Thursday, 6 November 2014

Einherjar Day

Its often quite difficult to rekindle old traditions, that is of course if you can find a traditional from the old ways at all. The problems with a reconstructionist faith is that whilst the basics may be more or less laid down from historical accounts, the smaller customs are more or less left to the imagination.

How the Valkyrie plan on hauling him
out of the battlefield, I don't know. 
In an ideal world, we would try and weed out any of these old traditions by way of studying history and any lore that we have access to, but even that still leaves great holes in our way of life that in reality need filling with something. My argument, although not ideal, would be to start new customs wherever there is one of these holes. Anything that our young folk can carry forward into the future is a bonus, so long as the custom has a meaning, a story or moral to go with it.
I already wrote about the recent holy times we have recently witnessed through October. About the Winterfinding, Halloween and how Guy Fawkes night in the UK is likely a perversion of a Halloween fire rite. That is all past us, and now we approach another date in the British calendar which this year happens to fall on Sunday the 9th of November. That day is Remembrance Sunday.
Remembrance day today is there to mark and respect the Allied fallen in the two World Wars. This is of course a recent commemoration, although it is hard to imagine a time where nations and folk have not held some sort of vigil for their fallen warriors in the past.

Within the Heathen community, Einherjar Day has become a recognised holy day. (The Einherjar are those who have died in battle and joined Odin's hall in Valhalla.) Whilst there is no consensus within the 'Old Ways' (be it Asatru, Odinism etc) as to what this date should be, in the USA and the UK it seems most logical to place it at the time at which the rest of society marks the death of their soldiers.

This however means that we respect all of our folk, from all across Europe who have died in battle. From the first Saxon folk who took up arms against the Wīlisc defenders, to the Luftwaffe pilots who bombed London in WWII, to our young lads who served in the Middle East all the way up until the present day. To the Heathen mindset, there is no longer tribal differences between kin at Odin's hall.

I implore you then to remember the fallen, as all do at this time of year. Do not mourn though. Eat well, and raise a glass to them. Remember them as young men and women, prepared to risk their lives in the line of duty, and prepared to do battle once more in the twilight of the Gods.


Blódhláf: Or, if you prefer it, Blood Loaf.
Like all traditions, the best ones are ones which can be passed onto our young folk easily, and in a way in which they can remember easily too.

This is not in any way a tradition which I've picked up out of any book or any of our lore, but I'm prepared to share this as a great way of passing the meaning on to children. With my first child on the way, I'm already starting to think of things like this which can be used for future generations.

I came up with something I call blood loaf for the occasion. I'm not going to teach you how to suck an egg, so I won't include cooking instructions, but I will tell you what's added to make this special.

Instead of using all water to mix the flour into a dough, add beetroot purée (blend up some pre-cooked, vacuum packed beetroot into a paste.) Finally, after the loaf is in the bread tin and ready to go, add some poppy seeds on top.

The message is painfully obvious: The loaf is blood red to represent the blood lost in battle, the poppy seeds on top are of a more modern meaning, and are a nod to the 'Poppy Day' that is acknowledged now throughout many countries.

This particular loaf pictured above is made with spelt flour, so is much darker in appearance, but with ordinary white flour I'm sure the red colouring is much more prominent and striking.

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