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I am an Ordained Minister, a Shaman, a Reiki Master Teacher, an Aromatherapist, a Massage Therapist, an Herbalist in training, & a Crystal Healer in training! I am also a Writer! I am one of the Neo- Celí Dé (a form of Celtic christian mysticism based on original early Christianity, & certain Celtic philosophies, perspectives, & certain Druidic elements). I am also a proud member of Clan MacKay. NO PARTIES, JUST PATRIOTISM!

These are a few of my favorite things!;

  • The Harry Potter series! both the movies and the books by J.K. Rowling!
  • Twilight book saga, and movie series by Stephanie Meyer's!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yule Tide!

Yule Tide!

Yule is the winter solstice celebrated circa December the 21st! Yule is the shortest day of the year and consequently the longest night. The sun begins its ascent back to its zenith at the end of this winter cycle and the days of the year start growing longer after that, while the nights begin to wane. The dark half of the year draws to a close. Modern day spiritual people both pagan and non-pagan alike celebrate this time! This festival marks the rebirth of the light which will take us out of dark winter! There are many festivals celebrating Light on the celtic calendar wheel of the year! Yule was not one of the original celtic festivals but was brought into the celtic calendar and culture when the norse and germanic peoples came and interbred with the celts! Yule is special however in the festivals of light, as it focuses on the rebirth of the light out of the darkness; while other festivals like lughnasadh celebrate Light in general and all its attributes! Yule’s influence was so strong that other religious festivals from other cultures and religions had their dates changed in order to correspond with its celebration! Christmas is one such festival! Some people say that these festivals had their dates changed and replace on the calendar at this time in order to dissuade people from pagan practices and make their transitions to more contemporary religions easier! While this probable played a major part in these festivals changing their dates it is not the only reason! Another reason that these festivals changed in their placement on the calendar is for far more esoteric reasons! The biggest one being that the symbolism of the winter solstice is just so harmonious with these festivals! Chanukah is the jewish festival of lights which celebrates a miracle God did for his people before new testament times! Christmas celebrates Christ the Light of the world, coming into the world in human incarnation in order to deliver the world from darkness through his sacrifice! This symbolism works perfect with Yule and the celtic attributes that have been added to it over the centuries! The Druids who were the celtic priest caste of various celtic nations made many Yule traditions that are still part of our modern Christmas customs to this very day! The practice of decorating with holly and mistletoe are druidic yule tide traditions, as well as wearing robes and singing, decorating trees, creating yule logs, and feasting! We even have druid songs in our traditional Christmas customs; songs like “deck the halls” which describe druidic ritual! The song speaks about decking the halls with boughs of holly, and “tis-ing” the season to be Jolly! “Don we now our gay apparel” references ritual robes, and “trolling” the ancient Yule tide carol is speaking about the ancient and ever changing solstice carols! Now while it is true that the lyrics were probably written in America they were almost surely written by someone who had more than a passing familiarity with druidic style rituals. This means that while the author of the lyrics is unknown, they were probably of celtic descent! The music of the song is believed to be welsh in origin! The Welsh druids were highly regarded amongst all the druidic groups of the celtic nations! The solstice carol spoken of is actually an ancient song that was sung at winter solstice in honor of the rebirth of the sun!

several cultures had their own solstice carol! The roman festival held at this time called Saturnalia had its own and so did the celts! There are in fact many solstice carols. I remember a version by a local band that was around during the 90’s which long ago disbanded. It was one of my favorite solstice songs that I have ever heard and I adapted it for my own ritual use! The band was called The Ravens and their album was called Rise with the moon! I loved their music and miss it greatly!
Parts of their solstice carol went sort of like so (and if any of the former band members read this please forgive me if I get it wrong as I am going purely on memory);

Please you sir a solstice
Please you sir a solstice
Please you sir a solstice……

On the ground we circle our fire blazing high
In hopes that we would raise the sunshine to the sky….

Gone the night, the day is nigh
Join our circle , raise him high
One for summers streaming thrall
One for winter dance we all…..

My favorite section of the song was a chant at the end that was based on part of the Christmas song called “Comfort and joy”, and as I don’t remember how they sang it, I will write my own adaptation of it that I use in my rituals (I am a celtic Christian mystic not a pagan)!

