Dísablót originates as a Scandinavian festival honouring the Dísir. Depending on where you were within the Norse world the timing of the Dísablót varied, either at the beginning or towards the end of Winter. The Freehold has opted to place our Dísablót on the Family Day weekend. The comparable festival amongst the Anglo-Saxons was a charming of the fields by burying cakes during the month of Solmonath, roughly February.
The Dísir are also known as the Idise, Matronae, or Mothers. They are a diverse class of spirits ranging from Frigge and Freya to human women that made important contributions to their tribes in life. Today the Freehold encourages the honouring of the Mothers as some of the holy powers that are most invested in the survival and prosperity of individual members of our community.
We wish you a happy Dísablót, where you begin your fresh start for the year. May the Mothers bless you and your household.
Reeling from the ice Snarling from the blows Grinning through the cold Tired from the work To hearth and home I fared The ice and the night The cold and the storm I slammed behind stout doors For fire and warmth
Yet my way I lost In dreams Into the sea I fell From wind whipped rock
Spear straight I knifed Through black waves Cold that bit the skin Venom making dead iron Of muscles numb and stilled
Nine daughters of She Who Waits Cast me in the depths Far from light Far from sound Until the shore and surface forgotten
Bubbles from my mouth escape Follow them I surge The hammer of my blood The thunder of the waves Clawing through jade dark depths
Hunger rules all For air, for light for life Laughter sounds Cold and cruel as Her whim
Shining in the depths Naked in her glory For the sea is her only garment Glory and death her jewels Black eyed and white skinned Hair dancing in the waves Dancing to the siren song
Black Ran Lady of the depths Death hunger of the deep Cold mistress of the silence
I dove like a seal Arrow straight to her side Down from the light My every muscle drove In balanced perfection Like killing, like loving Like nothing else
Last of my air escapes Bubbles rising I had turned from them Not the surface sought Not the light Not survival
Ran danced in the depths Uncaring in her glory Hunger beyond hunger Deeper in me than life Her song Her call
A flick of her hand From the depths I fly Cast upon the shore Shaking and cold Weeping and empty
Muscles too weak to rise Rage too strong to die I claw back to my home To fire To life
This time she did not call This time I returned Black Ran Who casts her nets for men I am bound to you One day to know your arms Drown myself in your hunger Lose myself in your need
—There is a god we offer to, bright Njord of the waves. He we remember in fair winds and calm seas. It is black Ran who rules the depths, she whose rage is the storm, whose casts her nets for men as we cast our nets for her bounty.
The seas will not give up their dead, not even at the end times, for Ran’s love like her hunger knows no limits. What is hers she will not give up.
Glad Yule! The British Columbia Heathen Freehold celebrates a twelve day Yuletide, running from sunset on the 20th of December each year until sunset on the 1st of January.
Yule begins with Mothers’ Night or Modranecht as it was called in Old English. This evening is spent honouring the Ancestral Mothers of the Freehold, your Kindred, and your personal family. This is a very private affair, with great variance in how it can be done locally and between households. As one of the few fainings that is not public, it is a great honour to be invited to one by your local Kindred.
The following morning we begin the festive joy of Yule. Over the next 12 days no work should be done that is not necessary to survival and cleanliness (shifts at work are allowed, as missing a paycheck could endanger your family). In modern times this mostly applies to hobbies. Historically this taboo on unnecessary work gave people a break from the weaving, carving, and knitting that filled most families winter lives. These days it serves another purpose, spend your time with friends and family, preferably giving them gifts that you have made using one of your hobbies.
The Yule Father, a modern Heathen custom analogous to the mainstream Santa Claus, visits Heathen children and leaves them gifts to reward their good deeds through the year. He can visit at any point in the Yuletide as fits the family’s schedule. The two most common dates for him to leave gifts are the 21st and 25th of December, either the first morning of the Yuletide or when he visits the Christian and atheist children’s homes.
Some communities choose to focus each day of the Yuletide on a specific deity or group of Wights. While the Freehold does not endorse any such specific list, it is a custom that blends well with our own. One example of such a practice is listed here and summarised below.
Dec 20th – Frigga as the Chieftess of the Disir.
Dec 21st – Mani and Sunna, the god of the Moon and the goddess of the Sun.
Dec 22nd – Ingui-Freyr and the Elves.
Dec 23rd – Loki and Sigyn.
Dec 24th – Odin and Frau Holda.
Dec 25th – Balder and Nanna.
Dec 26th – Kari and his kin, Kari is a powerful wind spirit and brother of Aegir.
Dec 27th – Skadhi and Ullr.
Dec 28th – Njord and Nerthus.
Dec 29th – Freya.
Dec 30th – Idunn and Bragi.
Dec 31st – Thor and Sif.
One other aspect of the Yuletide is that in the Freehold we treat the whole world as a Frithyard, and no violence or acts of aggression are permitted, even an enemy should be given food and shelter if they arrive at your door. Leave your feuds aside while the Yuletide reigns, you can always pick them up again when the time of Frith is past.
However you choose to celebrate the Yuletide, we sincerely hope that it is a time of joy and relaxation for you.
In Frith and Service, Aaron Brookes Freyr of the BCHF
Einherjar Blót is a modern Heathen celebration in honour of those who have fallen in battle, it coincides with the Commonwealth Remembrance Day that commemorates the end of the First World War. While this Faining has no historical equivalent, the members of the BC Heathen Freehold wish to give honour and remembrance in our own custom to those who made the greatest sacrifice for us.
