Landtaking – A Sacred Part of Our Heritage

by Chris Haviland

When Asatruar move into a new place, or assume ownership of some land, it is traditional for them to do some form of “landtaking” ceremony to claim the land, and to make it suitable for our work.

Our landtaking rites have always included the following things –
1. Carrying fire around the property line (Sunwise, of course) – oftimes a candle or kerosene lantern. We always do these things at night, so this serves a practical purpose as well. We say or sing something appropriate while we make the journey around the property – such as “I claim this land for my family and my kin. May the Gods of my people watch over and bless this place, and may the landwights make us welcome.”

2. Hammer sign at the cardinal points, on the edge of the property. Although hammer signing is of debatable antiquity, it has become deeply ingrained in Asatru practice. Of course, return to the center (roughly) of the property, or to where your harrow will be, and complete the signing
(above and below…).

3. A VERY formal offering to the local land wights. After all, you will be living with these folk, and digging up their land when you build. While many bits of advice have been given recently on suitable offerings, I’ll contribute a couple ideas – If in the Americas, tobacco is very good; milk
is a must, as is beer; and finally, bury nine ‘precious’ coins on the property (such as copper pennies, silver dimes, etc. – none of the recent copper on zinc coins!).

4. If you’ve been practicing Asatru religiously (I couldn’t resist!), you will undoubtedly have attracted a host of ‘traditional’ or old world house spirits, yarthkins, and other house and home wights. Like many folk, I offer to these beings regularly. I always invite those well-meaning spirits who’ve attached themselves to our household to join us in the move to the new home. When you move out of your current dwelling, be sure to not only invite those who are joining you, but make a final offering to those who will stay behind, that they will send on your way with good luck. We always leave a half dollar on a window sill in the house or apartment, too.

5. After all this, we hold a formal dedication of the new harrow, even if it is only a single stone (Often the land is purchased before you actually move, as in your case, and your permanent harrow may not move right away). This way, there is something tied to the old ways that is “built” on the property, for the landwights to ‘attach’ themselves to. This is also a good time to formally name the property.

6. Finally, celebrate a blot. If the appropriate seasonal blot can be held, so much the better, but an all-gods blot is good too.

Lastly, a word about some of the omens you mights see during this process-

Something BIG stomping around the periphery – something out there is a trifle uncomfortable with your activities. You will have to deal with this in some manner! (Either placate or trounce this critter – spiritually, of course)
Celestial events (lightning, tornados, etc.). If good (you have to figure this out!), the Gods are pleased. If ‘bad’ you may need to do…something?!!
Animals. Obviously, ravens, crows, elk, pigs, deer, cows, wolves, happy dogs (vs unhappy), swans, and cats are good. Others may be good signs, dependent upon your individual relationship with them. Insects are inescapable, most places, so bring the OFF! and forget interpreting their voracity as some kind of sign.
Other stuff. Keep an eye open during the land taking. Many times important knowledge will come to you during this process, and really help you integrate into the land. A good land taking is the best way to make sure you get off to a good start with your new (spiritual) neighbors.