The religious rites performed in the Northern tradition to honour a God or Goddess, or to celebrate the seasons and a special occasion, are called Blot. As the name suggests, blood was often sacrificed at the Blot in ancient times. Before the ceremony, cattle would be slaughtered and prepared for the feast after the Blot. The blood would be poured into a bowl and, during the Blot, sprinkled over images of the Gods and onto the ground. Blood is the life-force. Since the dawn of time, blood has been worshipped and sacrificed in ceremonies. It was quite common in ancient cultures to drink blood, often the blood of slain wild animals, since it was often believed that the blood would give strength and energy. Please note that the reader should not try this at home, as it can lead to several interesting diseases.
To give or to mix drops of one's own blood had a very strong symbolic meaning. An oath sworn by blood meant that the oath was to be taken very seriously. To sacrifice blood and staining the earth with this life-force symbolised the returning of life to Mother Earth, so that she could continue to bring forth life. The intent of the blood rituals was to show respect to the Gods and Goddesses, the natural forces, to the community and to ensure that life would continue.
Our ancestors had a sacred area set aside for religious purposes. This place was called the hov. The rites were usually conducted outdoors and the ceremony was led by the Godi and Gydja – the priest and the priestess of the Northern tradition. Naturally, there are variations to a Blot. It can involve the whole community or just a single family, and the Blot can also be performed by a lone individual.
You'll need a sprig of evergreen, a drinking-horn, a wooden bowl, mead, ale or milk with honey (this was commonly given in Alve-Blots) and the offerings to be given. The chosen items should be placed on a flat stone or tree-stump in the forest, or laid on fur or a particular cloth that you brought along for the occasion. A fire can be made (check with the law first).
The first thing you do is to perform a banishing. This can be done by drawing Thor's hammer in the air, facing all four directions, starting in the North. Then the ground, on which the ritual is performed, is charged and made sacred with a poem, speech or song. At this point, the other participants may enter the charged ground and stand in a circle. The intent of the rite is stated. Torches are lit, one placed in each of the four directions dedicated to the guardians of that quarter. This is one suggestion. A variation would be to place torches around the circle, one for each deity called upon. Next, you give a speech to the deity that is to be honored or about the reason for celebrating this particular Blot. To read a bit from the Edda or a story from the myths is a good suggestion.
The mead, or other drink that you are using, is poured into the horn and charged with divine power. All participants drink from the horn, toasting the deities or voicing their wishes. The horn is never drained. The rest of the beverage in the horn is poured into the wooden blessing bowl. The sprig of evergreen is now dipped into the bowl and the liquid is sprinkled onto the ritual ground, into the fire and around all participants. Offerings like corn, bread, eggs or beer, can be given to the elements. Personal gifts, talismans and magical sigils can also be given to the forces or to a particular God or Goddess. Also herbs, powders, oil or – most powerful – your own blood.
Magical practice is a part of Pagan religious rites. Depending on the nature of the rite, chants can be sung, the congregation can dance around the fire-place, a spell can be spoken and runes can be cast – or a full-fledged Seidr session performed. Or all this can be done after the actual Blot.
At the end of the Blot, the contents of the blessing bowl are poured onto the bare ground and its power is thus returned to nature. The Blot is ended by announcing the end of the rite, facing the four directions in turn, with the last one being the North. Be sure to wish the Gods, elves and other forces farewell. A more simple variant would be to make the sign of the hammer.
After the religious rite of the Blot is finished, it can be followed by the Gilde, the merry feast.