Blessed winter solstice

TWH — This week, many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists in the Northern Hemisphere are marking the winter solstice with celebrations, feasts, and rituals. The solstice will occur on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 16:28 UTC. It is a day traditionally celebrated for being the longest night and shortest day of the year. This time of year is held sacred within many different modern religious and spiritual traditions, and has a rich history in ancient pagan religions. The solstice time was important to prehistoric peoples in both Ireland and England.

Column: the 13 Yule Lads of Iceland

If you were to arrive at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport during the month of December expecting cheerful holiday lights or a jolly fat man in a red suit, you would be in for a bit of a surprise. Instead of being welcomed into the country by the familiar and cheerful figure of Santa Claus, your first encounter would be with slightly menacing, unmistakably witch-like figure: Gryla. Although she has not always been associated with the Yuletide season, Gryla has evolved to become the center of Icelandic Yule and Christmas folklore. While she bears some of the clear markings of the stereotypical witch as a cauldron-stirring hag figure who owns a scary black cat, she is actually described as a troll or ogress in Iceland’s tour guidebooks and articles. Gryla is said to live in a cave hidden deep in the mountains, where she always keeps her cauldron boiling.

Pagan Reflections of Santa; Race, Myths, Beliefs, and Importance

Controversy hit the airwaves this month when Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly referred to Santa as being white. She was responding to an article on Slate magazine, by columnist Aisha Harris, about the complications of having a white Santa in a multicultural society, and suggested he should instead be no race, like a penguin. Kelly responded to this by having an on air discussion about the “Attack on Christmas”, and her views of the “facts” that Santa is indeed a white man. “For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is maybe just arguing that we should also have a black Santa.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.Raymond Ibrahim, editor of “The Al Qaeda Reader”, discusses the new movie “Beowulf” in The National Review, and complains about Hollywood’s pro-pagan and anti-Christian stance.”By now, the oft-recurring negative portrayals of Christianity in major Hollywood movies have become hackneyed and predictable. The recent rendition of Beowulf only reinforced this trend. The same subtle depictions and motifs present in movies from decades past were once again present, a favorite being the attempt to try to depict pagans as “open-minded” and “free-spirited” peoples, or, quite anachronistically, as medieval counterparts to the modern, secular, liberal. The idea being that pagan peoples – unencumbered by the suffocating forces of Christianity – were/are happy, passionate folk, able to live life to the fullest.”To prove his point he cherry-picks a handful of pro-Pagan (and pro-Muslim) films spanning several years (including “Excalibur” and “The 13th Warrior”). But his argument falls apart when you stack up the recent number of Christian-positive films (“Evan Almighty”, “Amazing Grace”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Passion of the Christ”, and “Millions”) against his “pro-pagan” selections.