A Sower's Charm
" Rise, land, from slumbering, Creator's grass from sleeping ! Let stem grow stems, and stalks grow stalks. Send up shoots by the thousand, spread sprouts by the hundred as a result of my plowing, my sowing, especially of my toil."
- The Kalevala
This ancient ritual is probably one of the oldest known in Germanic / Scandinavian history. When the first farmers started to plow soil and plant crops, they began to pray to their (our) Gods and Goddesses, and give Them offerings, for the soil to be rich and fertile and the crops they produce to be abundant. Back then they worked not with technology but with their hands and their accumulated knowledge of the seasons, the soil, and the crops they planted.
This ceremony has special meaning for me because my ancestors came over to this country from Norway in 1633 and farmed in New Netherlands, Brookland, ( old sp. ), and America, Cranbury, for almost 200 years. Hans Hansen, Jores Hansen, Hans Jorise, George, John B. and Jacob Isaac, all farmed in these areas from 1633 - 1810. They farmed much as their ancestors did in Norway, using steel plows pulled by horses. They knew and appreciated the land much more then we do today.
The dates given for this ritual in my opinion are way too early for us in the northeastern U. S.. Kveldulf Gundarsson says it should take place at the beginning of the planting season, which is very sensible. Diana L. Paxson gives the date as February 2, though she does add that it should be held when the ground is workable. The Asatru Alliance lists the date, on - line, as Snowmoon, 3, which to me is way too early ! Just use common sense. If there is a foot of snow on the ground, or the ground is rock hard it is too early. Wait until the soil can be turned and your offering sowed into it .
The Gods and Goddesses I prefer to honor in this ritual are : Jord ( most important ), Freyr ( The Eddas say he can make the Sun shine or the rains come, Odin and Frigga ( the All - Father and All - Mother ) and I give a special nod to Gefjon. According to Gylfaginning she took four oxens, ( her sons ), yoked them to a plow and, " The plough went in so hard and deep that it loosened the land and the oxen dragged it westward into the sea, stopping in a certain sound. There Gefjon set the land for good and gave it a name calling it Zealand. " Anyone who can plow like that deserves to be part of a ritual called Charming of the Plow. I also honor the Land Wights for the use of Their land ,and Their watching over our fields and gardens. Remember, we are recent arrivals, they have always been here.
To thank the Gods, Goddesses and Land Wights, we should " put back" an offering of what we took from the land the year before. This should be in the form of something made from grains. Bread, cakes, cookies, or even wheat germ I find to be appropriate. I dig up the soil and sow these offerings in while thanking each of the Gods and Goddesses and Land Wights individually . I then raise my horn, filled with water, toast each of Them, and then pour the rest over the sowed earth to represent the nourishing rains that will come. While doing this I try to imagine what it was like to be Hans Hansen, in 1633, plowing the land and planting the Spring crops. For them this was a labor of survival, something we can understand today, but cannot feel inside as they did.
So don't forget to Charm the Plow, or shovel, to honor the Gods and Goddesses and Land Wights, who gave us great Mother Earth, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food that we grow and eat !
" Those fields, colored by various grains !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !