Surprise! It’s Sunday – and I’m posting the right subject matter! On the right day! At (about) the right time !
* It's Yule Time *
By Ahneke Greystone; published in CAULDRONS AND BROOMSTICKS, YULE issue 2000.
WHEN THE SUN COMES UP AGAIN
It is the Great Mother
Who gives birth to Him,
It is the Lord of Life,
Who is born again!
Darkness and tears
Are set aside,
When the sun comes up again!
(Traditional chant - anon.)
A story is told about a baby born in a rustic setting. Shepherds gather round to witness the heralded birth and celebrate the arrival of the Golden Child. The child becomes a man who inspires others and who has many followers. He performs miracles and loves and cares for humankind. He shares a last supper with the most loyal of his followers and rises to heaven. He is promised to return in full Glory at the end of time to welcome the risen dead into the next world.
This is the tale of the Roman god Mithras, who himself has roots to the ancient Persian god, Mithra, and in Roman celebrations to Sol and to more ancient Son gods. His story, that of a reborn god who brings hope to the dark world as the longest night passes, is reflected in the stories of many other gods at this time of year: Adonis, Attis, Baal, Bacchus, Balder, Chrishna, Dionysus, Frey, Helios, Horus and Ra, to name a few. It is also an intimately familiar story to Westerners who know the story of Jesus so well.
As we settle into Winter, we share with all who have come before us an appreciation of the return of the Light. What better time of year to honor the gods who bring us the promise of delivery from the frightening darkness of the season? This is the turn of the Wheel when we are aware of the power of conception; that there is creation and life within the darkness which will be born into the realization of life. The stories of our gods reflect our human relationship to the Wheel of life. Darkness is always followed by light. As with our gods, we are reborn.
The Winter Solstice is the moment when the shift begins. It is the time when we begin to look forward, rather than back. The Anglo-Saxons celebrated the end of the solar year and the beginning of the new one at the Solstice. While most modern pagans think of Samhain as the New Year, when we celebrate the Winter Solstice we are aware that this, too, is a time of beginning. We hold that emergence in our hearts, for it is not yet visible. Its tangible signs are yet to come.
The lesson is in the waiting. In trusting that the Great Mystery will, as the wheel turns, bring us back into the cycle of rebirth. The Solstice is about the return of the light from without and the light of inspiration from within. Both sources of illumination are agents of transformation. This is the time of Faith. Of listening to the ancient, instinctual voice within which speaks about rebirth and promises eternity.
This is a special time when the focus is on community. On connection and celebration of humanity and the special bonds which cross all religion and culture. We note what we have in common with the worldwide celebrations of the season. We focus, not on differences, but on similarities and common ground. We cherish the best of what we are and see those qualities reflected in the people around us. We respect differences and honor connection. This is a moment which has been holy throughout all time. We know, perhaps more than at any other time of the year, that we are One. Values at this time of year cross all culture and religion. The love of family and the celebration of ethnic heritage. The feeling of reflection on the year past and hope for the year forward. The shared feeling of anticipation of the days of feasting and celebration. When we place Grandmother's angel or Father's star on our holiday tree, it does not matter that they celebrated the birth of Christ and we do not. For the moment is an instance of holy communion with those who came before. We honor them and welcome their memory. Within our modern celebration of the Solstice we are aware of the myriad of pagan details which give life to the day. This is what makes us whole. Past and present together.
The Goddess at the Solstice is giving birth. She is celebrated as the life force, with her time of Mothering to be celebrated come February. She is a young woman becoming aware of herself, internalizing the wisdom of the Crone she has just been, and becoming Self-aware as the Divine Virgin, the Maiden of our pagan tri-fold Goddess. She is the symbol of all that we each hold within; each spark of inspiration, each creative thought. She gives birth to the future. She is also the most ancient of gods, the Sun Goddesses, who are fiery and wise and hold much of the Crone within themselves.
Goddesses of the Solstice are Maidens/Mothers and Goddesses of the Sun: Akewa, Amaterasu, Ament, Arinna, Baba Yaga, Befana, Belili, Betha, Brighid, Ceres, Cerridwen, Coatlique, Cybele, Demeter, Ereshkigal, Frigg, Fuji, Grianne, Hakea, Hathor, Igaehindvo, Isis, Kore, Lucia, Mari, Mehen, Nanshe, Neith, Nerthus, Oya, Pele, Perchta, Persephone, Rhiannon, Sarama, Seshat, Srinmo, Sun Woman, Sunne, Tonantzin, and Unelanuhi.
The God is the Child of Hope. He reminds us of the frailty of newborn life, and the need for nurturing and delicate care of that which is so very precious. He is also the Stag; proud spirit of the evergreen world. And the elder Holly King, who has just lost his yearly battle to the Oak King of Springtime, reminding us, yet again, that all things must pass. Gods of the Winter Solstice are Sun gods, gods of Death and Rebirth and of Victory: Attis, Baal, Bacchus, Balder, Chrishna, Cernunnos, Dagda, Dionysus, Freyr, Helios, Herne, Horus, Jupiter, Osiris, Pan, Ra, Thor, and Woden.
Correspondences: Flowers: Amaryllis, chrysanthemum, dahlia, poinsettia, red roses, sunflower and white lily.
Colors: Black, brown, green, purple, red, tan and white.
Trees: Alder, ash, birch, cypress, elder, fir, hazel, holly, oak, pine,
spruce and yew.
Creatures: Bat, bear, dog, eagle, falcon, goose, owl, raven, snake, sow,
stag and wolf.
Stones/Gems: Apache tear, blue topaz, garnet, obsidian, onyx, pearls and quartz.
Herbs: Bay, chamomile, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, hops, hyssop, mugwort, nutmeg, star anise, and wormwood.
Incense/Oil: Bayberry, carnation, cedar, cinnamon, clove, cypress,
frankincense, juniper, orange, myrrh, patchouli, pine, rose, rosemary,
sandalwood, and spruce.
In this time of stillness, surrounded by the loving embrace of darkness, may we all be aware of the blessing of family, community and friends. May we appreciate our history and know that it is interconnected in so many ways to all the peoples of the world. May we be aware of the unique spark of life which we each represent, and may we sense, as the returning warmth of the Sun becomes ever more evident, that we are all part of one great and glorious Fire of Life.
Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.