We live at a delicate and dangerous time in history. We are threatened by the accelerating erosion of culture, a crisis of change brought on by our own lifestyles, values, and technology. We need cultural forms that assist us in celebrating Life, in all its diversity, admidst suffering and death. Historically, the celebration of the continuance of Life around the Wheel of the Year served that purpose. By seasonally aigning themselves with the grander rythms of Mother Earth, Peoples from every culture renewed their connection and inter-relatedness to their world.
The celebration of Winter Solstice is one such festival. For the Ancients, the Solstices were times to celebrate the polarities and to bring them into healthy relationship. Given the mysoginist and devisive rhetoric of the recent Presidential campaign, this seems more important now than ever before. In discarding these community celebrations for world rebalance and renewal we risk moving ever deeper into abusive and broken relationships between men and women, between cultures, and between humanity and Nature. When we ignore or deny The Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine that lie deep within us, we run the risk of projecting on the other our fears and weaknesses.
The Winter Solstice, which shifts between Dec 21 and Dec 23, is considered the celebration of the Divine Masculine. Burning a Yule log lights the way for the Return of the Sun God and the celebration of the return of the Light. The Divine Feminine takes precedence at the Summer Solstice (June 21 to June 23) at the height of the Earth;s fertility. Some of our most cherished holiday traditions have their origins in Pagan times; Holly represents the Holly King , ruler of the waning year while Mistletoe symbolizes the Oak King, ruler of the waxing year. The evergreen is the symbol of fertility and prosperity, the candles and lights are symbols of the returning Sun. Even the Star, a Pentagram, symbolizes the unity of Man with the Divine and interconnectedness of All Beings.
You can create a simple ritual, to be celebrated with friends or by yourself, to mark this time.
Consider what you want to bring in or embrace with this Renewal of the Sun.
Create your own Yule log, Birch is a symbol of Beginnings, Oak can stand for the Sacred Masculine. You may wish to decorate it or carve a picture of the Oak King into it.
Bring a "giveaway" to be cast into the fire that represents a block to the restoration of harmony or you can simply write what you intend to change on a slip of paper to burn.
Pick a simple melody to drum and chant "Rising, Rising the Sun is Rising, Turning, Turning the Tide is Turning". Continue chanting until the energy feels "wound up" then burn the offerings. Then totally embrace the change you wish to see in your world!
It might seem simplistic to believe the celebration of a Solstice could change the world. But as we begin to refocus our attitudes towards CHANGE AND SEE THESE SEASONAL CELEBRATIONS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO RELEASE OUR GRIP ON BELIEFS AND LIFESTYLES THAT PUT FUTURE GENERATIONS AND THE EARTH AT RISK, perhaps we might indeed become the CHANGE which we wish to see in the world.
WHEN SANTA WAS A SHAMAN...
This time of year I am always grateful to an author who give me a little hope and levity when the Christmas madness gets to be too much, British author, TERRY PRACHETT. Prachett was a satirist of the most delicate kind, working his magic and commentary on the wolrd and humanity's foibles through his imaginary world, DISCWORLD.
THE HOG FATHER (both the movie and the book) is celebrated every year at the McCullough household. The title "Hog Father" refers to the Scottish celebration of Hogamanny, if you are curious. This "Santa" drives a sleigh of boars rather than reindeer but otherwise much resembles our Old St. Nick. The tale is about entities called "THE AUDITORS" who seek to "in-hume"( or have eliminated) The Hog Father to cause the disruption of belief and gain power over the minds of the humans. Prachett manages to interweave the ancient rites of Solstice and the importance of its celebration into his tale of sacrifice and Love, Magic and the all too human need to believe in something greater than ourselves.
Ultimately, the exchange between DEATh and his grand-daughter Susan after they have saved the day sum up the power of the story itself.Susan saves the symbol of HogFather, the Solstice Shaman riding a boar being hunted down by wolves.
This is the exchange between Susan and her Grandfather, DEATH (you gotta read the books) at the end of their adventure to save the Hogfather and the belief in Hogswatch (Yule tide, people, if you
don’t get my drift).
DEATH: WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU NEVER SAVED HIM (referring to the sacrificial boar)?
SUSAN: Yes! The sun would have risen just the same,yes?
Oh, come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact!
THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN. A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.
A Trickery with words. I would have thought you’d have been more literal minded than that.
I AM NOTHING IF NOT LITERAL-MINDED. TRICKERY WITH WORDS IS WHERE HUMANS LIVE.
All right, said Susan. I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need…fantasies to make life bearable.”
NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
Tooth fairies? Hog fathers? Little—-
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
So we can believe the big ones?
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
They’re not the same at all!
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SEIVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET-YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME REAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IG THERE IS SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—-
MY POINT EXACTLY. THERE IS A PLACE WHERE TWO GALAXIES HAVE BEEN COLLIDING FOR A MILLION YEARS. DON’T TELL ME THAT’S RIGHT.
Yes, but people don’t think about that, said Susan.
CORRECT. STARS EXPLODE, WORLDS COLLIDE. THERE’S HARDLY ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANS CAN LIVE WITHOUT BEING FROZEN OR FRIED, AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT A BED IS A NORMAL THING. IT IS THE MOST AMAZING TALENT.
OH, YES. A VERY SPECIAL KIND OF STUPIDITY. YOU THINK THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS INSIDE YOUR HEADS.
You make us sound mad, said Susan.
NO. YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?
Yes, indeed, Dear One’s, how else can we create PEACE, EQUALITY, CHANGE…how else can they BECOME if we don’t believe?
Merry Solstice! Happy Yule! Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Kwanza, Dwali, Los Posadas and however else you celebrate. BELIEVE it can all be different…then don’t forget to ACT on your belief to make it so.
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