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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Midwinters Eve

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


For years, back when the local pagan community was a little less diffuse than it is these days, and folks mostly knew one another—not that that meant that we all got along, mind you—my friend Dan around the corner and his family used to hold the annual community-wide Mother Night Vigil. Pagans being pagans, of course, half of us used to refer to it as the “Viggle.”

(This was not just an in-joke, by the way; this was deep in-group humor—self-mockery, even. It satirized pagans who didn't know how to pronounce things correctly because they'd learned most of what they knew from books. Back in those days, that meant most of us.)

At sunset on Midwinter's Eve, they'd throw open the doors. All night long, the Viggle lasted, honoring the Longest Night. It ended with a sunrise breakfast. Covened folks with other obligations would come and go; the uncovened often stayed all night. In a community not known for community institutions, the Yule Eve Viggle was a community institution.

Dan's house being only a couple of blocks away from mine, I would generally walk over and drop in after our Mother Night ritual and feast. The house would be full of people, in varying states of intoxication, but all festive. There was always a massive fire roaring on the hearth, and tables and tables and tables of food. (“Meats and sweets,” my friend Ricky Bjugan always used to say.) The kids would be running around in a state of terminal excitement: they got to open their presents at midnight.

When Dan moved out of town, Thraicie and Jane over at our neighborhood witch store, The Eye, inherited the Viggle, and kept it going for (I believe it was) all of thirteen years.

These days, there's no community-wide Solstice Eve Viggle here in Paganistan any more; not that I know of, anyway. But you know pagans. The all-night Viggle, probably the world's oldest Yule ritual, will always eventually crop up again, because...well, you know what they say.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Lighting Winter Solstice Sympathetic Magic

I live well out in the rural hinterlands of Ireland. Folk memory is long lived and some traditional farming practices tend to border on folk magic. One such custom that can still be found is to put an predator's carcass on display to warn off other of its species not to prey on herd animals - sheep and chickens. I have known pine martin to be nailed up on chicken coops as a warning. Walking our dogs down our lane I saw a road kill fox draped over the pasture's fence post.  It's a form of sympathetic magic. And it is deep, deep in our cellular memory. Sympathetic magic is imitative magic or correspondences according to anthropologists. You don't have to be identified as pagan to practice it.


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  • Solitarieone
    Solitarieone says #
    Thank you, Bee! For more than 40 years, I’ve wondered about that magic that I saw at my landlord’s farm. I was a military dependen

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
No Night Could Be Darker Than This Night

Singer-songwriter Sparky T. Rabbit (1954-2014) wrote this song/chant for Midwinter's Eve at Yule 2010. It is one of the last pieces that he ever wrote.

The words appear here for the first time. It has never been recorded. I come to know it only because it was written as a companion piece for the first public telling of my story Midwest Nativity.

No Night Could Be Darker Than This Night has become a foundational part of our Yule Eve liturgy. We sing it in the dark at the very beginning of the rite; then we kindle the fire.

Simultaneously restrained and shocking, this evocative and poignant song beautifully articulates the stillness and mystery that is Mother Night.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Sent chills up my spine, Steven!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Call the Eve of Yule?

 Who's that rattling

pots in the kitchen?

Hey! Hey! It's Yule!



Because the old Northwest Europeans counted the (24-hour) day as beginning at sunset, the eves of holidays take on major significance, and often have names of their own.

So what do you call the Eve of Yule?

Leaving aside the colorless "Solstice Eve," among the Names of Lore in modern English, there are three major options.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Midwinter Harvest

She's pregnant, hugely pregnant.

Midwinter's Eve gathers around her: firelight and song, laughter, preparations for ritual and feast.

No one is surprised when her labor begins. After all, it's what we're here for.

We revolve around her. She sinks into her birthing-crouch.

Her cry of triumph halts our dance.

She opens. From between her legs, a freshet, a torrent of abundance.

Apples, oranges, almonds, walnuts, filberts—and one lone pomegranate—pour forth and cover the floor.

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If There's a Hammer Under the Table, It Must Be Yule

If there's a hammer under the table, it must be Yule.

Yule being the microcosm of the coming year, we have it from the ancestors that it's a good time to take precautions, what in Anthropologist they would call apotropaic (literally, “turning away, averting”) behavior.

So if in Ukraine you look under the table while enjoying the Thirteen-Course Midwinter's Eve feast (one course for each moon of the coming year), you'll see some unusual things.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mother Night

“Mother Night”: a resonant name. Midwinter's Eve: the night that gives birth to the rest of the year.

To the Hwicce, the Anglo-Saxon tribe ancestral (some say) to today's witches, it was Módraniht: the Night of the Mothers. Anglo-Saxonist Philip A. Shaw relates this to the Germanic cult of the Matronae, attested on the Continent in more than 1000 inscriptions (Shaw 41). Many contemporary heathens accordingly offer to the dísir (female elves) and human foremothers at Midwinter.

The phrase (in the singular) entered modern English by way of Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 novel of the same name, the tale of a Nazi collaborator, which took its title from Goethe's Faust (1:3). “I am part of the part that was everything in the beginning,” Mephistopheles tells Faust, “part of the darkness that gave birth to light: light that in its arrogance challenges Mother Night [Mutternacht] and claims the possession of space” (Fairley 21).

Mother Night: the Void, the Primal Darkness. “Diana was the first created before all creation,” says Charles G. Leland in Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches. “In her were all things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into darkness and light she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son, herself and her other half, was the light” (Leland 18).

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Let no one doubt that the Asgardsrei ("Asgard's Ride") still rides the skies of the American Midwest during the Thirteen Nights, j
  • Paul B. Rucker
    Paul B. Rucker says #
    Bravo for the further explication... I attended a lecture ("Yuletide-- a Time for Tomten") at the American Swedish Institute last

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