Álfblót - A Hallowed Heathen Night
Updated: Apr 18
Álfblót is a historic Heathen night that falls on November 19, 2021, during the full moon. It's part of a series of pre-Christian festivities that includes Vetrnætr, Jól, Sígrblót and Disting.
The timing of Álfblót is estimated based on attestations from the historian and English monk Béde. In his De Temporum Ratione, chapter 15, he mentions a blót during the Blotmonath (Old English for Blood Moon) where animals would be sacrificed for the gods. Blodmanoth (Saxon for Blood Moon) is also mentioned as a time in November in the Essen Necrology.
Furthermore, the scholars Steinsland & Sorensen mention Álfblót was during the Swedish Moon "GorManuthr" (meaning blood moon), which happens after the full moon of Vetrnætr.
All together, we can assume Álfblót was observed on the full moon of November, but how was it celebrated?
The Austrfararvísur (verses 1-6) hints that this celebration may have involved a celebration for the ancestors. It states travellers seeking shelter from a very hospitable town were turned away during a hearth-only celebration. At this time, no one from outside the family is welcome to participate in a private practice.
Another mention comes from the Kormáks Saga. It tells us that a celebration around this time of year is a hallowed night intended to be a sacrifice to elves who have a connection to their ancestors.
I have been waiting for a good time to introduce this: The Swedes are believers in fairies, elves and trolls. It may sound crazy to the western world, but it is a cultural norm in many northern European countries.
Historically not much is said about Álfblót except what's included in the sources above. Although I won't be inviting anyone into our home for this, I will share information on how we will be practicing.
To start my UPG practice: My mother (son's Mormor) would say it is the time of year the veil between us and the afterlife is thinnest, and it is a time of year you can talk to your dead ancestors. She also mentioned, "During the full moon of October, elves dance over mounds with the dead under the moon's full light." How magical! The Kormáks Saga also mentions a mound, so maybe it's my mom's retelling of this story, although likely unaware of the original source.
So what is the Hartman home doing for Álfblót?
Unfortunately, we've recently lost a cherished grandfather. He is my husband's Opa and my son's Uropa. He will be honoured with my Mormor and my husband's Nanny (our grandmothers).
We will start our afternoon with a ham (traditionally boar) and harvest dinner. Three extra plates will be set out for the ancestors we are honouring. We will toast them by pouring some of our drinks into their cups and begin drinking and feasting. A candle will be lit on each of their plates to symbolize the light of their lives.
Together we will set up pictures of our ancestors with a candle lit for each.
Once dusk falls and our little Heathen is asleep, we will light a fire and toast our ancestors; We will talk all night about the memories we have with them and what we loved most.
As my son gets older and joins us, we will include him in the fire celebration while we talk about our ancestors, from the ones we remember to the ones who left a mark. We will explore our genealogy charts and stories with him and give him a sense of connection with his lineage. For us, the smaller and more intimate events are the ones that hold the most meaning. Still, for many members of the Heathen community, this is a significant celebration that requires sacrifice.
What is your family celebrating during this time of year? What are you planning to do? Please share them in the comment section. I would love to get to know you and your family better. Sincerely,