Sommarsblót, The Norse People Open the Solar Half of the Year

Sommarsblót (“Summer’s Blood,”) is found at the very end of Ostara season.

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Sommarsblot is a week-long festival happening sometime during Aries Season, ending on the day the Sun enters Taurus. Many sources mark Sommarsblot as running from April 14-25th. Some say it starts on the first Thursday after April 18th. And some sources say it is a moving feast and can happen any time during the first month after Spring Equinox. 

Vikings and Norse folk, like many Celtic peoples, just cut the year into two halves. Sommarsblót is also called Summer’s Finding. This feast day opens what I can call the “solar” half of the year (possibly other modern authors use this term as well). There is no historical precedent that ancient folk used this term.)

Norse folk, Vikings, and Anglo-Saxons all observed this festival. Sommarsblot kicked off the high part of the year and celebrated the healing of the land from the harshness of Winter. Scandinavians would send messengers to the highest mountain peaks to observe the position of the Sun, to try to predict the date. As soon as the Sun spilled into the valleys, the great feasts would begin. 

Solar worship among the Northerners is rare, as it was never considered a true deity on the level of Odin or Freyja.

Although solar worship may have taken a back seat for Norsefolk most of the year, at Sommarsblot, the ancients welcomed the Sun back reverently. The Ynglinga Saga, written around 1225 CE, described Sommarsblot as one the biggest festivals of the year. In that text it is called it Sigrblot – the ritual of victory – celebrating Odin under the title of Sigtyr – the giver of victory. The festival was sanctified to the protection, success, and bounty of the King. And a recognition of the warrior spirit and self-determination in all people.

Additional sources also describe this festival as the opening of the waterways. And this is the portion of the year safe for seafaring travel and work. For those who plied their trade on the waters, this was an excellent time to spill a drop of mead, wine, milk or clean water in hopes of the blessings of the gods.

Some modern Pagan authors have suggested 24 half months that align with the runes. Sommarsblot kicks off the half-month of Man, named for the rune Mannaz.

The rune Mannaz is created by doubling up the rune Wunjo , which means “joy”. This refers to the happiness we feel when we are with our “people.” 

Looking to the Rune poems, Icelanding and Norwegian poems explaining the alphabetic and spiritual meaning of each rune, we see an emphasis on bliss:

Ƿenne bruceþ, þe can ƿeana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæf
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht.

“Who uses it knows no pain,
sorrow nor anxiety, and he himself has
prosperity and bliss, and also enough shelter.”

Further, when this rune is repeated, it creates Mannaz *, means “person” or “human.” It speaks to the concept of bringing our blessings through ourselves and into the physical world, to the benefit of those around us. In other words, the gifts we receive from the Gods or the Universe are really nothing unless we physically manifest and share them.
So we could infer that Sommarsblot celebrates the returning brilliance and warmth in all of us.

A black and white image of the rune Mannaz, two parallel lines joined at the top and middle of the lines by an X
Mannaz Rune

*Is it just me, or does this rune look strikingly similar to the shape we see in the Four of Wands??

Looking again to the Rune poems:

Maðr er moldar auki;
mikil er græip á hauki.Man is an augmentation of the dust;
great is the claw of the hawk.

Maðr er manns gaman
ok moldar auki
ok skipa skreytir.

Man is delight of man
and augmentation of the earth
and adorner of ships.

Man byþ on myrgþe his magan leof:
sceal þeah anra gehƿylc oðrum sƿican,
forðum drihten ƿyle dome sine
þæt earme flæsc eorþan betæcan.

The joyous man is dear to his kinsmen;
yet every man is doomed to fail his fellow,
since the Lord by his decree
will commit the vile carrion to the earth.

One depiction of Mannaz is Odin sitting solidly on his throne, accompanied by Huggin and Munnin. Compare this image to the images of The Emperor Card, with that archetype sitting on their throne, accompanied by rams on either side and the visage of Kybele, sitting on Her throne, with a tiger, lion or other big cats on either side.

But I also think this rune looks like streams of sunlight spilling down a valley between two mountain peaks, and that sight would unleash a flood of joy in the heart.

The God most closely associated with this rune is keen-sighted Heimdall. He lives in a fortress in the Sky Cliffs, and is sometimes connected to or represented by a ram. Son of Odin, Heimdall is also sometimes connected with the eye Odin sacrificed. He will blow the Gjallarhorn to announce the arrival of Ragnarok, at the end of the world (at least for the Gods.)

Sommarsblot is still celebrated in a form, today, in Iceland.

Called Sumardagurinn fyrsti, which means the first day of Summer, it is held every year between April 18-25 (this year it’s on April 22). And even tho it’s not exactly hot and sunny in Iceland in late April, good-natured Icelanders, after months of cold and dark, happily get out of the house for parades, sporting events, picnics, and other outdoor adventures. There’s a heavy emphasis on tending to any damages Winter may have caused to the landscape. Folks get together and clean up and repair shared resources like beaches and hiking trails.

Sommarsblot Ritual Suggestions

For modern Norsefolk and other Pagans who want to include Sommarsblot in their Spring rites, we can incorporate elements of this holiday by honoring the sovereign parts of ourselves, honoring the returning Sun, and honoring some of the ways we make money and create stability and abundance for ourselves and for our community. Take some time to look out over your plans for the year, and ask for a blessing on your endeavors. Ask for advice and guidance in conquering your enemies, like doubt, fear, jealousy, and shame that are holding you back from being your best and most powerful self.

Also, take some time to see how just “conquering” in the past has been misguided, to say the least, and has left our world ravaged. See a vision of yourself and humanity where we are our own King/Queen/Sovereign force, and our personal lives are our empires.

Head outside and welcome back the returning Sun and the returning Life of Mother Earth in all Her forms. Get together (safely) with a small group and head to a local park, a walking trail, or a local body of water and clean. However, don’t put a bunch of pictures on social media, just go do it for yourself and your people, because this is your empire and the empire of your kin (whether that’s blood relatives, chosen family or just the people you live next to) and it is your duty and honor to care for the land.

Altar Suggestions

Finally, try adding garnets, oranges and something like a ledger or a blueprint to your Spring altar. These can be powerful reminders of the plans you are laying now to ensure success for you and your community in the seasons to come.

Journaling Prompts

What does the Sun provide for me?

What work do I do that brings me great joy?

What would I like to build or create this year for myself and my people?

What enemy do I want to conquer within myself this year?

What empire do I want to build within myself this year?

What natural resource am I most grateful for?

How can I demonstrate my love for this resource tangibly in my community this season?

*Is it just me, or does this rune look strikingly similar to the Four of Wands??

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