‘Liturgical Writing 1’ Posts


Liturgical Writing 1, Citations

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  1. Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda, Gylfaginning.
  2. Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál. “She will tell no fortunes, yet well she knows the fates of men.”
  3. Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, pp. 128-130. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (marsh)
  4. Watkins, Calvert. “Ireland and the Art of the Syllable.” How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. 118. Print.
  5. Nagy, Gregory. “Permalink Review of M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford 2007).” Center for Hellenic Studies. N.p., 2008. Web. 23 Sept. 2013.

Liturgical Writing 1, #3

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Discuss a poem of at least eight lines as to its use of poetic elements (as defined by Watkins): formulaics, metrics, and stylistics. Pay particular attention to use of meter and phonetic devices, such as rhyme and alliteration. (Minimum 100 words beyond the poem itself.)

I decided I want to view a rather fun story within Northern Lore, of when Thor lost his hammer and the “comedy of errors” that happened in order to retrieve it back.

The Lay of Thrym, posted on the “New Northvegr Center” website.

When Thor awoke, his wrath was grim
To find his hammer gone from him.
He shook his beard, he tossed his hair,
The Son of Earth sought here and there.

And first of all he spake this word:
“Listen, Loki! never was heard
In earth or heaven what now I say—
The Thunderer’s hammer is stolen away!”

To Freyja the fair their way they take,
And this is the word that first he spake:
“Lend me thy feather-fell, I pray,
To seek my hammer, that’s stolen away.”

“Were it of silver, or were it of gold,
That would I give thee, that should’st thou hold.”

Loki he flew in the rustling fell
Out of the halls where the Aesir dwell

To Jôtunheim. On a howe sat Thrym,
King o’ the giants, a a-twisting trim
Golden bands for his hounds of speed,
And smoothing the mane of his trusty steed;
And this is the word that first he said:
“What of the Aesir? What of the Elves?
Why art thou come to the Giant’s door?”

“‘Tis ill with the Aesir, ill with the Elves!
Say, hast thou hidden the hammer of Thor?”

“Yea, I have hidden the hammer of thunder
Eight full fathoms the earth down under;
No man shall win it in all his life
Until he shall bring me Freyja to wife.”

Loki he flew in the rustling fell
Out of the halls where the Giants dwell,
Until he came to Asgard’s bound,
And Thor in the midmost garth he found.
And this is the word that first he said:
“What tidings, toiling, hast thou won?
For a man that sits tells a stumbling tale,
And a man that lies, a lying one.”

“News for my toiling do I bring;
Thrym has thine hammer, the Giant’s king,
No man may win it in all his life
Until he take him Freyja to wife.”

To Freyja the fair their way they take,
And this is the word that first he spake:
“Bind on thy bridal-veil amain,
For to Jôtunheim we must fare, we twain.”

Wroth was Freyja! she caught her breath—
The hall of the Aesir shook beneath,
The Brising necklace snapped in three.
“Marriage-mad is the name for me
If to Jôtunheim I fare with thee!”

All the Aesir to council went,
The mighty ones to parliament,
Gods and goddesses, all in wonder
How to win back the hammer of thunder.

It was Heimdall spake amain,
Whitest of gods, the wily Wane:
“Now bind on Thor the veil so fair,
The Brising necklace let him wear;
Hang round him many a clinking key,
Let woman’s weeds fall to his knee;
Jewels broad on his breast shall shine,
And neatly shall ye the topknot twine!”

Up spake he, mightiest at need:
“Call me a coward’s name indeed
If ever I wear a woman’s weed!”

Up spake Loki, Laufey’s son:
“Thor, with thy witless words have done!
Soon shall the Giants in Asgard reign
Unless thou win thine hammer again.”
On Thor they bound the veil so fair,
The Brising necklace did he wear;
They hung him with many a clinking key,
Let woman’s weeds fall to his knee;
Jewels broad on his breast did shine,
And neatly did they the topknot twine.
Then Loki, son of Laufey, said:
“I will go with thee as waiting-maid!”

The goats they harness by two and by one—
To the shafts they are shackled, well can they run!
Valley and hill burst into flame
When Odin’s son to the Giants came.

The King o’ the Giants did loudly call:
“Up now, Giants! strew the benches all!
See where the bride they bring adown,
Daughter of Niord, from Noa-town!

