Christmas Traditions

Midwinter is upon us once more. Longest day, Darkest night – the Oak King battles the Holly King to ensure the sun will come up tomorrow morning…

The birth of the Son at the darkest hour of the year to ensure the continuation of light and hope.

Funny how things all seem to link together.

But then again the first myth was around long before the second one and humans like to link things together when something changes – just so no one feels left out. I don’t know if this is survival instinct or just a thing that humans do, but in some ways it means that our midwinter holiday traditions are constantly changing.

So how have your family’s midwinter traditions changed?

When I was a kid, it was all carols and church. Then I went to uni and it became chocolate and alcohol. When my children arrived, it became all about them and their enjoyment. When TOH’s grandfather died, midwinter became about keeping the older generation happy. Who knows what it will become in the future?

We will be visiting Bristol again this year, staying over night with GIL and visiting SIL. What that means in practice is that our family Christmas (the one that revolves around the children) is moved from the 25th to the 27th. Oh, we’ll open the presents on the morning of the 25th, but we won’t get to relax until the 27th.

I know the kids are looking forward to the weekend – it prolongs the fun for them, I suppose – but for TOH and I it means having to deal with a lot of stress and unhappiness. Which is why I don’t like christmas at the moment.

I think we need to morph the traditions again…

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My friends are also thinking about the midwinter traditions as well, take a look!

Ritual wars

The Christmas Conundrum ~ what is the spirit of the season?

The Evolution of Christmas in Anglo-Saxon Times

Deep Peace in the Silence

The Wolves are Running

Who am I? Read and Find out!

As a writer, I read a lot. I read anything… *grins* …actually to borrow from Diane Nelson’s interview with the Tiger Princess, if I don’t have a book or my phone nearby I’ll read the back of the cereal packet, or the pizza place leaflet that just dropped through the letterbox…

Most of the time I read books, but when I’m on the Internet I can find all sorts of things to distract me from writing. Sometimes I read articles highlighted by my friends on Facebook, sometimes I trawl the news sites, but most of the time I end up Blog Hopping.

What’s Blog Hopping?

Well, I have a huge list of writer / editor / artist friends and most of them have blogs. I also have a few friends who aren’t connected to writing in anyway, and they have blogs too. So every day, I visit a couple of different blogs and read their latest post.

Yesterday I went Blog Hopping to Jane Alexander’s Blog. She had rather a thought provoking post about asking the right questions to people to find out more about them. She finished the post by asking some questions…

  1. Which is your favourite sense? If you could only experience the world through one sense which would it be?
  2. Which piece of art (music, book, poem, film, TV show, performance etc) most rocked your world?
  3. Your house is on fire – all people, animals and vital documents are safe – what one thing do you rescue?
  4. If you were a god/dess, which one would you be?

…and it’s taken me all night to come up with my answers.

I don’t think I could live without any of my senses. So much of life is bound up in them and as a Pagan, I use them to appreciate the world I live in everyday.

The touch of the air on my skin, the scent of the flowers on the wind, Sunlight on leaves through the trees, taste of fruit as I eat it, the sound of my daughter’s delighted giggle when she dances and the spark of an idea as it hits my intuition.

They are all a part of me, so, sorry Jane, I can’t give you an answer to that one.

The first question is intimately tied into the second. So many pieces of Art have rocked my world, from Van Gogh’s Starry Sky (which incidentally is the cover to this month’s Welcome to Wherever) to the voice of the singer in Evanesence.

I adore the Films, Fifth Element and Stardust, Dharma & Greg makes me laugh no matter how many times I watch the series and there are so many Poems that I love…

She Walks in Beauty

by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

…so again, I can’t answer the question.

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The third one is easy. I’m not materialistic, but there is one item that goes everywhere with me, that I panic about when I temporarily lose it and that I worry about when I am not wearing it.

My engagement ring.

I don’t have a romantic engagement story. TOH and I met at Uni and hit it off immediately. We were on the same course, shared the same taste in food, music and movies. He introduced me to Martial Arts in the form of Banyu Hatten Aikido and I introduced him to the delights of Terry Pratchett.

We moved in together after a term – you don’t need or want to know those details – but, living together made us both happy. Six months later, we decided to get engaged and he bought a plain gold ring.

In the pub one night, he got down on one knee and proposed properly. I was ecstatic. Then we went up to his parents house for the weekend and told his mum. She smiled, said that she was happy for us, but please could I take the ring off because it gave the wrong impression.

I think she must have sensed my disappointment as I put the ring on my necklace and spoken to TOH about it, because a couple of months later, TOH suggested we go shopping for a real engagement ring.

By this time, I had lost the gold ring twice. Once through a crack in the gym floor at Aikido and once it was stolen.

