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.
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.”
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.
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!
Angeyia is attested in Song of Hyndla 37:3, Gylfaginning, Heimdalargaldr, Skáldskaparmál, and Völuspá hin skamma. She is listed as a one of the nine mothers of Heimdall with her sisters Gjalp, Greip, Eistla, Eyrgjafa, Ulfrun, Imd, Atla and Jarnsaxa. The meaning and origin of her name is unknown but some possibilities include ‘harasser’, ‘bark’, and ‘of the narrow island.’
Some scholarship links the nine mothers of Heimdall with the nine daughters of Ran and Aegir, otherwise known as the nine waves, as both sets of women are described as nine jötunn sisters. Some scholars point out that the names of these two sets of women don’t match,1 while others point out that the mismatched names may just reflect two differing traditions about Heimdall’s parentage.2
Nothing else is known about Angeyia from the lore, so there’s no other hard evidence we can use to support either interpretation. There are plenty of modern heathens who believe Heimdall’s nine mothers to be the same as the nine daughters of Ran and Aegir, but as knowing for certain isn’t possible, it’ll be up to you to suss out what you believe on the matter. This small ritual to honor Angeyia could be a good opportunity to ask her input on the matter.
With little information to go on, it’s good to fall back on our staple safe offerings: alcohol or food. Once you have selected your offering and a time a place for your ritual and you’re ready to get started, set up and open your ritual space in whatever way suits you and your practice. Be sure to have a journal, writing utensil, and your favored divination tool at hand. Kneel over your offering, head bowed and hands/arms in a position of reverence and say:
“Hail Angeyia, One of Heimdall’s Many Mothers
Hail Angeyia, Mysterious of the Nine Jötunn Maids
Hail Angeyia, Sister to Atla and Eistla
Hail Angeyia, Sister to Eyrgjafa and Imðr
Hail Angeyia, Sister to Gjálp and Greip
Hail Angeyia, Sister to Járnsaxa and Ulfrún
Hail Angeyia, Magni’s Auntie
Hail Angeyia, Sister to the Slain of Thor
Hail Angeyia, Of the Narrow Island…
“Angeyia, I call on you to receive my reverence, that these small and humble actions may uplift you. Angeyia, I call on you to receive this offering ______ which I bring to you to honor you. May it please you well, Angeyia of the Jötnar.”
Here you may wish to ask Angeyia to share information about herself with you, in particular clarifying her relationship to the nine waves, if any. If you wish to do this, ask your question(s) and meditate or otherwise sit in receptive mindfulness as I’ve described in other rituals. Do so for at least five minutes. If you receive any impressions or messages, take a moment with your divination tool to confirm that these were from Angeyia. If/when you feel confident these messages were truly from Angeyia, take time to write them down in your journal.
Once you’ve taken the time to meditate, divinate, and jot down any notes, you can begin to wrap up your ritual. Bow, placing your forehead and palms to the ground, and ground out any extra energy that may have been raised through the process of doing this ritual as one last offering. While you’re doing this, thank Angeyia for joining you to receive your offerings and reverence. Bid him farewell, and rise.
Now close and clear your ritual space in whatever way best suits you and your practice. Don’t forget to take time after to hydrate and snack!
The following is UPG and should be taken with as large a serving of salt as you feel comfortable doing.
When I inquired about any connection to the nine daughters of Ran and Aegir, I received an emphatic “No” and the impression of stark, rocky mountain points against the blue sky. The message was fairly clear, even if I couldn’t catch all the words accompanying it: “We are of [mountain stone and sky]. The place where the mountain meets the sky—that is where Heimdallr was born.”
Curious if I could find other connections, I inquired for any other names of family members and was given another resounding no, this time with, “You do not have [their names] in your head. That is all.”
1Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer
2Lindow, John (2002). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press.
This list is something of a work in progress and though I have endeavored to make it as comprehensive as possible, pulling from multiple sources, I have little doubt I’ve missed some jötunn somewhere — especially as not everyone can even agree on which entities are jötnar or which are dwarves, or which are Æsir.
This list will be updating as I continue to research and write rituals for certain individuals. Names will likely be added and subtracted with time, and hopefully by the time I finish writing the rituals this list will be more or less complete.
Ámgerðr is a jötunn attested in Nafnaþulur under the section “Tröllkonur” or “Troll-Wives.” This is a feminine name derived from Old Norse Ámr and gerd. Ámr means “black,” “loathsome,” “reddish brown,” and/or “dark.” Gerd, as many are already familiar with, means “enclosure” or “protection.”
Thanks to the Nafnaþulur, we have lists of many jötnar (also sometimes called thurses, trolls, or etins) who we have no additional stories or even kennings for. We know that many stories of entities whose stories weren’t widespread, who weren’t widely popular, or who otherwise didn’t play a major role in the primary “canon” of what would come to be known as the Viking religion (despite the fact that Scandinavia wouldn’t have had a universal or monolithic religion) have been lost.
Because of this, I do err on the side of assuming that the names presented in the Nafnaþulur record all that is left of deities and spirits who may have had regional but not geographically wide-spread importance, who may have played smaller roles in forgotten myths, or whose minor roles may have been edited out of surviving myths for the sake of simplicity. It is known that the regional variation and nuance of beliefs throughout pre-Christian Scandinavia was not preserved in the written record as Christianity spread, so it seems safe to assume that the memory many, many spirits, deities, and other entities were similarly not recorded.
However—because some of the names listed provide so little context, and the greater context for the Nafnaþulur is of a list of name for various things, including gods and giants, that can be used in poetry, there are some which, due to the etymological similarities to others, I will assume are more adjective than name, such as Ámr, which is listed among the names of giants but is functionally identical in meaning to others listed such as Alsvartr. So bear with me, it’s a bit of a bumpy ride.
As is the case with almost all of these entities, with Ámgerðr we’re working strictly with what the etymology can tell us. The clearest part of that etymology is the aspect of enclosure or protection—she was likely associated with closed in places, just as Gerdr is associated with walled gardens. It’s safe to say that Ámgerðr is additionally associated with darkness or blackness of some variety—this could be a description of her complexion or it could be a reference to the kind of enclosure she’s associated with. Because Ámr has connotation of loathsomeness or unpleasantness, this could refer either to a location or type of enclosed space or to the personality of the jötunn in question.
