There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. This week, I unleash the special yuletide holiday hounds (they’re like the regular hounds, but with festive accessories) and bring you a collection of links that leans towards matters seasonal.
- The Christian Post interviews Pagan scholar Chas Clifton about the pagan roots of many holiday traditions, noting that “all celebrations having to do with light and the sun have a pre-Christian origin.” Over at his personal blog, Chas further meditates on the Christmas holiday, saying he feels sorry for the Christian clergy who have to battle the real threat to folks celebrating the incarnation of Jesus, consumerism. Quote: “Forget the “War on Christmas,” that is a big concession right there. White flag, don’t shoot! We know the prezzies are more important, but can’t you just tie your bathrobe and come to church for a little while?”
- The Telegraph reports that Rollo Maughfling, the arch druid of the standing stones in Wiltshire, predicts a good 2012. Quote: ”Just as the ceremony came to an end the sun came over the horizon, it was excellent […] It has been a very jolly occasion. It’s a good omen for the year ahead.’‘ This was then picked up by Jezebel, who are seemingly relieved by any good omens they can find.
- Kirsten West Savali writes at HuffPo and Your Black World about the fact that December 25th isn’t actually the birthday of Jesus, and that the return of the Sun, not the Son, is probably the reason for all those celebrations through history. Quote: “Besides the fact that the day in question is relevant to a long list of deities throughout antiquity who pre-date Jesus, from Persia’s pagan Sun God Mithra to Egypt’s Horus and Ra, to Syria’s Baal, Rome’s Sol Invictus and Greece’s Helios, it wasn’t until the year 350 A.D., that Pope Julius I declared that the “Christ-Mass” would be held on December 25, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
- While there’s always plenty of “pagan origins of Christmas” stories to be found this time of year, I’m always fond of a shamanic origins of Santa story. Quote: “The key to understanding Santa is Amanita muscaria – the well-known red and white mushroom with a long history of shamanic use from Western Europe to Siberia. I am convinced that Santa is essentially a shaman that has quietly yet forcefully entered into the consciousness of Western culture, like a mushroom nudging up through parking lot asphalt.” For more on Santa, who wasn’t invented by Coke, by the way, see this informational video.
- Elizabeth Hunter at CNN’s Belief Blog reminds us that Christmas wasn’t always the somber, charitable, and domestic celebration it is today. Quote: “… disturbance on the lawn on Christmas Eve would have been not magical, but threatening, likely caused by drunken youths roaming the neighborhood, demanding gifts from respectable householders. This was an echo of older traditions, also subversive, which saw tenants and serfs demanding gifts and being given law-like powers in this “season of misrule.” Some regiments of the British Army still maintain the practice of officers serving men in the mess on Christmas Day. Stephen Nissenbaum’s book “The Battle for Christmas” tells the story of this transformation of Christmas from an “unruly carnival season” to the quintessential, apolitical family holiday. Christmas then, before being domesticated by the Victorians, was a profoundly political time.”
- If you’re looking for a holiday miracle, how about a woman not being executed for sorcery in Saudi Arabia, and instead being deported to her home country? I don’t know if this exercise in noblesse oblige was due to international embarrasment over the beheading of Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser for similar “crimes” but any quantity of mercy is welcome.
- Both The Stir and Baristanet weigh in on the pagan origins of the traditional Christmas tree. Quote: “As most of us today know, the “Christmas” tree and its attendant greenery has Pagan, not Christian, origins. In fact, such forms of nature worship were banned as early as 575 C.E. by the Catholic Bishop Martin of Braga as “wicked” Pagan celebrations. They continued to be intermittently prohibited throughout Europe into the modern era and then were firmly forbidden in Puritan New England until the nineteenth century.”
- How about some seasonal posts from the Pagan Newswire Collective? The PNC Occupy blog wishes you a “Merry Occupy,” Lori at Warriors & Kin wishes everyone a “Merry Merry,” No Unsacred Place offers kid-friendly and earth-friendly Solstice crafts and a song for the dark, while The Juggler offers a variety of wintry cultural items.
- Is everything you know about the Three Wise Men wrong? You can find out in: “Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men’s Journey to Bethlehem” (read an excerpt).
- Is frankincense production doomed? Better enjoy it while you can!
That’s all I have for now, I hope all my readers have had/will have a festive holiday season, whatever your faith or tradition.