….go forth all of my gentle sons let nothing you dismay,
The bright Son, Lord and Savior, is sending forth the day,
To free us all from winters grasp and to us give may
Yule tidings of Comfort and Joy!

The theme of Yule is the rebirth of the light which takes us out of darkness! This is a message about being spiritually reborn! Spiritual rebirth is a concept that almost every religion and spiritual path can find common ground in.

There are other festivals that take place at this time;
For example the neo-affrican-American festival of kwanza takes place around this time. It celebrates family, community, and culture. These things can be said to be a light in these dark times in which we live. Like the jews, the christians, and the pagans, those who celebrate this festival light candles as part of their rituals.

Then besides Chanukah there are other Hebrew festivals that take place during the winter solstice! The Mishna and Talmud describe a festival called Saturna which occurs 8 days before the winter solstice. It is followed 8 days after the solstice with a festival called Kalenda. According to The Talmud the origins of these festivals are ascribed to Adam! Adam according to these stories saw that the days were getting shorter and thought it was punishment for his sin. He grew upset that the world as he saw it was returning to the empty chaotic void that existed before creation. He fasted, prayed, and meditated for 8 days. Then he saw that the days were getting longer again, and came to the realization that this was part of the natural cycle of the world; and so he made an 8 day celebration. The Talmud states that this festival was later turned into a pagan festival!

There are also the festivals of;

Brumalia; a Grecian winter holiday associated with Dionysus. Although a Greek holiday, the name Brumalia is Latin, bruma being the Latin for Winter Solstice; this means that the original name of this greek festival was probably lost in time. There are also greek myths like the myth of Persephone which speak about winter!

The Hindu Sankranti historically takes place near the Solstice, although the date is circa January 14. It is believed that people who die on this day end the reincarnation cycle, for which reason it is very lucky. Gifts are exchanged, sweets and other special food are consumed, and bonfires are lit on Sankranti eve, which is known as Lohari. Bon fires are part of almost every cultures winter solstice celebrations. This is only logical given he darkness and cold of winter and the universal spiritual beliefs about the element of fire! This hindu festival takes place between Yule and Imbolc on the celtic calendar; giving it ties to both not only in its placement on the calendar, but also in some of its spiritual themes and practices!
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti; was a celebration of Mithras; who was an eastern and middle-eastern Zoroastrian god popular with Roman soldiers who had an all male cult dedicated to him. This cult was like a secret fraternal order and many of its beliefs are unknown. However we do know that they believed that mithras was a solar deity who had to be born of a virginal mother, grow up and sacrifice his own life in order to bring salvation and enlightenment to the world. Mithras they believed was created by their chief deity, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. The day of the birth of Mithras was circa December 21st on yule; and it was referred to as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means the birthday of the unconquered sun. The Mithras cult predates the Christian faith, but is still far younger than the jewish faith! This should not surprise christians to learn, as even the apostles taught that all these stories were cultural versions of ancient prophecies which actually were foretelling the birth of Christ! One apostle in particular and I am paraphrasing of course, said that “all these things that were mere form and story have now been made actual manifestation in the person of Christ”! Also older than the Mithras cult is the egyption religious traditions of Isis and Osiris; where we most likely get our Madonna and child imagery of Christ sitting on Mary as if she were a throne! Ancient statues of Isis and her son Horus show the exact same images and poses!

So what is the story of Chanukah?

(this section begins another internet article which I take no credit for writing! However I have edited it, adapted it, and re-written much of it in order to meet my own needs for this blog article.)

Hanukkah the Hebrew Festival of Lights; is an eight-day Jewish holiday remembering and honoring the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum; the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah! One candle each night gets lit on each night of the holiday, until all the candles are lit. The ninth or center candle is lit every night and used to light the others. This candle is also supposed to be the last one extinguished as it represents God who is The Light of all lights and the origin of all light. The typical Menorah consists of 8 branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light at the center is called a shamash which in Hebrew means attendant; and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.
The name "Hanukkah" derives from a Hebrew verb meaning "to dedicate". On Hanukkah, the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple.
Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. It says that after the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days; the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready.
Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door, on the opposite side of the Mezuza, or in the window closest to the street. It has been said that the purpose is to publicize the miracle.
Taken from historical texts; “Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms…. from that time to this jews celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival”.
The story of Hanukkah is alluded to in the book of 1st Maccabees and 2nd Maccabees.