I’m disinclined to believe “loathsome” necessarily refers to a character quality of Ámgerðr for a couple of reasons. It’s easy to imagine an enclosed place to be “loathsome” in nature. A dark, dank cave comes to mind, as does any form of imprisonment. In addition to this, however, the sagas on occasion do describe people—though typically men—of dark complexion, and tend to describe them as being rather physically unattractive. It’s important to note here that this isn’t portrayed as defining of their character, as these same individuals may be described as attracting plenty of praise, status, and romantic and sexual attraction as a result of their social status or accomplishments. So while the Norse did have ethnocentric beauty standards, their conception of race doesn’t appear to have been used as a reflection on the character or quality of individuals.1
For these reasons I lean toward interpreting Ámr here to reflect on something of a physical nature rather than character. The following is entirely speculative and should not be taken as hard fact: Ámgerðr may have been seen as a woman who was kept in a dark and unpleasant enclosed space of some kind, or who preceded over an enclosed space. She may or may not have been envisioned as someone of darker complexion. Without projecting modern American concepts of race onto the situation, it may be possible to imagine Ámgerðr as being associated with slaves or thralls, living in unpleasant, cramped, and dark living conditions.2 The conception of the class of thralls by Heimdall under the name Rig is described in Rígsmál, and the child who in this story is the the first of the class of thralls is described as “swarthy” or “dark.” So, though slaves and thralls were not determined by the color of their skin, and plenty of slaves in Viking and pre-Viking eras were just as white as the people at the top of the social hierarchy, it may not be too far a stretch to consider that “dark” in Ámgerðr’s name could carry with it an old social stereotype along these lines as well.3
I will remind you that all of this is my speculation based on my research and inferences. If any of this doesn’t feel correct to your own intuition, feel free to disregard it. At this point in our history, we don’t have Ámgerðr’s stories and lore, and no one person can claim to definitively know more about her than what little can be gleaned from her name.
That said, the ritual I’ve designed here rests on these inferences and my intuition. Please feel free to modify accordingly if your intuition tells you something different about Ámgerðr—these rituals are designed to be easily modified, and I encourage you to follow your intuition if it takes you in a different direction than mine.
As with all of these jötnar whose stories have been lost to us, I suggest a safe offering of mead, beer, wine, or liquor. If for any reason any of these aren’t available or safe for you personally, substitute simple buttered bread. This has a strong metaphorical resonance of nourishment and sustenance, and so makes another safe option for just about any entity. You can also easily jazz it up with extra add ons or “toppings” if you want.
Choose a space and time for your ritual, prepare your offering, and you’re ready to go. When the time comes for your ritual, clear and set the ritual space in whatever way best suits your needs and practice. Be sure to have a journal and pen or pencil, as well as your divination tool of choice, on hand. To begin the ritual, kneel over the offering, head bowed, and place your arms/hands in a position of reverence. Say:
“Hail Ámgerðr, Named Among Listings of Troll-Wives
Hail Ámgerðr, Whose Stories are Forgotten
Hail Ámgerðr, Whose Meaning is Lost to Time
Hail Ámgerðr, the Enclosed
Hail Ámgerðr, Red and Brown
Hail Ámgerðr, Lady of the Dark End of the Longhouse
Hail Ámgerðr, Lady of Enclosure
Hail Ámgerðr, Protector of Those In Small Dark Spaces
Hail Ámgerðr, Keeper of the Dark…”
“Ámgerðr, I call on you to receive my reverence, that these small and humble actions may uplift you. Ámgerðr, I call on you to receive this offering ______ which I bring to you to honor you. May it please you well, Ámgerðr of the Jötnar.”
As with previous rituals for forgotten jötnar, I suggest this ritual be used as a moment to try to connect directly with Ámgerðr and see if you can glean any personal gnosis. To do this, begin by stating: “All that remains to common memory of you, Ámgerðr, is your name. I wish to know more of you, Ámgerðr, and share what stories you may give me that your memory may be better honored. I implore you to share with me now, Ámgerðr. I am listening.”
Sit in receptive mindfulness as I’ve described in previous rituals, for at least five minutes. If you receive any impressions that seem other to your own mind, or any direct messages, take time to do a divination to ensure that what you were receiving was truly from Ámgerðr. If’/when you are confident that what you received was from Ámgerðr, take time to jot it in your journal while it’s still fresh in your mind.
As always, if you don’t receive anything or aren’t confident in what you did receive, don’t feel bad! Perhaps this isn’t the way to commune with spirits and entities for you—you may want to try inviting Ámgerðr to speak to you through dreams, or use your preferred divination tool as a means of communication itself. Keep practicing and exploring until you find something that works for you, and don’t hesitate to adapt these rituals accordingly!
When you’re done meditating, divining, and journaling, it’s time to wrap up the ritual. Bow to place your forehead and palms on the ground. Ground out any excess energy that may have been raised in the course of this ritual and as you’re doing so, thank Ámgerðr for attending the ritual and receiving your reverence and offerings, then bid her farewell.
Sit up, and begin clearing and closing the ritual space in whatever way suits your needs and your practice. As always, be sure to take some time after to hydrate and have some snacks!
The following is Unverified Personal Gnosis and should not be taken as hard fact, but rather with as many grains of salt as you feel comfortable with.
As I meditated, one of the first and clearest impressions I received was of Ámgerðr speaking of the reddish-brown color of some cattle, a fairly clear impression of “the russet of a red cow’s hide…” This was shortly followed by an emphatic, “I am real.” It had the feeling of wanting to be remembered and considered as others of the Norse Pantheon have been. At some point in the meditation, I had the impression of Ámgerðr speaking of having been forgotten as easily and swiftly as “the small people” of the world often are.
I got the impression that she considered herself a goddess in particular of hard toiling and injured women and children, and with this the enslaved jötunn maids Menja and Fenjia from the Song of Grotti seemed to be gestured to as an example. “I started out among the rock and the earth,” she impressed upon me, “I began as the dark spaces below the earth. I arose with the people, as many of us did. I came to those [in darkness and enclosure] because they called to me. That is all.”
She had a very ancient and heavy but gentle presence, it reminded me of the weight of shadows at night. At one point she impressed upon me that “the smell of livestock and hay is sweet to me” and I had the strong feeling that barns would be ideal places for shrines to her.
1Grundy, Stephan S. “Reconstruction and Racism in Modern Heathenry.” Paganism and Its Discontents: Enduring Problems of Racialized Identity. Edited by Holi S. Emore and Jonathan M. Leader. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle UK. 2020. p. 135-151
Alsvartr is a male giant attested in Nafnaþulur whose name means “All Black.” There is a common theme in getting to know the jötnar this way—they are often associated with blackness, darkness, and ugliness. Alsvartr’s name in particular is believed to refer to the perceived dirtiness and ugliness of jötnar in medieval folklore.1
He certainly wouldn’t be the first jötunn primarily described as hideous, strange, or ugly. Tyr’s father, a jötunn named Hymir, is described as ”misshapen” in the Hymiskviða (The lay of Hymir) while in the same poem Tyr’s own grandmother is described as “very ugly” with “nine hundred heads.” Indeed, throughout the lore and the sagas, jötnar are described in a wide variety of ways. For every beautiful and clever jötunn maid, there is at least one (though probably several) jötunn described as hideous, twisted, and strange as a mark of their otherness.
