Ritual for Ymir

All that is known of Ymir is that he was born from the fires of Muspelheim and the ice of Niflheim when they collided in a “great bang” in Ginnungagap. In this way, he can be seen as the anthropomorphize iteration of the chaotic but endless creative potential of the Ginnungagap. He took nourishment by nursing the primeval cow Auðumbla, who also came out of Ginnungagap. He also reproduced asexually, and as such became the ancestor of all the giants and many of the Æsir as well. Due to his asexual reproduction, many consider him to be hermaphroditic. His descendants in the form of Odin, Vili, and Ve slaughtered Ymir and from his remains (the pure, primordial stuff of creation) fashioned the world. His has at least three other possible names, Brimir, Blain, and Aurgelmir. Though he is described as being “evil,” there is no textual evidence for this and the concept may be of Christian influence, as there’s little to no evidence that the pagan worldview of the Norse really had a place for the binary construct of “good” and “evil,” though “chaos” and “order” may be more likely, amoral counterparts.

Ymir Suckling the Cow Audhumla. painting by Nicolai Abildgaard

Due to the nature of Ymir’s state in the mythology, this ritual will be much more about honoring the memory of a great and beloved ancestor, one who gave rise to all life on Earth (for without the pure, primal, creative force of his body, life could not have thrived). Nonetheless, bring an offering of milk to this ritual—if possible, the freshest and locally sourced milk you can find, but it’s okay if you need to stick to the basics. This ritual should be conducted outside with direct contact with the earth.

Pour your offering into a favored mug and set the mug directly on the earth. If your practice involves circle casting, cast your circle. I like to call on Jord for Earth, Ran and Aegir for Water, Surt for Fire, and Hræsvelgr for Wind/Air, and in addition I typically call on Angrboda (my patron, whom I view as a goddess of witches and völvar) to oversee my working. When you have centered yourself and are prepared:

“Hail Ymir/ Brimir/ Blain/ Aurgelmir

Hail Ymir, Mountain’s Bones

Hail Ymir, Earth’s Flesh

Hail Ymir, Sea’s Blood

Hail Ymir, Tree’s Locks

Hail Ymir, Skull Dome of the Sky

Hail Ymir, Ginnungagap’s Mirror

Hail Ymir, Element of Creation

Hail Ymir, Progenitor of Jötnar

Hail Ymir, First Ancestor…

”From you we have all come, to you we will all return. I honor you and all your names, Aurgelmir, Blain, Brimir. You, First Ancestor of Earth and all her progeny; first ancestor of all jötnar and of Æsir; you whose primal creative force enabled us to be—I offer you my greatest gratitude, honor, and love.”

Ymir being slain by the gods (Franz Stassen, 1920)

Lift the mug or cup of milk toward the sky, head bowed.

“Though I can give you nothing which does not already originate with you, I bring you this offering in loving spirit and gratitude for your unwilling and unknowing sacrifice at the hands of your grandchildren.

“Hail Ymir, Whose Bones are the Mountains!

Hail Ymir, Whose Flesh is the Earth!

Hail Ymir, First of Ancestors!”

Lower the milk, and pour it out directly onto the earth. If you are near a body of water, feel free to pour the milk out into this as well. If you are unable to conduct this ritual outside, I recommend simply pouring the milk onto the ground after the ritual when you are able to go outside, or otherwise leaving it on an altar for a day or so.

“And so I honor your spirit and your sacrifice today, Ymir, First of All Ancestors. I thank you, I honor you, and I bless your name.”

Set aside the mug and bow to the earth, laying your forehead directly against the soil with your arms stretched forward and palms face-down on the soil. If you’ve raised any energy during this working, ground it out into the earth as a final offering. Again, if you’re unable to do this outside, that’s okay — you can do this indoors as well, and just focus on sending that excess energy down to the earth below your home.

Sit up and thank Ymir for receiving your offering and being with you on this day, and bid farewell to his spirit. If you have cast a circle, begin to take it up now, or do anything else appropriate to your practice to close out the ritual.

Rituals for Lost Jötnar: Hyndla

As part of the greater project that is this blog, I have begun doing my best to catalogue the jötnar in order to provide a comprehensive list with information on them gleaned from historical sources and community verified personal gnosis, as is applicable. As I’m still working on this, my current spiritual journey/the time and isolation of the pandemic has taken me in yet another direction: writing and conducting a minor ritual of honor and reverence for each of the named jötnar. I figured this is a good place to share those rituals.

