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.

Picture of an altar to the Elves prepared for Winternights beside the BCHF Banner

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.

Hel with her hound Garm sitting beneath the roots of Yggdrasil

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

2019 Althing Awards

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.

Certificate acknowledging Freydis Egilsdottir as the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

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.

Certificate acknowledging Garth Spencer as a co-recipient of the 2019 Freeholder of the Year award.
Certificate acknowledging Kristy Williams as a co-recipient of the 2019 Freeholder of the Year award.

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.

Certificate acknowledging Venesa Vallese as recipient of the 2019 Frigga’s Loom award.

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