Of Horsing Frigga and Spirit Suppers

Posted: July 27, 2013 in Aesir & Asynjur, Deities & Wights, Frigga, Musings, Rites
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Horsing Frigga at the Vé

Very interesting post by Juniper, a competent spirit worker from Ottawa, Ontario I see at festival every year. Frigga apparently really likes plums, I’ll have to remember that. Everyone’s experience is of course a little different, but this sort of sharing is how we get an idea of what to expect and what’s appreciated by a spirit. I also like Juniper’s method of opening the little backdoor to let them in. I may try that next time I’m the vessel, to facilitate entrance rather than passively waiting to allow it. I’m looking forward to reading part 2. Here’s the link to her post: http://walkingthehedge.net/blog/2013/07/the-hedgewitch-and-the-hurricane-pt-1/

Frigga at Her Spirit Supper

I was going to write about what a lovely impression Frigga made when she came to the spirit supper we hosted in her honor last summer, but struggled to remember who of my people was her horse. I clearly remember her choosing the youngest woman there to be her designated “child” attendant (she’d indicated a young girl was to serve her, the best we had was a twenty something). I remember the songs our guests sang and stories told. I can see where everyone was sitting, and remember my girlfriend couldn’t make it. But when I look to the god chair in my mind, I just see Frigga there, not the horse. Oddly I don’t see myself sitting anywhere, my memory’s point of view is of standing in the opposite corner of the kitchen near the altar shelf to Frigga and her Handmaidens that is over the sink.

Checking my notes, I realize that I was her horse that night. Wow. The only way I can remember being in that seat is thinking of the face of one of the men who sang. Standing in the opposite corner, I would have only seen the back of his head. I also now remember the young woman handing me a cup of mead, the red ceramic one, near the beginning of supper, but that’s about it from god seat perspective. Very odd how my memory adjusted to seeing Frigga that way.

We cooked her mutton roasted with apples and potatoes, and rose wine for drinks. She likes lots of butter on her bread. It was all toe-curlingly delicious to me, so I assume she enjoyed it. More than most of the Handmaidens, she was very much in charge and took steps to put everyone at ease, proposing a little game to do so. She also a funny and irreverent story about a man so inconsiderate as to die from bleeding on a pile of wool, thus ruining it. What a horrid lack of good manners and poor choice of death bed, she commented. I’m told Frigga implied she was the one who killed him, though I didn’t notice at the time. Her attendant felt like an excited child next to a family matriarch, unable to sit still or gather her wits, and commented afterward that Frigga smelled like her grandmother at the family farm Christmas suppers. At the end, Frigga asked her if she could caress her hair, which she agreed to. She left me while doing so. I think she wanted that to be her last sensation here.

The impression she gave was of a kind matriarch with much motherly wisdom to impart, regal but not stiff or stuffy, able to share a joke, appreciative of any genuine effort, and quite fond of children. I look forward to the next time she graces us with her presence.

Spirit Suppers – Rites of Hospitality

Inspired by Dumb Suppers and the virtue of hospitality, spirit suppers are about the easiest way to honor and get to know a spirit, ancestor or deity. All you really need is good food to share, an extra chair, plate and serving, and you can invite the spirit to join you in whatever way seems most appropriate. It’s nice to have friends there to honor them with, but I started this by myself. I just cooked for me and the Goddess I was honoring that month. Hospitality is really that simple, and unlike altar offerings, they normally stick around for the duration of the supper so you can get impressions or speak with them. I’ve found altar offerings can end up being divine take-out — they come, siphon off the offering and leave before I have a chance to converse. Hospitality has rules, so if they accept the invitation, they stay. Conversely, you also have to abide those rules and try to be a decent host. The guest of honor gets served first. The only exception to that is Snotra, who won’t eat before at least a bite is offered to the host’s patron deity.

Invitation

I’ve had deities just decide to show up at suppers I cooked for my kindred, but this only normally happens with those who’ve been invited before. Gna and Lofn have both done that — Gna because I was working with her that week (and so I was happy to get a chance to thank her for her teachings), and Lofn just likes coming to game nights (she also really likes fast food, being Goddess of Forbidden Loves includes that).

Normally though, I invite them a week or so in advance, ask if they’re willing to come, what they would like to eat or if they like the food I’d planned. A small offering should be made with the invitation to get their attention, even if it’s just a glass of water or burning incense. Sometimes I get clear words in answer, sometimes I have to go through a list of foods with divination. Other times I just get a warm feeling and a sense they’re fine with whatever I’ve planned.

