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 The Asatru Ve

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Silver Wind
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Join date : 2007-07-18
Age : 36
Location : The Mists of Avalon

PostSubject: The Asatru Ve   Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:10 pm

There are probably as many modern theories of what an ancient Norse Ve or Hof (temple, holy place) looked like as there were ancient Norse temples. I've heard everything (with full scholarly accompanyment) from groves in the woods to constructed buildings which were the basis for the later Stave Churches of Scandinavia. In general, I think the multiplicity of descriptions indicates that people were of a wide and practical mind about what should be present in a temple and what form it should take. Our modern practice tends to reflect this.

The first distinction we might make in our modern practice is between altars that people have in their homes, and the setup of the rooms that we perform group rituals in. For rituals, we tend to use any place which is large enough to fit everyone into. For aesthetic reasons, we try to mask the normal use of the room, which in the past has included such things as covering the television set with a cloth and moving some of the more obtrusive furniture out of the room. The one other preparatory thing that I can't recommend highly enough indoors is to line the room with candles and get rid of any artificial lights. The darkness isn't an important part of the religious elements of the ritual, but it gets rid of a lot of distractions.

The altar itself is actually a rather simple affair. We usually commandeer a small table for this purpose. There's no specific setup for an altar in Asatru, other than it should look pleasant and hold all the implements you will need during the ritual. If you want to get fancy, you can symbols of the Gods, seasonally appropriate decorations, etc.

Other than whatever sanctification rite (hammer rite) you wish to do in order to consecrate your space, there's nothing else to be done: no squiggly Hebrew letters inscribed on the edges of a 9' circle, no alchemical elements or "quarter castings." The layout of attendees during one's rituals is determined by your space--there's no magical formula that requires a circle or any other shape. If the room is square, arrange people in a square. We tend to form up in a semi-circle with the altar in the front, and the Gothi and Valkyrie (person who pours the mead, and keeps an eye on the level in the horn) on either side of the altar.

Of course, whatever else one wishes to do to decorate ones ritual space is up to them. I know people who have decent sized statues of the Gods. Our kindred has a kindred banner (The Raven Banner!) which we usually hang behind the altar. Pictures of the Gods, statuary, etc are all appropriate.

When one is outside, other considerations come into place. I would not recommend doing ritual outside at night or in darkness, unless one has been at the site during the day and/or one is planning on spending the night. Getting to the site and setting up in the dark tends to take too much time and detracts from the overall experience. I highly recommend rituals at dusk, or if you can drag your kinsmen out of bed, at dawn. Holding a Balder-blot, and meditating on his loss and the temporal nature of life while watching the setting sun is a truly incredible experience. The best places to hold rituals tend to be in groves that are sufficiently mature for the shade to have killed off most of the ground vegetation (traditionally the continental Germans held their rituals in groves) or open fields where one can see the sky. Check that the space you have selected is reasonably flat and that if you plan on people sitting down that the ground is dry and without poison ivy. Unless you have a firepit, I don't recommend a fire--it's more trouble than it's worth. Forget candles and incense. These can be useful psychological aids indoors, but outside they look often look ridiculous--I'll never forget the ridiculous image of a Wiccan ritual I attended during which a person with utter seriousness and pomp carried a single stick of incense around the ritual site.

Most everyone I know who is a practicing Pagan of any type has some type of space set aside in their home for occasional honoring of the Gods. In some ways this may be a more important thing to concentrate on than the setup of your Ve for group ritual work because the form of your home altar takes the place of the ritual trappings found when working with a group. The major purposes of a home altar are to remind one of the place of the Gods in ones life, and to provide a convenient and regular place to make occasional offerings and prayers to the Gods.

Home altars tend to be very eclectic. In our home, we have the top of a bookshelf set aside with an altar holding our usual ritual tools, and a few candles. We have another friend who has no permanent shrine, but carries a statue of Thor in a small wooden box. One side of the box can be removed to display Thor, and under the God's seat is a small piece of lava taken from Thingvellir. It's not necessary to have all or any of the tools for the blot on ones home altar, unless one plans to perform full blots at it. Offerings in the home tend to be candles or incense; not traditional, but simple and part of our modern culture.

http://www.ravenkindred.com/Ravenbok.html

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