Athena's Web Weekly Column
Week of Dec 15th - Dec 21st, 2006
Time turns on an eight spoked wheel, which Yule remembers as the Sun comes closest to Earth, riding lowest through the southern sky.
Born of the sacred Mother on the night of Her greatest power, She labors for three days, giving birth to the Sun as it breaks the horizon Christmas morning. Yule is a winter celebration carrying a rich cultural tradition from which we deeply plumb, of frosty nights, good cheer and a celebration of the rebirth of the light.
Many creation myths remember the sacred Tree of Life. The Yule Log and Christmas Tree share themes with the Norse tree, Yggdrasil, although the Norse pictured theirs as a World Ash. In a time before sacred poles and standing stones were set up to read the face of the sky, living trees were used, with their natural spire marking heaven's secrets. The gird systems we use to calibrate the sky were thought to be the branches of this great tree, under which all creation gathered. The Norse Gods held judgement each day by the ash. These were the planetary paths, as they coursed through the heavenly ethers above Earth, passing from branch to branch, although lightly poised so as to barely be seen...
Trees served as marker and guide. Standing south of the tree and facing north, the celestial pole could be found. Once established, these sacred groves would serve as living temples where priests could come and commune with the gods, taking careful note of the passage of time.
This was the same tree Odin made the first man from, whose branches merge with another creation myth, where man and woman are first made and judged before God. They are all branches of the same tradition, recalling a time when nature was used to discern heavens will. In various ways the natural contours of the Earth were used to mark the passage of time, the sky and planets (gods).
The old ones felt the Earth 'pulsed' with a natural rhythm on the holidays. Legend remembers them as the Fairy Rade, troops of spirits which roam the countryside, causing either miraculous healings or painful loss (they were often mischievous). These spirits loved revelry and would often dance the night away. Where the year ends and begins again, the fabric of the old was stitched to the hem of the new. New Year's is when Time comes together, through which could be peered the future, Dreams and readings were thought to be more prophetic at these times as the future could be more easily glimpsed.
In the western calendar tradition, the month leading into the Winter Solstice is a fire sign. It's spirit is ignited in the joy of giving and sharing the many blessings we have. It culminates in the Winter Solstice, a fire ritual created to acknowledged the re-birth of the Sun, as the Son of the All Wise. Here, in this time and place, the light (or child) is at its weakest, in its infancy, threatened by the cold dark days ahead, but turning towards increased light on the pivot of a wheel.
Like the birth of the year, the seeds sown now have greater power, for the sharing of love, contacts and good wishes, reaching out across the land to say hello, all are part of the spirit of this sacred fire. Whether we refrain from saying anything bad, or work to sow blessings, we endeavor to remember the divinity of all things and people at this time.
Blessings to all.