This weekend will be the honoring of ancestors in all shapes in forms. In my Nordic/Northern European tradition we celebrate our male ancestors on Alfablót which lands on the full moon of Slaughter Month which happens to be on Halloween this year October 31st.
This full moon ceremony marks the start of Winter. Today as I write this there are many inches of snow on the ground. It truly seems as if our warm autumn day last Saturday has gone swiftly away and the waning light of winter is upon us.
Alfablót: The Elves Among Us
Alfablót- Alfr=elves, The Alfar or elves in the Northern European tradition are the souls of our dead male ancestors who continue to live on as nature spirits. In the Old Norse tradition, elves refer to many types of nature spirits. There are the light elves who led by the god Freyr helps things to grow on earth and live in the cycle of birth, life, death, and regrowth/rebirth. Freyr is the god of the elves in the realm of Alfheimer as well as the god of fertility. Where there is life there is also death. We see this balance often in Northern European traditions. Where a god or goddess is both ruler of life and death and then rebirth.
Underneath the earth are the dark elves such as dwarves, hidden folk, mound people, and then let’s not forget about the GIANTS who along with being ancient wise folk can also create their own forms of chaos and havoc.
On the land live the land spirits. Each house has their house elf, known as a tomte. They are called Nisse in Norwegian and Haltija in Finnish. We can find them in the trees around our yards, in rocks, or in burial mounds on or near our family farms. These land spirits protect our homes, gardens, barns, saunas (because you know I have a couple), and other outbuildings from the dangerous world that the darkness of winter can bring.
Near my great-great-grandparents house are many, many burial mounds. I always feel my ancestors very close to me when I visit there.
Now that I’ve explained who the Alfar are, now let me explain what a blót is. In the olden days, a farm animal would be sacrificed and its blood would have been offered to the Alfar during Alfablót. Today we are kinder. I myself, as well as many other practitioners, offer favorite food and drinks to some of our male ancestors.
Tradition and Practice
We make gentle and kind offerings to our male ancestors during Alfablót to acknowledge and honor that they too once walked the earth and our ancestral lands. We honor that they are still a part of us and are not only interwoven into the land and homesteads we share, both past and present.
We are at a place in the year which is on the threshold of the dark winter months. We ask for their kind protection and help during the dark and harsh winter months. Remember that North Europe has very harsh, dark, and cold winters.
Some of you may have noticed that I’m only acknowledging my male ancestors. What has happened to my female ancestors? I promise you they have two beautiful ceremonies and offerings of their own. Our female ancestors are known as Disir. We celebrate them during Yule Time as well as during the Disirblot in Spring.
Old Traditions in New Places
This year is my first year celebrating Alfablót in my new home in Santa Fe. There are several lovely crab apple trees in my garden. Under one of them, I have placed a stone as a place to hold my ceremonies and ancestor honoring. This year I have chosen some “usual” family favorites in the way of natural foods and drink.
May you remain well during the winter months to come. I wish you a very blessed Alfablót !!!
I will continue to post about my Northern European traditions as they unfold throughout the year.
In December I will be hosting a Reindeer Mother/ Ancestral Mother’s Night celebration on Zoom. Please put your name on my email list so I can invite you.