Posts Tagged With: Twelve Days of Christmas

MIDWINTER NIGHT’S EVE – Y U L E

MIDWINTER NIGHT’S EVE  –  Y U L E
by Mike Nichols

Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we
Pagans celebrate the ‘Christmas’ season. Even though we prefer to use the word
‘Yule’, and our celebrations may peak a few days BEFORE the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, caroling, presents, Yule logs, and  mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting up a ‘Nativity set’, though for us the three central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course.

In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan
than Christian, with it’s associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility
rites, and Roman Mithraism. That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin
abhorred it, why the Puritans refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it
(to them, no day of the year could be more holy than the Sabbath), and why it
was even made ILLEGAL in Boston! The holiday was already too closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods and heroes. And many of them (like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and even Arthur) possessed a narrative of birth, death, and resurrection that was uncomfortably close to that of Jesus. And to make matters worse, many of them pre-dated the Christian Savior.

Ultimately, of course, the holiday is rooted deeply in the cycle of the year. It
is the Winter Solstice that is being celebrated, seed-time of the year, the
longest night and shortest day. It is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son
of God — by whatever name you choose to call him. On this darkest of nights,
the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth. And it makes
perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of the winter, ‘the dark night of
our souls’, there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of
the World, the Coel Coeth.

That is why Pagans have as much right to claim this holiday as Christians.
Perhaps even more so, as the Christians were rather late in laying claim to it,
and tried more than once to reject it. There had been a tradition in the West
that Mary bore the child Jesus on the twenty-fifth day, but no one could seem to
decide on the month. Finally, in 320 C.E., the Catholic Fathers in Rome decided
to make it December, in an effort to co-opt the Mithraic celebration of the
Romans and the Yule celebrations of the Celts and Saxons.

There was never much pretense that the date they finally chose was historically
accurate. Shepherds just don’t ‘tend their flocks by night’ in the high
pastures in the dead of winter! But if one wishes to use the New Testament as
historical evidence, this reference may point to sometime in the spring as the
time of Jesus’ birth. This is because the lambing season occurs in the spring
and that is the only time when shepherds are likely to ‘watch their flocks by
night’ – to make sure the lambing goes well. Knowing this, the Eastern half of
the Church continued to reject December 25, preferring a ‘movable date’ fixed by
their astrologers according to the moon.

Thus, despite its shaky start (for over three centuries, no one knew when Jesus
was supposed to have been born!), December 25 finally began to catch on. By 529,
it was a civic holiday, and all work or public business (except that of cooks,
bakers, or any that contributed to the delight of the holiday) was prohibited by
the Emperor Justinian. In 563, the Council of Braga forbade fasting on Christmas
Day, and four years later the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from
December 25 to Epiphany as a sacred, festive season. This last point is perhaps
the hardest to impress upon the modern reader, who is lucky to get a single day
off work. Christmas, in the Middle Ages, was not a SINGLE day, but rather a
period of TWELVE days, from December 25 to January 6. The Twelve Days of
Christmas, in fact. It is certainly lamentable that the modern world has
abandoned this approach, along with the popular Twelfth Night celebrations.

Of course, the Christian version of the holiday spread to many countries no
faster than Christianity itself, which means that ‘Christmas’ wasn’t celebrated
in Ireland until the late fifth century; in England, Switzerland, and Austria
until the seventh; in Germany until the eighth; and in the Slavic lands until
the ninth and tenth. Not that these countries lacked their own mid-winter
celebrations of Yuletide. Long before the world had heard of Jesus, Pagans had
been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing on it, and
lighting it from the remains of last year’s log. Riddles were posed and
answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and
consumed along with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from
house to house while caroling, fertility rites were practiced (girls standing
under a sprig of mistletoe were subject to a bit more than a kiss), and
divinations were cast for the coming Spring. Many of these Pagan customs, in an
appropriately watered-down form, have entered the mainstream of Christian
celebration, though most celebrants do not realize (or do not mention it, if
they do) their origins.

For modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Yula’, meaning ‘wheel’ of the
year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a
few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser
Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-
days of the year, but a very important one. This year (1988) it occurs on
December 21st at 9:28 am CST. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically
followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was
lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must
be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash.
Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it,
burning candles were placed on it. In Christianity, Protestants might claim that
Martin Luther invented the custom, and Catholics might grant St. Boniface the
honor, but the custom can demonstrably be traced back through the Roman
Saturnalia all the way to ancient Egypt. Needless to say, such a tree should be
cut down rather than purchased, and should be disposed of by burning, the proper
way to dispatch any sacred object.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important
plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe
was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle
on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically
— not medicinally! It’s highly toxic!) But aphrodisiacs must have been the
smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient times, as contemporary reports
indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of every type of good
food. And drink! The most popular of which was the ‘wassail cup’ deriving its
name from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘waes hael’ (be whole or hale).

Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as
the Holy Night arrives, that bees hum the ‘100th psalm’ on Christmas Eve, that a
windy Christmas will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can
see the Little People, that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if
one opens all the doors of the house at midnight all the evil spirits will
depart, that you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you
sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck is sure to
follow, that ‘if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see’, that
‘hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May’, that one
can use the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the
twelve months of the coming year, and so on.

Remembering that most Christmas customs are ultimately based upon older Pagan
customs, it only remains for modern Pagans to reclaim their lost traditions. In
doing so, we can share many common customs with our Christian friends, albeit
with a slightly different interpretation. And thus we all share in the beauty of
this most magical of seasons, when the Mother Goddess once again gives birth to
the baby Sun-God and sets the wheel in motion again. To conclude with a long-
overdue paraphrase, ‘Goddess bless us, every one!

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Gloria! In excelsis Dea! Glo – ria!

Yule Comments & Graphics
Gloria

Snow lies deep upon the Earth
Still our voices warmly sing
Heralding the glorious birth Of the Child, the Winter King
Glo – ria!
In excelsis Deo!
Glo – ria!
In excelsis Dea!

Our triumphant voices claim
Joy and hope and love renewed
And our Lady’s glad refrain
Answer Winter’s solitude
Glo – ria!(etc.)

In Her arms a holy Child
Promises a glowing Light
Through the winter wind so wild
He proclaims the growing Light.
Glo – ria! (etc..)

Now the turning of the year
Of the greater Turning sings
Passing age of cold and fear
Soon our golden summer brings.
Glo – ria! (etc..)

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The Scottish Song “The Thirteen Days of Yule”

The Scottish Song “The Thirteen Days of Yule”

The 13 Days of Yule was sung in Scotland as far back as the early 1800’s, to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

“Yule” was originally a heathen feast that lasted for 12-13 days.  Eventually it came to represent the midwinter season of December and January.  Later it became synonymous with Christmas.

The Thirteen Days of Yule

The King sent his Lady on the first Yule day, A papingoe*, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the second Yule day, Two partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the third Yule day, Three plovers**, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the fourth Yule day, A goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the fifth Yule day, Three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the sixth Yule day, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the seventh Yule day, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the eighth Yule day, Three ducks a-merry laying, a bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the ninth Yule day, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the tenth Yule day, An Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the eleventh Yule day, Three hinds a-merry hunting, an Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the twelfth Yule day, Three maids a-merry dancing, three hinds a-merry hunting, An Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the thirteenth Yule day, Three stalks o merry corn, three maids a-merry dancing, Three hinds a-merry hunting, an Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

*papingoe = a parrot (though some people think it’s a peacock) **a plover is a type of bird

MamaLisasWorld

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Daily Feng Shui Tip for January 6th

The Christmas season is about to come to a conclusion. Church calendars in both the East and West proclaim today the ‘Feast of the Epiphany’ or ‘Three Kings Day’ when Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar followed a star to Bethlehem, offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child. So many traditions consider today to be the last day of Christmas, one that has rituals and symbols of its own. Carolers can go from house to house singing out the holidays, and in some cases help to take down Christmas trees that will be part of a big bonfire. Prayers are said on this evening, and dried herbs are blessed and burnt so that both the aroma and the attached blessings could fill the home. Doorways would be sprinkled with holy water and the letters C + M + B (representing the Three Kings) and the year would be written in chalk above the door. Today you can burn some frankincense incense and say this special prayer to Sandalphon, an angel believed to weave the prayers of the faithful into a garland to offer at the feet of the Lord. We can engage in the blessed energies of this day by saying: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, I will show love. Where there is injury, I will heal. Where there is lack, I will fulfill. Where there is confusion, I see clearly. Where there is no heart, I will be one heart.’

