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  • Writer's pictureSara Ault

Jera and the Cycle of Ceremonies

Six months ago, we entered our ritual circle to a drumbeat that pulsed like a heartbeat. It was Winter Nights, and there was a chill to the air. The pine trees were stark silhouettes surrounding us. The bonfire was blazing – and Freya and the Disir were called through the quivering veil. Gifts exchanged and runes taken.

For Hexennacht, those same holy women were on my mind all day. In my morning workshop on “Hex Art & Magic,” we reviewed the Elder Futhark and imagery that is seen, and sometimes “unseen,” in hex art. We know these designs are inspired by our Folk-soul, even when painted by ardent Christians.

Our Ladies’ Chat had the added pleasure of a baby shower hosted by our own Óðinshof group, Daughters of Frigg. Fertility of the season was personified in the gifting to Caitlin’s new arrival, due in late May.

During that time, I spoke on the background of this day of celebration, and our particular role in it. Weare not women of the 10th, 14th, or 18th centuries, but of the 21st. As such, our interpretation and expression of this day is “just right” for us.

Contrary to the darkness of Winter Nights, this ritual took place in the glorious late afternoon. The turning of the seasons was evident in the new growth and emergence of spring flowers. Though we would again invoke the blessings of our Lady of the Vanir and our Mothers, this time it was with dynamic energy of the returning sun to further our own goals and needs, to bring forth the fertility of the body, mind, and spirit. Remember in March when felt the change as Ostara opened the window to the bright and healing nature of Springtime?

Leading up to this day, Folkbuilder Olivia Sutherland and I had discussed the need to gather herbs to generate a cleansing smoke during the traditional ritual based on the old English “Nine Herbs Charm.” Olivia came through for us with our own variety of herbs cut fresh from her garden. Foot-long sprigs of rosemary, lavender, thyme and lemon-thyme were placed in a basket and carried to each person during the ritual. With hands cradling the basket, each inhaled deeply the pungent aroma as I asked them to recall a time they had experienced those smells in the distant past.

Then, with a sudden toss, the herbs were thrown into the fire. Crackling and smoking, I invited all to step forward to receive the blessings of that smoke. I stepped within the close circle and made many sweeps around the firepit, pushing the smoke over the assembled folk with my handmade wooden broom. I came away thinking that this was a rite I had for the Folk done long, long ago. It felt so natural.

Remembrances of our Mothers, and offerings to Freya, each person set a personal intention during the ceremony. Freya’s blessings were asperged to the Folk, and holy mead sprinkled over the open box of runes. That would be our “seiðwork” for the day. She, who exchanged her knowledge of other-world mysteries with Óðinn would surely be able to bless our runes.

May all learn from the runes they drew, and use them in right accordance to their needs. As the yearly cycle continues, the rede of the rune should manifest.

Gythia Sheila McNallen


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