“Kine go here with gilded horn,
Oxen black my garth adorn;
Gold have I and goods galore—
For Freyja alone I long so sore.”

Evening fell on the blithe bridàle;
The Giants sat a-drinking ale.
The greedy spouse of Sif, he ate
Seven salmon, every cate
For the ladies spread, and a goodly steer—-
And he drank three tuns, his heart to cheer.

The King o’ the Giants, he up and cried:
“Never was known such a hungry bride!
Ne’er saw I lady so full of greed,
Nor maiden drink so deep of mead!”

Sitting apart, the wily maid
Answered what the Giant said:
“This se’nnight past no meat had she,
So fain she was to come to thee!”

He lifted the veil to kiss the bride,
And the hall’s full length he sprang aside:
“Why are her eyes so full of ire?
Methinks they are darting sparks of fire!”

Sitting apart, the wily maid
Answered what the Giant said:
“This se’nnight past no sleep had she,
So fain she was to come to thee!”

The Giant’s sister entered in,
Greedy a bridal-gift to win:
“Give me thy ring of red, red gold,
If thou my love wouldst have and hold!”

The King o’ the Giants, he up and cried:
“Bear in the hammer to hallow the bride!
To the maiden’s knees now Miöllni bring,
And Var shall hallow our hand-fasting.”

Deep in his breast laughed the heart of Thor,
When his hammer he held once more!
He slew the King o’ Giants, Thrym,
And all his race smote after him.
He smote the Giant’s sister old,
She who begged a gift of gold—
For pence, a pound was what she won,
And a hammer-blow for a gay guerdòn!

Thus back to his hammer came Odin’s son!

The main format for this particular poem is a form of quatrain (Watkins), due to its rhymed syllabic verse which uses letters, or the sound of those letters, to be similar with the next line.  These are generally sectioned off into four lines for each quatrain, but can end in different patterns of rhymes.  This particular pattern is an AABB quatrain, in that the first two line rhyme with each other, and then the remaining two lines rhyme with each other.

So for example, in the first four-line quatrain, we see:
When Thor awoke, his wrath was grim
To find his hammer gone from him.
He shook his beard, he tossed his hair,
The Son of Earth sought here and there.

At the end of the first line, “Grim” rhymes with the end of the second line, “Him”.  In the next set, “Hair” at the end of the third line rhymes with “There” at the end of the fourth line.

The phonetics of the poem are mostly normal.  In the third stanza, when the author speaks of the words initially spoken with Freyja, he uses the word “Spake” in order to rhyme with the prior line “Take”, which is a general play on words from what we’re used to in our common tongue.

There are also a few instances where the poem does not add up to your typical four-line quatrain, but instead they are divided into two stanzas for form in the general story.

In the 6th stanza, when Thor asks Loki what he has found out, the last three verses do not appear to follow the quatrain format at all, but I chock this up to still trying to follow the story.  So for this section, “Here”, “Elves”, and “Door”, are in position and throw off the rhythm from the rest of the poem.  This happens again in the 9th stanza and 14th stanza, but the rest of the poetry follows your typical quatrain format with rhythmic endings.

Theme-wise, this is a more diachronic formula as it relates to Indo-European poetry.  By diachronic, I mean less about the historical value and more about the evolution or structure of the poem.  The outcome is more predictable than what history normally dictates (which is not really predictable).  The loss of Thor’s hammer and the retrieval of it by a method that is either humorous or epic, such as the slaying of giants,  is a predictable evolution of the poem which is similar to how many old Indo-European poems were formulated.  Specifically, if you look at ancient Indo-European poetry or text that might have been built around mainly metaphoric references rather than not, depending on the language.

Gregory Nagy gives reference to this in his review of “Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford 2007)” when he mentions the varying stories and poems regarding the sun as a war-chariot (Nagy).  The term “wheel” in Indo-European languages as varied meanings such as to “run” (ret? in Italian), or “wheel” (rota in latin), and even “runs” (rethid in irish).  Because these words are so similar but not exact, we can assume this shining wheel in the sky may not actually be a wheel at all, but just a movement.  So much of what we view in ancient poetry could have been written or manipulated for the emphasis and integrity of the poem (such as slaying of giants) rather than a literal story.  Much of what we’ve read and how these poems evolve may just be our interpretation.

