Tag Archives: Yule

Twelve Nights – A Poem for Yule

For twelve nights long we’ve rung the bell.
For more years now than men may tell.

Before Saint Nick was on the scene.
Before the baby Nazarene.

We dressed the hearth in green and red.
We kept the children long from bed.

And told the tales the wise men know.
And feasted through the deepening snow.

To wake the Sun from her long sleep.
To mark the oaths we’ve sworn to keep.

Now Yule from us is nearly gone.
Now starts the newborn year in song.

May our midwinter celebrations bring us closer to hearth and home and to those we love from across the miles.

Blessings to you all.

Winter Solstice

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, Mythology, Poetry, Religion, Traditions

Thunder and Lightning — a Poem for Yule

I am the wind that rattles the door in its frame.
A white beard lay upon my green cloak like frost on mistletoe.
A bell tolls when I pass and ravens follow in my wake.

Donder and Blitzen,
Thunder and Lightning.

The grey horse below me flies like a comet through the night.
His many hooves dash and dance like a herd of winter deer.
In twelve days time the whole of the world will pass beneath him.

Donder and Blitzen,
Thunder and Lightning.

Safe in their homes the feasting folk cheer us by firelight.
Wee children leave treats on the stoop for our long journey.
A handful of hay and a little bread will warm our chilled bones.

Donder and Blitzen,
Thunder and Lightning.

We roll like storm clouds across the snow whitened fields.
And upon our return what gifts we shall bring!
A season of dark and cold swept away by the newborn Sun.

Donder and Blitzen,
Thunder and Lightning.

Odin and Sleipnir

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Filed under Art, Holidays, Mythology, Poetry, The Gods, Uncategorized

Born in Darkness

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before…,

—from The Raven by Edger Allen Poe

We have a strange, and if I may say, somewhat backward, relationship with darkness.  We are raised, almost from birth, to be terrified of the night and frightened by shadows which lurk beyond our sight.  We populate the dark with our fears and anxieties, making of it a home for every predator, villain and devilry that our overwrought imaginations may contrive.  We strive to light our homes, our yards and streets, and when we think there may not be enough light to reach every dark corner, we bolt high powered halogen security lights onto every pole and surface we can find.  We flood the night with so much glare that the stars themselves are hidden from our sight.

We excuse this behavior by telling ourselves that we act out of self preservation.  We imagine that our ancestors gathered close around some meager blaze as they sheltered in their caves by night.  Perhaps, we tell ourselves, that those distant ancients could hear wolves sniffing about in the darkness, just outside the reach of the light, and knew that they were safe and secure within its protective glow.

In our apprehension, we have sought to extend that glow further and further, to cast light into every shadow and in so doing, to rob the night of its mystery.

Are we any safer?

And even if the answer to that question is yes, was it worth turning the night into a pallid likeness of daytime to achieve that supposed security.

I step out of my home and into the night only to find myself illuminated from almost every direction.  Looking into the drab sky which hangs above me, punctuated by a scarce smattering of pinprick lights, I find that I don’t buy into the original argument.

Men…, caves…, fire…, safety.   It all sounds very plausible until you remember that in those ancient sites where early peoples left cave art behind, those paintings NEVER appear near the entrances to the caves where the people sheltered and light was plentiful.  Instead, those sacred images were produced in the deepest, darkest most inaccessible parts of the cave.  Although we cannot know precisely what spirits may have motivated our earliest ancestors, it seems clear enough that they understood something about the darkness that we, as a culture, appear to have forgotten.

While darkness may sometimes hide danger, it is home to the most sacred of mysteries: the birth of light and life and power.

We have become so fixated upon our own journey toward some imagined darkness that we forget that we were birthed, each of us, from darkness itself.  Literally speaking, the safest, most comforting and secure time of our lives was spent in the womb.  The mystery of life begins in darkness, and though we may live out our lives in the light of the sun, it is to the comforting darkness of our beds that we return when the day is done.

In these days leading up to the Winter Solstice, the days grow shorter and shorter while the darkness of night extends to the fullest reach it shall know in the year ahead.  Our ancestors understood that the living year is born, as are we all, from a place of darkness.  They welcomed the darkness of creation, and the eventual rebirth of the sun, with feasts and gifts and sacrifice that have been passed down to us from a time beyond recorded history.

