Wight of the Nine Worlds


I welcome thee free spirit, which thou shalt come with an open heart, open mind and an open soul, for what you are about to read can only be understood by the wise who are eager to learn and to embrace the roots deep and forgotten in the hearts of the free people of Europe, by accepting who you are and where your roots lie, is half way into the great road of life. We will journey unto where our spirit takes us with the knowledge we gained. Learn and teach.

Celebrating Yule in Finland

Well, I know it's still early to post something like this. We are at the last days of August and September is upon us. I can almost feel the cold in the air (not truly, unfortunately). Perhaps I'm just longing for winter to come, since the moment it ends. Anyway, to appease my yearning for cold and harsh weather I will leave you here with this post.

As you well know,Yule (or also knonw as Yule-tide) is one of the winter festivals that was initially celebrated the Germanic pagan peoples as a religious celebration. The Germanic peoples also include the Scandinavian ones, of course; historically speaking to the romans and in the first records about the Germanic groups, everyone in Germania up to the cold north of Scandinavia were considered Germanic. 

This celebration was later absorbed into the Christian festival of Christmas, and much of its essence still remains. However, Yuletide was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar. This festivity was placed on December 25 when the Christian calendar (Julian calendar) was adopted. Some historians claim that the celebration is connected to the Wild Hunt or was influenced by Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival. However, Yule in its true meaning dates back to the prehistoric times which had a great connection not only to the season but also to deities and spirits in general.

The word "Yule” are still used in the Nordic Countries for the Christmas time, but also for other religious holidays of the season. In modern times this has gradually led to a more secular tradition under the same name as Christmas. Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule log, the Yule goat (Julbock), the Yule boar (Sonargöltr), Yule singing, so on are greatly connected to thiscelebration. In modern times, Yule is observed as a cultural festival and also with religious rites by some Christians and by some Neopagans. 

To the Finns, many ancient customs (and pagan in essence) are still held, which is quite interesting because traditions are maintained and to historians, archaeologists and anthropologists this cultural traditions help us understanding the past of civilizations that left us little, or close to nothing, of written records about such festivities.

For example, on the eve of the Finnish Joulu (Christmas), children are visited by Joulupukki, which is a character similar to Santa Claus. The word Joulupukki means “Yule Goat” and probably derives from an old Finnish tradition where people called the nuuttipukkis, dressed themselves in goat hides and circulated arround others' homes after Joulu, eating leftover food, dancing, singing and a lot of other things connected to a more shamanic past and tribal behaviour. ANyway, Joulupukki visits people’s homes and rides a sleigh pulled by a number of reindeer. He knocks on the front door during Jouluaatto (Christmas Eve), rather than sneaking in through the chimney at night. When he comes in, his first words are usually “Onkos taalla kiltteja lapsia?“, which means: “Are there (any) good (well-behaved) children here?”. Presents are given and opened immediately. This character usually wears red, warm clothes and often carries a wooden walking stick. The colour red is probably something very new and modern due to the commercialisation of the Santa Claus figure. His workshop is in Korvatunturi, Lapland, Finland, rather than at the North Pole like Santa Claus, or in Greenland. He is married to Joulumuori (Mother Yule). 

The very typical Finnish yule dishes include ham, various root vegetable in casseroles, beetroot salad, gingerbread and star-shaped plum-filled pastries. Other traditions with a non-Christian yule background include joulukuusi (“Yule spruce”) and joulusauna (“yule sauna”).

Worshiping in ancient Scandinavia - Freyfaxi

Every religion is always changing, and no matter how hard we try to follow the footsteps of our ancestors, we will never fully understand the essence of their spiritual beliefs. All religions have their branches also, and that happens on the spirituality of the Germanic and Scandinavian peoples of old as well. Some prefer to worship only the Aesir or the Vanir, others worship the underworld deities and the deities connected with a more primal scenary, and others just choose one deity and prefer to focus on that one archetype. Suffice to say that most neo pagans prefer to worship just Odin, or Thor, or even both; these two deities are very famous amongst neo pagans and everything else in this spiritual tradition seems of no importance. However, to our ancestors it was obviously different. In fact, as I've mentioned before,  Odin was not that famous back then, and people prefered to worship fertility deities rather than Warrior deities. The majority of the populace were farmers, herders and fishers. Only a few would worship warrior deities and death deities. Odin was a deity more related to death and war than magic and wisdom (as we commonly think nowadays). Odin's cult was very restricted and only for a certain elite of the society.

With that being said, I'll move on to the real subject of this post. One of the most worshiped deities of that time was the god Frey, mostly worshipped at Upsala (Sweden). Fricco or Freyr, a name which appears to be identical with the Teutonic word represented in Old English by frea - meaning - lord or king. It is stated by some historians and archaeologists that an image of Frey, which was worshipped at Thrandheim in Norway, had been sent there from Sweden. There are certain stories that mention this very image of Frey in Sweden which was carried about the country, and to which sacrifices were offered. This was common with certain deities and Tacitus mentions a cult with these similarities in his Germania; an image of a female deity carried to a forest and sacred grove, and sacrifices were made to her (including human sacrifices).

There were many sacrifices to the god Freyr, but mostly were animals. There are accounts of the sacrifice of black oxen offered to Frey by the mythical hero Hading. This sacrifice was often called Frodblod or perhaps Frodblót by theSwedes - Frey's sacrifice. There are frequent occurances of Frey - in Swedish (and Danish) - place-names which indicates the prevalence of the cult in both of these countries. 

The worship of Frey might also have been very popular in Norway, and from there it  passed to Iceland. The cult being passed on by the early settlers. As late as tenth century the people of Thrandheim are represented as refusing to break their image of Frey at the command of King Olaf, because people had long served  thisdeity and the god himself had done good to his people. There are accounts from the folk of Thrandheim that state the deity often talked with them  and told them things to come and also gave them peace and plenty. At the great festivals it was customary to drink to Frey, in order to secure peace and prosperity. A talisman on which the image of Frey was marked in silver is mentioned as having been owned by one of the petty kings of Norway about the late nineth century; this was given by King Harald to Ingimund.

In Iceland itself the traces of a popular cult of Frey are very clear, and more than one prominent person mentioned this cult in the sagas. One of these accounts, from Thorgrim, brother-in-law of Gisli Sursson, the saga says that he intended to hold a festival at the beginning of winter, and greet the winter, and sacrifice to Frey and in honor to the deity. When Thorgrim was murdered, and had been laid in a grave-mound, it was noticed that the snow never lay on the south or west sides of the mound, and the ground never froze there; it was supposed that he was so highly esteemed by Frey himself for the offerings he made to him, that the god did not wish Thorgrim's mound to freeze. Great attachment to this deity also appears in the story of Hrafnkel, who loved no other god more than Frey, and gave to him his possessions ; all his most valuable things. Among the offerings was a horse (Hrafnkel's own horse), which on that account bore the name of Freyfaxi. Another Freyfaxi belonged to Brand in Vatnsdal, and most people believed that he had a religious reverence for the horse. Horses owned by Frey are also mentioned as existing in Thrandheim in the days of Olaf Tryggvason by the end of the tenth century. Freyfaxi became the well known name for the cult of Frey and the celebration to him in August, during Lammas day (1st of August).

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