Årsgång – The Yearly Walk

This video will be about the divination method called Årsgång, from Swedish folk traditions. Enjoy it and stay safe out there!

In Swedish folk traditions, particularly within Trolldom, specific times of the year are auspicious to obtain magical power and/or magical gifts. Sometimes performing a ritual at a particularly powerful time of the year is enough to obtain magical power, and that is what the practice of Årsgång (yearly-walk) is all about: to obtain magical power, by deliberate circumambulation of a church or home, a practice known as “Walking the Year’s Walk” (sw: att gå årsgång). Årsgång consists of the circumambulation of a building or area in a prescribed manner, after which divinatory or healing powers were bestowed. The procedure of walking or running counter-clockwise about the church or home in order to see portents in the windows afterwards was a common method of divination. It was common that on some portentous day, someone with the requisite fortitude ran a prescribed number of times counter-clockwise around the house or the church in order to know of future events. As Gustaf Ericsson writes, walking once around the house was sufficient to determine who of the household would not live out the year: “On Christmas Eve, you go counter-clockwise around the house, and when you’ve gone one circuit, you stand still and look in through the window then everybody is sitting and eating dinner. Then, if anyone appears headless, then it’s certain that he’ll due within the course of a year. To be even more certain, three people should secretly take counsel and each go his own way. But there are few who dare to experiment with such doings.” The ritual of walking the years walk was usually performed at midnight on special holidays such as Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, or Maundy Thursday in Holy Week. Sometimes the vision of the future was only fleeting, and normal vision returned relatively quickly, but at other times, the effect on the seeker was more permanent, and endowed him or her with an ongoing gift to divine futures, illnesses and cures.

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