However you choose to celebrate in the coming days, I welcome you to join me in the deepest part of the longest night of the year.  Step out of the “safe” light of the fire for a few moments and into the darkness beyond.  Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the night around you.  Feel the breath of mystery upon your cheek.

And when you are ready…,

Open your eyes and peer deep into that darkness,

Not fearing, but wondering;

Not doubting, but dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before!

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, Philosophy, Spiritual Journey

Creepy Plastic Santa

He appears suddenly and without warning, a towering harbinger of kitschy despair.  As the final weeks of November slip away, he rises, looming over the puny humans that rush past him, and bearing the full onslaught of holiday marketing in his mighty wake.

Behold, Creepy Plastic Santa!

Actually, I suspect that he’s composed of fiberglass, but Creepy Fiberglass Santa just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Plastic is, for some reason, more menacing than fiberglass. And as you can see, Creepy Plastic Santa is nothing, if not menacing.

He appears yearly on a street corner several blocks from my home.  Day after day I drive past the spot and there is nothing there, just an empty patch of ground and a streetlamp.  For just shy of eleven months out of the year, I catch myself casting a glance at that spot as I drive past.  Almost always there follows a sigh of relief, but in the days leading up to and immediately following Thanksgiving, a certain tension begins to fill the air.  Still that corner is empty.

And again the next day.

And the next.

However watchful I am, somehow he always catches me unawares.  As I’m driving along, some fellow driver will suddenly change lanes in front of me, or abruptly slow down for no obvious reason.  Cursing, I navigate past potential collision only to see him there before me, his black gloved hand upraised as if ready to crash down on some unsuspecting motorist.

“Errrgh!” (car weaves momentarily)

Come to think of it, maybe that explains the erratic behavior of my fellow drivers.

We all know that he is going to show up, but it is still quite unsettling when he does.

He is not alone.

As the calendar page turns to December and the red-clad golem takes his place on the corner, these horrid things seem to appear everywhere.

What is it about these gnashing goblins that makes people want to display them in their homes?

Yes, I know.  I’ve seen several performances of the Nutcracker Suite over the years and while the dancing and the music are always wonderful, the story is absolute rubbish!  Any little girl who falls in love with this garish toothy monster needs some serious psychiatric counseling.

Welcome to the Holiday Season!

This is the time of year when everyone is expected to celebrate, but certain folks are less than satisfied with how their neighbors choose to do so.

“Please don’t call my holiday a holiday,” they fervently proclaim, “it’s Christmas!”

These are the folks who have declared that there is a “War on Christmas” and that the goal of all right thinking individuals should be to put Jesus back into a holiday that was largely borrowed from ancient pagans in the first place.

Oh how they bemoan the commercial aspects of the holiday, pointing out that the fervent materialism displayed by people who literally trample each other in their quest for Holiday Door Busters, is totally contrary to the spirit of their holiday.

Many are those who will claim that Christmas is a spiritual time to be shared with family and friends, even as they do their utmost to burn out the local electrical grid with animated light displays which are undoubtedly visible to the naked eye from low Earth orbit.

Well, my friends, I am truly sorry but I think the time has come for a major change.

A certain group of people have had almost undisputed control over how the Winter Solstice holiday is celebrated for the better part of 1,500 years.  And what, I ask you, do we have to show for it?

This?  Really?!

PlasticSanta02

No!  You do not get to bitch about commercialism and excess and secularization when you have been the ones with your hands on the steering wheel for as long as anyone can remember.  It’s time to hand over the keys and let someone else drive for a bit.

I beg you, my more devout Christian friends, to gaze into the agonized eyes of Creepy Plastic Santa and tell me if you truly think you have been worthy guardians of this sacred time in the turning of the year.  Pagans were not in charge when that monstrosity was cast, nor atheists, nor any of the other groups you so often like to blame for the worlds failings.  Christmas is what you have made of it.

Creepy Plastic Santa is your legacy.

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, Modern Life, Religion