Christmas is the most magical time of the year. Well, one of them. This is not a tale about family, or gifts—well that is not is not entirely true, they are gifts of a different kind—or Saint Nick. This is one of old magic, ancient and vast, and those who would seek to stare into the void.
While Christmas is currently a brightly hyper-commercialized annual consumer event these days it was once a dark time of the year, one where it was us against the primordial darkness, a single fire against the hungry cold.
These nights have power, it is why the pagans chose them for their celebrations after all— along with Halloween and Valentine’s Day (which is actually originally a feast for werewolves). The world beyond ours, the one filled with things we cannot explain, moves within inches of ours on these nights. It’s easy—if one is to believe the stories of old—to traverse the distance and see the supernatural on these nights, say a certain set of words and meet a certain set of conditions and strange things will happen. Such is the case with the Year Walk.
Known as the Årsgång , the ceremony originated in Sweden and took place on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. The ceremony involved purifying oneself thoroughly and then walking in the forest at night with no fire or light. If performed correctly the ceremony would allow one to see the future.
There is a catch though, in order to gain this future sight one had to overcome challenges and challengers from the other realm. The creatures that populated yesterday’s top ten list roamed the woods at night and one who was undertaking the Årsgång needed to proceed with care lest they meet their end at the hands of the supernatural. Even those not undertaking a Year Walk understood the threat posed by the beasts that swarm and fly through the Yuletide night. Food was left out, not for Saint Nick, but as a distraction for the hungry dead and other things that might visit over the course of the night. It was madness pure and simple to attempt the Year Walk. Oh, and of course there was the weather, with the threat posed by the elements also contributing to the dangers of the night. If one did not get eaten or have one’s soul confined to a special Hell, then one may still succumb to exposure.
The successful completion of the the ceremony often allowed the seer to glimpse the bounties and disasters of the year, so that one could adequately prepare for the year to come. Sometimes though the information provided was of a much grimmer nature. In one case, a year walker reported seeing his own funeral .
So the ceremony was one of high risk/reward and fraught with danger. If you’d like to experience the Year Walk for yourself, check out the amazing game from Simogo titled Year Walk. It is available on a variety of platforms, including iOS and Steam. If you’re seeking the full experience make sure you download the Year Walk Companion app as well. For the fascinating story of the game came into being, click here.