To this day the association with darkness as bad, ugly, or other persists. From the fear and derision of animals that aren’t cute or pretty, however important they may be to the functioning of a healthy ecosystem, to the fact that black dogs and cats are less likely to be adopted,2 to the way we treat other human beings based on skin color, the association of dark or black with bad has very real consequences. The global subjugation of people with darker skin, through colonialism, slavery, and more continues to plague our world. Colorism is a problem not only in white-majority locations, but also in places where darker complexion is the norm. This was well explained by actress Lupita Nyong’o, who has in the past talked about wanting to bleach her skin when she was younger. Calling colorism “the daughter of racism,” she described it saying, “I definitely grew up feeling uncomfortable with my skin colour because I felt like the world around me awarded lighter skin…We still ascribe to these notions of Eurocentric standards of beauty, that then affect how we see ourselves among ourselves.”3
Or, as associate professor of counseling at Arizona State University Alisia (Giac-Thao) Tran puts it: “Historically, a lot of communities have held ‘blackness’ as a bad thing and there are lots of connotations of [people who have darker skin tones] being ‘dirty’ or ‘less educated’ that people have culturally transmitted across time, within and outside of their groups.”4
I’m sure all of this sounds incredibly strange to be discussing in the context of revering the jötnar and getting to better know them. From where I’m sitting, it feels necessary to confront these aspects of society that have been normalized through the ages—especially where they present themselves in our lore and mythology. Especially where they are made manifest in the very names of the spirits and deities we work with.
For those who have felt excluded from the greater Heathen community because of their work with the jötnar, I believe this confrontation has the potential to be a powerful one. It feels prudent to note that in Heathenry, some of the language that has been used to undermine or dismiss those who openly work with the jötnar mirrors racist language of our everyday world.5 I’m not going to try to make the claim that racism of the everyday world in any way a direct parallel to derision shown to the jötnar or those who work with the jötnar, but the linguistic parallels are interesting. I can’t help but wonder if it reflects a pervasive, unconscious bias, especially in Heathen groups known for their fetishization of race.
So…what exactly does this have to do with Alsvartr, the mysterious giant who we remember only from a name which likely refers to the perceived hideousness of giantkin? Well, as I mentioned, the jötunn are described in some truly diverse and fantastic ways, though the more fantastic the description the more the reader is expected to identify the entity as “other.”
But for those of us who work with the jötnar, this othering often appeals to our own sense of being other. We’ve been excluded from Heathen spaces, many of us are queer, disabled, people of color, speak English as a second language, are mentally ill, or some combination thereof. In American and English society, all of these things mark one as “other” and often come with some degree of stigma and social bias.
Alsvartr, and other jötnar who are similarly described as hideous, monstrous, or bad for their physical presentations rather than their character, are ones who can remind us of the little appreciated beauty of the other. They can also remind us that, at their root, the jötnar are spirits of the natural world—which can often be strange and frightening, but which also can remind us of the incredible strength to be found in diversity. This is true in a corporate world, even6—but nature reminds us that survival often means the ability to adapt. Diversity is the key to effective adaptation, both genetically7 and intellectually/creatively.8
Given all of this, I believe Alsvartr is a wonderful jötunn to honor with regards to remembering the beauty and vitality of the other, and the necessity of the other in a world which suffers from homogeneity.
For the purpose of this ritual, because of the connotation of Alsvartr’s name, I want to focus on the unseen beauty of the other—though this and the intrinsic value of the other are likely to be ongoing themes in later rituals. For now, I want to take the assumption that Alsvartr’s very name and thus, very meaning, is a reflection of dirtiness and ugliness, and I want to turn that on its head.
As to offerings, there’s always the safe and traditional fare to choose from: alcohol, food offerings, candies (I went with dark chocolate). If you have the income to do so, it may be worth considering donating to an organization that serves and uplifts othered populations in Alsvartr’s name and honor. That could be an organization fighting racism, queerphobia, ableism, or otherwise supporting and uplifting people affected by those issues. If you choose to go this route for an offering, find a cause that speaks to you.
When you have your offering selected, a time and place picked out for your ritual, and you’re ready to begin, prepare your ritual space in whatever way best suits your needs and practices. When this is done, kneel over the offering and bow your head, placing your hands/arms in a position of reverence and say:
“Hail Alsvartr, Named Among Listings of Giants
Hail Alsvartr, Whose Stories are Forgotten
Hail Alsvartr, Whose Meaning is Lost to Time
Hail Alsvartr, Mysterious Dark One
Hail Alsvartr, Called Hideous and Monster
Hail Alsvartr, Keeper of Dark Things
Hail Alsvartr, Holder of Dark Spaces
Hail Alsvartr, of Unseen Beauty
Hail Alsvartr, Of Besmirched Giantkin…
“Alsvartr, I call on you to receive my reverence, that these small and humble actions may uplift you. Alsvarts, I call on you to receive this offering ______ which I bring to you to honor you. May it please you well, Alsvartr of the Jötnar.”
In this ritual, before moving on to asking Alsvartr to share some information about him, say: “I offer you my gratitude, Alsvartr, for serving to remind me of the beauty and vitality of the other. Thank you for reminding me that beauty cannot be held and kept in a box, for it is too great, too powerful, and too strange to be contained. Thank you for reminding me of the my power to recognize unseen beauty, and for reminding me of the power inherent in unseen beauty.”
Close your eyes and reflect on darkness, whatever that may mean to you. What beauty can be found in darkness? This might be the beauty of a deep, dark cave where life thrives regardless of the lack of light, and evolves in astounding and fantastic new ways. It could be the dangerous beauty of the forest at night, and all the vital aspects of life that happen there outside of our range of vision. Maybe its the blackness of the night sky that allows us to see the stars. Maybe it’s the fertility and richness of black soil that gives life to microbes and plants and sustains ecosystems. It could even be darkness of sorrow and grief, which are painful but part of a full range of living, vibrant human emotions and which can, sometimes, offer a great deal of learning and growth.
Speak these reflections aloud to Alsvartr—it doesn’t have been neat, tidy, or pretty. It can be a messy stream of consciousness monologue that you trip and stumble through, so long as its from the heart and meaningful to you. By extension, it will be meaningful to Alsvartr to whom you’re offering these sentiments.
Next take time to reflect on your own otherness, but specifically the aspects of your otherness that are beautiful—however you may define beauty. What makes you other? What gifts do you receive from this otherness that you wouldn’t otherwise receive? What does this otherness allow you specifically to offer to those around you that you might not otherwise be able to offer? How has this otherness colored your experiences, and what beautiful things have you experienced as a result of this otherness that you might not have otherwise? For me, this was a reflection on my mental illnesses, my bisexuality, being a member of a minority within a minority religion, even just being the black sheep of the family. For some it may be hard to find blessings in your otherness, but if you can speak them out loud and take time to appreciate and feel gratitude for those blessings. Speak all of this out loud to Alsvartr.
When you have no more to say, take a deep breath in. Take a deep enough breath that you feel your diaphragm stretch to accommodate it. Then, breathe out through your mouth—a deep, cleansing exhale. Squeeze up your diaphragm to clear out as much stale air as you can, then take in a normal breath.
Having cleared your mind, say: “All that remains to common memory of you, Alsvartr, is your name. I wish to know more of you, Alsvartr, and share what stories you may give me that your memory may be better honored. I implore you to share with me now, Alsvartr. I am listening.”
Sit in receptive mindfulness as I’ve described in previous rituals, for at least five minutes. If you receive any impressions that seem other to your own mind, or any direct messages, take time to do a divination to ensure that what you were receiving was truly from Alsvartr. If’/when you are confident that what you received was from Alsvartr, take time to jot it in your journal while it’s still fresh in your mind.
As always, if you don’t receive anything or aren’t confident in what you did receive, don’t feel bad! Keep practicing, experimenting, and exploring until you find something that works for you, and don’t hesitate to adapt these rituals accordingly!
When you’re done meditating, divining, and journaling, bow to place your forehead and palms on the ground. Ground out any excess energy that may have been raised in the course of this ritual and as you’re doing so, thank Alsvartr for attending the ritual and receiving your reverence and offerings, then bid her farewell.
Sit up, and begin clearing and closing the ritual space in whatever way suits your needs and your practice. As always, be sure to take some time after to hydrate, have some snacks, and journal about your experience with the ritual.
The following is UPG and as such should be taken with however many grains of salt you’d prefer:
During my ritual, I felt a great impression of quiet, unassuming love. When I asked Alsvartr to share with me, I received vague impressions, but they added up to an image of a large, lumbering, quiet, and gentle entity I might compare to the beings in Shadow of the Collosus (they always gave me big jötunn energy anyway). I saw Alsvartr as jet black, large, with a sort of smooth roundness that reminded me of weathered boulders. I got the impression of him being a “small” god of dark places, like caves, or perhaps that these were the kinds of places he likes to occupy. There was also an impression of familial ties, perhaps as being related to Nött or even a son of Nött (but remember, this isn’t evidenced in the texts, these are just my impressions from the ritual). There was no impression of partners or consorts, or of children, though. In some ways I was getting a bit of an ace/aro vibe from him. I did get the impression that the old stories about trolls turning to stone in daylight was important to him, and wondered at possible connections.
1Rudolf Simek: Dictionary of Northern Mythology (1993)
2Nakano, Craig. “Black dog bias?” 6 December 2008.
3“Lupita Nyong’o: Colourism is the daughter of racism.” BBC. 8 October 2019.
4Brishti, Basu. “The people fighting ‘light skin’ bias.” BBC Future. 18 August 2020.
5Nikitins, Tahni. “The Demonization of the Jötnar.” Huginn’s Heathen Hof. 4 September 2017.
6Clarke, Lauren. “8 Amazing Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace.” 6Q Blog.
7Lynch, Abigail J. “Why is Genetic Diversity Important?” USGS. 26 April 2016.
8Nwachukwu, Tony and Mark Robinson. “The role of diversity in building adaptive resilience.” Arts Council, England. May 2011.
Her name quite literally means “earth,” and she is the personification of the earth. Hlóðyn could be another name for her (from the Voluspa) as well as Fjörgyn being generally considered by most scholars to be another name for Jord, serving an indentical function in both lore and in skaldic poetry.1 She is attested in Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál, and Lokasenna. Because the word jord simply refers to earth, not all instances of this word necessarily indicate Jord the embodiment of earth.
She is consistently referred to as the mother of Thor by Odin, both by the name Jord and by the names Hlóðyn and Fjörgyn. She is also regarded to be the daughter of Nöt or night by Annar, which simply means “second” or “another” (though her father’s name can also be found in the variant form Ónar or Ónarr, meaning “gaping”). In Skáldskaparmál she’s additionally referred to as the “rival of Frigg and Rind and Gunnlod,” though no stories are preserved about Jord so it can only be inferred that this is in reference to her status as one of Odin’s many lovers.
Due to the lack of lore about Jord, many scholars believe that she may not have been worshiped as a deity, so much as passively recognized as the personification of the earth. The lack of surviving stories about Jord is hardly an indicator that there were never stories about her, however. We know that much of the lore was lost through history and the conversion, and it is possible that this included lore around Jord, perhaps even stories detailing Thor’s conception and birth.
Because so little is known about Jord, it’s a little hard to pick out what might be a good offering to her. Since she is the personification of the earth, instead of offering something tangible in this ritual I strongly suggest making a donation in her honor to an environmental organization which focuses specifically on soil health. Here are a list of 15 possible organizations to look into: https://foodtank.com/news/2019/12/15-organizations-creating-healthier-soil-to-save-the-planet/ I ended up donating to Soils, Food and Healthy Communities for its hands-on assistance of small farms and independent farmers. Bonus: in their donation form they have the option to dedicate the donation, which is a nice perk when donating as an offering!
If money is too tight for this to be an option, then I might try to stick with making a simple food offering, such as buttered bread, which can be buried and subsequently integrated into the soil. If your ritual space is indoors and you have minimal outdoor access, then a simple offering of milk, mead, beer, or wine to be left on your altar for a day and night cycle before being disposed of in a manner appropriate to your practice (or mindfully consumed at the end of the ritual, whichever works best for you).
When you have your offering, ritual space, and time picked out and you’re ready to begin, go ahead and ready your ritual space in whatever way best suits you and your practice. When you’re ready, kneel over your offering to Jord, bow your head and place your arms/hands in a position of reverence and say:
“Hail Jord, Floor and base of winds’ hall
Hail Jord, Mother of Thor
Hail Jord, Sea of the animals
Hail Jord, Daughter of Night
Hail Jord, Daughter of Onar
Hail Jord, Rival of Frigg and Rind and Gunnlod
Hail Jord, Mother-in-law of Sif
Hail Jord, Sister of Aud and Day
Hail Jord, Earth’s Body…
“I call on you Jord to receive my offering of reverence, gratitude, and love. Today I bring to you this gift of _____.
“I come bearing great reverence for the majesty of your body which sustains us—this earth which is both Jord the Bride of Odin and Ymir’s flesh. I come bearing great gratitude for all of the gifts you have given me Jord. I offer you my gratitude for [list the gifts you have received from the earth here—this should be earnest and from the heart]. I come bearing great love for you, Jord, for all of this and more.”
