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The Gods and Goddesses of Autumn

The Gods and Goddesses of Autumn

Now that the Equinox has passed, you can feel the changing of the guard, especially if you live in the northern states. This year, it’s almost as if the gods and goddesses have had enough of the fires out here.  It is as though we’ve gone from summer to winter in one day and then the actual fall settles in.

A Time of Change

Autumn is a time of change.  It heralds the coming of winter and the urgent need to prepare for it. For those of you who buy foods from the grocery stores, chances are the changes you’ll see is more pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween candy.  For me, it’s a time to search for upland birds, can my harvest, and run my dehydrator 24/7. I’m looking at my livestock and wondering who I’ll be slaughtering so I can have more meat in my freezer.  I’m considering how I’m going to keep the fresh stuff preserved so that I can enjoy it when it is cold and snowy.  And I’m waiting for general hunting season where I can hunt deer and elk.

I truly feel that our gods and goddesses are linked to the seasons. This makes a lot of sense because our planet is governed by the laws of physics — even at the tiniest level. This makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever contemplated the overall nature of the universe.

The Gods and Goddesses of Autumn

I did some basic research, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t a lot written about what Northern gods go with what season. We can make obvious guesses for winter and spring, but fall may be a little bit questionable simply because it is a time of transition. Even so, I’m going to share with you my insights, and hopefully you have some insights as well.

Skadi

Probably the biggest goddess of autumn (and also of winter) is Skadi, the Norse goddess of the hunt and of winter. She’s the one I pretty much go to when it comes to hunting, and I feel more in tuned with her every year. She is not an easy goddess to deal with, but she is honorable and very powerful. The story about Skadi seeking retribution for her father’s death is a story which shows how far she is willing to go if you fail to heed her.

Ullr

 

Ullr is the god of hunting, of snow and skiing, and of snowshoes. Ullr was considered an important god among the Scandinavians, no doubt since snow plays a major part in their weather. I’ve read various claims that Ullr is Skadi’s second husband after Njord. The story goes that Skadi could not abide Njord’s home near the sea, and he could not accept the high

mountain tops and snow, so they divorced and Skadi married Ullr.

Tyr

 

Tyr is the god of laws, justice, and the sky. While it seems odd to associate Tyr with a season, I believe he has power over the solstices and equinoxes, given his role as the sky god and lawmaker. It has been my experience (and you can take this as an unverified personal gnosis) that Tyr governs the laws of physics. When we deal with the movements of our planet in relation to the sun, it is really all physics.

I also ran across an interesting point that in some heathen segments Ullr may be an aspect of Tyr. It seems far-fetched, but apparently Ullr was invoked during duels, which was often used to determine who was right and who was wrong. Furthermore, there is an episode in the Atlakviða which has the swearing of an oath on Ullr’s ring. I can sort of see how this might fit together, but unless I have another UPG, it’s unlikely, at least in my own mind that Ullr is Tyr.

Freyr

 

Although it seems somewhat out of place, I’m putting Freyr as one of the autumn gods. The reason I am putting him in the autumn gods is quite obvious: he is the god of the harvest. The final harvest usually occurs sometime around the equinox, or maybe just a little later. Sometime in the fall farmers tended to slaughter livestock that they were not keeping over the winter, and preserving them. It makes sense that Freyr would preside over all of this.

 

Frigg

 

It may seem to be another stretch to put Frigg as a goddess of autumn, but I don’t think so. Frigg is a goddess of the hearth and home, of the distaff, and the wife of Odin. She has ties to Frau Holle and appears to be important in all manners of the home. To me, it makes sense that as the weather gets cooler, people are more inclined to stay indoors. So, I’m likely to think that preserving food and caring for the home falls right into Frigg’s domain.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. No doubt, you can think of some other gods and goddesses of autumn. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say and who you would recommend.

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, or Winter Finding

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, or Winter Finding

Our next big seasonal date to look forward to is the Autumnal or Autumn Equinox in the northern

hemisphere.  Often called Mabon or Winter Finding by pagans, there are a lot of good reasons to celebrate the season.

Mabon or Autumn(al) Equinox takes its name from a Welsh god, rather than a Norse one, but seeing as many of the Northern gods are interconnected, I’m hesitant to dismiss the name or the celebration outright. A later name for Mabon is Winter Finding to make it more Asatru-like. That being said, our celebration may have “Wiccatru” roots, which if you’re a recon, you may simply disdain the idea of celebrating it and move onto something more “authentic.”  That’s cool, but holidays do shift around, and I suspect late harvest was also celebrated by our ancestors.

Plus, it’s as good of time as any to celebrate the end of the growing season and the arrival of fall.

What the Autumnal Equinox is

The autumn equinox marks the official beginning of autumn.  Never mind that you’ve felt a shift in weather patterns sometime in August or early September, we generally consider the equinox to be the beginning of fall. The equinox, for those curious, isn’t when the day is equally night and day, although it’s damn close and I’d say for all intents and purposes, we can call it that.  What the equinox actually marks is when the sun crosses the celestial equator for the first time since spring equinox.  The celestial equator is an imaginary line above the planet above the actual equator.  The sun doesn’t really move relative to the solar system–our planet moves.  Our planet is tilted so that when it reaches a certain point in its revolution around the sun, the sun dips to the south on the autumn equinox and moves to the north on the vernal or spring equinox. It’s at this point we start really racing toward less light, although the summer solstice marks the high point of the daylight hours and we begin decreasing light after that.

The earth is actually spinning like a top, only relatively slower because of the magnitude.  The pole actually wobbles and will be in a different place about 10000 years from now. 

So, Did Our Ancestors Celebrate Winter Finding?

If you want to be really picky, chances are Winter Finding wasn’t celebrated.  Instead, our ancestors may have celebrated Alfarblót which occurred around October 22nd.  Alfarblót was a more private affair for families, even though it was a harvest festival that honored Freyr and Freyja. Sort of a Thanksgiving for Heathens.

So, if they didn’t celebrate Winter Finding, should we ignore it?  Probably not.  It is, after all, the equinox, which means it’s a good of time as any to have a celebration.  It’s a goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn.  It’s also a good time to bid farewell to the harvest.  I read that it’s a good time to get mead started (yeah, I can see that) in time for Yule.  So, maybe the equinox is a time for a community harvest celebration and Alfarblót for a more private celebration?

Then, What Should We Do with Thanksgiving? 

Thanks to Magickal Graphics

The November Thanksgiving is an American holiday that has its roots in harvest festivals but has been co-opted by Christians to give thanks to their god. I suppose as a Heathen one could get stubborn and decide to not celebrate it since the fields are most likely fallow and the foods have been already put up. But at the same time, hunting season is mostly over, which gives us another bounty–game meat.  I actually delay having Thanksgiving because hunting ends that Sunday after.  Who says we can’t use it to thank Skadi and Ullr for a successful hunt?

It even makes a lot of sense, given that fall turkey puts some birds in the freezer.  So, maybe celebrate it as the end of hunting season and the start of preparing for Yule might be appropriate.

I hope I’ve given some good reasons to celebrate the autumn equinox.  Do you celebrate Mabon, Winter Finding, or the autumnal equinox as a Heathen?  I’d love to hear what you do.