Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Yule


The season of the Winter Solstice or Yule, celebrated by Earth-based religions the world over, is among the oldest (if not the oldest) traditions observed this time of year. Like most people raised in a Judeo-Christian environment probably are, I'm admittedly lean on any real knowledge of Pagan religions, so I'm pretty sure my illustration is horribly flawed (for one thing the angle of the sun in the background photo tells me we can't possibly be facing North) but I'm hoping my Pagan friends and visitors will see the intent and not the ignorance.

My hours of research on the topic have taught me a few things though. Yule begins with "Mother Night" the night of December 20th and continues for 12 days (sound familiar?) ending January 1. The Winter Solstice, around December 21, is the longest night of the year and it is then that the sun begins its journey back to Earth, bringing with it life-sustaining light and warmth. As in more "mainstream" religions, the victory of light over darkness is a central theme.

If you're so inclined, a good resource I found for information is where I found explaining the celebration in brief (used without permission, but hopefully with forgiveness).

Try to imagine yourself in a very cold climate, where the Winter nights are very long, indeed. Firewood and food are both becoming very scarce and you have begun to fear for your own survival. As you keep a lonely vigil through this, the Longest Night, you feel as though the Darkness has taken over the Earth and the Light will never come again. Imagine your joy at that first spark of light and your hopes that, someday soon, the snow will melt and you will be warm and well fed! This is the way our ancestors must have felt about this time of celebration.

The celebration of the Winter Solstice, as often as not referred to as Yule, is common to almost every culture. For this reason, although the Christian Church has long since adopted it as the birthdate of Jesus, it has retained more of the ancient Pagan tradition then any other holiday or festival. In early times, December 25th (the date now recognized as Christmas) was commemorated as the Birth of the Sun God, Mithra, and January 6 (Old Christmas) was a Dionysian festival. In Egypt, a celebration dedicated to Osiris was held at this time.

From: - by Doug and Sandy Kopf

For those of you celebrating this ancient holiday, Waes Hael (old Anglo-Saxon meaning, roughly "Be Well" and the origin of the word "wssail"). Peace is my wish for you in this and all seasons. Whatever holiday you observe (or don't), I hope the season is kind to you.


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1 comment:

imagosdawn said...

Many thanks for the well-wishes! Your article is lovely and I thank you for taking the time to look into an alternate tradition further.

Also: your work is lovely, I've spent a bit of time here looking through your photos and I'm enjoying the variety.

Bright blessings in the dark of the year!

Lisa, of cybercoven.org