This post is long overdue as it’s a requested topic from my awesome friend P. She asked me to talk about the landvættir/honoring land wights quite some time ago, but as I’ve admitted before, they’ve never been a huge part of my practice because I don’t notice or sense/feel them the way I do the gods and my grandfather. So for the last few months, I’ve been at a loss for words and had no reflections on the matter brewing in my brain.
Clearly, that’s changed. A little back and forth with E the other week changed my perspective entirely as she inadvertently pointed out the ways I actually do honor them. So here we are, finally. This one’s for you, P!
In Norse heathenry, nature spirits and protectors of the home and hearth are landvættir (also known as wights). Being of Norwegian descent, I grew up calling them nisser/nisse. My most treasured family relic is my grandfather’s porridge bowl and cup he brought with him from Drammen; it’s painted with nisser dancing around the edge, and I’ve got a note in his handwriting offering both the literal and idiomatic translations of the inscription inside the cup. “Vi Nisser, Vi Nisser, Vi Gjöre Hvad Vi Kan,” or “We elves, we elves, we do our best.” The folk tales on which I cut my teeth focused around nisser and their kin, yet I rarely felt too much of a connection with the spirits of the land. I noticed them frequently in Iceland, but often remark that in the United States, the energy (to me) is much weaker and much more confused and jumbled, which makes it incredibly difficult to pick up on things. And to be utterly honest, I’ve always felt silly leaving out a bowl of porridge with a slab of butter melting into it. I’ve obviously got no problems feeling dopey leaving out offerings of sweets and snackrifices, so being weirded out and embarrassed by a bowl of porridge says quite a lot about my relationship with the nisser (or tomte, for you Swedes).