Ostara vs Historical pre-Christian Sigurblot
Updated: Apr 5
What is Sigrblot? What is Ostara? There are only two historical references to Eostre or Ostar in the historical record. Both of these references call Eostre or Ostar a moon, specifically the fourth moon of the year. One of these, is the Anglish Heathen calendar recorded by Bede in De Temporum Ratione, chapter 15, written in the precise year 725 AD/CE. Eostre is a moon that corresponds roughly to the modern fixed day solar month April, but obviously never corresponds exactly. Ostar Manod is the fourth moon of the year on the Heathen Frankish Calendar recorded by Einhard in his Vita Karoli Magni Chapter 29 written circa 830 AD/CE. These are the only two historical occurrences of the word “Eostre” or “Ostar.” The Iceland Althing recorded the Heathen Calendar (a Christianized one) circa the year 970 AD/CE. We have all the Scandinavian and Icelandic moon names as well in the sagas. Of course, zero Scandinavian nor Icelandic moons were called “Eostre” or “Ostar.” Yet this is one of modern Asatru’s two biggest holidays. Eostre or Ostar (the Goddess) is not found in any of the 700 plus Norse Sagas and Poems, nor in the Prose and Poetic Eddas.
Two historical references to “Ostar”, both of them are not Scandinavian, yet Asatru websites make claims that “Ostara” is a historical Scandinavian holiday. Ostara is a mis-spelling to boot, based off Jakob Grimm in the 19th century who was “reconstructing” the Old High German name for “Easter.” Since Einhard was a Frank, and the Franks lived in what is now modern Belgium and central Germany, i.e. Frankfurt. Ostar is the obvious Old High German name, so the reconstruction of the name was not needed. So where does “Ostara” come from in modern Asatru?
Most people argue that Wikipedia is not the best internet web-source. But Wikipedia is 100% correct on where “Ostara” comes from, and how it came into Asatru. It documents this extremely well quoting published books by Asatru leaders, well footnoted. It comes from the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. Where does the Wiccan Wheel of the Year come from? In the 1960s, an American Witch and poet named Aidan Kelly went looking for Wiccan sabbat names more interesting than Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. He ended up adopting Ostara for the Vernal Equinox, Yule for the Winter Solstice, and Mabon (as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology, not even a holiday in Celtic Paganism) for the Autumnal Equinox. "Wicca" is a modern word based on the Old English word for "Witch." Aidan A. Kelly (born October 22, 1940) is an American academic, poet and influential figure in the religion of Wicca. Having developed his own branch of the faith, the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn, during the 1960s. He has also published academic work studying the early development of Gardnerian Wiccan liturgy, primarily through his controversial 1991 book Crafting the Art of Magic.
Wikipedia is 100% correct in its article called “Heathen Holidays”, that the founders of American Asatru took the Wiccan Wheel of the Year Sabbats and has been passing it off as the historical calendar of Norse Heathen peoples.
When a lie or mis-information is told long enough and often enough, it becomes the "truth." Asatru has taught the Wiccan Wheel of the Year for so long, that as soon as someone questions it, a harsh response is given, as Ostara celebrated on the Vernal Equinox has become Asatru Orthodoxy. If one were to argue against this on say a Facebook page, one would be accused of teaching “dogma” and orthodoxy. This of course is “odd” because Asatruar claim they do not follow any orthodoxy. Asatru has common beliefs, common tenants, and common holidays and practices. And if evidence is presented to the contrary, instead of excitement to learn, anger is a common response. When uniformity in Asatru happens then orthodoxy happens. For those who want the Old Ways, most often Asatruar ask us to leave due to our questioning their orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and often recons are bounced from Asatru groups/forums. To be fair, too many recons (and I used to be one), get pushy with Old Ways. Old Ways vs. new ways is a choice. I think Old Ways Heathens should not push Old Ways on others who do not want them. Old Ways and new ways are two different religions. Asatru, however, should stop claiming that new ways or Wiccan ways or christian ways are historically Heathen ways, and halt the spread of mis-information.
The Wheel of the Year is an 8-prong wheel allows modern Asatruar to completely ignore the moon. Despite the fact historical Germanic and Norse Heathens followed a lunar first, solar second calendar. The word “month” in all Germanic/Norse languages means “cycle of the moon, a new moon that waxes, then wanes, until the next new moon.” The words “moon” and “month” are clearly related in modern Germanic languages like English and the Old Norse languages/dialects.
The world’s foremost scholar on Norse holidays is Dr. Andreas Nordberg of Uppsala, Sweden. Dr. Nordberg states: “The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice." (Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden, Uppsala, 2006, P.4)
Bede states in 725 AD/CE in his De Temporum Ratione, on the dating of the start of winter: "Thus, the moon by which they began their winter season was called “Winterfylleth”, a name compounded of the terms for winter and full moon, because from the full moon of that moon winter was thought to begin."