Due to some of the other things I’m doing in my spiritual life right now, I’m writing rituals for some of the jötnar sooner than I might have otherwise. Once I have completed the rituals necessary for my current trajectory, I will move to writing and publishing these rituals in alphabetical order.

Without further ado, the first of these rituals was written for Hyndla.

Freyja gesturing to Hyndla (1895) by Lorenz Frølich

Attested in Hyndluljóð (The Song of Hyndla). She is a keeper of knowledge of ancestral lines. Freyja attempts to flatter her, calling her “sister.” She seems uninterested in helping Freyja and her chosen, Ottar, chastising her for lying about the identity of the boar (Ottar) and then refusing to give Ottar “the memory-beer” Freyja requests until she is coerced by Freyja summoning a ring of fire around her. Even then, she stipulates that the draught given is laced with venom that will bring Ottar an ill-fate.

Based on this, it is very advisable to approach Hyndla with humility and the utmost honesty. Be clear on what your intentions and motivations are with yourself before you go to Hyndla, so that you may be as honest and direct with her as is possible to be.

Prepare for the ritual by reflecting on your intentions and purpose, and the motivations behind them. Write this all out on a piece of paper, and fold it up nice and tight. Prepare an offering as well—I am fond of offering drink, or a share of a meal. Hyndla has wolves, and through this association meat is likely a safe offering. Mead or beer is often a safe offering for the gods of the north. Staples that would have represented vital resources in the days of our ancestors, such as butter, bread, and milk are always good offerings as well.

Determine whether you will set up a ritual altar or simply lay your offerings on the ground/floor/earth, and prepare accordingly. This can be as elaborate as you want, or as simple as an offering bowl placed upon the earth—though I do suggest considering finding a stone to utilize as a ritual altar, symbolizing her home “in the rock and the cave.”

Once you have your reflections written down and folded and your offering selected and a place picked out to conduct the ritual, cast your circle if this is an element of your practice, and as you see fit. (I call on Jord for Earth, Ran and Aegir for Water, Surt for Fire, and Hræsvelgr for Wind/Air.) Place the folded paper in the bottom of a bowl and place the offering on top of it (if your offering is a liquid of any kind, you may pour it directly onto the paper).

“Freyja awakes Hyndla” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.

Kneel before your altar/offering. Prick your finger or otherwise extract a drop of blood or a hair to add to the offering (either of which both symbolizes your bloodlines and offers a tangible sample of your genetic heritage). As you are pricking or plucking, (when you are done, lift your arms or hands into a gesture of reverence) begin to chant:

“Hail Hyndla who lives in the rock and the cave

Hail Hyndla, Keeper of the Memory-Beer

Hail Hyndla, Völva of the Mountains and the North

Hail Hyndla, Rider of Wolves

Hail Hyndla, Guardian of Knowledge of the Ancestors

Hail Hyndla, Keeper of Bloodlines

Hail Hyndla, Overseer of Family Groves

Hail Hyndla, Accuser of Freyja and of Ottar

Hail Hyndla, Who Sees the Webs the Nornir Weave.

“In awe and reverence Hyndla, I bring to you this offering of ________. I hope in this way to honor you.

“I come to you with this intent and purpose, Hyndla, not only to honor you but to find my way to my ancestors that I might [state your purpose/intention/motivation].

“I ask that you be with me Hyndla, as I undertake these endeavors. I ask [state your petition or petitions].” Place your hands on either side of the bowl with the offering and paper in it, and bow over or to the offering. “Please accept these humble offerings I gladly and in gratitude give.

“Thank you, Hyndla, for hearing my call.

Thank you, Hyndla, for receiving my offerings.

Thank you, Hyndla, and may you be ever honored.

With gratitude and reverence I leave this offering to you, and bid you farewell.

Hail Hyndla!”

Place your hands and forehead to the altar or to the ground and let any excess energy that may have built up in you through the ritual flow out of you and into the altar/earth as an closing offering.

If it is appropriate to your practice, close your circle. If you have a particular way of disposing of offerings, do so. If not, I recommend leaving it in a safe place (where pets or other animals won’t get into it and potentially make themselves ill) for at least a full day before burying it in a similarly safe place. Bury the folded paper with it as well.

When you’re all done, have a snack, hydrate, journal about the ritual, and take a little rest.