Wednesday, 15 October 2014


It's getting to that time of year once more, past the equinox and into the darker times. This time of year to our ancestors was a very holy time, and it's relevance still echoes today in more modern life, although we may not always see it.

Winterfylleþ was our Anglo-Saxon ancestors word for 'winterfinding'. As you may gather from the timing of this post, it occurred each year in what is now the month of October and it traditionally marked the start of the winter period at the October full moon.
This whole month (and the beginning of November) is a time of remembrance and honouring of our ancestors, giving thanks to their lives and memories, and a time to reflect on our own lives.

Lets just take a look at a few modern day continuations of our ancestors beliefs:

You would be right in thinking that Halloween today encompasses these themes, but from my Heathen perspective the Halloween that we see today is quite an affront to the original in-depth meaning. Halloween today is more of an amalgamation of European ancestor tribute with Latin American influence in there for good measure. Halloween's re-discovering in the last few decades is nothing more than an American import to the rest of the World, and it's simply there to sell novelties and sweets.
When you really think about it, todays consumer-based attitude to all religious festivals is bad enough, but the Halloween period happens in my opinion to be the worst of all. The idea of profiteering off of a festival that is meant to be for remembering loved ones who have passed on just seems wrong to me.
The Christian church also took the Halloween period and incorporated it into the church calendar all across Europe. All Souls Day in England is not considered a major festival, but essentially it is simply a Christian version of the older Pagan festivals that had preceded it.
In the UK of course we have Guy Fawkes night, when a 'Guy' (an effigy of Guy Fawkes) is symbolically burnt upon a bonfire. Officially this is meant to commemorate the thwarting of the 5th of November bomb plot on Parliament, however it doesn't take a genius to realise the timing of this is far too coincidental. Bear in mind that at the time of the bomb plot, there was a serious puritan ideology within Government that even outlawed some aspects of Christmas celebration (which may explain the bomb plot in the first place.) Parliament in 1605 in the aftermath designated the "Observance of 5th November Act 1605," and from then on bonfires were burnt to celebrate the death of a terror suspect. Seems daft to think that this wasn't simply a case of changing the meaning of an already existing custom though.
Finally, we have remembrance day every year in Commonwealth countries where we remember our fallen soldiers during the wars. Whilst the date set for remembrance day could be entirely coincidental, it is pretty strange how it coincides so well with the themes for the time of year. As such, many heathens today celebrate the 'Feast of the Einherjar', around about the time that remembrance day is observed.

Winterfinding Blot

Lantern and the full October moon rising behind.
So on the night of the full October moon, the sky was clear and although quite cool, was a perfect setting for a woodland blot by my lonesome.

I headed down to a small woodland that acts like my own personal hearth with nothing more than a candle lantern for light and a bottle of decent dark ale. Walking down the single track lane in the dark, holding out a lantern with a jumper hood up, I couldn't help find the funny side when a passing cyclist seemed rather bemused (scared) of what he was seeing.

Easing my way into the woods over a ditch with nothing more than a candle to find my way was a little tricky, and with some stumbling about tripping over leaf litter and bits of branch, I finally made my way to the foot of the largest tree in the small wood. The tree incidentally is that of a great old Oak, surrounded by Horse Chestnut.

Falling over my words at first, I eventually gave thanks and honoured the ancestors, thanked the Gods for blessings that I currently have in my own personal life, and made commitments to my own family in front of the Gods and my ancestors. The beer came out and was again offered to the Ancestors and the Gods.

Thereafter, I sat quietly for a while, wondering whether anyone up there would have a message for me in return. A minute or so later, sitting in the peace and quiet, my eyes now adjusted to the moonlight seeping through the browning foliage above, I caught glimpse of something bright moving at speed through the woods. It was as bright as a torch, and roughly the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Something had sent a message after all. I took it to be either a land Wight or perhaps the spirit of someone who had come to give me re-assurances, but whoever or whatever it was, it was certainly good timing. Satisfied I returned home.

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