Welcoming With Smoke and Seat

We normally use a mugwort smudge stick to consecrate and purify with smoke, singing its verse in Anglo Saxon from the Song of the Nine Sacred Herbs, invite the deity (I often go open the front door for them), welcome them, serve the food, say a blessing over the food and start eating. I have a god chair which is taboo, only those wishing to be possessed ever sit in it, with a pillow I made with duck feathers I plucked. This sort of pillow is attested in the Saga of Erik the Red, and has the advantage of being far more portable than the god chair. Both get charged by repeated use, and they also serve as psychological triggers of consent.

At this point in the rite the seer sits in the chair if the deity requested it before the rite. Sometimes they don’t and someone feels a pull to do so. If there is no designated horse and no pull to do so, we just have a nice supper and share any impressions we get. If someone sits to eat for the deity, then one of us is the Page who attends them and another is the Host who makes sure everyone has food and things go smoothly.

Try to bring up topics that would interest your guest of honor, and pay attention to them. The most spirit sensitive people should sit on either side of the god chair and relay any impressions and messages they get. They should be well grounded, it’s easy to get spacey when sitting next to a Goddess.

Testing the Offered Food

Sometimes the food gets eaten by the spirit, sometimes it gets blessed for sharing. It’s easy to test for that. Halfway through the meal, try reaching into their plate with the intent to eat a bite. I myself get nauseous if the food’s been “eaten” by the spirit, like I’m trying to eat a plate of rotten food. Another gets a sense of a thick fog that stops their hand, and some just get a feeling of wrongness. That food is drained of all lifeforce, if you eat it you won’t be able to digest it. I learned that lesson well: I and a friend were instructed by a God to eat a meal they had drained to prove the point. It tasted like cardboard and sat in our stomachs like lead for two hours before I thought to eat a bite of lettuce, to infuse it with a bit of life. Only then were we able to digest it. So don’t feel bad about throwing out “good food,” it really is quite dead after they’ve eaten it. It’s fine for the compost heap though, I say a prayer to Nidhogg to let it rot and return to being fertile soil. After testing their food in this way, try the drink, that’s more often what they bless and want shared. If you bring it to your lips and feel fine, then it’s meant for sharing.

Ending the supper

Once the meal is over, simply thank the deity for coming, let them know they’re welcome to come again, and that you appreciated their presence. If they’ve been drinking a lot, you can ask them to take the alcohol with them, especially if the horse has a low alcohol tolerance, and make sure the horse is left in a good state. Wish them well on their journey home. Blow out the candles, get everyone to ground excess energy, and you’re done!

Aftercare

If there was a horse serving that day, make sure someone takes care of them for at least the next hour. Help them out of their ritual clothes, make sure they eat at least a little if they haven’t (whether they’re hungry or not), ask what they need or would like. Sometimes they need a hug, sometimes they need space (but keep an eye on them). If at all possible, don’t let them trance and drive right away, it’s probably not safe. If they look confused, ask them again if there’s something you could help them with, they may have a hard time asking for what they need. Use their name to remind them who they are. If they’re okay with it, patting them down all over their body can really help them occupy it once more. Seers are often half-in and half-out of their body after such an experience, the patting basically serves to push their spirit back in from all sides. Mundane topics of conversation can help with grounding the mind, but they may instead need some quiet time to process what just happened. Just have someone nearby in that case, willing to listen if they want to go over what happened or fetch things for them. Aftercare is very important if you want this horse able and willing to serve again.

In sight of the Gods we serve,
Linda

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Comments
  1. Thanks for this very practical guide on Spirit Suppers Linda! Adds a lot to my ideas of how I might honor different Deity’s in a sort of “why haven’t I thought of this before?” way. I vaguely recall when I was young being taught to set a spare place for the prophet Elijah at Passover, but it hadn’t occurred to me to apply a similar notion elsewhere.

    Also thank you for the bit at the end about caring for horse after the possession has ended. I’ve been getting a feeling that while my ending up horsing a deity myself isn’t likely to happen (famous last words… but oh well) there’s a pretty fair chance I may need to assist someone who does and I’ve been wondering about how that’s done.

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  2. […] with this phenomenon back in July. In her post she writes about her experience holding a spirit supper for Frigga, which is a rite in which she and her friends host a meal and set an extra plate as an invitation […]

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