Yule: Making Midwinter Meaningful

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in Everyday Adventure | 0 comments

Yule: Making Midwinter Meaningful

I haven’t been certain about what to do with Christmas for many years. I enjoy the feasting in colourful paper hats that make us all the kings of absurdity for one night as family gets drunk together among a decorated withering topiary. I enjoy the relaxation that comes with knowing you have nowhere to be and nothing you have to do the next day but eat cheese and maybe open a gift or two. At least that’s my families. (With one of the families it also involves new pajamas!)

But… I’ve never been invested in following one religion. I am far too interested in the wonder that is reality to put something like an unwavering belief in anything in between me and discovering more about the universe and people and life. But it does feel meaningful to have traditions. Religious ceremony and pageantry hold some kind of bond with humanity and it’s a common thread through almost all religions. It feels good. Singing or chanting or drumming with others feels like connection. It’s beautiful be a part of that energy.

It's a good old campfire singalong.

It’s a good old campfire singalong.

In total and complete honesty, I’m resentful of popular religions, monotheistic ones in particular, for sweeping away countless traditions, beliefs, stories and culture from all over the world and all of their unique brands of pageantry. There were once so many varieties of this connection, with each other, with other creatures, with different songs and different sounds and fantastic ceremony. When I think about it too much it feels like the intricate lattice of humanity has been plucked down to a few threads. We are falling apart. We are losing connection by thinking connection means sameness. It doesn’t.

Sun cross with a black dog.

Our sun cross, with Gus running is circles around it. Presumably trying to make the sun come back faster.

Anyways, where I’m going is, I have no interest in celebrating one of those threads that has been responsible for a massive loss of cultural diversity on December 25th. Instead, I have been exploring traditions from the background of my blood and of the land I live on to create meaningful traditions that feel bigger.

This December, we visited with some family who also have felt that pull to find those lost traditions, to see through the darkness that has been associated with very old ways for so long, and breathe life into how we look at winter.

In the spirit of (some of what we know of) Northern European Pagans and a few bottles of wine, I suggested the tradition of a sacrifice to the bringing of light to the earth. Within 20 minutes we all had dark red beet juice streaked on our faces and I was pouring the “blood” onto a sun cross in a fire pit. (We’re vegetarians, this is as close as we are ever going to get to a blood sacrifice.)

The process of Earth, Sun, our Solar System, and the entire universe is just…  It’s beautiful. It’s endlessly interesting. The relationship of the land and the animals and all the plants is intricately interesting, and more worthy of being appreciated through symbolism and pageantry than any person who was said to have been born 2017ish years ago, even if he did have some great ideas about equality and love (that only a fraction of his modern followers seem to actually abide by, just saying).

The symbolism of adorning ourselves with, and burning, a cold winter root and ushering the sun back with singing and celebration to me is much more meaningful than celebrating the birth of a religion that destroyed many worlds over many centuries. Besides, I also think it is important to never take yourself too seriously, especially over a holiday. Drunk sing-alongs covered in beet juice certainly makes sure of that.


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