Focus…relax…listen to the silence of the house, the party done, the guests all gone, only the family, and the rhythms of the house sighing and beginning to ease. It is the 12th day of Yule, time to bring the celebrations to an end, and I seek the world within for the last time this season.

The mountain is damp and rainy, cold when the wind is off the sea, but I wrap up warmly, and with compass and lantern, seek the world within. And once more I find Raven waiting. Together we pass over Bifrost and seek the gate.

Tonight a white ram watches the gate, but it is Himinbjorg that is lit up. Heimdall himself hosts the final feast of Yule. The ram nods his head, and we turn that way.

Heimdall’s hall is not large, but it is elegantly made, with dragon heads carved into the ends of the beams that face Jotunheim, and carvings around the posts and lintel of the great door.

As I enter, I see that the gods and goddesses have been at their feasting for quite awhile, and indeed it is late. It is only the great gods tonight. Their households are at home. They speak in low tones as they drink from golden cups or silver mounted horns.

As I stand there, wondering where to go, one of the servants hands me a pitcher of mead. I do know how to serve gods, and I carry it up to the table and begin to refill cups and horns. Those gods and goddesses I have visited give me a smile. Heimdall himself nods approval as I move along the table. When I have made the round I wait, listening as the talk goes on.

“This last feast is always here, at the gates of Asgard, because this place is a threshold, and in Midgard, they are at the threshold of a new year,” Heimdall observes. “What gifts shall we give the folk this new year, and what shall we ask in return?”

“Banish the trolls first,” says Thor. “How can they plan anything or accomplish anything while the forces of confusion are still abroad?”

“Before their feasts I counseled them to clean and clear old business away,” says Holda. “Now it’s time to clear up the debris from the celebrations. Soon it will be time to start the work of the new year. If they ask my advice, I will say that they should pick one area of life to organize—the kitchen, or the office, or some activity. Analyze, and simplify. There are many kinds of housecleaning.”

“And cleaning itself is an offering,” adds Frigg. “My gift is order, so that they will understand how to set priorities.”

“The gift that my sister and I give them is fertility—“ says Freyr. “They should prepare the ground and plant seeds, and what is planted with our blessing will grow.”

“I suppose that the dwarves would say the same,” adds Freyja, fingering her necklace, “only they would speak of what grows on the workbench, not in the ground. This is the time for indoor tasks that one can do before the fire on a winter night. Look to your tools, repair and sharpen them to prepare for the work ahead.”

Heimdall turns to Odin. “And what about you?”

“What do I wish for our children this year?” He strokes his beard. “Be watchful. The time when things seem to be improving can be a time of danger. Do not be too quick to assume that the danger of winter storms, and upsets in other areas, is over. Be careful with your resources. Now is a holy time, and the decisions they make at this time will resonate throughout the year. Let each one choose a cause to support, but do it carefully. That is the offering I would ask for, to use resources to help us do our work.”

“That is good thinking,” says Njordh. “I count no voyage successful until the ship is drawn up on the shore.”

“Nor I, a hunt, until the beast is skinned and roasting over my fire,” adds Skadhi.

Heimdall turns and looks at me. “You have heard. Bear this word to your folk. We predict for you a good year, but you must be careful to do what is needful to protect what you have. If you are faithful, this coming year will be somewhat better than the last.”

“Thank you. Would you like some more mead?” I carry the pitcher around the table once more.

“One more cup before we part,” Heimdall agrees, “for indeed the hour is late, here as well as in your world. To the coming year!” He raises his horn, as do the others. He pours some from his horn into a cup and hands it to me.

“To the New Year, and to all those I love, health and wealth and joy.” I drink, and the mead goes down fiery and sweet.

The gods are rising to depart. I offer my thanks to Heimdall for his help and his hospitality and turn, return to the gate and find Raven sharing the ram’s grain. Together we follow the rainbow road back to the base of the Tree, and through the forest I go, and back to my quiet room. I sigh and stretch, breathe more quickly, and open my eyes.