Salutation to the Heroes: November 11th or 12th

By boudiccaandarta | November 18, 2009

The Feast of the Einheriar or the Festival of the Einherjar is also known by other names including the Festival of Odhinn, the Feast of Fallen Warriors, Heroes’ Day, the Salutation to the Heroes and Old November Day. Marking the day of the full onset of winter, this festival was Christianized and transformed into St. Martin’s Day (Martinmas), a catholic saint who was given many of Odhinn’s original attributes. Originally this day was sacred to both Odhinn and Cernunnos (who has many similarities to the Wanderer Odhinn).

This festival is a special ritual to honour Freyja (the Queen of the Valkyries) and Odhinn (who welcomes all warriors). The hosts of Odhinn’s hall were called the Einherjar, the warriors who fell in battle and earned their place in Valhalla in Odhinn’s army. Valhalla is the Norse “heaven” (the Norse did not have the Christian ideas of “heaven” and “hell”) for brave male and female warriors. The Einherjar are the 432,000 spiritual warriors who guard the gods (in Ireland, this is the day of the Lunantishees, the spirits that guard the holy blackthorn trees).

The Festival of the Einheriar was where several families gathered together, each bringing food and drink for a pot luck feast; a “sacrificial” feast of cookies or cakes in animal and human shapes. The day prior to the ritual, games and feasting would be held.

This holiday is now our present-day Veterans Day, a time to honour all fallen warriors and heroes, not only those who have fallen in battle (fire-fighters, police officers, etc.).

The Ritual

This is a very simple and short ritual that can be enacted by either one person or divvied up for a whole group. Please feel free to adapt it for fit you own needs.

Supplies

Altar in or facing the North, Candle of Remembrance and Sacrifice, plate of cookies in the shapes of animals and people (Animal Crackers would work nicely), the Roll of Honer (a list of names of Fallen Heroes to be honoured with this rite), and tankard(s) of drink (mead, ale, water, juice or some other beverage).

Alternate supplies and decorations: one candle to be held by each ritual attendee, incense and incense burner, pentacle, dagger/sword, elemental candles, cauldron, and autumnal items such as apples, gourds, grains, maize, nuts, leaves, flowers, and any remaining Hallowmas decorations.

Opening the Ceremony

Either cast Circle or create Sacred Space in the manner of your own tradition before the Statement of Intent.

Say:

The Festival of Odhinn, on this Hero’s Day,
I/We honor the fallen warriors, those who passed away.
They reside now with Freyja, Odhinn and with Hel,
And tonight I/ we honor them, and I/we wish them well.”

Elemental Quarter Calls: At the North call the goddess Idhunn:

“To the North I/we call the maiden Idhunn,
Guardian of the apples bright and golden;
Grant in Valhalla to the slain heroes
Both green forests and flowered meadows.”

At the East call the goddess Freyja:

“To the East I/we call the Queen of the Valkyries;
Freyja, Leader of the Wind Riders.
Grant in Valhalla to the slain heroes
Both spring fields and gentle breezes.”

At the South call the god Thor:

“To the South I/we call the Red-Bearded Thor,
Protector of the people and God of War.
Grant in Valhalla to the slain heroes
Both feasts of plenty and sunny days.”

At the West call the god Odhinn:

“To the West I/we call All-Father Odhinn,
Keeper of the Cauldron of Inspiration.
Grant in Valhalla to the slain heroes
Rebirth through the Cauldron and warm pools.”

The Candle of Remembrance

On the altar, light the Candle of Remembrance and say:

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“I/We light a flame of remembrance
The magickal flame that burns in our hearts.
May it reach those who came before,
Soul to soul, we are never apart.”

The Offering (Symbolic Sacrifice)

The plate of cookies is placed upon the altar before saying:

“There are names we know and names now lost,
But we salute them with both drink and feast.”

The Roll of Honour

Now is the time for the reading of the Roll of Honour. At this time any who wish to make toasts with their tankards to fallen family members may do so before releasing the gods and the circle.

Elemental Quarter Releases

Go to the West and release the god Odhinn:

“At the West I/we release the All-Father Odhinn,
Keeper of the Cauldron of Inspiration.
Thank You for joining this Salutation rite,
Guide me/us on my/our path of light.”

Go to the South and release the god Thor:

“At the South I/we release the Red-Bearded Thor,
Protector of the people and God of War.
Thank You for joining my/our Salutation rite,
Guide me/us on my/our path of light.”

Go to the East and release the goddess Freyja:

“At the East I/we release the Queen of the Valkyries;
Freyja, Leader of the Wind Riders.
Thank You for joining my/our Salutation rite,
Guide me/us on my/our path of light.”

Go to the North and release the goddess Idhunn:

“At the North I/we release the maiden Idhunn,
Guardian of the apples golden;
Thank You for joining my/our Salutation rite,
Guide me/us on my/our path of light.”

Closing of the Ceremony

Close the Circle in the manner of your tradition unless you created Sacred Space which will simply dissipate over rime.

After the Ceremony:

Place the cookies outside as an offering along with some of the liquid as a libation to the spirits; those of nature as well as those that you honoured with this ritual. If possible, allow the candle to burn out but if need be, burn the candle daily until gone.

About the author

Rev. Merrie Hutchins (Boudicca Andarta) lives in Northern Michigan and has been a practicing Witch that follows the Wiccan Rede for the past 23 years. Called to service by the goddess Artio; besides dedicating herself to serving the needs of the human community, she tends to Artemis’ deer and cares for abused and neglected cats and dogs. She has received training through the Fellowship of Isis and founded the Iseum of the Emerald Flame dedicated to Artio the Bear, Diana of the Grove and Artemis Limnatis.

Sources:

  • Exploring the Northern Tradition by Galina Krasskova
  • Moon Magick by DJ Conway
  • Norse Magic by DJ Conway
  • Pagan Book of Days by Nigel Pennick
  • Rites of Odin by Ed Fitch

Image credit: CeresB.

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