the highest of Theodish rites. All the things that are true of any form
of worship in a Heathen context is ten times as true for
blót. Blót follows the same basic outline as any
other worship rite, but differs in the context of its purpose. Most
gifts today are in the form of individuel rites, but blót
serves as a communal gift to the Gods and Goddesses. In ancient times,
it was the king or chieftain that performed this rite. They were the
first to make an oath on the sacrificial animal, the first to taste the
meat or broth in husel, and possibly the one to give the beast to the
Ése (Æsir) and Wen (Vanir). All the wéofordþegn or priest does
a blót is say the prayers and make the blessings.
Everything else is done by the leader of the group. Indeed, it is a
part of the sacral duties of a Theodish leader to perform
The purpose behind blót is to give a gift of significance to the Ése (Æsir) and Wen (Vanir). The animal that is used must be one that was raised in a humane environment, more of a pet than mere livestock. It knows not abuse or inhumane treatment, and is cared for and loved. Ideally, such an animal would be raised by the group that plans to give it to the Gods and Goddesses. Realistically this is not always possible. Therefore, animals are usually bought from a farmer one knows personally. Animals from large corporate farms are never used as such animals are often maltreated.
Blot is a form of comunnion, Turville-Petre notes, "The meaning of the sacrificial feast, as Snorri saw it, is fairly plain. When blood was sprinkled over altars and men and the toasts were drunk, men were symbolically joined with gods of war and fertility, and with their dead ancestors, sharing their mystical powers. This is a form of communion (Turville-Petre. Myth and Religion of the North, p. 251 )." This form of communion was intended to bring Man and God together. Vilhelm Grönbech says, "“When an article of value is passed across the boundary of frith and grasped by alien hands, a fusion of life takes place, which binds men one to another with an obligation of the same character as that of frith its self.” (Grönbech. The Culture of the Teutons, Vol.2, p. 55)” When the early Germanic Christians had to chose a native word for thier holy communion they looked to the word, húsel. They must have seen some similarity between the Christian act of holy communion, and that of their anceint Heathen sacrifices. In blót, words are communicated to the Ése (Æsir) and Wen (Vanir) through the bedes (prayers), and food is shared with them via the húsel or sacred feast. During blót, men and Gods are one.
It may be possible that the animal was seen as the diety, Turville-Petre states that Old Norse vaningi "son of the Vanir" was applied to both Frey and the boar in poetry, and that: “This implies that when the flesh of the boar was consumed at the sacrificial banquet, those who partook of it felt they were consuming the god himself and absorbing his power." (Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North, p. 255). Whileit is doubtful that the ancient Heathens saw the animal as the God, it is clear that great importance was placed upon it.
Blót serves other purposes besides communion. It is also a way of giving gifts to the Gods and Goddesses, and getting gifts in return. In Fjölsviðmál, it is said:
Tell me, Fjolsvith For I wish to know;
answer as I do ask
do they help award to their worshippers,
if need of help they have?
Ay they help award to their worshippers,
in hallowed stead if they stand;
there is never a need That neareth a man
but they lend a helping hand.
(Fjölsviðmál, Hollander translation 39 and 40)
In Hynduljóð the idea of men being rewarded for blot is touched upon as well:
He a high altar made me Of heaped stones–
all glary have grown The gathered rocks–
and reddened anew them with neats’ fresh blood;
for ay believed Óttar in the ásynjur.
(Hynduljóð, Hollander translation verse 10)
Blót therefore is not a wasting of an animal's life. Indeed, it is the most kind and gentle way of slaughtering an animal for consumption. Other religions such as Judaism and Islam practice similar rites, where slaughtering an animal is handled not as a mundane act inhumanely done, but as a sacred one done as humanely as possible. When a wéofodþegn or priest slaughters an animal for blot it is done as humanely, and swiftly as possible. Prior to slaying the animal it is held and sang to. Everything is done to make keep it calm and peaceful as possible. When the act of slaying is ready to be done. The animal is held, but not in a way to restrain it. The wéofodþegn then with a very sharp knife of surgical steel quality slices through the animal's jugular, and it is allowed to bleed out. Death usually occurs within seconds, no more than a minute. The blood is caught in a blótorc or bowl to be used later in the blessing of the folk and altar. Once than animal has died it is swiftly slaughtered and prepared for the feast. This is a far cry from the secular way of slaughering animals for meat. Often animals are killed with baseball bats, and take many minutes to die. They are kept in pens or feedlots, and never see a green blade of grass, or know the love of a human being. Modern slaughter is often cruel and inhumane. And this is precisely why Theodsmen try to avoid giving store bought meat as a gift to the Gods. The potential of using the meat of an animal that has been treated in inhumance ways is too great, and this can affect the wyrd of the blót.