The blóterehád of the Ealdríce is forlain upon the elder heathen priesthood as it was found throughout Germania during the Folkwanderingtide. Within the Old English writ-hoard itself, written witnesses to the Anglo-Saxon blóterehád are few, though not as fewsome as many have been misled to believe. Yet from the loresprings of other thentidely théods such as the Suebi, Burgundians, and Goths, much may be learned of the blóterehád that the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes brought with them when they fared forth from their homelands mid the 5th hundredtide.
Of the elder blóterehád, most Medieval writers, being Romans or churchmen, wrote of sacerdotes, “priests” or even pontifices, “pontiffs.” Yet, among those who wrote in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, we find them called æweweardas, “law warders,” þingere “intercessors or those who speak at þing,” wéofodþegnas, “altar thanes,” wígbedwígleras, “altar seers,” heargweardas “temple warders,” hylteras “lot casters” and, as they are most oft spoken of within the Ealdríce, blóteras, “sacrificers.”
As might be gleaned from such wordlore, and from sundry loresprings spanning a thousand years, ‘twas the blótere’s trust to see to the offering of livestock to the gods, the warding and work of the heap and holystead, the overseeing of moot, the casting of rune-scored lots, the wiling of what was to come, and the bidding of the gods for their blessings. Beyond this, blóteras were said to bear into battle graven godliknesses and other such tokens brought forth from their holy groves.[i]
Blót – Old English for “sacrifice”
Blótere – Old English for “one who sacrifices,” “a priest”
Blóterehád – Old English for “priesthood”
Folkwanderingtide – The Germanic Migration Era (300-500 CE)
Forlain – Founded
Fewsome – Rare, seldom
Heap – A word which can mean “cultus” or “religious following” but here speaks to a hearg, an altar of stones “heaped” upon one another.
Hundredtide – Century
Godlikeness – an idol, the likeness of a god
Loresprings – Histories
Thentidely – Contemporary to that time
Théod – Tribe, people, nation
Wile, Wiling – From the OE: wíglung, with wíg being a variant of wéoh, “holy.” Whereas wíglung meant to “cast lots” or “practice divination,” in such NE words as wily, guile, and beguile, it has come to mean “to deceive,” itself a fascinating insight into what the church thought of heathen wíglung. Here it is here used in its original heathen sense.
Writ-hoard – Literary corpus
[i] Tacitus, Germania, Chapter 7 – Effigiesque et signa quaedam detracta lucis in proelium ferunt