Blots done for love of the Gods, outside of the Holidays
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
I was asked an interesting question this week, one that we Heathens should discuss: "I have a question. This upcoming full moon my son and I will be performing our first blot according to steps and methods mentioned in Robert’s books and videos. My question is that we know what was being celebrated for certain blots ie: Yule etc, but what about the full moons which are lesser known such as this upcoming moon. Should we just blot the Deities we feel called to along with our ancestors? Or should we focus on the season?" Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a reconstructionist, and therefore, I answer questions with what was done historically. This being said, I do believe people can blot to any God or Goddess at any time. There is no reason why the Gods would not enjoy being gifted any day of the year. But the historical answer is simply that we know that Historical Heathens in Saxony were doing offerings in Sacred Groves throughout the entire year, not just on the three major blots. We have a plethora of testimony of this. My own reply to this question, was the following: This is an excellent question. They certainly gave offerings to the Gods and the Ancestors and the Spirits of the Land. Tacitus IMPLIES (but doesn't state) that ritual was often done on new and full moons, because business is not conducted on new and full moons. Therefore, we can rightly ASSUME that it was religious activity at these times:
Excerpt from Tacitus “Germania” (117 CE/AD) Translation by Robert Sass from Latin “… they (Germanic tribes) assemble on fixed days, either just before the new moon or just after the full moon. This they reckon to be the most auspicious starting-point for transacting business. Indeed, they do not reckon time by days, as we do, but by nights. All their decisions, all their agreements, are made in this way: night is seen as ushering in the day…”
Three full moons of the year, we certainly understand (start of winter, mid-winter, start of summer.) The others, what were they blotting?
The Lex Saxonum also implies that Saxons were often in "sacred groves"... So do the writings of many monks complaining about Saxon Heathens. The Lex Saxonum were the laws forced on the Saxons forcing them to be Christians, starting in the year 782 CE/AD.
Lex Saxonum Law 21, 782 AD: 21. If anyone shall have made a vow at springs or trees or groves, or shall have made any offerings after the manner of the Heathen and shall have partaken of a repast in honor of the demons, if he shall be a noble 60 solidi, if a freeman 30, if a litus 15. If, indeed they have not the means of paying at once, they shall be given into the service of the church until the solidi are paid.
This passage clearly implies that offerings were made (and vows) at springs, trees, and goves. (This passage also implies, that christians believed that the Heathen Gods did indeed exist, but were demons.) Gesta Hammabirgemsos ecclesiae pontificum (c.1073 AD/CE) Adam of Bremen, Deeds of the Bishops of Hamburg, 1073 AD/CE. “He ordered all pagan rites, of which superstition still flourished in this region, to be uprooted in such a manner that he had new churches built throughout the (Hamburg) diocese in place of the Sacred Groves which our lowlanders frequented with foolish reverence.” This passage implies that the "lowlanders" (i.e. nieder, southern people, i.e. nieder is a Germanic word tied to the word "nid" or "nith", i.e. something bad. Even the word "Heathen" i.e. people of the heath, were considered the illiterate people who accepted what christians called "superstition." Nonetheless, Old Saxony today is called "Niedersachsen" in Germany, and "The Netherlands" (formerly Heathen Frisia) also has a "lowlander" connotation to it. It was the Saxons and the Frisians who fought Charlemagne and his forced christianization more than the other Germanic tribes (or these are the most famous Heathen rebellions. The Chatti certainly fought christianization, so did other tribes.)
Adam of Bremen, Deeds of the Bishops of Hamburg, 1073 AD. “For the Saxons worshiped those who were not gods. Among them they venerated Mercury (Uuoden/Odin), who they were to venerate on holy days, even with human sacrifice. They did not think it was appropriate to confine their Gods in Roman temples or mold them in any likeness of human form. They consecrated groves and they venerated ancestral spirits there with reverence. They valued with reverence leafy trees and springs. They worshiped also a stock of wood of no small size, set up in the open. In the native language, it was called “Irminsul” (strong pillar) which in Latin means “universal column,” as it sustains everything. The excerpts about the beginning, the customs, and the religious observances of the Saxons (the Slavs and Swedes still observe their Heathen rites) we have taken from the writings of Einhard.” From this passage we see that Adam of Bremen claims that the offerings were not done in Temples but sacred groves. We know though, that Frankish writings mention a Saxon Temple at the site of the Saxon Irminsul, therefore, Adam of Bremen is just wrong on Saxons not having Temples. BUT... I think Adam of Bremen is right that the Saxons venerated in groves and venerated their Ancestors ("ancestral spirits") often in these groves, not just on the holidays. See the next quote, Adam of Bremen in the 11th century was using Rudolf of Fulda as a source.
The Translation of Saint Alexander of Rome (c.855 AD). Rudolf of Fulda. "They (the Saxons) also worshiped in the open air a vertically upright trunk of no small size, [called] in their mother tongue, Irminsul, or in Latin ‘columna universalis‘… in the sense that it carries everything." Here is proof that the Saxons did have a Temple at the Saxon Irminsul site: The Royal Frankish Annals state the following regarding the year 772 AD: “The most gracious lord king Charles (Charlemagne) then held an assembly at Worms. From Worms he marched into Saxony. Capturing the castle at Eresburg, he proceeded as far as the Irminsul, destroyed this idol and carried away the gold and silver he found. A great drought occurred so that there was no water in the place where the Irminsul stood. The glorious king wished to remain there two or three days in order to destroy the temple completely, but they had no water.” This is the first attestation of the Irminsul in historical records. From this we learn the following: 1. The Irminsul is only attested amongst the Saxons near Eresburg. The word "Irminsul" is not found in any source with non-Saxon tribes. The Irminsul was in Saxony. 2. There was a hill-fort (in Latin Castellum, or "castle") at Eresburg. 3. He proceeded "as far as" the Irminsul, which means the Irminsul was close to Eresburg. 4. There was gold and silver at the Irminsul, i.e. votive offerings. 5. There was a temple at the Irminusl, so it was not just a giant godpole or tree, but a whole religious complex… 6 ... that took two or three days to destroy... i.e. this implies it was a place of immense size considering it took Charlemagne's army two to three days to destroy it. 7. It was not near a body of water. The Old Saxon Heliand implies that all major Saxon places of veneration were at rivers in sacred groves. It appears that for the Irminsul temple-hof, this most likely was not the case. (Please note, the Extersteine has a modern man-made lake today, but had a small river in Heathen times.)
In the end, it appears to me, that the Saxons venerated their Gods/Goddesses, and the spirits of the land, and the "ancestral spirits" (i.e. Ancestors) in their Sacred Groves. This was done on new and full moons, and probably whenever they felt like it. Please join us in the Facebook Group: Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry.