Monday, June 17, 2013

House and Land Wights - Personal Practices

I've written a lot about our kindred and about living in a tight-knit heathen group.  But, I wanted to write some essays that discuss a Heathen's personal practices.  Things he or she does on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  Obviously, what I write here is not the only correct way to do things.  Just some ideas to spark more discussion and exploration of the topic.

Our House and Land Wights

A house wight is a spirit that lives in your home...or in a sense...the house wight is the spirit of your hearth or the spirit of your home.  Some Asatruars/Heathens don't do much with their house wight, or don't focus on it much.  But it is fair to say that the spirits of your home and of your land are very close to you, and are available for daily interaction.  After all, they are right there in your home or on your land.  Your house wight is a roommate of sorts, and your land wight is like a close neighbor.  It is believed that our ancestors would have spent much more time gifting, honoring, and interacting with their house wight and land wights...than they would have their ancestors or the Gods.  They depended on their relationship with the land and the safety and efficiency of their home for their very lives.  So, it makes sense that this is where their focus would be placed.

It can be a worthwhile practice to establish an altar or home for your house wight right in your home.  I tend to believe that a fairly central location is a good idea.  Many of our ancestors saw the house wight as being associated with the hearth or fire in the home, and this was always in a central location.  So determine where the center or "heart" of your home is located.  Where does most of the activity take place.  Where can you place a house wight's home so that its right in the mix...part of the action?  Where is the focus of your home?  For some, it might be the family-room of the home.  For others, it might be the kitchen or dining room.  It really depends on how you use your home.  When you have chosen the right room, then it is time to consider what sort of home/altar you want to create for your house-wight.  Some place this altar on a shelf or table.  Others place it over their fireplace on the mantle.  I've even heard of house wight altars inside cabinets.

Some folks build an actual model home of wood or cardboard or other material.  Some buy a wooden or paper home at a hobby store, and spend a lot of time painting, decorating, and possibly even furnishing that home.  I believe the idea behind this is to show one's appreciation to your house wight and make it clear that he or she is welcome.  You are showing hospitality to the house wight, by providing it a place to reside or live.  An altar to one's house wight can go further of course...and often becomes more complex and full as one gifts your house wight over time.  In my family, we tend to give the house wight shiny pretty things.  Silver coins, bright jewelry, and colorful baubles.  The kids have provided most of these over the years.  We tend to believe our house wight enjoys fun things, so the kids will sometimes loan the house wight their favorite toys for a little bit.  Our house wight altar also has a Thor bobble-head, an Icelandic flag, and other objects that really have little meaning except to us (and hopefully our house wight.)  If the kids have not given gifts to the house wight in a little while, I'll remind them...and they will go on the hunt for appropriate gifts.  We then place them on the altar.

We also give our house wight a taste of beer now and again, and sometimes a shot of honey liqueur.  I've also shared tobacco with the house wight before, giving him a cigar once...and some chewing tobacco another time.  When I make my dad's homemade butterscotch, I will sometimes share a piece with the house wight.  I've heard of other families giving their house wight cream, or honey, or a bit of fresh cheese.  I tend to believe that house wight tastes vary.  So, if you give a gift and it doesn't feel right...don't give that gift anymore.  Try other gifts.  If a gift seems like it is well received, then make a mental note and repeat that gift again.  You may find that a daily gift is appropriate and works for you and your house wight, or perhaps something weekly is more realistic and more appreciated.  Really, it is something you have to experiment with until you find the right answers for your own situation and home.

It occurs to me that some reading this are wondering how they will know whether their gifts have been well received.  It is the act of acknowledging the house wight and honoring them that builds the relationship between you and them.  Obviously, the material gift you leave for them is still there where you left it.  But, the value or meaning of the gift is taken by them and enjoyed.  Determining if the house wight has accepted your gifts or if the gifts are appreciated is something very personal.  How does the home feel to you?  Does the home feel happy and calm?  Are things going well around the home?  Are you feeling comfortable in the home?  There is a tone to things when they are happy...and a tone to things when you may have displeased them or made them felt ignored.  And for some, there are physical results that that take place that denote their appreciation.  Something long lost, suddenly popping up in a place you know you did not leave it.  Or you are in a hurry and need something, and you turn around and there it is in plain sight.  Some would call these events coincidence or wishful thinking on your part.  But, I prefer to think these are gifts in return for your gifts.

I will gladly admit to also talking to our house wight.  If I've lost something or if I need to find something, I'll sometimes ask the house wight for a little help finding it.  Sometimes, I just talk about whatever's going on...or have a laugh about something the kids have done.  Some people picture their house wight as a spirit...others picture their house wight as some form of hidden folk, like brownies or tomte or nisse.  Some get the idea that their house wight is a male, and some a female.  Some folks come to believe that they have some understanding for the personality of their house wight.  Others find their house wight to be more of a mystery.  Really, I don't think there are any hard and fast rules.  I believe some house wights prefer a neat and tidy home, while others prefer a little bit of eclectic clutter.  Some house wights prefer a bit of quiet, while others seem to enjoy the noise a house full of children brings.  I've heard various beliefs on what house wights feel about family pets, but I tend to think the pets and the house wights give each other a respectful and friendship distance.

