Haustblot: Norse Fall Feast

Haustblót is the Norse fall equinox feast. Also referred to as Winter Finding, this feast celebrates the beginning of autumn.

It is typically held mid - September corresponding with Mabon on the Wicca calendar. However, the holiday is somewhat fluid based on the location and harvesting calendar.

History of Haustblot

Like many of our ancient celebrations, this one revolves around the agricultural calendar. Haustblót was a time of harvesting crops and preparing for winter. In many Nordic lands, there were only two seasons - winter and spring.

This was a critical time of year for our ancestors. The harvest was important so that people could survive during the cold short days of winter. Fear of starvation was a real thing.

They held three seasonal festivals. Start of Autumn, Mid-Winter/Yule, and Start of Spring.

“There should be a sacrifice at the beginning of winter for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop, the third in summer day, that was the sacrifice for victory.”
— Snorri Sturluson


Important Gods for the Harvest

Freyr

As the God of harvests, Freyr plays a large role in worship during this season. He is the God of sunshine, rain, and prosperity.

He is often depicted with his boar Gullinborsti.

Skadi Hunting in the Mountains by Mary H. Foster 1901

Skadi Hunting in the Mountains by Mary H. Foster 1901

Skadi

Skadi is the Norse goddess of winter and the hunt. I often see her described as honorable and very powerful.

She was married to Ullr, the Scandinavian God of snowshoes and skiing. I will certainly be calling on him during my first winter in Wisconsin!

How Can I Celebrate Haustblot?

Bonfires, dancing, feasting, and honoring the Gods were all important during the Haustblót celebration and things we can do as well.

You can read a first-hand example of how Guest Author, Goði Anlengðarclan celebrates the Winter Nights here.

Haustblot is often a very localized or regional celebration that differs on location. It is also seen as a time to have family get together for a feast.

Eat a Seasonal Feast

Check out your local farmers’ market or even your own garden to get some traditional fall foods. Squashes, apples, nuts, and root vegetables are all popular fall foods.

A fun family activity is to go to a pick-your-own farm and pick apples or fall pumpkins!

Foraging for wild edibles can bring you closer to Mother Earth and her cycles. This is a good time to look for wild fruits such as crab apples, walnuts, and pawpaws. Use a good guidebook such as The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Mushrooms, Fruits, and Nuts: Finding, Identifying, and Cooking. Or take a class at your local extension office.

Make sure to set a place for the ancestors and spirits. Having a Dumb Supper is a traditional Samhain meal with your ancestors.

Taking Care of Your Animal Family

One of the things that our ancestors would have done during this time is to care for their livestock. Animals would have been brought down from summer grazing areas to be closer to shelter and safe from winter storms.

Taking care of your own pets during this time can honor that tradition. Make sure your four-legged friends (or no legs if you have snakes) are in good health and take them to the veterinarian for any needed care.

Bonfire

Do you have an outdoor fire pit? This is a great time of year to enjoy roasting marshmallows or dancing around the fire. Enjoy sitting outside on a cool fall evening and looking up at the stars.

Make sure your area is not under a fire advisory first.

The god Freyr stands with his sword and the boar Gullinbursti.  by Johannes Gehrts 1901

The god Freyr stands with his sword and the boar Gullinbursti. by Johannes Gehrts 1901

Altar

Refresh your altar for Haustblot. Add some fall vegetables and grains and offer thanks to local farmers. Honor the Gods. Light a green candle and give thanks and ask for farmers to have abundant crops.

Take Away

Haustblot is a great time to give thanks and honor the Gods Skadi and Freyr. Make it a fun family event. If you are a solitary pagan this would be a good time to enjoy an evening hike.

Check out our Pagan Holiday Calendar to find other days to celebrate!