A simple hallowing requires only two things: a symbol representing Thor― and your conviction.
Witches & Pagans #31
In my previous column, I promised to share some of my seið trance journeys and discuss techniques. But first, I want to teach you ways to practice seið more safely. Hallowing is an excellent start.
To hallow means “to make holy”― an essential part of cleansing, blessing and consecration within the Norse tradition. It’s one of the core parts of magical protection, much like ceremonial magic’s Lesser Ritual of the Banishing Pentagram (LRBP), but relies on faith rather than personal willpower. Hallowing is crucial to setting up a safe atmosphere for trance journeying, and dealing with any troublesome spirits attracted by the potent energy generated by this work. It’s also helpful for any Norse pagan to know.
In Norse myth, hallowing is done by Thor using his sacred hammer, Mjollnir. As the strongest of the Aesir, he acts as the champion of Gods and mortals alike. Thor was called upon in ancient times to hallow brides, runes, homesteads and journeys. Anyone can learn basic hallowing and do it effectively― you don’t have to be a priest or practice other magic. It simply requires sincerity and belief, as you are not relying upon your own strength but asking for the protection of one of the mightiest Gods, Thor!
Note: Please don’t replace Thor with another God, even a Norse one, when hallowing. It’s disrespectful of his generosity and role as protector. If you wish to call upon another God or spirit with whom you have an affinity, please do your research about what they require, and which person(s) in that pantheon act as the warder and purifier or handle consecrations, which may be completely separate roles. The Archangel Michael is very common in more Christianized traditions, and a number of helpful beings readily respond when calling on him.
What can be hallowed?
- Objects & vehicles
- Pets, work animals and livestock
- Rituals and celebrations
- Food and drink
A simple hallowing requires only two things: a symbol representing Thor― and your conviction. That symbol can be a hammer pendant, a small image of Thor, an actual hammer tool you have consecrated, the thurisaz (thorn) rune, or a “hammer” hand sign (one famous Heathen uses his fist). When doing this as a seiðkona, I sometimes use my staff to direct the energies over a large area.
To cleanse while hallowing, use the additional might of fire, known in Northern folklore to drive away evil. To perform a blessing, it’s helpful to follow up with incense or water you have asked Thor to hallow, increasing its might.
When should you hallow?
Hallowing should be used to open rituals, to cleanse and purify negative influences, and to ask Thor to protect a person, animal or place. It’s also performed to dedicate harrows (outdoor altars), indoor shrines and tools and when claiming a home or space as your own.
I learned the following techniques for hallowing from the Gods, keen study of the lore, and a growing consensus from other Heathens. Several variations exist, and they tend to be elegantly simple.
How to Hallow:
Cleanliness was (and still is) extremely important in Northern cultures. First, wash or clean whatever is being hallowed. If at all possible, both the person doing the hallowing and the person being blessed should bathe and wear freshly washed clothes. If hallowing a space, make sure to tidy it as well. Next, hold up the object being blessed, or point to what’s being hallowed. You can use the “sign of the hammer” for emphasis, or thurisaz for invoking protection. (I often use this rune, associated with Thor, which looks like a pointy ‘P’ with the loop dropped to the center, instead of the top.)
Say, ‘Thor, hallow this [XYZ]. Thank you.’
The Norse were amazingly pragmatic people, and this simple phrase is exactly what they carved on rune stones. Saying ‘thank you’ at the end is a standard courtesy, for which Northern folk were known. You can’t order Thor or any other God to do anything, but you can ask politely.
Safety tip: Choose a candle holder that will easily catch drips as you go around, and be aware that some candles, especially beeswax, burn hotter than others.
To perform a candle hallowing, use a candle with a trimmed wick for a steady flame. Unscented white or red paraffin, soy and undyed beeswax are best (it carries the most natural energies), but don’t be afraid to use what you have on hand until you get a better tool. Plain devotional jar lights (“church” or novena candles) are great for use outdoors, and can be found in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores.
As you light the candle, say:
‘Thor, hallow this candle flame. By the might of holy fire and your aid, I banish all that is ill from this [XYZ], cleansing it in the name of the Gods, ancestors and helpful wights of this place.’
Take the lit candle and circle the object, person or place you’re hallowing. Imagine the firelight cleansing all it touches without physically burning any objects. As you do this, see it driving away sickness, negativity and spiritual muck, replacing them with a shining barrier of good health, luck, prosperity, happiness and protection. Be sure the candlelight touches all sides or parts of a thing, and trust yourself if you feel an instinct to linger at any areas that may need greater attention.
If the candle goes out, stay calm and relight it. Re-affirm your intent, and focus your attention on the area where it blew out. You may be fighting air gusts, encountering a negative force or removing an especially strong energy from that spot. Follow your instincts. If compelled, call on Thor again, and consider getting assistance for a deeper cleansing.
At the end, take the candle and hallow anyone else present, including pets. Hallow yourself last to clear any energies you may have picked up during the cleansing, or have a companion hallow you.
When finished, simply snuff the candle out, and thank Thor for his aid. Give him an offering appropriate to the scale of your task― bearded iris flowers, hearty food and a good stout or other alcohol are greatly appreciated.
To hallow a ritual space, circle around the altar area or where you’ll be setting offerings or working first. Then, walk outside of the entire space, behind everyone present, so that the hallowing “guards their backs” and includes their whole bodies in the space. Try to create an enclosed area or garth by working within a spot that has natural boundaries. You can also consecrate a bonfire, asking for its light to ward the space, and direct the energy outward with your arm. Stay within the light as you work. Give an offering to the ancestors, land spirits and Gods for their aid and presence and hail them, thanking them for their aid. Take this seriously if you’re on unfamiliar ground or in a wilderness; spirits are attracted by our devotional works.
Now that you’ve learned how to hallow, you’re ready to start taking more spiritual ownership of your space and belongings― and to invite the company of the ancestors and the Gods into your life. All of these things are essential to safely practicing seið.