At this time we host a faining to honour those who gave their lives in service to Canada, and our allies. Typical offerings are of food and drink to the Einherjar, to thank them for their sacrifices for our country. Odin, Freya, and the Valkyries may be honoured as well, for it is they who collect and lead the Einherjar in the afterlife.
This is also an occasion to point out to those that are new to Heathenry, Valhalla is a consolation prize. Most ancient Heathens regardless of tribe would have preferred to join their families with the ancestral grave mounds, the Valkyries chosen warriors from the field of battle miss out on that comforting reunion with their ancestors. On top of that Freya gets first pick of those chosen by the Valkyries, and takes her half to Folkvangr to serve her. Valhalla is the consolation prize for warriors who died far from home and were unable to join their kin within their ancestral grave mounds. While we honour their sacrifice, it is important to remember that Valhalla and Folkvangr are places of warriors, and most warriors are grateful to have survived to the horrors of war and have a chance to be buried among their kin when the time comes.
The Einherjar are warriors plucked from the field of battle in their prime, to train and prepare for the final battle at Ragnarok. Whether they reside in Folkvangr or Valhalla, they are dangerous men and women skilled in violence as a solution. Constant battle drills until the end of this world is not an appealing afterlife to most. Before you claim that you are destined for Valhalla, think on these things long and hard. Few meet the requirements of the Battle-Glad and the Lady-of-the-Slain, think on a more pleasant afterlife for yourself.
As we thank the Einherjar (glorious battle-dead) for their sacrifices, both while they lived and in giving up the peace of the grave to prepare for Ragnarok, keep in mind the old refrain we recite each Remembrance Day.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them “
Winternights marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of Winter for the British Columbia Heathen Freehold. It is timed to coincide with Canadian Thanksgiving as it also originates as a celebration of the year’s harvest bounty. Historically, Winternights or Winterfinding was celebrated in October or November depending on local climate, an important part of Heathenry is the localisation of the calendar and practices. It may also have been called the Álfarblót or Dísablót depending on time and place in history.
Typical deities to honour for Winternights include Ingui-Frey, Gerd, Skadhi, Hel, Odin, or the elves. As the end of the Harvest, and the beginning of the Wild Hunt these deities and the elves have ties to this time of year. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to thank Ingui-Frey and Gerd for the crops and herds that will sustain the community. In preparation for Winter it is appropriate to ask Skadhi to guide hunters to large herds of wildlife to hunt, and to bring light snows that will protect the foliage without trapping us indefinitely. As the Wild Hunt begins it is appropriate to ask Hel and Odin to collect lost souls quickly and continue on without accidentally taking a living person along. The elves have helped to bring the crops to feed humans and animals through the soil to nourish and sustain us, this is also worthy of thanks as the winter draws in and so we draw inside.
Custom in the BCHF is to have a feast with your local community made from local food, with locally made ale or mead if possible. This connection between the land and it’s inhabitants is paramount to honouring the elves who make our lives there possible. At this time of year it is good to take extra time to appreciate the beauty and blessings of the natural world all around us.
In Frith and Service, Aaron Brookes Freyr of the BCHF
This last Labour Day long weekend when the Freehold was gathered at the Althing, we continued an important tradition of the Freehold. By consensus of the community we made awards to recognise those who deserved them. There were four recipients of three awards that the Freehold has created.
Freydis Egilsdottir is this years recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. This is to acknowledge her numerous contributions to the Freehold ranging from being a founding member of the Freehold, to sewing the Freehold’s banner, to leading almost every guild that has existed at some point in the history of the Freehold, to many years of honoured service as Ombudsman of the Freehold, to editing and illuminating Kindertales Volumes 1 & 2, writing stories for Kindertales volumes 1 & 2, and many many more contributions. The Althing could think of no Heathen who deserved this acclaim more than Freydis.
We had an uncommon result in this year’s vote for who was most deserving of the Freeholder of the Year award, it was decided that both were deserving and that we would have co-recipients of this year’s award. The Freeholder of the Year award is given to the member of the Freehold who has made the most significant contribution to our community each year.
Garth Spencer is one of this years co-recipients of the Freeholder of the Year award. This was to acknowledge his valuable contributions to the administration of the Freehold. These contributions were even more astounding as he jumped straight into the role of Clerk when he became a Probationary Member of the Freehold.
Kristy Williams is one of this years co-recipients of the Freeholder of the Year award. This was to acknowledge their valuable contributions to creating, editing, and publishing content on behalf of the Freehold in the form of our Newsletter, Kindertales Volume III, and several other actions. These contributions were especially valuable as Kristy applied for the role of Editor as they applied to join the Freehold as a Probationary Member.
Venessa Vallese is this years recipient of Frigga’s Loom. Frigga’s Loom is an award granted by the Althing of the BCHF to recognise an individual who has rendered exceptional service to the creation or maintenance of Frithful environments. Venesa received unanimous support from the Althing to recognise her accomplishments in building a multi-tradition pagan community in Nanaimo BC.
It is my profound honour as the Freyr of the Freehold to announce our award winners this year. All are good and worthy individuals who have brought honour and prestige to the Freehold by their actions and accomplishments. It is not every year that such accomplishments are acknowledged by our community, these were truly exceptional people to receive these awards.
Hail the awards recipients! Hail the Freehold! Hail the gods and goddesses!
In Frith and Service, Aaron Brookes Freyr of the BCHF