The sacred procession, or Reið, is attested in several sources, and should be used as a means of transition from the festivity of the Leikr to the solemnity of the Blót. It is the time of meditation, of focusing on the cosmic forces at play and looking forward to the time of communication. It is the idea of travelling from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, where the Gods meet us at the point in-between. In this sense, it mimics the journey of the dead into Hel, and features of that faring should be considered in our earthly rite.
There are many devices that can come into play in developing the Reið, and each Veizla may have a different aesthetic. Every procession should involve the Skurðgoðar that watch over the Leikr, who will then be sacrificed to in the Blót. This creates a line of continuity that passes from one stage to the next as we seek to bring the divine into our realm. In order to carry these Skurðgoðar one must also have a sacred cart or Vagn upon which they are to be driven. This cart can then be pulled by holy animals that are procured for this purpose, and can be decorated with ribbons or flowers or whatever the season may call for. You should also use music to set the pace and tone of the procession, while certain chants can be employed during the walk.
The idea of a procession likely follows the principle of the cosmic movements of the stars, which were integral to the ancient polytheist beliefs. Following the constellations and alignment of the planets demonstrates a connection that we have to the sky above us. We have the names of some constellations and stars that have been passed down to us, such as Lokabrenna, Ǫrvandilstá, and Reið Rǫgnis. We can also find evidence for this in the terms Goðreið or “Ride of the Gods” found in Viga-Glums Saga ch. 21 regarding a meteor falling from the sky, or the word Goðvegr “God-Way,” found in Hyndluljóð 5, likely referring to the heavens. In this sense, it is likely that we can use the Second Merseberg Charm as a chant we can utilize in the Reið. The language is in Old High German, which could possibly be transliterated into other sacred languages as well:
Phol ende uuodan uuorun zi holza.
du uuart demo balderes uolon sin uuoz birenkit.
Phol and Wodan rode into the grove, There Baldr's foal sprained its foot.
thu biguol en sinthgunt, sunna era suister;
thu biguol en friia, uolla era suister;
thu biguol en uuodan, so he uuola conda:
sose benrenki, sose bluotrenki, sose lidirenki: ben zi bena,
bluot zi bluoda, lid zi geliden, sose gelimida sin.
It was charmed by Sinthgunt, her sister Sunna;
It was charmed by Frija, her sister Volla;
It was charmed by Wodan, as he well knew how.
like blood-sprain, Like limb-sprain: Bone to bone;
blood to blood; Limb to limb
like they were glued.
Sing this chant nine times during your Reið, creating a Galdr of healing and blessing over the folk as they proceed to the Blót area. It calls to mind the procession of Gods, when Baldr’s horse was injured and the Gods came together to heal him, to make him whole again and give him life. We can see this in the line uuorun zi holza, which connects to the Norrœn term holt, which is a holy grove.
We have seen the evidence for the Reið under the description of the Vagn, which can also be called a Reið. In that section one can see that there is evidence for processions for each of the Chief Gods in our pantheon: Þórr, Óðinn, and Freyr. It is important to note this, for these are the Gods the first two sections of the Veizla are dedicated to. In the final two days, the Blótar performed there are for blessings or Bjargar that protect us from the Nine Needs. We will be discussing this at length in the next section. The gathering and the events around them center on the host deities as the heads of the proceedings, the three Gods that overlook the yearly cycle and protect us from the forces of Chaos.
There is the account in the Flateyjarbók1 which describes the Reið in great detail as being connected to the Blót and Veizla. We cannot fully discern who the God Lýtir is, but we can hypothesize that he may be identical to Hœnir, since the name Lýtir is related to hlutr or “lot” and in Vǫluspá 63 he becomes hlautvið kjósa “he who chooses the lot-wood”:
At sumre lætr Æirekr konungr uæitzslu bua at Uppsolum. sidan lętr hann aka .ij. uognum til stadarins þar sem hann blotade þat god er Lytir het. var sa sidr at uagnninn skyllde standa um nott ok kom hann til vm morgininn. en nu kom Lytir æigi at uanda sinum ok er þetta sagt konungi at Lytir er nu ofus at fara. stod uagnn suo.ij. nætr at hann kom æigi. Þa tok konungr at fremia myklu meire blot en fyrr ok hinn þridea morgininn uerda þeir uarir vid at Lytir er kominn. er þa suo hofugr uagninn at eykirnir springa adr þeir koma med hann til hallarinnar. var sidan uagnninn settr a mitt hallargolf ok gek konungr þa at med horni ok fagnnade Lyti ok segir at hann uill drekka full til hans ok þikir nu myklu male skifta at hann radizst j ferdina ok kuetzst honum sem fyrr uæita mundu myklar giafir.
One summer King Eirekr had a Veizla made at Uppsalir. Then he had two wagons driven to the place where he performed Blót to the God called Lýtir. It was customary for the wagon to stand there during the night and for the God to come in the morning. Now Lýtir did not come as he usually did, and the king was told that he disliked to do so. The wagon stood for two nights and he did not come. Then the king began to offer much greater sacrifices than before, and the third morning they became aware that Lýtir had come. Then the wagon was so heavy that the horses fell dead from exhaustion before they could pull it to the hall.
The wagon was then put on the middle of the floor of the hall, and the king walked to it with a horn, and welcomed Lýtir, and said, he wanted to drink to him and was very anxious that he should undertake the journey, and that he would give him large gifts as before.
In considering the Reið it is important to note the connection to the Helreið, which is the procession of the dead to Hel. There is a heroic poem, Helreið Brynhildar, that denotes the Reið as both the cart in the procession of the dead, and the journey. There Brynhildr rides on her Reið or wagon, in which she enters into a discussion with a Giantess. Since so many elements of what we are doing revolves around concepts concerning the dead, it is only fitting that such a relationship is seen.
The sacrificial procession is therefore the same as the funeral procession, as both have the same goal in mind: to reach the place of the Gods and communicate with them and the ancestors.
- Excerpt from Æfinrúnar book 1