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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Yules

They say that if you add up all the gifts in The Twelve Days of Christmas, you get 364.

364.

The Twelve (witches would say Thirteen) Days of Yule are a microcosm, a year in little.

So Yule is actually the Yules: Twelve (witches would say Thirteen) of them, and every one a Yule.

The same pattern of the Twelve Between turns up elsewhere. The old Zoroastrian New Year, Nawrúz, at the vernal equinox, is a festival of thirteen days.

Mircea Eliade suggests that the intercalary dozen serves to reconcile a solar year of 365 days with a lunar year (= 12 lunations) of 352.

There's actually an old (15th century) Scots song kin to the one you may know called The Thirteen Days of Yule. It begins:

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  "She is dark," I whispered when I first saw our Lady of Guadalupe at the Ponce Cathedral.

   "Yes, she is morena and small.  This is why she is called La Morenita (little dark skinned female)."  Abuela continued: "Most of the Virgins are blond, blue eyed, and white.  But La Morenita is all-powerful."

  I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday.  I was nine years old when I first encountered La Guadalupe.  I traveled with Abuela from my hometown Yabucoa, a small town on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, to Ponce, the island's second major city.  We were going to visit Abuela's relatives. 

  "First things first, " Abuela announced when we arrived. "We will go the Ponce Cathedral to pay our respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe."

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  • Lizann Bassham
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    This is exquisite - thank you for the gift of this column.
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    Hi Lizann: Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate them.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Where the Fire Lives

In 1543, Henry the Eighth extinguished the Holy Fire which had burned at the sanctuary of Brigid at Kildare since before anyone could remember.

(The eternal flame is an ancient tradition among Indo-European peoples. In some Zoroastrian temples in Iran, the same fires, lovingly tended by their communities down the centuries, have burned continuously for more than 1200 years.)

In 1993, the Brigidine Sisters of Kildare relit Brigid's Fire. Since then, it has burned continuously and spread all over the world.

(No, I'm not rushing the season. Bear with me, dear reader.)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
We Call It Yule

In the old Witch language, they called it Géol.

The Vikings called it Jól.

The Goths—the Elder, not the Latter-Day, kind—called it Jiuleis.

All three names descend from the Proto-Germanic Jehwla (or Jegwla), the great Midwinter festival of Germanic-speaking peoples some 2300 years ago.

No one knows what it originally meant. That, of course, doesn't stop the storytellers. If anything, it encourages us.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Huzzah! I love your blogs, especially the historical minutia and word etymology. Warm Yule greetings from blessedly rainy Califo

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Goddesses Brew

My Northern Lights Goddesses Brew debuted at Yule 2016, but it can be used for any occasion when one wishes to honor the heathen goddesses. It's an extract of herbs in grain alcohol. Because it uses fresh lavender, I can only make it when lavender is blooming in my garden. The grain in the grain alcohol honors Sif, goddess of wheat and corn. The herbs honor other goddesses, as listed below. I first extract and then strain the fresh lavender, which takes between one to three weeks, and then extract the other herbs from commercial tea, which takes about a week. 

Grain for Sif 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Yule Rush

Ah, life in the Broomstick Ghetto.

In the days since Mother Night, I've several times caught myself wandering: Why are all these people still running around?

Then I remember.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

2016 was a difficult year in Pagan quotes.  It has been a year of radical change.  It included painful losses of beloved musicians and actors.  It has seen the international stage struggle with surprising and potentially world-changing transformations in the status quo. Marginalized communities feel threatened and unsure of the future.

 

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