MODERN PAGANS, PART 1: RITUALS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON
by Joanna Poppink
Religion, myth, history and folklore collide mid December. They explode in twinkling lights, tinsel and carols in the night.
Spirits fly through stormy skies carrying gifts and lumps of coal. Lightning strikes an oak tree and creates mistletoe plus lots of surprising kisses.
We move in a frenzy of shopping, cooking and traveling. Or we flee the holidays in cars, planes or depression. We spend more time, money and energy than we can afford.
We party. We give to the poor and homeless. We give out of joy, and we give out of guilt and duty. We tell stories to our children, teaching and exciting them with the extravaganza of Christmas. We take time off work, eat too much and decorate everything.
It's as if Lord of Misrule, the King of Unreason, once again governs the Feast of Fools as he did in ancient Rome, turning everything in our familiar world, topsy turvy.
Following my curiosity and love of stories, I gathered some ancient European beliefs and customs of December. I wanted to see if we are more influenced by natural forces and rituals of the past than we realize. The bits and pieces of stories I found hold voices hushed over time. Listening to them now may give us a richer understanding of our holiday experience today.
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