If you have anything you wish to ask of Jord, be it to share wisdom with you, to assist you with something, or anything else, you may do so now. In my own ritual, I took time here to thank make specific thanks to her for assisting me in other ritual and magical workings in which I’ve called on her for aid.
When you are done, if you have a physical offering, lift it over your head. If you don’t have a physical offering, lift your hands over your head and say:
“Hail Jord, Odin’s Bride!
Hail Jord, Mother of Thunder!
Hail Jord, Giver of Life!”
If you have an intangible offering, vow that offering to Jord here, such as: “In your honor I will gift a token of my time, energy, and resources to the health of the soil which is your body. May you receive this gift, may it please you well.”
If you have a drink which you will be ritually and mindfully consuming, do so now. If you will be burying a food offering, do so now. Otherwise, place the offering on the altar where it will be staying for a day and night cycle.
Bow, placing your forehead on the ground with your arms outstretched before you, palms down to the ground. Thank Jord one more time as you are grounding out any extra energy raised in the course of this ritual as one final offering, then rise and bid Jord farewell.
Ritual complete, you may now go about clearing and closing out your ritual space in whatever way best suits you and your practice. As always, be sure you take some time after for snacks, hydration, and journaling about your experience with the ritual.
1Lindow, John (2002). Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. p. 117
Goddess of the sea, married to Ægir, with whom she has nine daughters who personify the waves. Attested in The First Poem of Helgi Hundingbani 30; The Poem of Helgi Hiorvardsson 18; Lay of Regin. She is also attested in Sonatorrek, Skáldskaparmál, Háttatal, Völsunga saga and Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna. Snorri also refers to a work by Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, where Rán is called ‘Gymir’s … völva,’ Gymir being another name for Ægir. Though this was just a fragment being referred to, this potentially connects her to the magic arts, supported by references to her as “spæ-wife,”spæ meaning to predict or foretell. She is listed among the goddesses in Nafnaþulur, much like Ægir is listed among the gods.
Scholar Rudolf Simek describes Rán as a goddess of an undersea world of the dead comprised of the drowned. He says that “Ægir personifies the sea as a friendly power, Rán embodies the sinister side of the sea, at least in the eyes of the late Viking Age Icelandic seafarers.”1 This appears corroborated by the etymology of her name, “plundering,” “theft,” or “robbery.” This may well refer to the sinking of ships and the drowning of sailors. She is often described as taking ships and sailors with her net, and those who narrowly escape destruction at sea are described as having escaped Rán’s hand or mouth.
While less is said about Rán directly, from all of this we can infer that she is the wild, untamable counterpart to Ægir’s hospitality and friendliness. In this divine pair, then, we see two fundamental truths about the sea: it can nourish through fishing and trade routes, but it can also destroy and bring grief. When the sea brings grief, this is laid at Rán’s feet, as in this passage from Sonatorrek (Nora K. Chadwick translation): “Greatly has Rán afflicted me. I have been despoiled of a great friend. Empty and unoccupied I see the place which the sea has torn my son.”
Furthermore she has some degree of magical ability as a völva, likely with powers of prophecy (which in the sagas and eddas are quite common to women). There is also commonly an association between the sea and gold, and sometimes between gold and Rán directly. We see in the Reginsmál that when Loki is sent to fetch gold, he goes to get Rán’s net, and many kennings for gold relate back to the sea, or to Rán and Ægir. It appears that the connection may be related to the sinking of ships carrying gold. This would fit especially with with the etymology of her name.
Given all of this, what might good offerings to bring Rán be? There’s always the usual—mead, beer, and wine. Due to the association with gold, if you choose one of these option I might err on the side of a drink that is golden in color. Otherwise, it may be appropriate to bring emotional offerings of grief to Rán. An offering of gold might be ideal, but many of us don’t have gold to offer up, or if we do it’s of great personal value. Though such offerings are potent, you could substitute coins or a piece of jewelry. As with Ægir’s ritual, Rán’s would ideally be done near the sea, or near a body of water connecting to the sea. If this isn’t possible, any nearby body of water will serve well. Otherwise, a bowl of salt water will do to represent the sea.
Once you have your offering selected and the location and time of the ritual picked out and you’re ready to get going, go ahead and prepare your ritual space in whatever way best suits your practice. Kneel over your offering and place your arms/hands in a position of reverence and bow your head. While I personally always recommend approaching deities of any kind with a disposition of awe and respect, I especially encourage such an approach with deities that are known to be especially dangerous, and given the historical descriptions and associations with Rán I think it’s safe to say she falls into this category.
When you are ready, say:
“Hail Rán, Unbridled Sea Witch
Hail Rán, Völva of Gymir’s Hall
Hail Rán, Mother of Nine Waves
Hail Rán, Net-Wielder Hail
Hail Rán, Robber of Seafarers
Hail Rán, Wild Bride of Ægir
Hail Rán, Holder of Ægir’s Fire
Hail Rán, White-Faced Spæ-Wife of the Sea…
“I call on you Rán to receive my reverence and offerings of _____. I bring this gift to honor you and pray that it pleases you well.” If you have a specific request of Rán, such as asking for assistance with sea-based magic or perhaps even processing difficult emotions such as grief or associated rage, now is the time do so. Please exercise caution and ensure that you are precise in your phrasing, for at its stormiest the sea can be unpredictable and it’s safe to assume the same of Rán.
When you are done speaking, it is time to start concluding the ritual. As always, I recommend against pouring alcoholic beverages out on the ground in the Americas. You may leave them out for a night and day cycle in an area where they’ll be undisturbed before disposing of them however you see fit, or you may call on Rán to enjoy the drink through you and mindfully consume it yourself. If you are offering coins or items of jewelry and you are able to hold your ritual at a body of water, you may gift that offering to Rán by tossing it into the water. Otherwise, you may bury it, or if you have an altar to Rán and Ægir you may choose to keep the offering there.
However you will dispose of your offering, for now lift it above your head and say:
“Hail Rán, the Storming Sea!
Hail Rán, Keeper of Shipwrecks!
Hail Rán, of the Icy Deep!”
Deal with your offering however you will, then bow to the ground. Press your forehead to the earth and stretch your arms out before you, palms to the ground. Ground out any extra energy that may have been raised in the process of this ritual as an additional offering. Express gratitude to Rán for her presence and bid her farewell.
With that, go ahead and clear and close the ritual space in whatever way your practice calls for. After wrapping up, make sure to take some time to get some hydration, snacks, and journal about your experience with the ritual.
1Simek, Rudolf. 2007 . Translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. p. 260.