What is most important, is finding a way to acknowledge and interact with the spirit or heart of your home.  While this is a spiritual matter, it is a practical one as well.  When you gift and honor your house wight, and attempt to form a relationship or bond will most likely also have a better appreciation for your own home, how it operates, and what makes it work best for you and your family.  Many Heathens that gift and honor their house wight, report concrete benefits from doing so.  Their homes are happier and healthier.  They lose things less often, and when they do lose things...these objects have a way of turning up on their own (with a little help from the house wight, of course).  Children who are taught to appreciate and get along with their house wight, are introduced to a part of our Folkway that many adults new to our world-view have not yet discovered.  By teaching this to our children, we are giving back to them something that was taken from us.

Now let's talk about the land vaettir, or land wights.  Some picture these wights or beings as actual hidden folk (brownies, gnomes, etc.)  Others picture them as the living embodiment or living spirit of the fields or forests.  There are various ways to approach them as well.  What I'm going to talk about is what to do if you live in a suburban home and wish to gift the land vaettir outside of your home.  Much like with the house wight, it is a good idea to establish a place in your yard to honor the land wights and to leave them gifts.  This place in the back yard can be somewhere that you can sit and think and enjoy your back yard.  Or it can be someplace dramatic or central to you backyard, such as a large tree or some other feature that dominates your yard.  You can built an actual home for your land wight.  Though some build an altar of rocks or wood.  It might be appropriate to plant a flower garden, or landscape an appropriate place to honor the land wights.  It is really up to you.

Leaving gifts for the land wights is a similar process to that of the house-wights, except that it is somewhat less personal.  I don't find myself sharing some of my beer with the land-wights, like I do with my house-wight.  I am more likely to simply sacrifice an entire beer of some quality to the land wights, rather than sharing some of my own.  For me, the land wights are a little more distant and not nearly as close or personal as you house wight.  It always feels to me like they are a little bit harder to get along with...and not as quick to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Keeping your yard and trees healthy and well-tended (or at the very least, free of trash and clutter) is pleasing to the land wights.

If one lives on a farm or goes hunting, there are ways of approaching the land wights that may be helpful to your endeavors.  Much of this you learn though experimentation, and seeing what works.  Again, you can gift your land wights, talk with them, promise them certain things (but always follow through on your promises), and generally build bonds with them.  But, you have make the time for it and do the work.  Like everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

We have a neatly piled stack of stones in our backyard that is for our land wights.  It is by one of the oak trees we have planted in our yard.  It is hear that we leave gifts.  I keep this pile of stones well tended and neat.  I trim the grass very carefully around it, to show that it is important to me...and to keep it looking nice.

Honestly, this can all sound a bit crazy to the uninitiated.  Many new Heathens tend to focus on the Gods and Goddesses, because they are used to religions that focus on divine powers.  The idea that you share a home with an unseen spirit is not exactly something most of us grew up with in our modern culture.  Giving gifts and respect to the spirits and unseen beings that live on the land you own is not something that your hear much about outside of our Folkway.  But, as strange as it sounds and feels, gifting one's house wight and the land wights on your land, and learning how to interact with these beings can be very rewarding.  Making this a part of your personal practice is the best way to learn.  If something works, use it.  If something doesn't work, let it go.  This is one of those things that feels a bit strange at first, but then feels very natural after just a short time of giving it a try.

So, what are some ways you interact with your house and land wights?

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods


  1. Good info. I talk to mine every day and especially right before leaving the area. Asking them to keep an eye on the animals and house and thanking them upon return.

  2. thank you for this information. I've been hunting mine with a digital camera, fascinated by the bright and colourful orbs I am rewarded with.

    I am confirmed now in what course of action I am to take in this matter and no longer am apprehensive of their presence. I use plural because there is more than one orb in any pictures that I might take. I will put this information to good use, and thank you for the time you have taken in posting this remarkably useful knowledge. May the gods watch over you and your endeavours.

  3. Mizuryu, I don't want to come off as negative in any way, because many people believe that photographic orbs are spirits or energy forms of some sort. In truth, they are caused by out-of-focus particles (dust, pollen, lint, even moisture) hanging in the air. They are within a few feet of the flash and the lens, and are thus lit brightly by the flash...and turned into "orb" shapes because they are so out of focus. I've experimented with taking photos with and without a flash...and I've created orb photos by putting extra dust or lint into the air. You can try this yourself if you want. It is a common misunderstanding among people that orbs are ghosts or spirits, so I completely understand why you would believe that. Now, that doesn't mean you don't have house or land spirits where you live. Not in the least. :-)