Friday, January 1, 2010

Bread Men and Songs

Yesterday I baked some bread.

It's really not easy to knead dough when you have arthritis in your hands but I did it anyway. A small sacrifice to add to our small sacrifice of a bread man. Where I come from, there are certain places where people leave flowers and other offerings like home-made bread. Certain trees, certain stones and certain watery places. With other trees, it's common to tie ribbons to the branches either as a wish or an offering.

And so I've started to make my bread men offerings here. Last night, before I went to bed, I gave the first bread man to the Nisse and sang him a song of offering under my breath as I did so. Then I sang to the ancestors honoured at our shrine. This evening I walked the dog with me to the lake. This lake and surrounding woodlands have many vættir in spite of how new and man-made the place is. I wonder if it's because there are no church bells here that they congregate. From what I've seen, they don't seem to like the bells. I've been coming to this place for about a year now, making my offerings, singing my songs of enticement to the vættir and working for acceptance for myself and my husband in this land. Tonight was no different. Tonight I stood on the banks of a lake that looked iced over in the dark and I called to the wights in German before giving my offering. Another bread man, tucked into the base of a tree.

On my way walking around to the other side of the lake I sang once more to the wights. When I sing, it's never a song that I plan but it just seems to work anyway. A tune or a rhythm will enter my head and words will form at my lips and before I know it, I'm singing to the place or the spirits. Sometimes it sounds like a song and other times it sounds like a joik but it works.

There is magic in bread and music, on the most basic level they're about creation. Bread must have seemed almost magical to our ancestors and when you think about it, it is pretty interesting how bread is made. I once read that one of the Grimm brothers wrote a piece about the various types of German breads and how they had all originated and how they linked to folklore and religious belief. I'd like to read that some day. As for music...did you know that scientists found while doing brain scans that more of the human brain is occupied while listening to music than in any other activity? Music can move us, it can make us angry, happy, tearful, lustful, contemplative, depressed and many more emotions. Music can be spiritual, it can lift us up from our mundane world and just give us that taste of something greater.

Bread men and songs. Simple magic.

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