This year, for the second year running, we will celebrate Mōdraniht, the Night of the Mothers.
This is a quieter and simpler practice than Yule, which is all about feasting and the drama of the light’s returning and liminality.
Mōdraniht involves communing with the Dísir, the Matronae (ancient European mother goddesses), and our own female ancestors. (If you are alienated from your biological ancestors, there’s always ancestors of spirit — people you admire.)
If you have an ancestor altar or a hearth, you can sit by it with a glass of your favourite tipple (even better if it is also their favourite tipple). Don’t forget to pour them a glass too, and you can also share food and treats that they especially liked. Joanna van der Hoeven shows the way in a lovely YouTube video from a couple of years ago.
Then you can look at photos of your female ancestors, and speak their names, praise their qualities and their deeds, and spend time communing with them.
If you don’t have an ancestor altar, you can always make one, or just cover a table with a clean cloth and place photos of your ancestors on it, together with snacks that they liked, and a candle.
Why female ancestors specifically? Well I think it corrects an imbalance, in that we tend to think more about male ancestors than we do about female ones. In ancient times, women’s contribution to society was highly valued:
“Female figures in Anglo-Saxon lore and culture are commonly associated with similar themes: of hospitality (women offering drink, regardless of their social station), magic, prophecy and fate, spinning, representations of wealth, and the maintenance of societal or family order, all of which reflect a cross-cultural continuity across the Celto-Germanic spectrum (Enright, pg. 174).”— Marc, Axe and Plough blog
Last year, when we spent time communing with our female ancestors, we came up with the idea of connecting with your last Pagan ancestor – the last member of your direct ancestry who was a practising ancient pagan. We will never know their name, but we can connect with them in spirit.
Marc at the Axe and Plough blog also suggests honouring Frīg Heorþmōdor (Frigga Hearth-mother), “as fate spinner and seeress, in hopes of a fortuitous coming year and a healthy passage through the winter season”.
However you celebrate this time of year, I wish you a blessed and peaceful Solstice-tide.
More about Mōdraniht
- Axe and Plough (2017), Mōdru and Mōdraniht
- Joanna van der Hoeven (2020), Mothers’ Night/Mōdraniht (Heathen on the Heath Series)
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