Liturgy


Liturgy at the Hermitage is in its early experimental stages. Technically speaking it isn’t liturgy until it’s done publicly, or at least communally. Since I need to start somewhere, though, I’m piecing liturgy together bit by bit, even if things are pretty bare-bones for the time being. I’m slowly but surely continuing my Norse goddess studies, working on putting together frameworks for ‘chapel’ worship and praise services based on the mysteries of the Ásynjur, and developing a breviary (a.k.a. Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours) for the Hermitage.

Here’s a rough outline of an average day, and a short list of helpful resources I am consulting as I experiment.

Morning:
greet the Powers
sing Sigdrifa’s Prayer & Song*
recite short hails

Midday:
meditation
lectio divina
chanting a series of hails to Skaði, counted with prayer beads

Evening:
sing song for Skaði by Birka Skogsberg (in Swedish; my translation of the lyrics into English is here)

Night:
sing Sigdrifa’s Prayer & Song* once again
short hails
bid the Powers goodnight

My short hails are addressed to the Powers with emphasis on Those who oversee and guide my work at the Hermitage. I sometimes alter these, depending upon the mood of the moment and on Who else shows up to claim my offerings and attention (this year I’ve also begun to honor Frigg’s Handmaidens and Mengloth’s Maidens of Lyfjaberg), but this is the basic structure:

Hail to Skaði, Our Lady of Winter.
Hail to Skaði, Our Lady of Shadow.
Hail to Skaði, Our Lady of the Sacred Hunt.
Hail to Móðguðr, Our Lady of the Black Stone Tower.
Hail to Móðguðr, Guardian of Gjallarbrú.
Hail to Móðguðr, Guardian of the Way Down.
Hail to the Holy Powers of Yggdrasil.

On days when there is sufficient time and energy, devotional veil dance is sometimes included in my worship services.

Resources I use for building a Norse polytheist liturgy (websites, books, music):

  1. *For Sigdrifa’s Prayer & Song, I use the translation available on the Odin’s Gift website. (Tune and translation by K.C. Hulsman; voice by Michaela Macha. I sing it with the same words and tune as she does in this MP3, but with slight variations in emphasis.)
  2. Odin’s Gift – “Norse mytholgy & Asatru poetry and music.” A wonderful site featuring a lot of poems, prayers, and stories about the gods and goddesses.
  3. The Pagan Book of Hours – Breviary of the Asphodel Tradition, from the Order of the Horae at the First Kingdom Church of Asphodel. These folks have created a great deal of valuable material for Pagan and polytheist monastics to use – either as it is, or as a model for creating their own liturgy. Many of their books of devotional poetry, prayer, and ritual are available to purchase for download for just a few dollars at the Asphodel Press site, and they’re well worth it!
  4. Hearth and Field: Prayers to Heathen Gods – a great site with many wonderful prayers!
  5. Birka Skogsberg’s Pagan songs on Soundcloud (some in Swedish, some in English)
  6. For Yule: Birka & Räv Skogsberg singing Lussesång – a song inviting the goddess Freyja in her role as the midwife of Sunna, the sun goddess. (P.S. I’m trying to talk these two talented musicians into releasing a full album of their liturgical music on Bandcamp! Wish me luck!)
  7. Liturgical music: Seiðlæti – Þagnarþulur (Songs for the Icelandic Goddesses – in Icelandic. I often dance to these tracks.)
  8. Ulf Söderberg (a.k.a. Sephiroth) – a brilliant (and reclusive!) Swedish musician whose work I’ve followed for 20+ years, although unfortunately his music is very difficult to find outside of YouTube. I frequently use tracks such as Gryning, Utfärd, Nordvinterögon, Vindarnas Hus, Morgonmåne, Now Night Her Course Began, and Tidvatten Part 1 for meditation, devotional dance, and to accompany votive offerings to the deities and spirits.
  9. Ritual music (in Swedish): Magna – Nordic Chants
  10. How about some Heathen chanting? I love this recording of Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (founder of Icelandic Ásatrú) reciting the Völuspá in Old Norse in a singing poetic style called kvæði. This can be made to serve the same function for would-be Heathen monastics that Gregorian chant or Sanskrit does for monastics in other religions. Here is another video that includes him singing the Old Norse text along with a translation into English.
  11. Other Nordic-themed music I often use for devotionals, dance, and ritual:

Other useful resources for liturgical design:

The Order of the Black Madonna’s Dark Moon Ceremony – inspiring and beautifully worded.

Earth Psalms by Angela Magara – a book/ebook written by a Pagan in response to the Psalms in the Christian Bible.

From the introduction to the book:
I heard a holiday reading of a Psalm. The nurturing words of love and support, of safety; suddenly turned to words of destruction and the wrath of a vengeful Father…I wondered what the Psalms would be if that overlay were skimmed off. I dedicated myself to that task…I set my intention to read each Psalm, let it flow through my body and into the Earth and then let new words come as a response to what I had read. I allowed the Psalm to speak uncluttered of patriarchal references and models….I discovered that much of the energy in the Psalms is about living within an unjust and dangerous society. I began to understand that this book has a message of encouragement for those of us living in the face of overwhelming global violence and destruction.

The Pagan’s Muse: Words of Ritual, Invocation, and Inspiration, edited by Jane Raeburn – a collection of prayers and poems designed for ritual writers.

Freyja Dark and Bright – a devotional by The North Country (a little-known group that included Alice Karlsdottir, author of Magic of the Norse Goddesses) that could be sung as a liturgy.

Hymn to Tyr – Heathen organ music! This one is also by The North Country, from their out-of-print album Verdandi. It’s the only song I’ve heard for Norse deities that is performed as an actual devotional hymn that could be played on an organ and sung in a church, and I like that. There’s plenty of Heathen metal and Pagan folk, but I’ve found nothing else out there that sounds like this.