The Howls of Winter

Nov 3rd – the Howls of Winter. The Howls of Winter marks the beginning of winter and honors those who have died in the past year (from the start of the last year’s winter until now with the increased winds of the season being ‘the howls of the ancestors’).

A priest from each Tribe and Realm travels to the Capital of Jotunheim with a list of the dead from their Tribe / Realm. The priests and their assistants gather at the Henge along with Angrboda and certain other Dignitaries. While open to the public to attend, the proceedings are typically watched from designated locations within Tribe territories / Realms.

A bonfire that has been built in the preparations for the day is the focal point. Angrboda howls and invites the dead to gather there. (Jotun dead often stick around until this ceremony for this purpose.) The bonfire is lit by the priest of the Family of Fire who read their list of dead first.

A moment of silence is given for each name, and there are frequently candles lit at the respective designated locations whose dead are being acknowledged. At the end of the list, everyone in attendance and watching howls while the priest adds their list to the bonfire. This process is repeated for all the Tribes present.

Angrboda offers up jerky that has been divined and tailored to be this year’s offering to the dead and to appease the forces of winter. A set amount is added into the bonfire with a prayer from Angrboda to Her daughter Hela that the dead may find their way to Her and Her realm, to rest in peace until they can join their Families again. The priest for the Family of Snow and Ice adds a set amount of the jerky to the bonfire and puts out the fire with a display of snow dexterity.

If anyone lit a candle while watching the televised event, they blow out the candle now. Angrboda howls one last time to signal the end of the ceremony. The remaining jerky is divided among the attendees, assistants, priests, and Dignitaries in order to take the blessings of the rite with them into winter. A feast closes out the activities at Henge with a particular focus on food made with winter in mind – jerky, canned meat, canned fruits and vegetables, jellies, soups / stews, etc.

For those who didn’t travel to Henge, a family dinner often ends their day. They may have dishes with items made with winter in mind, but they may also mix in favorite dishes of anyone who was remembered at the ceremony. Some families also enjoy the last of the dishes they can make with autumn food, and some go with their own dishes that get brought out for the occasion. Regardless of what is eaten, many families include homemade jerky at some point in the meal.

Observing the Howls of Winter

  • Traveling or journeying to the Capital in order to attend astrally may be possible. It may be possible to attend a televised event and family celebration, if you have a relationship with Someone that warrants this inclusion.
  • You may light a candle to honor those who are being remembered. If you would like to, you can also acknowledge your own dead and/or anyone who has died in the past year.
  • Sharing a meal with Someone (whether blood Family, chosen Family, or an Ally in the Realm) in a fashion appropriate for you and Them. This can also be extended to sharing a meal with your dead, if you would like to.
  • If you are able to eat meat, you could include the blessing of jerky to survive winter. Homemade would match what’s given here, but you can check to see if store made options (or buying someone else’s homemade jerky) would be appropriate.
  • Jerky preparation is passed along in the family and is closely associated with storing and preparing food for winter. With this intention, engaging in an activity passed on from a family member, reconnecting to those activities, and/or preparing for winter in Midgard in appropriate ways may also be acceptable.
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