Lord Ingui’s Midsummer feast (1)

A year ago, when I was living in Santiago de Compostela, I had the chance to watch the Holy Week festivities with the all splendour and ceremony of a centuries old Catholic sanctuary. Every day, solemn processions would march through the old city’s streets, each carrying a different statue, both at day and night, marked by the slow rhythm of drums and bells, long lines of torches and worshippers. There was an aesthetic to it that I loved and, in my mind, I imagined what it would be like if a similar feast was to take place in honour of a pre-Christian deity. After all, solemn processions parading sacred images through streets, rivers, and fields was originally a polytheistic practice that Christians took over.

What follows is the plan for an idealized feast in honour of Ingui-Freyr, Himself a god closely linked with processions. It was imagined to last three days during Midsummer, which I have as an appropriate time to celebrate Njord’s son, partly because I love both Freyr and the solstices, but also due to His sunny and regal qualities. But wishing this to be more than just an idea, I decided to give life to it to the best of my abilities and share it online, both what I have in mind and my experience, so that other worshippers of Freyr may also do it, should they wish to, and use the plan in their religious life or that of the community they’re part of.

The idealized feast

DAY 1
In the afternoon of Midsummer’s Eve, the image of Lord Ingui moves from its usual residence (temple or shrine) to a temporary and festive location. His image is carried in a solemn procession through the streets and cloths and flags are hung on windows and balconies to welcome Him. After sunset, there’s a first banquet as the Lord takes His place at the top of the table in the celebratory hall. Additional seats or indoor altars may be set for deities related to Ingui: Byggvir and Beyla, for instance, if you take Them as part of Ingui’s retinue, or His wife Gerd.

DAY 2
Midsummer day! At sunrise, the sun is greeted with the blowing of a horn, a toast, and the lighting of lamp or candle that is then carried to the festive hall, to signal the birth of the full-grown sun whose life-giving rays Freyr hands down from Sunna. A grand breakfast follows, with Lord Ingui at the head of the table. In the afternoon, a new procession takes place, so that Freyr will mingle with the people in the streets during Midsummer. The tone should be more joyous and less solemn, with happy songs, perhaps even (sexually?) humorous, and maybe incorporating groups of dancers. The procession should stop at particular places, so that Lord Ingui can feast and watch games with His worshippers. The choice of stoping points is up to you: it can be sites linked to Freyr (agricultural fields, shrines, groves, etc.), places that have been affected by some catastrophe and need Ingui’s blessings, great open spaces (plazas, parks), private properties or restaurants of specific worshipers. In case of doubt or need to chose between two or more places, lots can be casted. There should be a ritual meal at every stop, games in at least some of them, and offerings to other deities if They’re connected with both Freyr and the site (e.g. to Njord at the beach). Landwights should be honoured at every stop. At sunset, Lord Ingui returns to the festive hall for a final feast at night. At this point, oaths may be taken, requests made and tokens of both left by the sacred image at the head of the table.

DAY 3
In the morning, Lord Ingui leaves the festive hall. His statue is carried in a new solemn procession through the streets and is placed again in the usual temple or shrine, along with the tokens from the previous night.

A real example
Being a solitary and not having the means for grand celebrations, I’ll try to bring the idealized feast to life in my own small scale, to the best of my abilities, and list it here in a kind of diary. Hopefully, it will inspire others to do the same, either alone or with their communities, in Lord Ingui’s honour. It should finally be noted that this is not a reconstruction of an historical festival, but rather a modern take on an old processsional practice.

*Image taken from the Norse Tarot by Clive Barret ©

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