Rituals for Jötnar: Angrboda

Angrboda is one of the primary Rökkr—the mother of the Rökkr, in fact, to whom Loki is consort. By Loki, she is the mother of Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hel. She is known as “Mother of Monsters” and though there’s little textual evidence, she is frequently identified by practitioners as the unnamed narrator of the Völuspá, a völva who states that she is “born of giants.” She is also identified by practitioners and scholars alike as the old, unnamed woman in the Ironwood mentioned in Völuspá 40. She is also attested in Gylfaginning and Völuspá hin skamma, and her name means “The one who brings grief” or “she-who-offers-sorrow.”

Not much else is known about Angrboda from the historical record, and much of what is known about her to practitioners today is community and peer-confirmed gnosis, or otherwise extrapolated from what little is recorded about her. For instance, she’s very closely associated with wolves thanks to her parentage of Fenrir and, according to Gylfaginning, many other jötnar in the shape of wolves. Because of her identification with the völva, she’s often associated with witches and primal magic.

Loki’s Children by Emil Doepler

The combination of these two factors also often lends to her association with shape shifting, and she’s generally regarded as being a fierce, harsh, aggressive deity. Many report her to be difficult to connect and work with due to high and sometimes demanding expectations on her adherents. In a very literal sense she is a mother goddess, but she is a far cry from the New Age conception of the mother goddess that is so prevalent in more popular forms of paganism today.

Angrboda is one of my patrons, and it coming to work with her was a long and trying road. I’ve conducted one intensive community ritual for her in the past. That’s not the ritual I’m going to share here. It feels important to include a smaller, simpler ritual for her here so those who don’t have access or ability to perform longer and more physically and psychologically taxing ordeals.

Appropriate offerings for Angrboda include the classics: food, alcohol, milk, etc. Once you’ve selected your offering and the time and space for your ritual, prepare the space as best suits your practice and lay out your offering. Place your arms/hands in a position of reverence and begin:

“Hail Angrboda, She Who Offers Sorrow 

Hail Angrboda, Witch of the Ironwood

Hail Angrboda, Mother of the Wolf

Hail Angrboda, Mother of the Serpent

Hail Angrboda, Mother of Hel

Hail Angrboda, Consort of Loki

Hail Angrboda, She Who Brings Grief

Hail Angrboda, Foreboding

Hail Angrboda, Mother of Monsters…

Lift your offering above your head and say: “Angrboda, I call on you to receive my reverence, that these small and humble actions may uplift you. Angrboda, I call on you to receive this offering ______ which I bring to you to honor you. May it please you well, Angrboda of the Ironwood.”

Unable to find artist — if you know who the artist is, let me know so I can credit them!

If you’ve never called on or worked with Angrboda before, I suggest using this ritual as a means of simply introducing yourself to her, rather than necessarily asking anything of her. If this is your first attempt to work with Angrboda, take some time now to introduce yourself to her: Who are you and where do you come from, in a spiritual sense? What brought you to a pagan path from more mainstream spiritual and religious options? What is your interest and intent in working with/honoring the Rökkr and/or jötnar? What is your interest in Angrboda specifically?

If you’ve worked with Angrboda before but don’t quite have a working relationship with her, this may be an opportunity to request or attempt to initiate such a relationship if that’s something you desire or suspect you’d benefit from. If you have a working relationship with Angrboda, you may want to treat this ritual as an offering to her in exchange for any help or support you may have received from her in the past. Otherwise, if there’s something you want to ask of her, you may do so now.

For my part, I undertook this ritual with the express intent of simply paying back some small part of any debts I owe to Angrboda for the ways in which she’s worked with and helped me. I dedicated time to voicing these things and my gratitude for them before pouring out my offering of milk onto the earth in libation to her.

Unable to find artist — if you know who the artist is, let me know so I can credit them!

When you’re done, you may begin wrapping up your ritual. If you asked anything of Angrboda, take some time to divinate and journal on what you received. Deal with your offerings as is appropriate given your setting and practice.

Bow your head to the ground and stretch your arms out in front of you, placing your hands palms down. Ground out any additional energy you may have raised in the course of this ritual. Thank Angrboda for attending your ritual and receiving your reverence and offerings, and bid her fairwell.

Clear your ritual space in the way that best suits you and your practice, and don’t forget to have some snacks and water when you’re done!

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