Archive for Holiday

A Brief History of Yule

Posted in All, Humor, Miscellaneous, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by marushiadark

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide carols being sung by a choir and folks dressed up like eskimos.” ~ The Christmas Song

Today is Yule, a day that celebrates the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year and the official start of the winter season.  It’s an ancient pagan holiday dating back some ten thousand years at least.  It is even known to have been practiced during the early days of Stonehenge.  In fact, it is now believed that the site itself was used as a temple for that very purpose.

In my junior year of high school, we read Beowulf around December.  My literature teacher at the time gave our class a history lesson on ancient Norse pagans and how monks later wrote down many of the oral tales, inserting Christian concepts in place of the pagan ones.  We were told this was done for various reasons.  One was because the monks found the tales exciting and interesting, but had to transpose religious ideologies to avoid being prosecuted as heretics.  Another was because the church wanted to convert the pagan population altogether.

The concept of Christianity supplanting its beliefs onto those of other cultures should not be news to anyone in this day and age.  Since the formation of the Catholic Church in the 4th Century, the Church has been systematically acquiring and assimilating rites and holidays from cultures all over the world; one of the earliest being to convert the image of Sol Invictus, the unconquerable sun, into the image of Jesus Christ.

Many Roman sites, such as Trajan’s Column and the Pantheon, were also converted into Christian monuments.  And when the Conquistadors sailed to the New World, they built Churches on top of the Mesoamerican temples.  Christmas is another one of those things that the Church stole from other pagan religions to make their particular version seem more palatable to the locals.

Just before Christmas time that same year, my literature teacher explained to us the history of the yule log and where that tradition comes from.  Since then, I’ve acquired a bit more information to fill out the rest of the details of the story.

In my posts on the Circumpunct and the Solar Cross, I explained briefly that the ancients worshiped the sun as the source of all light and truth, and that they held December 21 as the death of the sun with the 25th being its rebirth.

The Winter Solstice is also the time of year when feminine, yin energy is at its maximum.  As we know from looking at a taijitu, the universe will often create its opposite as the direct result of something being in its maximum state.  In ancient paganism, the height of feminine energy demanded a ritual to be performed that would invoke the opposite and continue the cycle to the opposite extreme.  Towards that end, the festival of the Yule Log was created.

The feast of Yule actually gives us two notable icons in modern day Christmas celebrations: the Yule Log and the Christmas Tree.

The Yule Log was originally cut from a large pine tree, usually the biggest one that could be found.  The pine tree was actually a phallic symbol in this ceremony and represented tremendous strength, size, power, and masculine energy.  To this day, we still refer to a man having as erection as him “having wood.”

Once the tree was chosen, it was covered in tar and pitched and set up vertically (i.e. “erect”).  The celebrants would then light the tree on fire – fire being an earthly reflection of the sun, in whose honor the ceremony was performed.  The people would then dance and eat and fuck around this burning symbol of solar masculinity as part of their Yuletide festivities.

In modern times, we still “light our trees,” only we do so with LEDs instead of embers.  If we light a piece of wood on fire, it’s usually in the confines of a fireplace or outdoor fire pit instead of the middle of the village.

I think we all know well the Catholic Church’s position when it comes to sex (and I’m not talking about missionary style).  It’s obvious that such sexually charged rituals as these would not fly in the midst of those that wanted to manipulate pagan persons into believing that their salvation could only come from the one true savior JC.  But the people would be hard-pressed to convert if they had to give up all their rituals.  I mean, let’s face it, if the choice was between partying and mass, between wild orgies and abstinence, and there were really no spiritual distinctions between the two, which would you choose?

So the church performed a triage and allowed the local peoples to keep their trees and their feasts and their songs and some of the yuletide benefits (so long as they were married), and in exchange, the people would celebrate a new version of the holiday with Christ as the central figure in place of the sun.

That’s somewhat ironic, since Christ was originally a sun god himself, but with enough history having gone buy, it evolved into something much different, and the holiday is evolving still.

V is for Vacation

Posted in All, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by marushiadark

“Everybody needs a little time away … from each other.  Even lover’s need a holiday, far away from each other.” ~ Chicago, Hard to Say I’m Sorry.

Some of you may be wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to this past month, why I haven’t been posting on my blog.  Truth is, I needed a little time to think things through and sort some things out in my life, so I took a little vacation from my blog.

I think I’ve cleared up enough that I can return to writing here, at least on a part-time basis.  I will try to write everyday, but will no longer beat myself over the head for not doing it religiously.

People often expect their leaders, teachers, and counselors to be on level above that of human beings – to be perfect in all things and to have all the answers.  That may be helpful for a time.  But one thing I’ve learned in my time away is that it’s often more important to see such persons as being human.  Being just as fallible as the rest of us.

I’ve always thought of Christ as being one of my mentors.  Reading the Biblical tales and watching movies about his life are good ways to learn, but I think for many of us, it puts him at a place beyond us, as though we were trying to ask advice from Superman or Dr. Manhattan.  Watching movies like The Last Temptation of Christ, however, I think bring a greater degree of comfort because it shows a human being with human problems that we can relate to.

Seeing a human being suffer and struggle through and overcome his or her problems is a lot more valuable, I think, and a lot more credible than if that same advice came from a completely perfect being.  It lets us know that someone else was once like us, in our very position, and managed to survive.  They found a way, and so can we, which gives us just a bit more hope.

My life’s been like a sign wave lately, going up and down, with the highs and lows becoming more frequent and in greater amplitude.  If this trend keeps up, I will either crash and burn or fly into orbit.  Which of those happens is a matter of how much inner strength I have.  But I think I can safely say the roller coaster ride is over and I’m starting to level off now.  I’ll find another way to get to space.

I’d like to be able to tell you everything that’s happened to me in the last month, but I couldn’t even record a fraction of it all in my journal, and I write in that thing a lot more than I did in any of my articles.

Suffice to say, I needed a break and I got one and now I’m back.  I think everyone should take a rest every now and then.  A human being is subject to all the laws of nature, after all, and among those are the laws that govern pressure.  If you allow the pressure to build up without release, you will inevitably explode and do some damage, whether to yourself or to someone else.  Better to release that energy before it gets to be too much.  Anyone who’s tried to boil water in a lidded pot should understand the analogy.

Would that we all had padded, sound-proof rooms where we could go and let out feral screams and slam the walls and throw shit into them without fear of judgment or repercussion.  To take a bat to a piece of glass or a hammer to a sheet of drywall and not have to worry about fixing it later or paying for the damages.  Maybe someone out to invent a place like that.  Convert a psyche ward into a ventilation facility and charge a small admission fee so people could come in, vent their inner emotions, and then leave.  That sounds a lot more helpful than any drug, I’d say.

Imagine taking out your anger at yourself and others in a controlled environment.  You get all the benefits of catharsis without the mess.  The world would certainly feel a lot less stressed if we had places like that.  And it’d be cheaper than taking a week off from work.