On the Holding of Holytides and the Gathering for Moot

Les Delices des Pais-Bas

Anglo-Saxon gods as drawn in Les Délices des Pais-Bas

Whilst the new moon betokened the beginning of the new month, it may well be asked when, in a given month, did our fore-elders fain the holydays?  The worship of Midwinter and Midsummer are stapled by the sunsteads and were thus held without heed to the moon’s wayfaring.  Of the other holytides, however, we might well believe that they were marked by the moon. Indeed, hint of such may well be found in the name of Winterfylleþ, “winter full moon month,” as it is believed that the elves were given worship at this time as witnessed by the Norse Álfablót.

As told by Tacitus in his Germania, “They gather, lest it be by hap or for sudden need, either at the new moon or the full, as they believe that these tides are lucky for the beginning of business.[i]” Indeed, though it was of Thing that Tacitus wrote, law and holiness were wholly entwined in elder heathendom with Moot itself often tethered to a high holytide. ‘Twould then seem most likely then that the holydays, like moot, were held either upon the new moon or the full.

Within the Ealdríce itself, we have chosen to follow that Théodish thew handed down from the Witan Théod and the Wínland Ríce whereby all fainings, but those of Midwinter and Midsummer, are held nigh if not upon the full moon.  Of moot, which we hold monthly, we gather nigh if not upon the new moon, that is, by sight of its waxing horn. In such way we give the fullness of our worship to the gods when the moon is full yet we begin new guild business at the month’s beginning when the moon is new.

[There is, however, no thew that forbids our mooting on the full moon or even upon the sunsteads. Indeed, it may be that, upon a high holytide, the Ealdríce might both fain the gods and hold moot should it seem fitting and needful to do so.]


Anglish Wordhoard
Fain – to celebrate
Faining – A Théodish rite of worship
Holyday – Holiday, literally a “holy day”
Holytide – A holy tide, a holy occasion
Moot – a law assembly or court, interchangeable with Thing
Sunstead – Solstice
Thew – tradition, custom
Thing – a law assembly or court, interchangeable with Moot

[i] Coeunt, nisi quid fortuitum et subitum incidit, certis diebus, cum aut incohatur luna aut impletur; nam agendis rebus hoc auspicatissimum initium credunt. Wended from Latin by Þórbeorht.

About Þórbeorht Línléah

Ealdorblótere (chief priest) at Whitthenge Heall of the Ealdríce, an Anglo-Saxon Théodish fellowship. Author of Of Ghosts and Godpoles: Theodish Essays Pertaining to the Reconstruction of Saxon Heathen Belief, Both Old and Anglo (2014). Author of Þæt Ealdríce’s Hálgungbóc: The Théodish Liturgy of Þæt Ealdríce (2015, 2016). Þórbeorht resides in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Eþelwynn and two daughters.
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