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

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Origin Of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

The twelve days in the song are the twelve days starting Christmas Day, or in some traditions, the day after Christmas (December 26) (Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day, as being the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr) to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day). Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking.”

Although the specific origins of the chant are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night “memories-and-forfeits” game, in which a leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the game is offered up in its earliest known printed version, in the children’s book Mirth without Mischief (c. 1780) published in England, which 100 years later Lady Gomme, a collector of folktales and rhymes, described playing every Twelfth Day night before eating mince pies and twelfth cake.[2]

The song apparently is older than the printed version, though it is not known how much older. Textual evidence indicates that the song was not English in origin, but French, though it is considered an English carol. Three French versions of the song are known. If the “partridge in a pear tree” of the English version is to be taken literally, then it seems as if the chant comes from France, since the red-legged (or French) partridge, which perches in trees more frequently than the native common (or grey) partridge, was not successfully introduced into England until about 1770.

The song was imported to the United States in 1910 by Emily Brown, of the Downer Teacher’s College in Milwaukee, WI, who had encountered the song in an English music store sometime before. She needed the song for the school Christmas pageant, an annual extravaganza that she was known for organizing

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Good Tuesday Morning/Afternoon to you, dearies!

Magickal Graphics Good Tuesday to you all! I hope everyone is having a great day. I know it is back to work. But there is a good news this week, it is a short work week. I am sure you have already figured that out, lol! I thought about doing something just for the fun of it but I didn’t know how you might react. You remember yesterday, I mentioned in one of my posts that the Twelve Days of Christmas started. Well I thought about take each day and tracking down a photo of that day’s gift and posting it. Then the next day take the previous day’s gift and add to it with the next day’s gift. I was just curious to see what a massive amount of gifts this person gave to his true love. I hope you don’t mind but after thinking about it, I think I will do it. I am sure after I start it your curiosity will get the best of you too. I have never been able to imagine that many gift and it is something I have always wanted to do. Who knows I might not be able to find twelve drummers drumming, lol! First, I got o track down the song, that is one I never learned in school.  Anyway you know what I am up to now, on with the Magick……  

Correspondences for Tuesday

 Magickal Intentions: Courage, Physical Strength, Revenge, Military Honors, Surgery and the Breaking of Negative Spells, Matrimony, War, Enemies, Prison, Vitality and Assertiveness
Incense: Dragon’s Blood, Patchouli
Planet: Mars
Sign: Aries and Scorpio 
Angel: Samuel
Colors: Red and Orange
Herbs/Plants:Red Rose, Cock’s Comb, Pine, Daisy, Thyme and Pepper 
Stones: Carnelian, Bloodstone, Ruby, Garnet and Pink Tourmaline 
Oil: (Mars) Basil, Coriander, Ginger
Mars rules Tuesday. The energies of this day best harmonize with efforts of masculine vibration, such as conflict, physical endurance and strength, lust, hunting, sports, and all types of competition. Use them, too, for rituals involving surgical procedures or political ventures.  

Spellcrafting for Tuesday

 

A CHARM TO BREAK A TROUBLESOME HABIT

You must take a white egg, and through small holes made in each end, blow forth the contents from the shell. Plug up one end with a little softened beeswax, then fill the shell, using a fine funnel, with sour red wine. Carefully seal the second hole with more wax, and in red ink write upon the surface of the shell the name of that plaguing compulsion you would be rid of.

Take this egg in secret to a place where great rocks cover the ground. Stand there and say these words:

“Hall of blood where life has fled
Walls of bone that close me round
I break thy reign, thy yoke I shed
I cast thy powers to the ground.”
 

Hurl the egg against a rock so that it shall burst into fragments and the contents be spilt upon the earth. Then gather up the broken bits of shell, take them home, and grind them into a powder in a mortar. This charmed dust should be kept within a small jar, a pinch of it to be placed on the tongue and swallowed whenever further treacherous temptations may appear.



~Magickal Graphics~

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