Referred to as “mountain-dweller,” Ægir is a giant attested in Hymir’s Poem. He is the husband of Ran, also attested to in Lokasenna, First Poem of Helgi Hundingsbani. Known for often hosting the Æsir for magnificent feasts and having a friendly relationship with them. His name, simply meaning “Sea,” may be have its origin in a Proto-Indoeuropean word (Cleasby, Vigfússon (1957:758).
Ægir is additionally referred to in the 10th century Icelandic poem Sonatorrek, as well as repeated attestation in the Prose Edda.
He is the husband to Ran, with whom he had begotten the nine daughters Blóðughadda, Bylgja, Dröfn, Dúfa, Hefring, Himinglæva, Hrönn, Kólga, and Uðr — the Nine Waves. He has two servants, Fimafeng and Eldir, one of whom is killed by Loki in Lokasenna. Scholars Jan de Vries, Rudolf Simek, and John Lindow have pointed out that he is often regarded as the same as the sea giant Hlér, being mentioned in both “How Norway Was Settled” (contained in Flateyjarbok) and “Saga of the Orkney Islanders” as the son of a giant named Fornjót. In these accounts he is called both Ægir and Hlér. Here he is identified with the sea, and has the brothers Logi (fire) and Kári (wind), positioning him firmly as associated with the element water, and in particular the waters of the seas (though certainly this was already clear).
Due to his friendliness with the Æsir and Ran’s listing among the ásynja, Ægir’s nature as a jötunn has been questioned by some. It is important to remember that animosity to the Æsir is not a qualifying factor in identifying an entity as jötunn, as plenty have friendly relationships with one or more Æsir and other female jötnar whose nature isn’t questioned have been ranked among the ásynja due to their allegiances with the Æsir.
He is also known as Gymir (sea-engulfer). Because of this some scholars believe he is the farther of Gerdr, wife to Freyr. This connection is unclear, however, just as is the etymology of the name. It had variously been translated at “the earthly,” “the wintry one,” “engulfer,” or “protector.” It is unknown if this name being associated with Ægir is a mistaken attribution of kennings.1
Community/Peer Verified Personal Gnosis indicates that he is a generous and jovial but demanding god who may expect offerings in exchange for safe passage on the sea. He is additionally known for brewing beer or mead.
There is a possible place name associated with Ægir, potentially indicating pre-Christian cultic sites. This is the modern day Læsø, which was historically called Hléysey or Hlér’s Island (recall that Hlér was one alternate name for Ægir).
Due to his association with alcohol, wine, beer, or mead seem exceptionally good offerings to bring a ritual for Ægir. If it is possible for any such ritual to be done at the ocean, that would be ideal. However, the reality for most of us is that the sea is not so readily accessible. Any natural body of water can act as a substitute, especially if you know that the water eventually reconnects to the sea. Otherwise you can opt to have a bowl of salt water to represent Ægir in your ritual or skip the need to physically connect with the sea altogether. As always, do what feels most appropriate to you and best suits your practice, needs, and ability.
Once you have settled on a place where you will conduct your ritual and you have your offering ready, it’s time to begin. If casting a circle is an element of your practice, do so now as you see fit. (I call on Jord for Earth, Ran and Aegir for Water, Surt for Fire, and Hræsvelgr for Wind/Air.)
Set your offering on the ground or on a ritual altar if you’re using one. Kneel before the offering and bow your head, moving your hands and/or arms into a position of reverence, and say:
“Hail Ægir, Mountain-dweller.
Hail Ægir, Sea-Engulfer.
Hail Ægir, Husband to Ran.
Hail Ægir, Læsø’s Ancestor.
Hail Ægir, Fimafeng and Eldir’s Master.
Hail Ægir, Logi and Kári’s Brother.
Hail Ægir, Fornjót’s Son.
Hail Ægir, Father of the Nine Waves.
Hail Ægir, Who is the Sea…”
If you have a specific intent for this ritual outside of simply honoring Ægir, state it now. Ægir is often depicting as hosting the gods, so he might be called upon in advance of a gathering in which you are hosting. Being the embodiment of the sea, he might be called on for any sea-based magic you seek to do. If you are to be traveling over the sea, perhaps you specifically want to ask for his protection as you cross the sea. These are only a couple of examples though—it’s your practice, so be creative with it!
Otherwise, proceed with the following: “I call on you Ægir also called Hlér to receive my honor, reverence, and offering.”
If you have anything to ask of Ægir, be it a boon, aid, wisdom, etc. ask for it now.
Raise the offering over your head and say
“Hail Ægir of the sea!
Hail Ægir of Læsø!
Hail Ægir friend to the Æsir!”
If you are at a body of water, you may pour your offering into the water now if this feels correct. In the Americas, I recommend against pouring alcohol out onto the earth, as this feels disrespectful to the spirits of the land whose people have been ravaged by trauma-based, generational substance-use problems. You may also call Ægir to receive the drink through you—plenty of traditions around the world avoid waste by having the practitioners themselves ritually consume offerings of food and drink, and if this feels appropriate to you, you may do so. My only guidance on this is to ensure you are practicing a mindful consumption, not just slogging the drink down as quickly as you can but taking your time to experience the scent, texture, and taste of it. Otherwise, if you are in your home, you can leave the offering out (in a safe place where animals or children can’t fuss with it) for a full day and night before disposing of it.
Bow to the ground, pressing your forehead and your palms to the ground. Any energy you have felt raised through the process of this ritual, ground it out as an additional energetic offering, while thanking Ægir for his presence and bidding him farewell. (If you’re doing this ritual in advance of a party or gathering you are hosting, you might want to save this part until after the gathering has departed, taking time to consciously gather and ground out the energy of the gathering.)
When this is done, close your ritual in whatever way best suits you and your practice.
1Simek, Rudolf (1996). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. p.126-127
Surtr is a fire giant who, in Voluspa 47, is described as passing from one world to another through Yggdrasil, functioning as a portal, which “shudders” as he passes. Attested again in the Lay of Fafnir 14. In Voluspa, Surtr is described as “moving from the south,” which indicates an alignment or association with the direction south. His name means “black” or “the swarthy one.” He is attested again in Vafþrúðnismál in which Odin and a jötunn named Vafþrúðnir question one another. They refer to Ragnarok, mentioning Surtr’s fire and part in the battle. It is in the Prose Edda that Surtr is associated with Muspelheim, being described in a manner which suggests he is the region’s defender. Surtr and Freyr are slated to meet in battle at Ragnarok, and to slay one another. Of note: Snorri’s descriptions have been criticized as bearing more similarity to the anti-semtic “Red Jews” motif than to the Voluspa source material,1 so (as is always the case with Snorri) it’s wise to take his rendering with a heaping scoop of salt, if you feel the need to take it into consideration at all.
