In the past few years, I’ve been writing about the Norse Pagan Traditions, feasts, Blóts etc. and I realised that I have never wrote a post to help people starting their blóts or at least giving a brief notion of how it is done. Some people have already asked me how to make sacrifices and offerings and I have always helped them, giving to them the knowledge that I have about that subject, but never occur to me that I could actually write a post about it and maintain even more people informed.
In the Hávamál there are at least two lines that ask if one knows how to bid (pray) and how to sacrifice.
I understand that so many have still a lot of difficulty with this kind of practice, no one has ever born with all the knowledge about these things. It takes time. We live in a world (nowadays) where these things are seldom taught, and there is still only a few who are willing to “waste” a bit of their time, to teach the eager ones.
Our society is so used to sit in some place, listen someone babbling about the subject, speak some words so often that starts to sound like a song, so well memorized that has no meaning whatsoever in our minds, toss money and that’s it, that we completely forgot how to actually worship the gods in our own way. The key to know how to Blót, is to know the way of personal worship. Worship the deities on our own isn’t easy and most of the time we don’t know were to start. However, there are several different “steps” one can take in order to build a structure that leads to the worship of the deities in a personal matter. I will write a brief “guide” for group worshiping, but you, whoever you are, will easily be able to modify that for individual practice.
Note that these are not instructions on how you must perform, just a general outline. You are completely free to perform accordingly with your community, your own group or your own customs. With time and practice, your knowledge and skills will grow and you will start to perform in your own way.
1- Consecrate, Sanctify (hallowing) the place, to make it sacred. This can be done in many different ways. Some people often carry fire around the ritual area accompanying it with the singing of a holy song or reciting a poem or a prose work. Some consecrate the area with ale or mead, invoking the land spirits to guard the place and help during the rituals. This is made when you haven’t been in the place before, or if you think that you will never come back there. It is actually to “mark” the area with what you will about to do. If you have your own place and if you have done it before in it, it is seldom needed to do it again in that specific place, at least by you. If a new member enters the community, this has to be done again to welcome the person into the area and into the group.
2- The next step is the “Calling”, the invocation of the gods, spirits or ancestors. Usually asking them with a prayer, to be present among you and your folk, to be present during the rituals. Invoking the gods by calling their names. You can write your own invocation, be that for the gods or for the specific Blót, or both of course. Whatever you might use to invoke the gods, or even if the group sings a song, none of these methods are a command, it is a mere invitation, they might come or not.
3- “Advice” and/or “Council”, is when the purpose of the gathering and the blót is explained and why the people are there and for what purpose the specific deities, spirits or ancestors have been previously called. It can ether be explained with ordinary speech or reciting a specific part of the lore. Reciting a myth, a story. The important thing is to explain the why of making the offerings and to whom they are being held.
4- Making the Offering. The blót is the worshiping of the holy powers and to make an offer to them. Now is the time to present the offerings and make them holy. It is the simple act of offering something to the gods, spirits and/or ancestors, and those become holy because they cross the veil between our world and theirs. Offerings can be anything of worth.
If you are making an offering of food, you might leave it out there to be eaten by animals, bury it or sink it into water like you would with physical goods. If you are using a libation as the main offering, you will likely want to pour it out on the ground or be poured into an offering bowl to be used in the Blessing later. It is very common to pass around a communal drink for ritual toasting and praise prior to pouring it out, like the horn filled with mead for example.