A Contemporary Pagan’s Perspective of: Yuletide, Xmas, Christmas & the Winter Solstice
By Pat Regan
Well then, we did it again and survived yet another year. So much for the doom and gloom brigade that glibly ‘wrote off’ humanity throughout this year. If you are reading this in late 2012 or early 2013 then my prediction came true. I previously said:
“No folks, one thing I can predict with 100% certainty is that 2012 will come and go.”
Nostradamus, the Mayan Calendar or Revelations - is doom around the corner?
Yuletide/Midwinter Solstice is a critical element of our indigenous, Pagan spiritual heritage. It resides so deep within us that we cannot possibly resist it. Charles Dickens inadvertently marked it exceedingly well in his classic novella, A Christmas Carol, which oddly enough was published on the ‘same’ day in mid-December that I find myself writing this particular piece, but way back in 1843. Possibly Charles’s inquisitive spirit is influencing my actions today – who knows?
The Solstice itself, this semi-autonomous, celebratory thought form, conjoins us with the phenomenal seasonal energies of this planet of which we are all an integral part. We should always celebrate and enjoy it to the full! Nevertheless, we need to fully understand how this part of our psyche has been manipulated, via historically-indoctrinated prejudice, if we are ever to achieve true spiritual liberation.
Are we in a modern, pluralistic 21st Century society sincerely thinking for ourselves or just being spoon -fed religious propaganda decade after decade? Moreover, is the widely-accepted Jesus Myth the real ‘Reason for the Season’ - or just more fundamentalist misinformation? Let’s delve a little deeper into the heart of the matter…
Traditions: What You Need To Know About Them!
The present-day Christian feast day of Christmas (Christ’s Mass) originates from the immense storehouse of our ancient Pagan past. The specific date of the assumed Jesus Christ's birthday is unidentified. Even the gospels fail to identify the exact time of this mythological figure’s origination. In fact the Church only set up the administrative date of Christ's birth in AD 273. The early Church, enthusiastic to win new converts from the natural old earth-orientated faiths, saw a colossal theocratical benefit to be gained by adopting this native midwinter festival. This astute spiritual stratagem was applied with equal vigour to all our indigenous Pagan feast days.
The entire Christian year is surreptitiously grafted onto a much older Pagan agricultural calendar, which links closely with the solar orb/seasonal cycles. Thousands of years before the Christian cult was first instigated, our Pagan forefathers were celebrating the joyful feast of the Midwinter Solstice. Everywhere people honoured the birth of the 'Sun God' under his abundant titles and epithets.
Midwinter marked the critical phase when the sun was at its lowest point in the sky. This truth was recognised and vitalised on a spiritual level by the ancients as the time of 'New birth.' From now onward the days would grow lighter as the solar power of the great ‘Life giver’ increased.
Christianity simply took the name 'Sun' and converted it into 'Son' so as to give the new fanatical devotion from the East a more satisfactory countenance for our Pagan ancestors. This clever manoeuvre ensured that the aboriginal peoples would still maintain their old celebration dates, whilst jettisoning their original rich native mysticism for the new man-made monotheistic dogma.
The Origin of most Xmas Customs - the Roman Saturnalia
Most Christmas folklore traditions and customs are evidently based on the old Roman feast of the 'Saturnalia,' which was enjoyed for seven days (although times varied), toward the end of December. During the celebration of the god Saturn all schools, courts, businesses etc would remain closed. Slaves and masters would reverse roles with masters serving their subordinates at table etc. By the way, this custom still remains within our native consciousness even today. The charity/giving characteristic of the Solstice are widespread to almost everyone. Most comically, the aspect of charity is regularly associated with the Christian faith yet its origins are transparently Pagan.
Army officers still serve their subordinates at Xmas dinner; employers worldwide still give large parties for their workers and folk exchange loving presents. A small cap known as a 'Pileus' was the Roman sign of a freeman. During the Saturnalia slaves were allowed to wear this head covering at the banquet. This is a fact worth remembering when people next enter into the party spirit and put on childish hats at their Xmas banquet.
The word ‘Yule’ stems from the old Viking word 'Iul' meaning Wheel - Yule being the lowest ebb in the sun's travel through the wheel of the year.
A few Well – Loved Traditions of Yule …..
The Yule log was traditionally cut from an oak-tree. This wood was sacred to the Thunder God Thor, who is also known as 'Thunor. This deity gives his name to Thursday (Thor’s-day). The Yule log, after being licked by fire, was believed to protect a dwelling from lightening strike.
Mistletoe was seen as an all-healing plant and sacred to the Norse deity Balder. This plant was used by druidic priests and native healers to promote fertility. It is still used today in a magical sense, i.e. the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe!
Holly is of course a customary part of Yuletide and like the mistletoe it has long-established connections. It is sacred to Saturn, God of the Dying Year and was hung outside houses by the Romans to avert psychic attack, lightening and perceived evils of any kind.
Ivy is an evergreen climbing plant symbolising immortality. It has been perceived as a representation of eternal life in numerous Pagan faith systems including Druidism, the spiritual ethos of the Celtic peoples.
Today's Father Christmas/Santa image is based upon the Holly-King figure of Odin, the Norse Father - God who rode through the night's sky not on a reindeer but a fast white charger. The aspect of his red and white costume (and flying through the sky) is possibly linked to the use of the brightly coloured hallucinogenic mushroom, Fly Agaric by Norse shamans and warriors before battle.
Xmas trees originate from ancient rites of the great, Phrygian Mother Goddess ‘Cybele’. Her worship was brought to Rome in 204BC. A pine tree was felled and placed within her sacred temple then decorated with lavish adornments of attractive flowers and coloured wools, etc. I deem that it is quite probable that the tree custom travelled with the legions into Germanic localities and amalgamated with native tradition there at some later date. We should possibly give credit for the tree's contemporary usage in celebration to Drusus the Elder who embarked upon a military campaign for Roman dominance against the Germanic and Raetian tribes in 15 BC.