It is generally agreed by both scholars and practitioners that Surtr is a personification of fire. Surtr appears, however, to be specifically associated with volcanic fire, and there’s actually a placename associated with Surtr that demonstrates this. There is a volcanic cave in western Iceland which has long been called Surtshellir, having been recorded as such in a book which details the settlement of Iceland called Landnámabók, though it was only thoroughly documented in the 18th century.2 Place names are often indicators of locations of cultic activity. Though there doesn’t appear to be a plethora of evidence that this site was a site of cultic worship for Surtr, and it is worth noting that Christianity came to Iceland only about a hundred years after it was settled, it is interesting to note that there is a lot of superstition still attached to Surtshellir. Many locals believe that the cave is haunted, and legend says Surtr used to call this cave his home, and perhaps either created or caused the creation of the cave. Scholar Rudolph Simek has stated that he doesn’t believe the idea of Surtr as an enemy of the gods originated in Iceland, but rather that Surtr was simply a personification of volcanic fire.3 I’m not going to make any bold statements here, but this all is quite intriguing, and I for one wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Surtr was honored here in some capacity in the past—even if that capacity was offerings of sheep or goats with a plea to not destroy local villages.
Less relevant to our purposes but still of interest are modern place names. A volcanic island that appeared in 1963 was named Surtsey, or “Surt’s Island,” while one of Saturn’s moons is named for him and a volcano on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, is named for him as well. Even more delightful is a planet named for him which orbits a star named Muspelheim. Like I said, less relevant, but very fun!
Appropriate offerings for Surtr would include the basic safe options such as mead, beer, and wine, but could also include candles dedicated to him (especially red, orange, yellow, or white candles); matches could be offered to him, so that each strike of a match is in Surtr’s honor; or volcanic stones could be offerings to him, such as obsidian or pumice. If you, like me, just so happen to have easy access to raw coal, offering a chunk of this might also be a decent offering. When it comes to offerings, I encourage you to get creative but don’t push yourself beyond your means or feel bad if you’re limited in what you can offer. The best that you can offer is the best offering, no matter what it is.
Though I have a preference for performing rituals outdoors, performing them indoors is also great! Wherever you perform your ritual—this or any other ritual—you’ll want to ensure that you’re unlikely to be disturbed and will be relatively comfortable, so you can focus on the working at hand.
Once you’ve selected your offering and location and are ready to proceed, prepare your ritual space in whatever way is most appropriate to your practice/works best for you.
When your space is prepared, take some time to center. I like to center using mindfulness of my body and my environment—tuning in to my senses, what I can hear, what I can feel, what I can smell, etc. Focusing on the stimulus input from the environment brings me solidly into myself, into my environment, and into the moment. Once you’ve selected your offering, your location, have prepared your ritual space, and are ready to do so, say:
“Hail Surtr, the Charred
Hail Surtr, Overseer of Underworld Fires
Hail Surtr, the Swarthy One
Hail Surtr, Who Will Meet Freyr in Battle
Hail Surtr, Yggdrasil-Shaker
Hail Surtr, Flame-Blade Wielder
Hail Surtr, Freyr’s Doom
Hail Surtr, Herald of Fire
Hail Surtr, Muspelheim’s Defender…
“I call on you Surtr to receive my reverence and this offering of _______, which I bring to honor you. I pray it pleases you well.”
If you have a specific intention in this ritual besides simply honoring Surtr, you may state that now. My intention (as an example) was: “I call on you Surtr in gratitude for the furious power of fire lent to me in workings past. I call on you Surtr to humbly acknowledge that you’ve been with me before, and to ask that you continue to be with me in future workings. In gratitude and with due reverence/respect, I bring you this ________ in return for your assistance.”
In addition to this, I personally took a moment to offer specific gratitude for the creative power of fire in the form of magma. This particular force of nature is often only acknowledged for its power to burn forests and destroy cities, and sometimes for its cleansing power. Much of the dry earth on which we stand, though, is literally a result of magma activity beneath our feet: the movement of the mantle deep down below moves continental plates, grinding them into each other in ways that can uplift land, making it habitable, or recycle it down back into the mantle. Volcanic hotspots are responsible for the creation of islands such as the one in Iceland, and in the long-run these can also provide habitable ground. Gratitude for this might look like:
“Lastly, I wish to offer my endless gratitude, Surtr, for the movement of the continents that has created the land on which I live. I offer my humble gratitude for your creative forces, Surtr, which makes new land. I thank you, Surtr, for your long-term vision, and for the careful balance between destruction and creation you hold on the flaming blade of your sword.”
As you are preparing to bring the ritual to a close, hail Surtr one last time before bidding him farewell:
“Hail Surtr Who Has Heard My Call!
Hail Surtr Who Has Received My Offerings!
Hail Surtr of Magma and Lava!”
When you are done, properly dispose of your offerings in whatever way is most appropriate for you and your practice (though, as always, if you live in America I discourage the pouring of alcoholic libations directly onto the earth, for reasons previously outlined). If this must be done outside of the ritual circle, then simply bow your head to the earth, placing your palms down on the ground. Ground out any energy you may have raised in the course of this ritual as a final offering. I almost always use this moment to bid farewell to the entity I’m honoring in ritual, usually saying something like, “Thank you Surtr for being with me. With love and with gratitude, I bid you farewell as you go.” Something very simple but respectful and from the heart.
Lastly it is time to close the ritual and clear the space, in whatever way best suits you and your practice. As always, I strongly recommend taking some time after to hydrate, snack, and journal about the experience.
1Cole, Richard. “Snorri and the Jews”. Old Norse Mythology – Comparative Perspectives.
2Browne, George Forrest (1865). Ice-caves of France and Switzerland. Longmans, Green and co. pp. 244–6.
3Simek, Rudolf (2007). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. D.S. Brewer. p. 303-304.
Hræsvelgr is attested in Vafþrúðnismál (The Lay of Vafþrúðnir) 37 as: “Corpse-Swallower, he is called, who sits at the end of the world / a giant in eagle’s shape / from his wings, they say, the wind blows over all men.” Hræsvelgr is sometimes also translated as “shipwreck current.”1 In his article “Hræsvelgr, the Wind-Giant, Reinterpreted,” Terry Gunnel suggests that the Old Norse hræ here should be interpreted as shipwreck, with svelgr being literally interpreted as “sea swirl, maelstrom, water stream.” A connection to Thiazi, who also famously shapeshifts into an eagle, has been proposed. Evidence cited for this is a kenning for Thiazi from the poem Haustlöng, “vind-rögnir,” that roughly translates to “wind-divinity.” Because Hræsvelgr is explicitly described as originating wind in the form of an eagle, the proposal suggests that Hræsvelgr may be a heiti for Thiazi, or that otherwise these two have a lost mythological connection.2 He is additionally attested by Snorri in Gylfaginning, where is associated with the north and originates the wind from beneath his wings when he readies himself for flight.
