Dec 22, 2011

Yuletide: Honoring Balder

This morning--the morning after the longest night--I began the Yuletide by honoring the Gods and Goddesses of the night and day, followed by a ritual to Balder. There is some overlap to be found here. Etymologically, Balder's name is connected with the Slavic God of Light, Belobog. Both are associated with the color white and with daytime and goodness.

Yule gives us a chance to slow down and look within for what resonates. While the secular holiday may involve scurrying about, attempting to fulfill an ever-shifting list of external demands, I believe that Heathens have a quieter, far more profound gift before us. Nature turns in, to the healing and peace of the night. Our hearts too may still, as we gather around our own hearths, whatever those may be. One hearth of mine is Kevin Crossley-Holland's book of the tales of our Gods. I am finding re-reading the Norse stories to be very much like coming home and resting by the fire. What matters, though, is that one is honest and looks to what truly warms one's heart. This is our chance to know calm, to come inside after the year's journey. I very much agree with this poster's insight about making Yule one's own. I also note, with a touch of humor, that I am of course celebrating the holiday in an entirely different way. Every home is different. The warmest homes are welcoming precisely because they reflect the true soul of whoever lives within them.

A few thoughts on Balder, with whom I began this Yuletide. In some ways, I experience Him as the God of spiritually coming Home. Interestingly, it is usually not the sword or the spear that kills our spirit. It is not the heavy, obvious threat that smothers the soul. Rather, it is the small things that end up cutting most deeply: something we thought insignificant, too weak to do us any harm. One tiny dart extinguishes all light. I believe that part of Balder's story is that this light can be returned, that home (or Home) can be found again. He crosses the water and--having been sent away on His burning ship, the greatest of all ships--journeys into the realm of the dead. At risk of getting especially mystical here, I will note that He is as present as any other God or Goddess. We can speak with our ancestors: death does not tear them from us. So too with the Gods.

Naturally, being Forseti's, I can't help but note another connection, one going toward His son. Both of these Gods--Balder and Forseti--cross the waters of the ocean in a ship to bring about order. In a sense, both found a new land, a new home. Balder's is associated with the world after Ragnarok; Forseti's with a people secured by good laws. Both Gods are known for Their wisdom and judgment, for Their ability to bring peace.

May your Yule be blessed and joyous. Hail the Gods and Goddesses!

Dec 1, 2011

Golden Axe

Forseti - God of the Golden Axe
Another piece of photo art, this time of Forseti's golden axe, going back to the tale of how He gave the Frisians their law. 

Creative Commons Copyright: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA).

Attributions: Wikimedia Commons axe, Jutland beach, stream, knotwork from the Sutton Hoo belt buckle, and knotwork from the Sutton Hoo mask replica. The photo of the waves is my own. The picture was created with software from