Yes, I am a clutz…

So, we trawled the Jewellers shops armed with our grants and found a gorgeous natural emerald and diamond ring. I had to try it on and it needed to be sized, so I didn’t actually get it until Christmas that year.

TOH woke me up on Christmas morning and proposed again, this time, it was the Emerald ring he slid onto my finger. I went downstairs (we were at his Parent’s House) and said to his mum “TOH didn’t get me any Christmas presents.”

“What? Why?” she was trying hard to sound shocked – but I knew that he’d shown her the ring already.

I replied, “Because he got me this.” and showed her the ring. It made Christmas extra special for her and me. I didn’t care that he did not have me anything else – his love was all, and still is all, I needed.

That’s why my Engagement Ring means so much to me.

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The last question, If you were a god/dess, which one would you be? – I answered for myself a long while back. I feel connected to the Moon and in particular to Arianrhod, the Celtic Moon Goddess.

ARIANRHOD:Daughter of DONand neice of MATH. Mother of DYLAN and LLEU.

 

Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd), Arian meaning ‘silver’, and Rhod meaning ‘wheel’ or ‘disc’. Celtic Moon-Mother Goddess. Called the Silver Wheel that Descends into the Sea. Daughter of the Mother Goddess Don and her consort Beli. She is ruler of Caer Sidi, a magical realm in the north. She was worshiped as priestess of the moon. The benevolent silver sky-lady came down from her pale white chariot in the heavens to watch more closely over the tides she ruled. Her Festival is on 2nd December, she is also honoured at the Full Moon.

A star and moon Goddess, Arianrhod was also called the Silver Wheel because the dead were carried on her Oar Wheel to Emania (the Moon- land or land of death), which belonged to her as a deity of reincarnation and karma. Her consort Nwyvre ‘Sky, Space, Firmament’ has survived in name only. Caer Arianrhod is the circumpolar stars, to which souls withdraw between incarnations, thus she is identified as a Goddess of reincarnation. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis), or the secret center of each initiate’s spiritual being.

 

Hymn to Arianrhod

Arianrhod of the Silver Wheel
By all the names men give thee –
We, thy hidden children, humbly kneel
Thy truth to hear, thy countenance to see.
Here in the circle cast upon the Earth
Yet open to the stars – unseen, yet real –
Within our hearts give understanding birth,
Our wounds of loss and loneliness to heal.
Isis unveiled and Isis veiled, thou art;
The Earth below our feet, the Moon on high.
In thee these two shall never be apart –
The magick of the Earth and Sky.

The Story of Math ap Mathonwy

It is the story of Math ap Mathonwy (MAHTH ap mah-THOHN-wee), who is king, teacher, and wizard, brother of Don; uncle of Arianrhod, Gwydion, Amaethon, and Gofannon.

She was the daughter of the Welsh Goddess Danu. Her uncle, King Math, was compelled by a taboo to keep his feet in the lap of a virgin whenever he was not actively engaged in battle. After his first ‘footholder’, Goewin, was deflowered, Math asked Arianrhod to take her place. She had to step across a magic rod to prove her virginity, but when she did so, twin boys dropped from between her legs. Math named the first of the boys Dylan.

The second of these was taken away by Arianrhod’s brother Gwydion and raised in a magic forest. Arianrhod incensed by what she had suffered, laid three curses on the boy, Lleu:

  • He shall have no name except one she gives him.
  • He shall bear no arms except ones she gives him.
  • He shall have no wife of the race that is now on the earth.

Through elaborate magic and trickery, Gwydion deceived Arianrhod into breaking the first two curses herself. To break the third, Math and Gwydion created Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers, to be Lleu’s bride.

Blodeuwedd (flower face), who appears to the embodiment of a fertility Goddess, betrayed her lover, Lleu, to his death, but his spirit hung on a tree was resurrected on the following day.

Humiliated by King Math, thwarted by her son, forsaken by her brother, Arianrhod retreated to her castle Caer Arianrhod. Here she later drowned when the sea reclaimed the land.

Information provided by http://www.godchecker.com/and http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk

So there you are. That’s me in a nutshell… only I’m a nut that broke her shell a while back! *grins*

Why not visit Jane’s blog and contemplate the questions yourself. Just click the link below!

http://exmoorjane.blogspot.com/2011/05/four-questions.html?spref=tw

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When I was Blog Hopping this morning, I found the most wonderful story that I would like to share with you. It’s by a regular contributor to “Welcome to Wherever…” and it’s just begging to be illustrated and printed for children to read!

I’m not going to steal it and post it here, so you will need to follow the link below to find out what I am talking about…

http://yearningblue.weebly.com/matts-dragon.html