In this ritual I am going to assume that Hræsvelgr is, at the least, a distinct aspect of Thiazi that can be called on it is own right, though generally I err towards the assumption that these are individual entities. I do this because many modern scholars writing on polytheism of the past may be implicitly tempted to simplify pantheons by rolling similar spirits and deities together into one—just one of many possible side effects of the implicit bias that growing up in cultures of predominantly Abrahamic religious socialization.
That said, I find the suggestion that Hræsvelgr and Thiazi may the same being or otherwise connected quite interesting, and I find the evidence of the kenning when compared and contrasted with what is known of these entities to be compelling. Because I think there might be something to this connection, I’ve included a kenning to acknowledge this. Otherwise, for the purposes of this ritual I will assume they are distinct, but if you feel inclined to treat them as the same I say more power to you. There’s a lot more nuance and intricacy in the history of the faith we’re reviving, both remembered and lost, and it’s good to honor that in whatever ways we can.
Hræsvelgr has clear ties to wind and therefore air, but could also potentially have ties to the sea or other forms of water. Offerings associated with air in many modern forms of paganism includes incense, so you could consider offering Hræsvelgr a stick of incense (though if you’re doing this ritual outdoors, please plan to stay with the offering until it has fully burned away, which can sometimes take up to 45 minutes). Other offerings of smoke, such as burning something dedicated to Hræsvelgr so that the smoke make carry it into the sky, are also worth considering. Otherwise, good ol’ mead, beer, or wine are always trustworthy offerings to the Norse gods.
Of note for those unfamiliar with the different Nordic letters, æ sounds like “eh.” For this reason Hræsvelgr may be anglicized as Hresvelgr—just so you don’t trip over pronunciation during ritual!
Once you’ve selected the location for your ritual, you have a specific intent for the ritual in mind (this can be as simple as paying reverence, or it can be to make a petition to Hræsvelgr, or any other intent), and you have your offering selected, it’s time to begin. Prepare your ritual space in whatever manner best suits your needs and practices. Set out your offering and kneel before it, bowing your head and placing your arms/hands into a position of reverence. Say:
Hail Hræsvelgr, Progenitor of Winds that Blow Over All Men
Hail Hræsvelgr, Who Sits at the End of the World…
“I call on you Hræsvelgr to receive my reverence and this offering of _______. I pray that is pleases you well.”
If you have a specific intention in this ritual, you may state it now. Mine was approximately: “I call on you Hræsvelgr in gratitude for the strength of eagles and power of winds you’ve lent to me in workings past. I call on you Hræsvelgr to acknowledge how you’ve been with me before, and to ask that you continue to be with me in future workings. In gratitude and with due reverence/respect, I bring you this ________ in return for your assistance.”
If you’re a curious little being like I am, you may want to also ask Hræsvelgr for some gnosis on the potential connection to Thiazi: “I seek also knowledge from you, Hræsvelgr. I seek knowledge of your deep history, Hræsvelgr, that lost to the erasure of history and the erosion of time. Some speculate your connection to Thiazi, Hræsvelgr—and I seek to know from your own memory, words, and spirit, what this connection is, if there is any connection at all.” If you do this, plan to meditate for at least five minutes after asking. Keep a state of quiet mindfulness and listen to and feel your surroundings—including any thoughts or feelings that seem to impress themselves upon you rather than necessarily originating from within. Be sure you have a journal easy at hand to journal about whatever impressions you may have received.*
I am of the belief that sharing knowledge you glean about entities that have been mostly lost to time, especially if it is knowledge they themselves share with you, is a way of making offerings to them. Attention, be it in the form of just learning or thinking about an entity, or passive belief, or active worship and ritual, is something that I believe is important to the gods. Remaining within conscious memory feels vital to carrying forth and empowering the spirits of such entities, like food and drink is important for sustaining animal life such ours. For this reason, I feel it can be a powerful offering to share gnosis about Hræsvelgr you’ve received, if it feels right to do so. I’ve had my fair share of instances where it didn’t feel right to share a piece of gnosis, so if anything feels like a for-you-only thing, listen to your gut and do what you feel is right. If it feels right to share, you may promise to share that knowledge with others as an additional offering.
Depending on your offering and the location you’re doing your ritual, you may need to wait for a burning offering to be done burning. If you’re offering drink (and you’re doing this ritual in America) I strongly discourage pouring alcoholic libations directly onto the earth, for reasons I’ve outlined before. Offerings of drink may be left out in a safe, undisturbed place for a full day and night cycle before being disposed of however you best see fit.
Once you’re done and wrapping up the ritual, say:
“Hail Hræsvelgr, Corpse Swallower!
Hail Hræsvelgr, Whose Wings Stir the Wind!
Hail Hræsvelgr, Who Sits at the End of the World!”
Thank Hræsvelgr for hearing you and receiving your reverence and offerings. Bow to the earth, forehead to the ground and palms this time lifted toward the sky. This time let any energy you raised during this ritual lift from your palms and fingertips and drift away on the air.
Close the ritual space in whatever way best suits you and your practice. Once you’ve wrapped it up, this is the part where I recommend you have some snacks, hydration, and take some time to journal about the experience!
1Lindow, John (2002). Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. p. 182
*I wanted to share what I received, in case you might be curious. Please note that the following is Unverified Personal Gnosis that came from the above ritual, and it should not be treated as gospel or hard fact:
Through the vaguest of impressions and some very crisp, clear images flooding my mind, I believe I received the following from Hræsvelgr: that he and Thiazi were indeed connected, but that now they are both entirely separate from one another and still through the faintest threads sharing some connection. “As the vulture and the eagle diverged,” he said, and though in most of the images that flooded my mind I saw a massive, powerful golden eagle perched atop a sharp stone in a gray expanse of rock and ice in the furthest northern reaches, I got the distinct impression that vulture was likely a more accurate word for the form he takes.
He also gave me the impression that he is very, very old. The story of Thiazi’s father divvying up his wealth among his sons was something I got the impression didn’t belong to Hræsvelgr’s memory, as it happened long after they diverged from one another. I got the distinct impression that Hræsvelgr was from a much earlier, much more deeply animistic stage of spiritual development in Scandinavia, prior to a conception of gods as we know them. Wealth wouldn’t have been much of a concept yet, outside of wealth in the sense of a group’s ability to feed and shelter themselves.
In trying to understand what exactly their connection was or what was meant by “as the vulture and the eagle diverged,” I was first given the impression of cells dividing, and then again the impression of speciation; a sense of what was once one now being two. I’m still not sure that that feels quite accurate to the impressions I was receiving, but I feel that it’s the best I can put into words.