The ‘Born Again’ Sun!
Any seriously unbiased investigation into the historical side of Christmas traditions clearly reveals that Christianity has no right whatsoever to claim an exclusive monopoly over the Sun/Resurrection god situation. The Christian re-born Sun-God Myth is but the latest in a long line of deity modifications.
So why did the Church seize original Pagan Midwinter Solstice celebrations and replace them with Xmas? Why the 25th December?
Let us scrutinise a few hard facts, rather than continue to propagate the same old fundamentalist misinformation about midwinter celebrations.
Numerous crucified sun gods have their customary birthday on December 25th. This is because the ancients acknowledged that the sun makes a yearly descent southward in anticipation of December 21st or 22nd , the Winter Solstice, when it stops moving southerly for three days and next starts to move northward again. During this period our shrewd ancient forbears avowed that God’s sun had died for three days and was ‘Born again’ on December 25th The ancients realised that they needed the sun to come back every day and that they would be in enormous difficulty if the sun continued to move southward and did not stop and repeal its direction. Consequently, limitless diverse cultures celebrated their ‘Sun of God’s’ anniversary on December 25th. Fundamentalists within the early Christian Church simply adopted the heathen, earth-orientated midwinter celebrations to equate with their newly-fashioned version of the Sun God, Jesus Christ, known as the Son of God!
Societies everywhere fell for this clever Church ruse as they still do to this day!
Sun God mythos – how the Church skilfully manipulated your mindset
The Christian Christmas practice stands as a prime example of smart, theocratical mind control of the masses.
The following list stands as the outstanding qualities of the ubiquitous Sun God mythos, which can be related to contemporary Christian recycling of much older Pagan mythology.
Consider the following:
· The sun dies for three days on December 21/22nd, the Winter Solstice; when it stops its travels southward, to be born again (resurrected) on December 25th, when it continues its progress north.
· In various areas, the calendar originally began in the constellation of Virgo and the sun would consequently be perceived as being ‘Born of a virgin.’
· The sun is of course the ‘Light of the World.’
· The sun ‘Cometh on clouds and every eye shall see him.’
· The sun rising in the morning is the ‘Saviour of mankind.’
· The sun wears a corona, crown of thorns or ‘Circle of light’ (halo).
· The sun is seen to ‘Walk on water.’
· The sun's follower’s helpers (disciples) are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun has to pass.
· The sun at 12 noon is in the house/temple of the ‘Most High,’ consequently ‘He’ begins ‘his Father's work’ at the age of 12.
· The sun enters each sign of the zodiac at 30°; hence, the ‘Sun of God’ begins his ministry at the age of 30.
· The sun is hung on a cross (crucified) which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the spring/vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then reborn.
It does not take a mastermind to distinguish the great similarities with the above when compared to the popular Jesus Myth. The Church fathers simply used earlier heathen legend/tradition and symbolism to fashion their innovative, patriarchal doctrine.
Yes folks – it’s all been done before!
The early Church made light work of selling its newly-formed Christ god template to the trusting Pagan masses and quite easily substituted the wholesome solar/agricultural calendar for a new man-made one based on its theocratical, monotheistic prospectus.
In view of the above, can ‘You’ see how you have been clandestinely manipulated, by shrewd fundamentalists of old; into believing an exceptionally clever, religiously-based falsehood?
There is of course - nothing new under the sun!
The older god-forms related to Xmas
Attis, Adonis, Sol, Mithras, these gods and numerous others were celebrated during seasonal solar cycles long before the ‘Jesus story’ was ever manufactured by sectarian, monotheistic interest groups with an axe to ground against the social structure of the day! I wonder ‘Who’ will contest the Sun God title next.
We would do well to recall the old maxim: ‘History repeats itself.’
But what about the term ‘Xmas: is it an abridged adaptation of the word ‘Christmas’ or something else entirely…? Well in fact the answer is - No!
December, under the earlier Roman calendar, used to be, the 10th month of the year: the 1st month (March) being given to the god Mars. The Roman numeral for 10 is of course ‘X’, thus X-mas rather than being an abbreviation of a present Christian festival can be seen as being the Pagan ‘Mass of the 10th month’; a joyful time when the Saturnalia was celebrated with great merriment.
The genuine ‘Reason for the Season’ has been carefully concealed by devious fundamentalists with hidden agendas, aimed at keeping ‘you’ in the darkness of ignorance, over the centuries. And billions of individuals seeking spiritual deliverance, through the generations, have fallen for this gargantuan religious deception without as much as a question.
Mr Scrooge Was Right To Celebrate Madly, Even Though His Reasoning Was Flawed!
Old Mr Scrooge was absolutely right to give in to the festive escapism of spiritual deliverance; although his motives were subconsciously overshadowed by centuries of clever, wide-scale, religious indoctrination before him. The ecstasy of a benevolent open heart, mind and spirit never had to be dependent on any crusty half-truths pumped out at Ebenezer’s local church hall. No, it was ‘always’ there in the first place - just waiting to be discovered.
This most recently recycled Christian dogmatisation of the wholesome Midwinter Solstice celebration is nothing but a man-made ecclesiastical distortion of a much older organic truth that links humankind to the planet, the universe and beyond.
The tremendous storehouse of our Pagan birthright is immeasurable and it is there; waiting like the first snow of winter, to be freely discovered by all.
I sincerely wish all genuine seekers a very joyful Yuletide, Midwinter delight, and Saturnalian blessings.
Pat Regan © 2012