Æfinrúnar Part 5: Veizla
The Veizla or “Festival” is a sacred gathering that brings the folk together in a way that allows them to celebrate their culture and participate in communion with the divine. The idea is that each festival contains various rites and traditions meant to increase the luck or fortune of the gathered as they progress throughout the year. There are three Veizlur that we have from our sources, for we are told by Óðinn himself that this is to be the case, as we see in Ynglingasaga ch. 8, under the four laws. Here he tells us “On Vetr there should be Blót for a good year (árs), and at Miðvetr for a good crop (gróðrar); and the third Blót should be on Sumarr, which is the Sigrblót.” These three festivals are respectively Vætrnóttum (“Winter Nights”), Jól (“Yule”), and Sumarmál (“Summer Meal”). We will discuss the dates of these celebrations below.
The Veizla is broken into three parts: The Leikr, which is the festivities, the Reið, or procession, and the Blót, or sacrifice. These three sections of the gathering can be proven as integral to the function of both social bonds and religious worship. In fact, so integral was the Veizla to the religion that it was also called Blótveizla, and was seen as culminating the gathering with devout reverence and a recognition that the Gods were the most important guests of the event. In fact, when the Gods themselves feast, this is called Veizla as well, such as when they held their gathering at Ægir’s hall:
We can also see the term used when describing the Blót and Sumbl, which are the most sacred ceremonial rites we perform throughout the year:
It was an ancient custom (Forn Siðr), when Veizla was to take place, that all the farmers should attend where the temple was and bring there their own supplies for them to use while the banquet lasted. At this banquet everyone had to take part in the ale-drinking. All kinds of domestic animals were slaughtered there, including horses, and all the blood that came from them was then called hlaut, and what the blood was contained in, hlautbollar, and hlautteinnar, these were fashioned like holy water sprinklers; with these the altars were to be reddened all over, and also the walls of the temple outside and inside and the people also were sprinkled, while the meat was to be cooked for a feast. There would be fires down the middle of the floor in the temple with cauldrons over them. The toasts were handed across the fire, and the one who was holding the banquet and who was the chief person there, he had then to dedicate the toast and all the Blót-meat; first would be Óðinn’s toast—that was drunk to victory and to the power of the king—and then Njǫrðr’s toast and Freyr’s toast for prosperity and peace. Then after that it was common for many people to drink the bragafull. People also drank toasts to their kinsmen, those who had been buried in mounds, and these were called minni. Jarl Sigurðr was the most liberal of men. He did something that was very celebrated: he held a Blótveizla at Hlaðir and stood all the expenses. –Hákonar Saga Góða ch. 14
During autumn (haust) at the Vætrnóttum there was a Blótveizla at Hlaðir, and the king attended. Previously, he had always been accustomed, if he was present where sacrifices were being offered, to take his food in a small building with a few of his men. But the farmers objected to him not sitting on his throne when the principal entertainment was taking place. The jarl said that he should not do that then. So it was, that the king sat on his throne. And when the first toast was served, Jarl Sigurðr announced it and dedicated it to Óðinn and drank from the horn to the king. –Hákonar Saga Góða ch. 18
Twelve men are the ones who plead for the feasts; and now Ölvir has to keep up the Blótveizlas, as he is now doing a great deal of work at Mærin, and all the goods needed to have the Veizlur are brought thither. – Ólafs Saga Helga ch. 115
To the Hof should all men pay a toll and be bound to follow the Hofgoðar just as now the þingmenn follow the chiefs. But the Goði must uphold the hof at his own charges, so that it should not go to waste, and hold therein Blótveizlas. –Eyrbyggja Saga ch. 4
This blood was to be sprinkled over men and animals, and the animals that were given in sacrifice were to be used for feasting when Blótveizlas were held. –Kjalnesinga Saga ch. 2
We see in the above account in Hákonar Saga Góða (ch. 18) that the Vætrnóttum or Winter Nights is counted among the Blótveizlas, and we also see the term Jólaveizla, which refers to Jól and the midwinter celebration. The third Veizla is the Sumarmál or Summer-Meal, which we shall examine.
There was great friendship between the brothers and Vigfús and had each winter a Jólaveizla with each other and the brothers should now expect a Jólaveizla. –Viga-Glums Saga ch. 3
Now people came to the Jólaveizla, and those who were to sit together were told off in messes of twelve. Lots were cast to see who should sit next to Astríða, the daughter of the chief Vigfuss, and Eyjólf always drew the lot for sitting by her side. No one observed that they talked together more than other persons did, but still men said that it was fated to come about in that way that he should marry her. The Veizla came to an end, after being celebrated with great splendour, and the guests were dismissed with gifts. –Viga-Glums Saga ch. 4
From the Jól gathering we can see the declaration that the Veizla was held for three nights, which we shall observe as part of the calendrical system this relates to. The idea is that there are three Veizlur, each being three nights long, with a different Blót on each night. That is the holy calendar of our polytheist ancestors:
He made it law that observance of Jól should begin at the same time as Christian people observed Christmas, and then everyone was to have a measure of ale, or else pay a fine, and keep holiday as long as the ale lasted. But previously observance of Jól began on midwinter night and continued for three nights. –Hákonar Saga Góða ch. 13
The overall idea of the Veizla seems to be that the celebration connects us to the holy number of nine in various ways by having nine days of gathering throughout the year and offering nine or multiples of nine in our nine Blótar. These convey Nine Blessings or bjargar, which counteract the Nine Needs, as we shall see. In truly developing the holy calendar and Blót cycles, we can return our people to the true ways of our ancestors, with an intact system that stretches throughout the religious construct that was seen as divine amongst the ancients. In order to do this, we must examine exactly what that system was, and how we can apply it in our modern era.
-Excerpts from ÆFINRÚNAR, book 1, Part 5