Germanic and Norse tribes followed BOTH the moon and the sun. Their calendar was moon first, sun second, called specifically a lunisolar calendar. Historical Heathen Yule began on the first full moon after the first new moon after the solstice. Sigurblot, the start of summer was 3 full moons after Yule, and six full moons after Winter Nights. Winter Nights, the start of Winter, was on the Full Moon of the pre-christian moon Haust-manuthr (or Harvest Moon.) (Please note Yule was on the full moon of a moon called "Yule Moon" with various names pending where one was in Scandinavia: Jol-manuthr, Jol-Tungal, Yulir-Manuthr, or Ylir-Manuthr, etc.) Please note, I used to be in The Asatru Community's Facebook group. (Known also as TAC). I was banned from that group because I responded to a post claiming Ostara was a historical Scandinavian "Viking" holiday. When I mentioned Sigrblot, I was asked to provide evidence. I provided Ynglinga Saga chapter 8, which mentions Sigrblot, but in English, it says "Victory Blot." Sigrblot means "Victory Blot". TAC tossed me accusing me of making up the holiday, The last comment I read was "There is a victory blot, not a Sigrblot." Hence, Old Ways is just a different religion. Not only because recons want to leave Asatru, but because if we stayed and responded to posts, we would be banned because we question Asatru orthodoxy and orthopraxy based on the historical sources.
So why did the founders of Asatru in the USA, not follow the founders of Asatru in Iceland, who celebrate Sigurblot and not Ostara? Why did the founders of Asatru in the USA establish an 8-prong solar wheel, completely ignoring the moon? Why did they claim to be experts or well-studied on Norse holidays when they were not? Why have people followed them? Asatru leaders did not do their homework, and were dishonest to some degree. Why dishonest? Their research was google and mis-information on the www. The leaders of Asatru have not looked at the Eddas, Sagas, historical sources, nor the Runic Calendars and Primestaffs that archaeology has turned up. Anyone in this day and age realizes that info on the www is more inaccurate than accurate. Yet modern Asatru chose the fast way, crap off the world wide web and ignoring historical sources, also free to read on the world wide web, but of course would take more time to read. American Asatru wants to teach an Ostara Equinox date. But the church is actually more Heathen, as Christian Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon AFTER the vernal equinox.
So, what then is Sigurblot? It is the historical pre-christian start of summer, which began on the fourth full moon after the first new moon after the winter solstice. The Saxons (northern Germany), Danes, Geats, Swedes, Norwegians, and Icelanders celebrated this blot called “victory blot” or “sigurblot.” The Anglish in England, the Frisians, the Jutes, and the Franks called this “Eostre” or “Ostar.” Dr. Philip Shaw, in his book: Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons (Studies in Early Medieval History) proves that Eostre or Ostar was only known in North Frankia, Frisia, and England with the Anglish. Dr. Shaw proves this archaeologically and linguistically. He is also not the first to do so. Alex G Garman published his book, The Cult of the Matronae in the Roman Rhineland: An Historical Evaluation of the Archaeological Evidence. Garman wrote three years before Dr. Shaw.
PS- We have a reference from the early 700s AD/CE, showing that the Old Saxons (in Old Saxony) did Sigrblot. See the Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum. SIGRBLOT is referenced in prohibition 21 of the Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum. The exact prophibition reads: "Concerning the waning of the moon, which they call 'Victory Moon.'" Does this mean that the fourth moon of the year was called "Victory Moon" or "Sigimanuth"? Dr. Scott T. Shell, who holds a PhD in Old Saxon and Linguistics, believes this is a reference to Sigrblot amongst the Saxons. Dr. Shell has shared his YouTube video and views on this in both Facebook Groups: Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry as well as Continental Germanic Heathenry.
Sigurblot is the Norse & Saxon start of summer. The moon in which this blot took place on was called "Goa" in Iceland, and "Goje" in Sweden. The Christian Iceland Althing circa 970 AD altered the historical Norse (Norwegian) calendar, moving “moons” forward one moon, and changing it from a lunisolar calendar, to a fixed calendar, having twelve different thirty-day months (having nothing to do with the moon) and one “leap week” every year which has five or six days pending the year. This calendar is still in use in Iceland today, though obviously different from how it was observed in pre-christian times.
Here are the two most famous Saga passages on Sigurblot. Enjoy! (Please remember, Sigurblot in Old Icelandic/Norse means “Victory-blot” or “Victory-sacrificial meal.”)
Ynglinga Saga (chapter 8), from the year 1225, lists the three great blots of the year: “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.”
Heimskringla Olaf’ Haroldson's Saga 76 “In Sweden there was an age-old custom (forn sed) whilst they were still heathen that there should be a blot in Upsala during Goa (moon). Then they would blot for peace and victory for their king. People from all over Sweden were to resort there.”
Please join us on the Facebook Group Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry, where we are bringing pre-christian historical Heathen ways back to our modern world. Also visit our page on Facebook: Germanic Heathenry.