“Bavarian Summer “ by Emil Rau

We have seen the Odinist methods of paying tribute to the dead through the Helfaring, but one more duty is placed upon the living in paying tribute to the dead. This is figuring out how to honor them after they have moved on and become revered ancestors. There are three ways that this can be done: through prayer/sumbel, through raising memorials, and through devotions. Each of these is a valid and fully attested way of remembering loved ones who have died, while all three can and should be utilized in memorium.

Prayer/Sumbel: Our people have prayed to their ancestors since the earliest times. In fact, Odin and his family are prayed to because they are our most ancient sires and thus represent the pinnacle of ancestor worship in Odinic tradition. Prayers to relatives were likely less formal than those addressed to the divine, since the former require poetic language and song (Galdur) to address them, while the latter would simply continue the conversations held in this life. At the sumbel, when the Minnihorn (also called Odinshorn, since he is the God of the Dead) is raised, this is the time to pray to them, declare your love for them, speak of their deeds, etc. Drink in their honor, libate to them, whatever you like—this round of the sumbel is devoted to the one you wish to remember, and how you do so is up to you.

Memorials: Odin tells us that "memorial stones seldom stand by the road, unless raised by kinsman to kinsman" (TAE LXXX.77). It is my belief that runestones were much more than simple stones to mark the deeds of dead relatives for passersby to see. Think about it—in a culture where cremation was common, and adventure was a mainstay, often there could be no place to honor the dead. If their ashes were cast into the sea, or they were interred in some foreign land, how could they be linked back to their homeland for worship or respects? Even if they had a grave or mound in the vicinity, it would not always be practical for the living to journey there. The answer to these dilemmas would have been runestones, which were not only memorials using runes to commemorate the dead, but were also shrines for honoring them. This makes sense considering the ancient necessity to have objects as central focal points for religious devotion. In any case, we can raise runestones or other memorials in remembrance of those we love who have moved on.

Devotions: A devotion is the performance of an action set aside for a specific sacred or religious purpose, in this case honoring the dead. Our ancestors exacted blood-revenge in some cases, founding our very ideas of justice, and of crime and punishment. One king swore not to cut his hair until he regained all of his father's lands, while others would undertake quests, name their children after the deceased, etc. all as devotions to the dead. One tradition that we can reconstruct is the use of the öndvegissúlur ("high-seat pillars) and the reginnaglar ("nails of the Powers [Gods]"). Utilizing the Eyrbyggja Saga, Glælognskvida, and Lappish traditions, we can see that poles were erected in which the people would drive nails using a whetstone, likely as a means of personal prayer and devotion. The pole is said to have an image of Thor carved into it, and the whetstone reminds us of the battle Thor fought with Hrungnir when the God had a piece of the Etins hone lodged into his head and thus comes the taboo that one cannot throw a whetstone across the floor, lest it hurt the defender of Midgard and God over our folk.
As long as we remember them, the dead never die; not in our hearts at least. I still have dreams of my Dad every now and then, and I always wake up feeling like something good has happened, and that he still watches over us. Your family is in your blood and in your memories, which can never be taken from you. Let the remembrance of the dead heal the wounds of sorrow, for this is why we drink from the Minnihorn. It mimics the potation offered to the deceased by Odin himself, which wipes away all past afflictions and sorrows. Let our love for them do the same for us here in Midgard as we honor them.
Death is the ultimate rite of passage, and as such is a necessary part of life. We must be prepared to take care of the dead and honor them in a way that truly befits them, while at the same time not fearing our own mortality. Leikn is a child of Chaos, who at the same time works for the order in the service of Urd. How can this be? Because death must happen. The old must be destroyed to make way for the new. This age must end so the next one can begin, and so continues the cycle of life. We will die, we must die, but this is only one stage of existence, allowing us to venture forth to other worlds and other lives so that we can continue our advancement. Our ancestors saw traveling to the realm of the dead as the greatest of adventures, and indeed it will be for those who partake in it. Nature always moves forward, even in decay, so we must move forward with it. This is an undeniable fact of reality.

One Response

  1. Howdy just wanted to ɡive you a quick heads up. The worԁs in your article ѕeem to be running
    off the scгеen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a format isѕue or somеthіng to do with browser compatibility Ƅut I figured I’d post to ⅼet you know.
    The layout looҝ great though! Hope yⲟu gеt the problem fixed
    soon. Ϲheers