The following article is intended as a follow up to Prayer in a Heathen Context, which demonstrated Austfeld’s three step prayer format (as demonstrated by H.S. Versnel) used broadly by pre-Christian Indo-European peoples.
The aforementioned approach will be taken a step further and utilized for practical application in a Fyrnsidu context. The objective of this article is to produce a basic template, employing Old English terminology, which the Fyrnsidere/ Fyrnsidestre can use to construct prayers of their own.
The three components of prayer
In the previous article, Vernsel’s three components were listed as the invocatio (the invocation), pars epica (the argument) and the preces (the service or task).
To fit this into Fyrnsidu-specific praxis, the Old English glosses for the Latin terms might appear thusly:
1) Cīgung (calling) – The formal address of the deity/deities in question, using epithets or descriptive phrases. ie: “Frīge, Flax-Spinner, Hearth-Matron, All-Knower.”
2) Giwung (petition) – A direct explanation as to the purpose the deity/ deities in question are being approached , and why the devotee might be worthy of their blessings. The devotee might recount past deeds or express familial bonds as a reason for petition.
3) Offrung (offering) – The gesture of good will on the devotee’s part, in the form of a sacrifice, offering or gift. This step is somewhat ambiguous, in that it can be a physical offering, or something less tangible, like that of an oath.
Combined, these three steps represent the ‘Bēd‘ or ‘prayer’ in its completed form.
An example of bēd
The following bēd is intended to Wōden, in his role as a healing deity.
“Wōden, leech, He who binds and draws poisons
wort-cunning ,wound-healer , He who mends bone and sinew .
I bid thee, oh crafty God, tend to my wounds and see me well again
Long have I shown my devotion, made offerings to you and tended this sacred site dedicated to your worship. While in my care, no man has drawn arms, nor broken oath in this place.
Please, accept this offering in accordance with our way. May this gift be met with gift, if you so will it. ”
In some cases it might be necessary to invoke a deity in propitiation, in order to avoid incurring their wrath or some form of calamitous happening within their control.
An example of propitiatory bēd
The following bēd is intended to Wada, in his role as master of seas and bodies of water.
“Wada, Lord of the whale-road, unyielding and tumultuous,
father of Wēland, blacksmith to the Gods
We call upon you to cease your anger and calm the frenzied waves that destroy our crops and consume our homes. Please, direct your ire elsewhere, for we are insignificant and unworthy of your scorn.
A sacrifice, this day is given, so that you might be satisfied and leave us be, so that we might prosper. ”