Untangling Heathen Holidays: July/August, Northern Hemisphere

July 8, 2015 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

As I commented before, when looking up information about Heathen holidays, especially with American-based books and websites, it tends to be a big Pan-Germanic mix- some Icelandic, some Anglo-Saxon and some modern American inventions like Einherjar and Vali’s Day. Then there are holidays based on Christian-era folk traditions, which may or may not have pre-Christian roots, but as my readers know, I’m more of a fan of continuing comparatively recent folk traditions that we can share with non-Pagan/Heathen members of various cultures. In the end, I’ll likely end up blending things together from more than one tradition, but I want to know where things come from to begin with! My suggestion is celebrate whatever is being harvested- in my area, it tends to be cucumbers and tomatoes and in July the blackberries in my front yard ripen.

Observance- Cultural Origin- Customs

Lokabrenna- July as month to honor Loki- American Heathen + Global Online Lokean community, with inspiration from later Scandinavian folk beliefs If you are into astronomy (or astrology for that matter) the folk beliefs connect Loki to the rising of Sirius and the hot “dog days” of summer, check when Sirius is actually rising- this could fall in July or August.

1st or 2nd of August- Lammas, Loafmass, Hlaefmaesse– English, Anglo-Saxon revivalist

Based on English Christian customs of baking loaves of bread made from the first wheat harvested and offering them to the Church- a festival of first fruits. More info- Wyrt Wizard, Lammas Eve.  The English folk song “John Barleycorn” is a popular one to sing, and may be associated with Frey himself or his servant, Byggvir (meaning barley). Some Heathens, particular Vanatru see Lammas as the time when Frey sacrifices himself for the land and people, probably a Wiccan or Neo-Pagan influence.

“Come Hláftíd (Loaf-Tide) Béowa, the god of barley, and his bride, Béole “the little bee”, are given worship.  The “first fruits of the harvest”, bread and beer, brewed of barley and honey, are offered to them, that they might beward the speedsome harvest.”- Ealdrice Haedengyld 

1st or 2nd of August Freyfaxi– Icelandic name- American Heathen usage

It’s unclear to me whether this festival was celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia or Iceland. The name for this holiday seems to come from the Icelandic Hrafnknel’s saga and Vatnesdaela saga, both feature a man who was a Freysgodhi (priest of Frey) who named his horse Freyfaxi. There are also horse associations (horse racing in particular) with Lunasa, the Gaelic festival around the same time. So to me this one “clicks” with the intermixing of the Norse with the Scots and Irish.

Chapter on Loaf-fest/Freyfaxi in Our Troth

Many connect the harvest with the story of Loki cutting off Sif’s hair. A ritual drama can be acted out, or the story can be told, sung or recited in poetic form. Making corn dollies as part of a “first sheaf” rite is also an option- the Last sheaf tends to be observed in October/November.

Hoietfescht– Urglaawe- Festival of the Hay-time, Hoiet is the Deitsch name for July, and this festival falls either the last week of July or the first week of August. Other names include Sommermit or Corn Boils. At this time, the Wanes (Vanir) are honored for the gifts of the harvest- Frey, Freyja and Njord

General References:

The Holy Tides- Hlaefmaesse- Freyfaxi

Hoietfeshct by Rob Lusch  p. 10, Hollerbier Haven: A Journal of Traditional Deitsch Wisdom Vol. 3, Issue 2

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