Winter Solstice and Ancestral Voices in the Wind

P1010980The Wild Hunt has been riding most evenings here around my home by the North Sea. The wind whips around the house and the rain pelts against the window panes. One night it comes from the north, the next from the south, then the east followed by the west. Each wind brings different scents and different temperatures but all are certainly wild at this time of year. You don’t want to go out in it, that’s for sure.

It’s at this time of year that I feel closest to my ancestors, my blood ancestors from Western Europe and Scandinavia. Their voices and stories are whispered in the dark mornings and early evenings, sometimes howled down my chimney in the evenings and every morning as I sit by my hearth altar, lighting a candle and praying to the gods, the land spirits and the ancestors. They call me to honour them, to know them once again, to say their names. And so each year I do, though this year feels different.

Winter 2This winter I feel called to explore the spiritual traditions of my ancestors in greater depth. Though I’ve lived here in Britain for twenty years, all of my blood relatives come from Western Europe and Scandinavia. DNA testing has revealed some fascinating stories, and the picture is growing of my blood ancestors, changing as more information and DNA is submitted. I’m finding family from all walks of life, from all over Europe, gradually adding to my own family tree as records become electronically available and I am able to fill in the gaps where personal records have gone missing. It’s been a great exploration this year and looks to continue for many years to come.

So for these winter months I shall be exploring fully the pre-Christian religious and spiritual traditions of my ancestors. These are Germanic, Danish, Frisian, Belgian, Norwegian and more, which fall under the modern category of “Heathenry”.  I’ve studied Heathenry for many years, but never developed a full practice; it’s always been more of an academic exercise. And so, this winter I shall bring it to life within my life, honouring the land wights and house wights, the ancestors, the gods and the goddesses. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the goddess Frigge, the lady of right order, whose nature I feel is close to my own. As well, Skadhi and Ullr I have honoured many times while out snowshoeing and skiing in Canada and Norway. Tyr’s justice and compassion hold great meaning for me, and Freya’s seidr magic speaks of mystery, beckoning me further. It is with these gods that I shall be working over the winter, as well as the tomte and nisse of the household, and the land wights of the heathland and forest where I live. (I have already, obviously, done so in a Druid sense, so I will see if this changes slightly).

Already, I have found many similarities between Druidry and Heathenry. They almost seem to be talking and doing the same thing, just in different languages. The groves they worshipped in, the poetry and art, the warrior and the wise cunning folk, all of these seem to have resonance with each other, but expressed slightly differently. As well, much of the magical lore and tradition found in East Anglia I have found stems from Northern European magic, such as seidr.

It will be exciting to explore these traditions and heritage in practice. It will be interesting to connect to my blood ancestors more fully, exploring and expanding upon my family tree and widening my practice even more. And so, here on the coast of the North Sea, I will call to my ancestors, to the gods and goddesses of the North, to the land wights and house wights and see who answers.

I wish you all a very blessed Yuletide! May the longest night bring you peace, may you find strength and courage in the darkness, and hope in the growing light of the sun.

Winter 1


6 thoughts on “Winter Solstice and Ancestral Voices in the Wind

  1. Joanna…many thanks for your continuing inspiration throughout this year and blessings on your continuing fascinating journey. The darker nights have sadly brought darker experiences to my immediate family…my wife is experiencing problems with anxiety at the moment, and both my eldest son and his wife have just been made redundant from the workplace where they both worked. I draw comfort from the spirits of place around me, and that of one tree in particular, but it’s hard to discern meaning and direction in what’s happening. Maybe there simply isn’t any and I just have to hang in there and look for light when and where it comes…externally as the days gradually grow longer and in the inner realm too. Many blessings to you and yours (husband and cats!) John

    On Wed, 19 Dec 2018 at 09:54, Down the Forest Path wrote:

    > joannavanderhoeven posted: “The Wild Hunt has been riding most evenings > here around my home by the North Sea. The wind whips around the house and > the rain pelts against the window panes. One night it comes from the north, > the next from the south, then the east followed by the west. ” >

    • Hi John, so sorry to hear of the troubles you are all having right now. Strength to you all during this difficult time – may the strength of the ancestors be with you, those who struggled through the dark times just as we do now, may their wisdom and guidance help us to endure. From a long line of those who have endured, may it be so for all. Huge love. xoxo

  2. For me the Wild Hunt means a visit from the North Wind. I used to live in Northern Canada then moved WAY down south to Texas. The north wind may be harsh but it tastes like home. The air tastes like ice crystals and I’d know that voice anywhere.

  3. Great post, I know next to nothing about pagan beliefs but i know that the beliefs i do hold are within nature and stumbled across your blog whilst researching. I must say its very helpful thanks 🙂

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