Of trolls, poppy seeds, and Hagalaz

On the night of the dark moon, I experienced an unexpectedly violent purging of thoughts and emotions that no longer serve (as part of my December “reset” process); it swept through me suddenly with no warning and ended up with me lying prostrate in front of my Odin shrine, in tears, but the tears were the cleansing type, not emotional tears. They were the sort of tears that come in the wake of an abrupt emotional and psychic cleansing.

The following night, for the new moon, I cleansed my shrines with my own mixture of lemon, allspice and rosemary essential oils in water, then re-dedicated the Odin shrine with my Nine Herbs oil and recaned (smudged) all of my religious objects and the entire house with mugwort, juniper and palo santo wood (a new discovery I’ve made; not at all Northern European in origin, but I love it’s clean, citrusy/vanilla smell and gentle sanctifying effects). Following this, I hailed Mani and Bestla (Odin’s mother, whom I have honored at the dark of the moon in the past and have recently been urged to start doing so again) with white wine and Blue Moon beer (a white Belgian brew).

Tonight is the night we’ve set aside for Lussinata/Tul’ya’s E’en–the latter being the Orkney Isles‘ version of the same festival). We have nothing terribly elaborate planned, but I have just finished baking a loaf of almond poppyseed sweet bread, and that will get scattered throughout the neighborhood as an offering to the trolls and trow who venture forth from their homes deep beneath the earth this night. Poppy seeds are a traditional offering to the dead and underworld denizens, and are also associated with Odin (as they come from one of His plants, Papaver somniferum–the opium poppy).  I’m sure the neighborhood birds will also be pleased with the seeds the trolls leave behind.

But the surprise in all of this, the Hagalaz part of the story, is that when I got off the bus this afternoon on my way home from work I found the ground littered with hailstones, about 1/4 inch deep in some places.  There was also a generous accumulation in my garden in front of the house.  I did not witness the hail falling, so I’m guessing it may have happened only in the immediate area around my neighborhood. In the rune world, the most literal meaning of Hagalaz is physical hail–the white “seeds” that fall from the sky, melting quickly to bless the earth and bring forth new plant life. It is a rune of transformation, and in the early years of my Marriage to Odin it came up so persistently in my rune readings for myself that I finally caved in and bought a handcrafted silver Hagalaz ring, which I wore for the next few years to help me embrace the drastic and sweeping changes my Marriage kept bringing to my life. (I eventually passed that ring on to another spirit worker when I no longer needed it so that it could help someone else through a similar process.)

So, all in all, I took today’s hailstorm as not only very appropriate for the night the witches fly and the trolls venture forth, but also a propitious sign for the beginning of the lunar month and my current process of purification and cleansing to get ready for the Work the new year will bring.  Hail–and Hagalaz, its rune–is a gift of the Wild Hunt, wreaking destruction in order to clear the way for new growth, new progress, and this year it feels as though the Hunt is riding right through my soul.

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Of course, I left a generous amount of hail on the ground to bless my plants (yes, that is a patch of nettle behind the Yoga Gnome statue), but being an enterprising seidhrkona I also grabbed a reused plastic container, filled it with hail stones, and popped it in my freezer for the next time I need a good dose of Hagalaz energy.

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3 thoughts on “Of trolls, poppy seeds, and Hagalaz”

  1. I wish I could learn more on the poppy part !

    “Tonight is the night we’ve set aside for Lussinata/Tul’ya’s E’en–the latter being the Orkney Isles‘ version of the same festival). We have nothing terribly elaborate planned, but I have just finished baking a loaf of almond poppyseed sweet bread, and that will get scattered throughout the neighborhood as an offering to the trolls and trow who venture forth from their homes deep beneath the earth this night. Poppy seeds are a traditional offering to the dead and underworld denizens, and are also associated with Odin (as they come from one of His plants, Papaver somniferum–the opium poppy). I’m sure the neighborhood birds will also be pleased with the seeds the trolls leave behind.”

    Do you have sources for me, for the link to Odin and poppy ? And to the dead ?

    1. I think the connection may have been mentioned in either Witchcraft Medicine or Pagan Christmas (by the same authors), but my own UPG has born it out. Poppy is one of my favorite flowers, but it is also a plant I am intimately familiar with as I am on prescription morphine for my chronic illness. Kenaz Filan has written a book on the opium poppy, which I have yet to read, so I don’t know whether or not he discusses a connection with Odin.

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