The Christian Bible refers to Jesus being at the Jerusalem Temple during "the feast of the dedication and it was winter" in John 10:22-23.
King Antiochus III the Great wanting to conciliate his new Jewish subjects after he won the region in war guaranteed their right to "live according to their ancestral customs" and to continue to practice their religion in the Temple of Jerusalem. However in 175 BC., Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus III invaded Judea, ostensibly at the request of the sons of Tobias.[12] The Tobiads, who led the Hellenizing Jewish faction in Jerusalem, were expelled to Syria around 170 BC. when the high priest Onias and his pro-Egyptian faction wrested control from them. The exiled Tobiads lobbied Antiochus IV Epiphanes to recapture Jerusalem. As the ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus tells us "The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.

When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and the services stopped, Judaism was effectively outlawed. In 167 BC. Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned circumcision and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.
Antiochus's actions proved to be a major miscalculation as they were massively disobeyed and provoked a large-scale revolt. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi ("Judah the Hammer"). By 166 BC. Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BC. the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated.

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his brothers to celebrate this event.[15] After recovering Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, olive oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. Jews believe that this was a miracle. An eight day festival was declared by the Jewish mages to commemorate this miracle.
A number of historians believe that the reason for the eight day celebration was that the first Hanukkah was in effect a belated celebration of the festivals of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. During the war the Jews were not able to celebrate Sukkot/Shemini Atzeret properly; the combined festivals also last eight days, and the Sukkot festivities featured the lighting of lamps in the Temple.

It has also been noted that the number eight has special significance in Jewish theology, as representing transcendence and the Jewish People's special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, that is, of completion of the material cosmos. Eight, being one step beyond seven, represents the Infinite. Hence, the Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, mentioned above, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only (unlike Sukkot, when all peoples were welcome in Jerusalem). Similarly, the rite of brit milah (circumcision), which brings a Jewish male into God's Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. The number nine then comes to represent God. In sacred geometry and higher spiritual math the number nine is the only number that can represent creator and creation in perfect ecstatic harmony! Nine is trinity time trinity, in some esoteric thought! Other religions and cultures hold nine to be of great significance; for example the christian religion, and the celtic culture!

Hanukkah is celebrated by a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the holiday. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals. Hanukkah is not a "Sabbath-like" holiday, so there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath. Adherents go to work as usual, but may leave early in order to be home to kindle the lights at nightfall. There is no religious reason for schools to be closed, although, in Israel, schools close for the whole week of Hanukkah. Many families exchange gifts, and have special trees which they humorously call Chanukah bushes; as opposed to christmas trees!

Kindling the Hanukkah lights;

Not including the center light which is burned for all eight nights, a single light is burned each night for eight nights. This is a universally practiced "beautification" of the mitzvah; the number of lights burned is increased by one each night. The action of lighting the candles is sacred and deeply spiritual!
Blessings over the candles; Typically three blessings (Brachot singular Brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival. On the first night of Hanukkah, Jews recite all three blessings; on all subsequent nights, they recite only the first two.[30] The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle, lamp, or electric) is lit on the right side of the Menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first candle and so on, proceeding from right to left over the eight nights. On each night, the leftmost candle is lit first, and lighting proceeds from left to right.

During or after the lights are kindled hymns are sung. One such hymn is the Hanerot Halalu. There are many different versions just like there are many solstice carols and Christmas carols.

In addition, the Hallel Psalms are sung during each morning service and the Tachanun penitential prayers are omitted. The Torah is read every day in the synagogue, the first day beginning from Numbers 6:22 (according to some customs, Numbers 7:1), and the last day ending with Numbers 8:4. Since Hanukkah lasts eight days it includes at least one, and sometimes two, Jewish Sabbaths (Saturdays). The weekly Torah portion for the first Sabbath is almost always Miketz, telling of Joseph's dream and his enslavement in Egypt. The Haftarah reading for the first Sabbath Hanukkah is Zechariah 2:14–4:7. When there is a second Sabbath on Hanukkah, the Haftarah reading is from I Kings 7:40–50. The Hanukkah menorah is also kindled daily in the synagogue, at night with the blessings and in the morning without the blessings. The menorah is not lit on the Sabbath, but rather prior to the beginning of the Sabbath at night and not at all during the day. During the Middle Ages "Megillat Antiochus" was read in the Italian synagogues on Hanukkah just as the Book of Esther is read on Purim. It still forms part of the liturgy of the Yemenite Jews.
The last day of Hanukkah is known as Zot Hanukkah, from the verse read on this day in the synagogue (Numbers 7:84, Zot Chanukat Hamizbe'ach, "This was the dedication of the altar"). According to the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism, this day is the final "seal" of the High Holiday season of Yom Kippur, and is considered a time to repent out of love for God. In this spirit, many Hasidic Jews wish each other Gmar chatimah tovah ("may you be sealed totally for good"), a traditional greeting for the Yom Kippur season. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly auspicious for the fulfillment of prayers.

