Friday, November 12, 2010

Yule and Pagan Christmas

Oh what to do... Christmas is so commercialised and as for the religious bits, that just to involved to go into today. We have not really celebrated Christmas for a few years, it seemed hypocritical, considering my spiritual beliefs.

But I do feel passionate about universe and honoring nature for it's gifts, especially since as a human race we treat the planet like crap. So I've been looking into a Yule and a Pagan Celebration, that's an eye opener on how the church once again manipulated things for their own need to control people.... oh I'm getting on my soap box again... down boy.

So now I'm wondering how I celebrate a winter festival in the middle of summer - we tried doing it in the middle of the year, but it just doesn't feel right - I feel festive now, there are decorations going up, christmas parties to go to - oh what to do. May be I should look into the Summer Solstice and see what happens there, do some mix up thingie. Any suggestions are welcome.

Anyway the difficult thing is Yule is celebrated in Europe as the Winter Solstice. Here is some background from Tiffany a Blog that I'm reading at the moment, she seems pretty cool.

So Tiffany says Yule is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son of God - by whatever name you choose to call him. On this darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth. And it makes perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of the winter, 'the dark night of our souls', there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.

Long before the world had heard of Jesus, Pagans had been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing on it, and lighting it from the remains of last year's log. Riddles were posed and answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and consumed along with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from house to house while carolling, and divinations were cast for the coming Spring.

Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon 'Yula', meaning 'wheel' of the year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-days of the year, but a very important one. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash. Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on it.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically -- not medicinally! It's highly toxic!) But aphrodisiacs must have been the smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient times, as contemporary reports indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of every type of good food. And drink! The most popular of which was the 'wassail cup' deriving its name from the Anglo-Saxon term 'waes hael' (be whole or hale).

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