(Word Count: 595, not including poem bits)


Liturgical Writing 1, #1

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Describe how ADF’s order of ritual expresses the following concepts: “Serving the people”; “Reaffirming shared beliefs”; “Reestablishing the cosmic order”; “Building enthusiasm”. (Min. 500 words)

The ADF Core Order of Ritual provides so many wonderful liturgical opportunities, some that intermingle with each other and then others that have a specific purpose.

As far as “Serving the People”, we as Clergy (really all types of Clergy), don’t do this type of work for the glory or the amazing pay.  Mainly because there’s no glory, and right now there’s not any pay either 😀  So clearly there is a motivation behind what we do and why we do do it.  That main reason is to serve the people.  One of the functions we server through is our rituals.

Rituals are a great community activity.  It brings people together, gives the opportunities to give praise, appreciate the season, and receive blessings from the Gods.  Clergy have the training to be able to bring all of this together for them, do it well, and do it in a way that makes sense.  One of the biggest reasons behind ritual is to create a relationship with not only the season (I don’t necessarily mean agricultural seasons), but also with the Deities.  We act as a safe liaison in these instances for the people, and this is another way we server through ritual, whether it is through invoking deities or opening the gates while creating the cosmos, we are there to serve the people by creating ritual.

One of the larger tasks we as Clergy have in ritual is what is called “Reaffirming Shared Beliefs”.  This, in my mind, is about getting everyone on the same page.  We do this initially through the procession into ritual, where we all come together at the same time, with the same rhythm, and enter sacred space with good intent. We purify ourselves to remove any bad intent or distractions before entering sacred space (we often do this with incense that we all process through on the way to sacred space). We state the purpose of the ritual so all of those see and unseen are aware as to why we are there.  We meditate and center ourselves so our energy is all at the same level and not spiked in one direction or the other.  We also blend our energies together to create the cosmos and open the gates, every participant contributing his or her own “wyrd” to make these events happen in ritual, whether they necessarily know it or not.

Afterall, if the energy is consistent among the participants, than the energy raising, waning, and general flow of ritual remains consistent and you have a more productive output in the end.

If we dive further into ritual, we have the “Establishment of Cosmic Order”, another fun task for us Clergy.  To me this is the end of the beginning of ritual.  This is where we say “Alright, we’ve came, we’ve set up the gear, now lets get busy”.

When we establish the Cosmic Order, we are setting everything in place to do magical work.  To do this we need a location or “place” for this to happen, and this is our Sacred Center.  We create this Sacred Center by honoring the Well, the Fire, and the Tree, and opening them as gates between the three worlds, thus creating an axis of sorts that links us to the Ancestors of the Underworld, the Nature Spirits seen and unseen of this world, and the Shining Ones of the Aboveworld.

So now that we have everyone on the same page and created the cosmic order and everything is in place, we get to the meat and potatoes of the ritual.  This is my favorite part because the energy is raised so high you can’t help but feel some sort of endorphin rush from it.  This is what we call “Building Enthusiasm” in ritual.  We’ve done different tasks and ceremony to create the stage for this moment, and now we want everyone to be at their peak energy to create that cosmic link with the Deities.  We build up the momentum and then we push it upwards towards the Deities through our Praise Offerings.  As the energy continues, the Praise Offerings get more passionate and from the heart.

I personally have a method for contributing to the building of energy that I find very effective in ritual, and might contribute to an Oak Leaves article in the near future.  The method is through drumming, and through the course of ritual keeping a steady low rhythmic beat.  This beat will increase and get louder as we grow closer to the Praise offerings portion.  As people give their offerings and then offer a “Hail”, my rhythm suddenly gets crisp and loud in order to reinforce the “Hail” and then drops back down into the rhythmic beat to allow the next person to go. This process continues until the praise offerings are done and the final sacrifice is given.  At this point my drumming is generally at it’s most intense as the energies we send forth are accepted.  It continues as the omen is given and received, and then we receive the blessings through the waters of life.  All the while, rhythm is keeping everyone in sync and their energies high until I slowly work them down towards the end of the rite.

(Word Count: 873)


Liturgical Writing 1, #4

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Create a prayer suitable for the main offering of a High Day rite which includes invocation of at least one deity suitable to the occasion, description of the offering and its suitability to the occasion, and the purpose of the offering, totaling at least 100 words. Any stage directions necessary for performance of the offering should be included.

