Spinning Tales, A Winter Tradition
December 18, 2011 in Guests
For me, surprisingly living in Canada, I hate winter! I actually loath snow and hate cold, but there is one thing I do love about winter, and that is the chance to celebrate a very important series of holidays with family. We have a total of 5 grandparents in our family, and all get visited. For me the holiday is about time with these people, time celebrated with ancestors and watching our daughter delight in seeing all her grandparents, watching her face on Yule morning as she finds little gifts in her stocking and under the tree.
But for me also it means something even more appealing! Our kindred’s God Party! I always look forward to every single ritual with our kindred, every event is equally as fun and interesting as the next, and always filled with laughter and food, but Yule is something that all of us look forward to, even if it means a lot of snow and very cold weather, because we get to challenge ourselves! Our God Party started two years ago when we were all discussing the gods, and wondered what they did over Yule, there was a lot of funny comments about certain gods having more of the party spirit than others, and we started to wonder what a party with Gods would be like! One of our members suggested that we all dress up like a god of our choice and have a ritual written with lines for them, in which they would come to a party to discuss Yule! The costumes were funny and often interesting to see people be pretty close to the way the god is described. We even had one member who came as Loki that had robed an elf along his way, and had all of these little pieces of elf costume in a bag that she dropped around the room, the story of her robbing the elf was equally as funny!
What was most fun about this adventure in ritual theater was that it allowed us to create our own fictional stories, and that became the focus of the group at Yule, each of them had to come up with ways that their chosen god created Yule and how the traditions surrounding Yule were their invention. I found this tradition most compelling for me, as a writer and it allowed me to think outside of myself and create unique stories. The two stories that I am proud of most are these. The first was a story told to my daughter in my costume of Frigga about how Odin and Santa are the same person, it is short, but I think it allows the merging of heathen thought into the modern world where commercialism promotes Santa as a key figure. Hard as we might try as parents to engross them into heathenry the fact is they will see Santa around, you cannot help it living in North America and frankly the Santa parades are fun!! So, we decided in order to not confuse her, we would tie the commercial Christmas into our heathen religion with this little story:
“In December when the winds blow cold, Papa Odin prepares his sleigh,
He decorates it with holly and ivy, and winter green,
And appoints 9 stags to pull it,
He dresses all in fine blue, and puts gifts into the sleigh,
Then he comes to the world of the humans,
and brings gifts to all the little heathen children, but
on Christmas, Papa Odin sprinkles magic dust on himself, and transforms into
Santa, his blue cloak turns red, his stags into reindeer, and then delivers all
the gifts to other boys and girls around the world,
And that is why we all share in the holiday together, for it is the one night
around the world that all humans share one holiday, it is called many names,
but every boy and girl around the world gets to share in it.”
The second story is how Frigga created the Yule tree. As she is my patron god, it was easy for me to come up with a story that surrounded her, and so this story explains how the Yule tree was created.
There was a time that no one could see us, We were asleep as it where,
The worlds were dark, and cold, The snow swirled around and around, and we noticed that it glistened with a silver light,
We played in it, made creatures of all sorts out of the snow, enchanted by it,
But there was no one but us to share in it, I noticed one day that a small firefly landed on the great ash that you all know named Yggdrasil, the flickering light against the snow, made it brighter somehow, I decided that this was an idea that should be expanded upon, and so off to the dwarves I went, and had them make such finery, glass balls and silver lights, shapes of snow, shapes of animals, little wooden men and women, sleighs and snowshoes, all the things that we loved about winter.
I commissioned my hand maidens to help me, and one by one we place all the objects upon the tree, but this was only the beginning, for then my beloved husband told me that in the human world had been seeking us out, he raised his staff and we could hear the echoes of songs long forgotten, the voices became louder and louder echoing around the nine worlds, and suddenly the tree itself felt the love of our folk for this sacred time, and suddenly the tree became a light, it shone out to the worlds beyond
Then you came, all of you, finding us once more, we told you about us, and you told us about Yule, and how you had been celebrating this winter season, and in return for the light you gave, we gave each house a small tree, a reminder of the great ash that stands here, and upon it laid our finest gifts,
So that each would be reminded of us, and the light of the season
For now, the worlds are one, united by the great lights that shine above, like the stars the lights on the Yule tree connect you to us, and us to you, and that is how I remember the creation of the Yule Tree,
May it shine forever bright!
For me now, Yule has become centred around not only gods but also story craft. I feel as a culture we have lost many of our stories and don’t have many that we can relate too, I feel in order to press on in the reconstruction of heathen religions stories need to be created in order to give new life to a new generation of young minds. I feel story crafting is a very sacred tradition, in which we the crafter get to invent reality, in a way writing is creating life, creating a way to make us remember key events and our important myths. We know that heathens for thousands of years told stories; in fact that is how the myths were relayed. In many cultures stories are still the foremost way the culture retains its knowledge, lore and history. Stories continue to play a pivotal role, especially in the lives of children, we all have at least one favourite story that returns memories of good things.
Many of us still love to read, and I feel this is a reflection of parents who were story crafters. To me there is no better way to spend Yule than sharing it with your fellow friends, family and kindred and no better way to honour our gods and traditions other than forging new stories in their honour!
For more Yule stories, our kindred has a number recorded by fellow kindred members on our website