just in case. Again, beliefs will vary quite a bit about them, in regards to who, if any receive offering, and why.
Furthermore, there are the Cofgodas, or house wights. These are, of course, wights that inhabit the home. They doubtlessly receive offering. Though, just as to who they are is subject to interpretation by each practicioner.
This part is a little more tricky. I say this because this is where we may differ from other traditions. Beings who are Gods, or Ésa, are also, I believe particular to a hearth or group. There are Gods who we know were known by Anglo-Saxon tribes. There are likely Gods that we don’t know they honored, as well. Many believe the Gods were a family of sorts, and may make offerings to many of them. Personally, I don’t believe that was the case with Germanic peoples, or a few others. I think there were probably a few Gods, and even then, the lines between ancestor, wight, and deity are very blurred. This sentiment has gained traction in recent years, and of course, I am far from the first to think of it.
I am no scholar, after all. Regardless, I reject the pantheon notion, at least in its normal sense of the word. This rejection is shared by some scholars as well. One, Terry Gunnel, wrote about this in regards to the Scandinavians. Of course, what applies to them doesn’t always apply to us, and vice versa, but his article may provide food for thought. I find it to be more believable than the pantheon structure. However, plenty may disagree. This doesn’t normally get brought up in dialogue with online groups, and many who know me may not know that this is my opinion, nor need it matter. However, I take responsibility for my words, and the consequences.
As far as deities that various Anglo-Saxons honored, who honored how many of these deities is anyone’s guess. Here is a short list, by no means exhaustive:
Woden, Frige, Tiw, Thunor, Ingui, Eastre, Hrethe, Wada, Erce (Eorthe, or maybe Neorthe, if this being is derived from Nerthus on the Continent), Seaxneat (possibly Ingui), Freo (assumed by some, but not proven)
Some who may have divine origin, may be either Gods, or very important wights, legendary figures or ancestors, or animistic deities: Weyland, Hengest and Horsa, Beowa, Beole, Sunne, Mona, Dæg, Niht, the Wyrdæ (not proven to my knowledge, but not unreasonable), the Idesa (the many ancestral mothers).
There are some who could likely add more. This is a short list. Þunresfolc Heorþ doesn’t offer to many of these beings.We acknowledge that some may be “closer to home” than other deities and beings, for example those from cultures that are not Anglo-Saxon. I am not one to believe that honoring more Gods necessarily brings more luck. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion on the matter.
Here, we mainly honor Þunor, with only ancestors receiving more offerings, the house wight is close as well. Other deities, and prominent beings play parts as well, of course, but at Þunresfolc Heorþ, it shouldn’t take much guesswork as to who is regarded as most prominent on the list.
At the end of Part One, we discussed offerings a bit. I would like to get into of to whom offerings are made. I also plan to explain when, and why. Ritual and making offerings is a huge part of many traditions, no less Fyrnsidu. So, a basic outline of a Þunresfolc Heorþ ritual will be explained.
Rituals here are done usually at moon phases, on Thursdays, and upon Tides. The moon phase idea came from a friend who has taught me much about Heathenry for almost as long as I have been Heathen. I don’t recall exactly where he got the idea, but I took his information, and fit it to a way that works for this hearth. One of the great things about networking with others is that you can learn things to bolster your own practices if you lack a group. This site, and page is our attempt to reach out and help others as well.
Of course, we also have rituals on the Tides. We have four tides:
Eastretīd, upon the Spring Equinox.
Midsumor, upon the Summer Solstice.
Hærfestham, upon the Autumnal Equinox.
Géola, which starts with Módranīht, upon the Winter Solstice.
In the future, there could be smaller ones as well. Such as for local harvests, and other special days. That is the basic four, however.
Who and Why
Ancestor Rituals, in which we give thanks to our ancestors, attempt to commune with them, ask for help, and give offering, are, when we correctly remember, done upon the Full, new, and quarter phases of the moon. So, generally four times a month.
House Wights (Cofgodas) generally receive offering in thanks for their protection, or at least non harm, of our home. As the wight of our home, it definitely merits offering. As it is my favorite place in the world. Those offerings are given on the full and new moons.
Þunor Rituals, we do on… Well… Þunresdæg. He is the tutelary deity of Þunresfolc Heorþ, and as you might guess by the name, Þunor cult is very strong here. So, he receives our thanks for being our tutelary deity, for the protection and blessings bestowed upon us, just as our ancestors receive. Along with his role as hallower, bringer of rain, which allows the food we eat to grow, amongst other things.
Outside of the home, we make offerings to land wights. Either to the tree outside of our home, or on one of our many hikes. The latter are basically our way of showing that we mean no harm, in hopes that we have a safe hike, as an example.
Basic Ritual Format
Though, I regret to say, I don’t always follow this to the letter, as I sometimes make mistakes, and thus have to improvise at times, rituals here follow a relatively simple formula. They are likely more “stripped down” than most. Keeping things simple helps me to not make as many mistakes, and allows for a smooth transition from one step to the next. Here, I think you’ll find that basically most other practicioners follow a similar, if not identical formula. Some may add more to it, but the core should be recognizable to most. The steps are as follows:
Cleansing- We have a soap set aside specifically for the purpose of ritual cleansing. Generally, at the least, we wash our hands with it. I am a firm believer that one should physically be clean when entering sacred space. To mentally cleanse, I take a few deep breaths and attempt to focus my mind upon the ritual at hand.
Opening- In the opening, I like to state that the Heorþ has gathered for said ritual. I then state the purpose of it. A giving of thanks, to ask for help, or a desire to express our bond with the entit(y/ies) in question.
Invocation (Calling)- At this point, we call upon the being(s) with whom we wish to engage with in the ritual. The reason we have asked for their presence is again stated.
Boast- This is where we tell of deeds of the being, or describe them in a positive way.
Communing- This is where we dialogue with the being in question, and explain in greater detail why we are here. (Describing what we are thankful for, explaining with what we need help, or engaging in some other dialogue.)
Offering- When we give our offering.
Closing- This is when we thank the being(s) for attending.
Afterward- When candles are blown out, and the offering is placed elsewhere.
Rituals are of the utmost importance. After all, we cannot be if we do not do. What we do, and the way we live make us who we are. Finding Fyrnsidu, and later Þunresfolc Heorþ has taught, and reinforced that concept quite roundly. I believe any worthwhile practice will do just that. What these rituals do, amongst many other things, is to really bring to the fore our identities. Ritual not only connects us to the sacred, and allows us to repeat symbolically mythic actions, but it reminds us of our customs, and that those customs are firmly intertwined with who we are in this world with innumerable groups of people and identities. For me, Þunresfolc Heorþ is interwoven into who I am. I am a part of it, and it is a part of me. It is my home. I hope that whatever your custom may be, that you find your sense of home as well!