Dominus Ingui: rituals (2)

This ceremony is what might be called Ingui’s Great Latin Rite. It’s primarily intended for outdoor occasions with large groups of people and provides a basic framework for simpler ceremonies. A home version is presented in the next post of the series (see here).

The ritual may be preceded or followed by a procession, depending on its goal. If it is performed in a temple, grove or another fenced area of the sort, there’s really no need for setting aside the area; if it’s outside consecrated space, you might want to mark it out with hazel poles and a rope and circle around it with a flame. Set up an altar, if there’s none; decorate it, in any case. The ceremony may be accompanied by the soft beating of a drum, which requires little skill and appears to have some popularity among Vanatruars. Other instruments might be used if one or more participants can play them. The head of the worshipers should be uncovered, crowed with wheat wreaths, and they should have their hands and faces washed.

This ceremony is based on the structure of the ritus romanus (see here or here) and you’ll need a fire, a small tree branch or twig, a bell and a hazel wand. The following items are also needed:

Incense or grinded herbs, honey, one type of drink (alcoholic or not), one cup, salted flour, raw grain, a sacrificial loaf of bread (see note at the end), a bowl with clean water to wash hands, a fork, a spoon and a knife. Regarding the last item, Norse sources hint at a taboo on the presence of weapons on sacred soil to Ingui, no doubt in connection with the notion of friðgarðr or enclosed hallowed ground where violence was forbidden. Therefore, make sure the knife you use is consecrated and reserved for the sole purpose of cutting food offerings: it’s best if it’s not “stained” by acts of violence against living beings. The same goes for any other ritual tool.

Opening (Praefatio)
At the sound of a constant and soft drum beating, the ritual fire is lighted and heads are crowned with wheat. The person leading the ceremony washes his/her hands before raising them, palms facing forward, and calls for peace among those assembled. A hand full of wheat is cast on the floor as an offering to the genii loci and Ingui is called upon as a protector and god of peace, so that He may sanctify the ceremony. He is toasted with a cup full of beverage which is then poured on the ritual fire. The bell is rang at the same time and once the cup is empty the person leading the ceremony waves the tree branch horizontally over the smoke, as if spreading it. He/she then waves it around, declaring the assembly hallowed in Ingui’s name and obliged to hold peace.

Praise (Laudatio)
With the ceremony open, Ingui is praised. List His genealogy, titles, His treasures and realms. Utter a hymn honouring Him as a nurturer of life and generous giver. And then offer Him a spoon full of honey, which should be poured on the ritual fire as the bell rings.

Request (Precatio)
Ingui’s blessings have been acknowledged and his generosity recognized. The god is now presented with the sacrificial bread, which is named and described, and a request is made in return. If there’s no particular request, make a general one for His blessings; a good example is the traditional old Norse ár ok friðr or prosperous days and peace.

Giving (Datio)
Take the hazel wand and consecrate the offering. Place the bread before the flame and, with a bell ringing, gently move the wand along it, sprinkle it with slated flour and, again with the hazel wand, draw an Ing rune over the offering. Because the bread was thus consecrated, it has become the property of Ingui and cannot be touched by human hands before the ritual profanation. As such, a small slice must be cut and thrown into the ritual fire using a fork and knife. Utter a small prayer just before you put it in the flames accompanied by the ringing of the bell.

Toasting (Praebibo)
While the flame consumes the slice of bread, toast to Ingui. Praise Him, His sacrifice and that of life that sustains life. The beverage is poured on the ritual fire accompanied by the ringing of the bell.

Profanation (Profanatio)
The person leading the ceremony washes his/her hands and prepares to profanate the bread. Hands are first stretched forward with palms facing up, as if asking something. And what is asked is Ingui’s ability to replenish life, the bread that is His so that His worshipers may be nurtured with His blessing. As the bell rings, a portion of honey is poured over the bread, recalling the initial offering at the start of the ceremony. Hands are then raised up, palms partially facing upwards, a short prayer is uttered and the person leading the ceremony then lowers his/her hands and touches the bread, thanking Ingui.

Ending (Exitus)
At this point, the ceremony ends. The bell rings and Ingui is offered incense or grinded herbs together with a final prayer. An additional offering of incense is made in case any deity or wight was offended during the ceremony and the genii loci are again given a handful of wheat. The bell is rang one final time and the drum stops to mark the end of the ceremony. Clap if you feel like it.

Feast (Epulum)
This stage is informal and is simply the feast where the sacrificial bread is eaten by the worshipers. More food may of course be added to the banquet and further offerings can be made: toast to the god and pour beverage on the ground or leave fruit near a sacred tree or rock; feel free to sing, praise and dance.

One final note on the bread: it can be as elaborate or as simple as one wishes, with as many or little ingredients as possible and according to the season or goal of the ceremony; even cherry or strawberry bread are possible. Shape it like an animal, if you will (a boar is a good idea). What matters is that it’s a bread, the nurturing result of agricultural work and the reason for the name of the ritual, representing Ingui’s role as nurturer, the sacrifice and the replenisher of life.


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