Generally women are exempt in Jewish law from time bound positive commandments, however the Talmud requires that women if possible engage in the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles “for they too were involved in the miracle”. And women light the two sacred candles on the Sabbath in many households! The account of Judith’s involvement with the events of Chanukah serves to explain the requirement of women to participate in the rituals of Hanukkah.

In North America especially, Hanukkah gained increased importance with many Jewish families in the latter half of the twentieth century, including large numbers of secular Jews, who wanted a Jewish alternative to the Christmas celebrations. Though it was traditional among Ashkenazi Jews to give "gelt" or money coins to children during Hanukkah, in many families this has changed into gifts in order to prevent Jewish children from feeling left out of the Christmas gift giving.
While Hanukkah was for a long time a relatively minor Jewish holiday, in North America, Hanukkah has taken a place equal to Passover as a symbol of Jewish identity. Both the Israeli and North American versions of Hanukkah emphasize resistance, focusing on some combination of national liberation and religious freedom as the defining meaning of the holiday in many minds.
There is a custom of eating foods fried or baked in oil (preferably olive oil), as the original miracle of the Hanukkah menorah involved the discovery of a small flask of pure olive oil used by the Jewish High Priest, the Kohen Gadol (the high priest of Israel). This small batch of olive oil was only supposed to last one day, and instead it lasted eight.
Accordingly, potato pancakes, known as latkes in Yiddish, are traditionally associated with Hanukkah, as they are prepared by frying in oil.
Similarly, many Sephardic, Polish and Israeli families have the custom of eating all kinds of jam-filled doughnuts (pontshkes), bimuelos (fritters) and sufganiyot which are deep-fried in oil. Bakeries in Israel have popularized many new types of fillings for sufganiyot besides the traditional strawberry jelly filling, including chocolate cream, vanilla cream, cappucino and others. There is also a tradition of eating cheese products on Hanukkah that is recorded in rabbinic literature. This custom is seen as a commemoration of the involvement of Judith and thus women in the events of Chanukah.

The dreidel, or sevivon in Hebrew, is a four-sided spinning top that children play with on Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there"), referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the Beit Hamikdash.
• נ (Nun)
• ג (Gimel)
• ה (Hey)
• ש (Shin)

On many dreidels sold in Israel, the fourth side is inscribed with the letter פ (Pe), rendering the acronym נס גדול היה פה (Nes Gadol Haya Po, "A great miracle happened here"), referring to the fact that the miracle occurred in the land of Israel. Stores in Haredi neighbourhoods sell the traditional Shin dreidels as well.
Some Jewish commentators ascribe symbolic significance to the markings on the dreidel. One commentary, for example, connects the four letters with the four exiles to which the nation of Israel was historically subject: Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

After lighting the Hanukkah menorah, it is customary in many homes to play the dreidel game: Each player starts out with 10 or 15 coins (real or of chocolate), nuts, raisins, candies or other markers, and places one marker in the "pot." The first player spins the dreidel, and depending on which side the dreidel falls on, either wins a marker from the pot or gives up part of his stash. The code (based on a Yiddish version of the game) is as follows:
• Nun–nisht, "nothing"–nothing happens and the next player spins
• Gimel–gants, "all"–the player takes the entire pot
• Hey–halb, "half"–the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
• Shin–shtel ayn, "put in"–the player puts one marker in the pot
Another version differs:
• Nun–nim, "take"–the player takes one from the pot
• Gimel–gib, "give"–the player puts one in the pot
• Hey–halb, "half"–the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
• Shin–shtil, "still" (as in "stillness")–nothing happens and the next player spins
The game may last until one person has won everything.
Some say the dreidel game is played to commemorate a game devised by the Jews to camouflage the fact that they were studying Torah, which was outlawed by Greeks. The Jews would gather in caves to study, posting a lookout to alert the group to the presence of Greek soldiers. If soldiers were spotted, the Jews would hide their scrolls and spin tops, so the Greeks thought they were gambling, not learning.

