Words for the darkest, shortest day

Published: Tue, 12/21/21

On Sunday I took part in a winter solstice ritual. There seems to be a loosely pagan group forming around a woodland in North Lincolnshire. We started with a Samhain/Halloween camp and a Beltane event is planned too. More on that in a future post.

I called and closed the South Quarter and said a few words from a Norse/Stav perspective. Okay, I played a bit fast and loose with the mythology, and the idea of Odin as a summer, fertility God who is absent for the winter months is more of a folklore idea than anything found in the Eddas. However, what I said was well received and I like to think I added something to the event. It was also Iduna’s first pagan ritual and I am not quite sure what she made of it, but she was very patient and she enjoyed finishing up some of the left over cake at the end.

Participating in this ritual did a lot for me, these are indeed dark times and we need to reach far beyond the usual structures and routines which might have seemed sufficient in the past. Human society maybe self-destructing all around us but the elements of earth, air, fire, and water as well as the trees and all the forces of nature will still sustain and heal us if we will work with them. The divine forces that surround us have seen it all before too, many times I expect, and I experienced a powerful restoration of my powers in body, mind, and spirit by stepping out of the ‘normal’ world and into a space where the spirits and gods may be willing to meet us.

Anyway, here is the script I used, don’t take it too seriously, but if it might be of use to you then feel free to do with it as you see fit.

‘It might have been that there was once a time when Odin, the All-father, ruled all the year around.

Odin, the god of sunshine, fertility, warmth and gentle rain ensured that the flowers bloomed, the trees were in leaf and there was plenty all the year around. There was no cold and dark season, just an endless summer.

Then Odin’s beloved son Baldur was killed. Baldur died partly because of his own foolishness, partly because of the actions of his over protective mother, and because Loki, the trickster took advantage of an opportunity which was too good to miss.

With his death Baldur was sent to the underworld, Helheim, ruled by Hel, the grim goddess of the dead.

There Baldur will remain until the day of Ragnarok, the last battle, the end of this world and the birth of a new world.

In the meantime Odin so misses his beloved son that he spends half the year in Helheim keeping company with Baldur.

While Odin is absent his place is taken by Ull, the god of yew trees and the yule log. Ull is the god of ice and frost, of skis and archery and winter hunting.

While Ull rules over our world there is winter, nature sleeps and we await the return of Odin.

Now is the season when Odin remains in Helheim with his son and this world is left in the care of Ull.

Odin will return in a few short months, the days will lengthen, each day the sun will rise a little earlier, set a little later, the sun will rise a little higher and the warmth will be greater. Odin will banish the ice and snow and wherever he wanders the flowers will grow, the trees will become green and new life will be everywhere.

Today is dark and cold but do not despair.

Odin, lord of life and of summer has not forsaken us and he will return at the due time.

In the meantime let us be strong, faithful and patient and let us be ready to celebrate the All-father’s return bringing with him the blessings of spring.’