On August 21st, 2016, nearly fifteen people gathered in the lengthening shadows of the Colorado Rockies late on a glorious summer day. We came representing various tribes and paths. There were heathens, druids, and my wife, who could best succinctly describe her spirituality as “Polytheist-it’s complicated.” We had come to this newly purchased lot of land in order to perform a land claiming ceremony. Land claiming is a well-established part of Heathen life. We have literary evidence for it in the Sagas, with some of the best examples being from “Landnamabok”. It is the ritual use of fire to make a claim on land, and it seems to have held both legal and religious significance. The “A Heathen Thing” blog has a good write up on the subject at http://odin.heathenthing.org/?page_id=109 for anyone interested.
Land Claiming Ritual for the Windsong Foundation
Once it was clear anyone coming was present, we distributed candles and torches to each person, while several of us had bells, and one a bodhran. We started our procession to each of the symbolic four corners of the property. The property is thirty-six acres so I believe a decision had been made early on to use these symbolic corners to save everyone quite a hike. Previously there had been a private ceremony of propitiation in which people circled the property counter-clockwise and made offerings asking the spirits not to harm us. This public ceremony was clockwise and offerings were made asking the spirits for goodwill, with the hope of alliances being formed.
The leader of the ceremony carried a hammer to symbolize Mjolnir and the next in line carried a pole from the land that will become one of the god-poles watching the property. The bells were rung, the drum beat, and the fires carried.
At each of the four locations, the procession stopped, and while people chanted and asked for the spirits’ attention and well-wishes, we made our offerings of fruit and flowers;
tobacco, honey, and cream.
At the fourth spot, the leader of the procession asked for the land-wights’ blessings and offered up acknowledgment that the early settlers here had treated the land badly. It was refreshing to hear someone speak frankly and honestly to the debt we owe the spirits. This was a moment of frisson for me, and I’m quite sure the spirits heard these words.
That was the end of the land claiming ceremony. From there, we all made our way to the area that will be the future hof, where a single round of symbel was held. Just as we finished the last toast, the first thunder of the day pealed. An auspicious omen I’d say.
After which we settled down to eat, drink, and build relationships between us.
The final activity of the day was a viewing of the future site for the main hörgr where we were asked to each gather a rock to begin its construction.
I am not a joiner. I’m introverted and usually quite happy to spend my time with my wife. However, over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a group that is walking their talk and accomplishing something for polytheists instead of the endless bickering and back-biting that far too often plagues our communities.
If you’re interested in learning more about the people or purpose behind this ritual, please vist The Windsong Foundation https://www.facebook.com/windsongfoundation/ which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and continuation of polytheistic practices. The land will soon be available for polytheists, heathens, druids, and others to use for ritual and spiritual purposes.
All photographs contained in this post are used with the express permission of Charlotte Harloff, owner and photographer at http://shutterbugsperspective.com/
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