Judith The heroine of Israel, and Holofernes;

The eating of dairy foods, especially cheese, on Hanukkah is a minor custom that has its roots in the story of Judith. The book of Judith (Yehudit or Yehudis in Hebrew), records that Holofernes, an Assyrian general, had surrounded the village of Bethulia as part of his campaign to conquer Judea. After intense fighting, the water supply of the Jews is cut off and the situation became desperate. Judith, a pious young beautiful widow, told the city leaders that she had a plan to save the city. Judith went to the Assyrian camps and pretended to surrender. She met Holofernes, who was smitten by her beauty. She went back to his tent with him, where she plied him with cheese and wine. When he fell into a drunken sleep, Judith beheaded him and escaped from the camp, taking the severed head with her! When Holofernes' soldiers found his corpse, they were overcome with fear; the Jews, on the other hand, were empowered and made bold by her heroic actions and launched a successful counterattack. The town was saved, and the Assyrians defeated. There is a longstanding Jewish tradition that Judith was the daughter of Yochanan the Kohen Gadol (and consequently a sister of Mattathias the Hasmonean, and an aunt of Judah the Maccabee).

(This is the section where the article that I found on the internet ends. Again I am not claiming credit for writing this section about chanukah but I have re-written, edited, adapted, and modified it for the purpose of my own blog article!)

The Indo-European or celtic mythos of yule;

The year is seen in the celtic perspective as being divided up into two halves; the dark half, and the light half of the year. These two halves are further broken down into multiple seasons and festivals.

Father nature is imagined as having two sides to his character. One dark and one light. This should not be seen as good and evil because for the ancient celts, light and dark were not seen as manifestations of either good or evil; they just were! Father nature was also called the green man amongst other things. The two sides of his nature were visualized as two kings. Samhein (pronounced sow-in), or what we now call halloween was the beginning of the celtic year; the celtic new year if you will. The first half of the year consequently was the dark half of the year. The king of the dark half of the year was the holly king, and the king of the light half of the year was the oak king. These two kings were said to be in endless cyclical battle. From litha until yule the holly king reigns triumphant. At yule however the Oak king wins the symbolic spiritual battle and regains rule of the year from yule until litha! This is symbolic of the annual cycle of the birth, growth and death which occur in the world of nature. The Oak King is the growing youth (lad and then father) whose life and strength reaches its peak in Mid-summer (summer solstice / Litha), while the Holly King is the mature man (father and then magi) whose life and strength declines in Mid-winter (winter solstice / Yule), from where he is again re-born. This symbolic change from one King to the other is a common theme for ritual re-enactments at litha and yule festivals.

In some pagan stories, the rival Kings are brothers and both exist as different aspects of the same Solar deity (sun god). Each these aspects has varying levels of influence throughout the year. The youthful time of the Oak King is for growth and development (evolution), healing, and new projects; while the time of the mature Holly King is for meditating, deliberations, reflection, contemplation, and learning. So really these stories teach us about the internal nature of the human male psyche as much as they do about anything else.

Women are defiantly not excluded from these stories and have their own spiritual archetypes that tell of their internal cycles and natures. The old crone mother or winter queen in these celtic stories is the Cailleach. She starts out as a young mother and gives birth to the body of the baby sun god who is destined to become the vessel for the spirit of her consort (the holly king) who is slain in winter and whose spirit enters the waiting vessel in order that he may live again! The oak king also has his female consort who is the summer queen. He summer queen is mother nature and has been seen in many perspectives and been called by many names including Brigid.

