Birds of a feather flock together: The sacred feast of Váli

Dear pagan readers,

February 14th is commonly being designated as “Valentine’s Day”, the day of lovers that is nowadays celebrated with roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, romantic gifts and valentines given to those beloved. Some couples even make a point to go out for dinner or to go see a movie on this day to express their love and rekindle their passion for each other. February 14th is indeed a very special day. That is exactly why the early christians felt the need to assimilate this pagan feast in order to facilitate the conversion of our forebears. Long before the two early Christian martyrs named Valentine that this special day is currently named after lived, the ancient Europeans in Northern Europe celebrated February 14th(around the 24-25 of Sokkvabekkr in the ancient calendar) as The Feast Day of Vali also referred to as The Festival of the Kin. This day was held sacred to the god Váli and in honor of the family and friendship. The god Váli is known as the defender of the family unit, light, and goodness. Vali is the son of the god Oðin and giantess Rinðr, as well as the brother of Balðr, Þórr, Höðr, etc. Váli is depicted as an archer with arrows of light. Some anthropologists theorized that the god Váli is the Northern European version of Eros (Greek myths) and Cupid (Roman myths). But Vali represent love in a broader meaning, he also represented family and friendship types of love, like the love between friends, siblings, spouses, parents and children, cousins, and the like.

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In the Poetic Edda (Voluspá and Baldrs Draumar sections), Váli is known for avenging Balðr’s death with the killing of Höðr. This myth defines him as a god of “rightful vengeance”. The type of vengeance that upon dispensing causes balance in society, harmony, and good to avail. This “rightful vengeance” did not encompass spiteful or petty revenge. Today, as an example, a type of “rightful vengeance” would be the death penalty imposed upon a serial killer or rapist. This would bring about a balance in society, harmony, and good.

The feast day of Váli was a very important festival to the early Northern-Europeans. It was not just a day to give toasts and feasts in honor of the god Váli. This was a day dedicated to the Kin unity, its members, and friends. Which is why this day was also known as The Festival of the Kin, an appropriate name since that is exactly what they did. On this day, entire tribes were holding festival and every member of the tribe were sharing much fun together as relatives and friends.

This ancient story of The feast Day of Váli makes this day even more amazing and meaningful. This is a day for honoring the family and friendship, not only lovers. A day to spend time with our beloved relatives and grant them the gift of quality time. This year would have probably been considered even more sacred by our forebears with the fullmoon tonight. So I suggest you all to give a toast in honor of the ever growing Oðalist family. May our Kin grow bigger and tighter as the time pass by. May our “rightful revenge” come soon in honor of our gods and Kin! In honor of Váli! That’s something definitely worth celebrating don’t you think?

“Birds of a feather flock together” so be it!

HailaR Váli!

Frederik Blanchet