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Anglo-Saxon Birth Rituals

By Swain Wodening

Not much information survives on birth rituals. Going by Germanic folklore, the father was definitely expected to be present at the birth of a child, and to provide the mother moral support and help ease the pain during the birth its self. This is seen especially in the Scandinavian countries. An old German practice that has been preserved was for the midwife to lay the newborn after birth, on the floor or ground, where upon the father picked it up. This seems to have meant that the father claimed the child and it was not to be exposed. In the Norse areas this seems sometimes to have been incorporated into the naming rite, and done on the ninth day.

Within the lore its self, most brith rites deal with the goddesses and Idesa (Disir). Sigrdrífumál verse 9 advises “Biarg-(help-) runes thou must know, if thou wilt help, and loose the child from women. In the palm they must be graven, and round the joints be clasped, and the Dísir prayed for aid. (Thorpe Translation)” And in Óddrúnargrátr verses 7 and 8 we are advised “Then speech the woman so weak began, Nor said she aught ere this she spake: “So may the holy ones thee help, Frigg and Freyja and favoring gods, As thou hast saved me from sorrow now.” (Bellows translation). Modern Heathens therefore should be ready to pray to Frige (Frigga) and Freo (Freya) during the birth, and invoke the Idesa (Disir) prior to it as well.

Read the original article at: Swain Wodenings Blog

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