There are other versions of these stories (some of which are homoerotic and homo-spiritual), some old and some new that say the oak king and the holly king are lovers and share rule through out the year! In the winter the Oak king submits to the will of his lover and gives him reign, while in summer the holly king then submits his will to the reign of the oak king. Lesbian versions of the story also exist which say that the young summer queen and the older winter queen have a similar relationship. However the most important aspects to these stories other than the cycles of nature, are about finding that balance within our nature, of our own dark and light aspects so we can choose to be ruled by one without ignoring the other! We become reconciled to the reality that we have both of these aspects within us so that we can truly be whole and learn to love ourselves in the spirit of truth! In some stories and songs the oak tree symbolism is replaced by ivy; which is where the famous song “the holly and the ivy” find its original influences from. In a few alternative stories the ivy does not represent another masculine but the feminine consort of the holly king; the ivy maiden is another representation of the winter queen.

The practice of setting up nativity scenes;

In remembrance of the birth of Christ, christians have long set up small replica figures which tell the story of the night Christ was born. The accepted story is that Christ was born in a manager in a stable that was probably partially built into a cave. We all know the story that says “there was no room in the inn”. However it may interest people to know that what scripture actually says is that “there was no provision in the room”. This means that in reality Mariam (Mary), and Yoseph (Joseph) were probably inside a private room in the meager inn, but that there were no supplies to take care of the baby which is why a manger was brought in from the stables in order to place the baby in when he was born! But regardless of the reality of the story the accepted legend of the story is what teaches us all the vital lessons we are suppose to glean from the story; as well us providing us with all the images and symbols are minds immediately understand and associate with the birth of our Lord! Having said all of this it may surprise christians to know that pagans have begun in recent years setting up the same nativity scenes to which they ascribe a very different meaning. Pagans believe that yule is the celebration of the rebirth of their sun god as an infant from a virginal mother goddess. Virgin in this context does not refer to someone who has abstained from sexual relations, but rather one who has for ritual purity abstained for a designated amount of time from sexual relations. the traditional statue of Mary is used to symbolize the Goddess, while the Joseph statue is used to represent father time or the spirit of yule, and the statue of the baby is sued to represent the reborn solar deity! What about the angel statues that are sometimes used? Well it may surprise christians to know the many pagans believe in angels. The Shepard statues are used to represent the country folk who keep to the old ways. The three magi are used to represent three male witch high priests who are in service to a high priestess who is said to serve the goddess. In both celtic christen and pagan nativity scenes there is often another female statue added to represent the midwife godmother of the infant! In almost all pagan nativity scenes the star is included, and when it is, it is five pointed or even the interlaced pentagram to represent power, protection, pagan faith, and the five elements! Animals are often included because most pagan religions are nature based.
The word pagan actually means “country dweller” and refers to the common peasant peoples who kept the old ways alive longer than most when Christianity and the other new religions swept through Europe eradicating the former pagan religions.

In celtic christen mythos St. Brigit who was a christian reverend mother and female bishop was named after an ancient goddess named Brigid. Her father was a druid devotee and her mother was a Christian convert. In celtic legend she somehow went briefly back in time and acted as the midwife attendant to Mary, who then named her the god-mother of Christ. However the nativity sets are set up, no matter who set them up, or what meanings are ascribed to them; they are an enduring emblem of human faith that light will always conquer darkness.

An older celtic Christian Christmas song called “Oh the holly” shows how the celts were adapt at weaving the Christian symbols with older pagan symbols to which they ascribed slightly newer meanings;

Oh, the holly she bears a berry
whose blood it is red
And Mary she bore Jesus
Who died in our stead
And Mary she bore Jesus
Our savior for to be
And the first tree twas in the greenwood
It was the holly
Holly, holly
And the first tree twas in the greenwood
It was the holly
Oh, the holly she bears a berry
As white as the milk
And Mary she bore Jesus
all wrapped up in silk
And Mary she bore Jesus
Our savior for to be
And the first tree twas in the greenwood
It was the holly
Holly, holly
And the first tree twas in the greenwood
It was the holly

The lyrics to this song show us that ascribing new meanings to another religions or cultures symbols is an ancient human practice. The christians have always done it to pagan symbols, and now pagans are doing it to Christian symbols as in the case of nativity scenes.

Whatever your faith “The Holiday Season” has something to offer you and lessons to teach you. There are so many amazing things that happened in human history and so many miracles that are still taking place today it is hard to not find the blessing and grace yuletide has to offer!
So in that spirit “Happy Holidays”!

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