December 22, 2010

Yule: Celebrating Nature And Longer Days

One beef I have with traditional Christmas is the lack of emphasis on nature. The closest connection we have left is the annual tree slaughter. But it wasn't always this way.

This time of year used to be more about celebrating our connection to, and dependence on, nature.

Pagan celebrations of winter solstice are among the oldest celebrations around, and rightfully so. Imagine living in pre-historic times and watching the sun diminish a little bit more each day after June 21. And with the sun goes the heat. Then, as now, there is nothing more important than the sun. It is the energy that drives life as we know it. And for months that energy has been draining away.

By today, Yule, daylight is down to a few hours of weak light hardly worth the eight minute journey from the sun. Sure the sun came back last year, but will it come back again? What if it didn't? It is hard to get stuff done when you feel like crawling into bed at 4:30 in the afternoon, and staying there till 9:30 the next morning.
"Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half.   Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day.  Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb.  Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider."

-   Yule Lore  
I invite you to join me in wassailing the return of the sun, and the gifts that nature freely gives. Two thousand years ago the Indian philosopher Nagarjuna said, "Things derive their being and nature by mutual interdependence and are nothing in themselves". We are nothing without nature, and we are nothing without each other.

I love Yule - let's celebrate.

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