It’s that time of year again where the darkness gathers around us and we look for little signs of life and light. I’ve many lovely designs that celebrate this light-in-the-darkness! This giving season can be so fun and full of delight when you have treasures to choose from, perfect for everyone in your life! I’ve also put together some handy deadlines as a guideline for final order dates if you would like your package to arrive before Christmas. These dates are based on Royal Mail Guidelines and are a suggestion, not a guarantee. During this busy time, we recommend upgrading your shipping to included tracking, as this method is often faster than regular mail.
Today is Yule, the second day of the 12 days of Yule. Darkness has dropped its hold and light returns, one sliver at a time. Tonight is the Wild Hunt, where Father Odin and Frau Holle (sometimes called Berchta, Perchten or Bertha) lead their raucous company of the dead and the forgotten spirits through the sky. Goddess help you if you should witness them! you may very well hear them howling outside through this night.
Yesterday was Mother Night in the Heathen tradition and I was busy making preparations for the longest night of the year.
Mother Night or Mōdraniht was recorded by Bede as a heathen feast corresponding with the 12 days of Christmas, and of course this celebration is much older than this record. Traditionally this night is celebrated the night before the Winter Solstice and honours female ancestors and spirits of the land.
We traveled to Nattie Fonten, the sacred well in the North York Moors. I was heartened to see someone before us had cleaned the well, but was discouraged to see myriad plastic twine “offerings” on the branches of the guardian tree there. Rag Wells, or sacred “wishing” wells are often honoured in this way- a small cloth or item of clothing is left as a gift to the well, usually in exchange for healing. Whoever left the rope obviously didn’t understand the tradition, and it felt to me to be a desecration of the site. If the plastic ropes are still there on my next visit I will take them down. I cleared away an empty local honey jar and left my own gifts before filling my flasks with the holy wild water for my work that evening.
According to Whelan and Taylor, there is historical evidence that Wade’s Causeway, the old Roman road on the moors, ran by this spring. Wade’s Causeway is one of my favourite places on the moor, and perhaps the earth. Some say this road is not Roman at all but prehistoric, or perhaps Medieval, and that it has also been called the Old Wife’s Way. The giant Wade had a wife named Bell, and he built the road for her so she could go milk her giant cow in Pickering, or so the legend goes. So maybe she is the old wife and this is her well. And maybe she is many other things, as the old wife is always the ancient Pagan Earth mother, but I digress.
Last night we burnt the old mistletoe posy that has guarded us since Yule of last year and laid out all my crystals, not only my personal ones but many that will be made into jewellery and tucked into parcels in the coming year. They were smudged with herb smoke and bathed in the water of Nattie Fonten and left for the bright waxing moon to bless.
Now Yule has come, most of my orders have been sent out, things are slowing down and we get to enjoy the season with twelve days of rest, as our ancestors have done. What will you be doing in the long nights of Yule?
It’s that time of year when I start thinking of a place that has never been. I get homesick for a mythic land, that hybrid place of Mexico-in-America. You tengo morriña de Aztlan. I hunt down Mexican hot chocolate and make huge piles of tamales so that we end up freezing them and eating them for months afterward, and I dream of the sun. Ironically, this place inside a place is exactly the psychic locael I inhabit as an immigrant in England. Being in two places at once is something I learned way back when I lived in Cali.
This Yule design came out of that nostalgic emotion. I was thinking about the Aztec moon goddess Coyolxauhqui whose name means “Golden Bells”. Bells have long been a way to call to the Goddess, and I prefer that aspect to the anachronism of sleigh bells ringing this time of year.
It is said that Coyolxauhqui was killed by her brother who dismembered her, flinging her body into the sky so that her head became the moon. When the moon is low and bright in the sky, you can see the golden bells of her cheeks shining there. She is also the goddess of the Milky Way.
It’s the Twelfth Day– do you know where your golden bean is? Traditionally, the head of revelry for this day was chosen by a bean secreted away in a slice of cake, distributed at random or in some cases by a child hiding under the table.
This custom is still celebrated in New Orleans but is no longer part of the seasonal celebrations in the UK, except in some instances of folk revivals. A king chosen by whim– it’s the stuff of fairy tales as well as the Roman Saturnalia. It was difficult for me to imagine the psychic necessity of such a celebration, coming from a land where everyone is presumed equal. Even if the reality in the US is very different, the philosophical idea rules many interactions between people. Not so in the UK, where rigid ideas of class permeate the culture.
Today is considered “Old Christmas Day” and the last hurrah of the Yule celebrations. Traditionally, all the decorations are taken down– it’s bad luck to leave them up. And, in the village of Haxey in Lincolnshire, the Fool and his Boggans corral the inhabitants and bystanders in the mad Hood Game, but that is the subject for another post.
It is too dark to work. The sky is stark and without depth, like the inside of an egg. Everything will have to wait for the light. All the holiday shipments have been sent, and the post office is peaceful again. I have run out of many supplies– it has been an amazing first holiday season for the new business. I’m tired, but in a very good way.