Viking Ritual: What is A Blót?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Ritual: What was a Blot?

Nearly every community has a set of traditional rituals from which people either speak out their wish or pay respect toward the High Power of their belief. In the Viking Age, there once was a set of traditional rituals, too. Among the most famous Viking rituals was the Blót which isn't a splash of ink spilt. 


Go straight to the point, a Norse blot was a pagan sacrifice to the Norse Pantheon. The word "blot" means "sacrifice" or "worship". A Blot can be dedicated to any god, the spirits of the land, and the ancestors. A blot could be held several times a year. Parts of this ritual took in the forms of sacramental feast or meal. But it wasn't too much terrible because the victims would be pigs or horses.

Image of Viking blot

The blot by August Malmström

The meat for the sacrifice and feast would be boiled inside enormous cooking pots. And the blood of the animals would be sprayed on the statues of their gods, on the people, and around the wall. This part was believed to serve to preserve the magic and the power. Everyone would sit around the cooking pots and tried the meals. Because they believed eating on such occasions meant they were feasting with gods. The drink which primarily was the ale was passed around. The drink was also sacred and blessed. If the noble were feasting together, they would stand a chance of drinking the imported wine. 

 The building where the blot happened was known as the hov which we can see as the building that people would only come to celebrate something religious and come to worship. 


In Uppsala, Sweden, there was a famous Norse temple which we now often call the Temple of Uppsala. The German chronicler said about the ritual in this writing. In the ritual he described, Thor was the strongest god whose power was associated with lightning and storm. He sat in the middle and the Mjolnir hammer was always in his hand. Odin the god of war and wisdom was beside, and Frey god of fertility and peace. Gods had the priests to offer them with the people's sacrifices. If something related to disease and famine, they sacrificed to Thor, if war to Odin the Allfather, and if weddings to Frey. 

Image of Viking ritual blot

The modern depiction of a Viking blot

In Mære, Snorri Sturluson mentioned the blot in one piece of his writing. That all men came to the temple and had to bring with them what the feast required. Some would bring the ale, some with the cattle. The cattle which were mainly horses and pigs were slaughtered and the blood coming from such sacrificial animals were the hlaut. There were kind of vessels to hold the blood and they were known as the hlaut-vessels. The blood would be sprinkled around the temple, onto the people as well as the statues of the gods. Goblets full of ale would be put around the fire. The chieftain would be blessed with the full goblets. First of all, the goblets of Odin would be finished for the victory and the glory of the king, and the goblets of Njord and Freya would be emptied for peace and a good season. The people who took part in the feast would also empty their goblets in the remembrance of their deceased friends. 

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