Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of December 26th, 2003 - January 1st,  2004

From Flickering Flame to Eternal Fire

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Lights on the Tree

Lights on the Tree

  Welcome to the Season of Light. This is an interesting observation because we are, in reality, in the Season of Darkness, when night is Queen and at her greatest strength. But then, what a wonderful time to focus on light, when it shines so clearly against the deepening layers enveloping the Earth.

Candles

Candlelight

  Throughout the world, there are various traditions of light at this time of year, of burning of candles, for the oil in the lamps lasting a full week (8 days), and the lighting of the tree. In Africa there's Kwanzaa and in India Divali, also holidays of light. Astrologically speaking, these are two different kinds of fire which craft the spirit of the holidays, each with their own separate source.

Minora

Chanukah

  The month leading into the Winter Solstice is known as being allocated to Sagittarius. This mutable fire sign is the source of a zealous religious fervor, of enthusiasm and excitement which derives from within. There can be devotion and pious commitment, a renewal of personal goals and aspirations. But the flip side to Sagittarius is its joy, opulence and abundance, an enthusiasm which is very worldly. We open the season with possibly the biggest feast of the year, Thanksgiving, always assigned to the third Thursday of the month, the day ruled by Jupiter (which in turn rules Sagittarius). The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year (more opulence), and with it, the Christmas season has 'officially' begun.

Divali

Divali

  Once Sagittarius has run its course and we find ourselves deposited upon the Gateway to Winter, the Sag 'fire' is extinguished. Indeed, even the Solar light is at it's low ebb, for during the next three days the Sun continues to 'hold' its position of the shortest day (and therefore longest night). It is only after this passage of time that the fires are relit, as the birth of the Sun begins it's long climb back in the heavens rising until it reaches it's full power and glory at the Summer Solstice. For the three days following the Sun's leaving Sagittarius, the fire energy (and some of the enthusiasm of the season) leaves, and yet the Sun is at it's low ebb, poised on the edge of what has been called 'the grave'. But on the third day, the birth of the new Sun, like the birth of a child, has commenced, together with all the spirit, hope and promise of what a new year can hold for each of us. The delivery of the Yule log on Christmas Eve, a log which would continue to burn and be added to throughout the winter, was a time of great joy and celebration. This tradition of light comes from the Scandinavians, who, at their feast of Juul, used to rekindle huge bonfires in honor of Thor.

Yule Fire

Yule Fire

  "The bringing in and placing of the ponderous block on the hearth of the wide chimney in the baronial hall was the most joyous of the ceremonies observed on Christmas Eve in feudal times. The venerable log, destined to crackle a welcome to all-comers, was drawn in triumph from its resting-place at the feet of its living brethren of the woods. Each wayfarer raised his hat as it passed, for he well knew that it was full of good promises, and that its flame would burn out old wrongs and heartburnings, and cause the liquor to bubble in the wassail-bowl, that was quaffed to the drowning of ancient feuds and animosities. So the Yule-log was worthily honored, and the ancient bards welcomed its entrance with their minstrelsy."

  The Book of Days, Vol. II, p 735, edited by R. Chambers.

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