Queen Frigga you are the hand that guides the providers, you advise the order of the home, and you are the vanguard of hard work and responsibility. I offer you fresh raw milk, a representation of motherhood and nourishment. Please accept this gift and bless our community fires as well as our hearth fires so that we might strengthen our bonds and nourish our growth.

For this offering to Frigga, one of our main deities at Mabon this year, I chose Raw Milk, which is illegal in Maryland but legal to consume in Pennsylvania.  Since I was not consuming it (instead offering it), it seemed like an appropriate offering.

I chose raw milk for its representation of motherhood above all else, but also its aspect of nourishment.  This rite was about community building, tribal bonds, fertility, harvest, and personal responsibility.  All of these things either are or require nourishment of some sort, and where better to receive nourishment than from the bosom.

I offered the raw milk in a wooden bowl, so as to not pour it from the plastic bottle it originally came in.  I wanted something pure and meaningful to the aspects of Frigga that I was trying to honor.  Our Mabon rite this year was about invigorating our work over the next year, and honoring all the hard work and dedication over this last year.  We want to keep the hearth fires clean and vibrant, but also those fires we light within our community.

(Word Count: 247)


Liturgical Writing 1, #2

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Create a prayer of praise, offering, or thanksgiving to a deity modeled on a mythic, folkloric, or other literary source of at least 75 words. Include a summary of what your sources were and how you utilized them (summary at least 150 words).

Invocation to Frigga:
(Used Mabon 2013 that I led)

Lady Frigga, Queen of the Aesir and Wife of Odin

Protector of marriage and childbirth and Lady of the Marsh

You are the keeper of the home and those that tend the hearth fires

You and you alone can rival Odin in his wisdom, and like all good women, you may secretly be in charge, although he may not know it

From the deepest wells of knowledge, all-knowingFrigga, there is no tongue in which to tell, of all that is and that shall be

It is through your influence of love and divination that you help us keep our mundane lives in line with the spiritual.

Teach us what wisdom lies beyond the words of men.

Hail Frigga, Queen of Asgard!

This was then accompanied by a song to Frigga that was filched.


I’ve been working on teaching myself more of the Northern Lore, which is vast in its entirety, so resources are still being worked on in general.  Some knowledge through my work with the Great Valley Kindred in Hagerstown, MD has just been established over time.  A large portion of most Northern Lore obviously comes from the Edda’s, two pieces here which I reference from the Prose Edda by Sturluson.

Sturluson (Prose Edda) mentions in the beginning of the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning, which depicts the creation of the Norse Gods, that Frigga is seen as the Queen of the Aesir. Again this is common knowledge in the Heathen community, but this is a main source from where that knowledge comes from.  In the second part of the Prose Edda, the Skáldskaparmál, Sturluson quotes: “She will tell no fortunes, yet she knows the fate of men”. Frigga is shown here to have a deep knowledge of divination and prophecy, but she never reveals it.  This also lends to the thought process that Frigga rivals Odin in his wisdom, but also that perhaps she is a Goddess with more power than Odin thinks.  But again, since she does not reveal, it’s common sense to believe that she allows Odin to feel he is the big head honcho 🙂

Additional reference (Lindow) explains Frigga’s hall as Fensalir, otherwise known as “Marsh Halls”, hence the Lady of the Marsh.

In general, my invocations cover the most well known traits of deities with my own personal flare.  Since I base most of my choice on the Deities of the Occasion with the prayer I hope to accomplish as well as the season, this creates my “sacred trine” of ritual foundation that links the inner workings of the ritual together.  It’s something I’ve regularly instilled in all of my rites.   I suppose I should call it the “Trine of Ritual Foundation” to make it sound all official or something.

For example, Frigga is a diety very much associated with organization within the home, and what I like to affiliate as “personal responsibility”.  During this Mabon Rite, I really wanted to emphasize personal responsibility as it was our yearly “Thanksgiving Rite” where we wanted to give recognition for all the hard work done over the last year.  In addition, our prayer was to “Invigorate our Work”, and since Frigga is very much about hard work and taking care of your business, it was appropriate to honor her in a Rite dedicated to recognition, giving thanks, and invigorating us for the year to come.

(Word Count: Prayer: 182, Summary: 425)