Winter Solstice

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The shortest day of the year marks at the Winter Solstice, known to Wiccans as Yule (from the Norse Iul, meaning "wheel"). This is the time when the new Sun God is born to the Mother Goddess. It is one of the Lesser Sabbats of the year and falls at or about December 21.

The myth of the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King that occurs at the Winter Solstice and again at the Summer Solstice can be found throughout Europe. The Yule battle is won by the Oak King, who then rules as the days increase in length and the Wheel of the Year turns toward the summer. In the summer the Holly King wins. Remnants of this belief in the battle may be found in the traditional Yule Mummers play, performed across Britain and Europe (and now even in the United States) often in association with Morris dancing. In the play the light is represented by St. George and the darkness by a Turkish knight.

Part of the Pagan celebration is the gathering and displaying of evergreen boughs, showing the promise of new life in the coming spring. A Yule tree is erected in many areas to represent the phallus, or the spirit of fertility. From this came the Christian Christmas tree (gifts from the tree actually symbolize the semen springing from the phallus). Yule was established as the birth date of Mithra--with veneration for the sun--and was then adopted by the New Religion (within a few days) to mark the birth of the "Son" Jesus.

A Yule log is burned on the balefire at this time. Obtained from the land of the covenstead, the log is ceremoniously carried in and placed in the fireplace (or the balefire, if at the sabbat site) with just one end of the fire. Lit from the remnants of the previous year's Yule log, it is then inched forward as it burns. The end of a fresh Yule log from that fire is then saved and carefully kept until the following year and is used to start that year's fire. The Yule log supposedly protected the house from fire and lightning thoughout the year. The balefire itself was burned to give life to the sun on its journey. Ashes from the Yule fire were mixed with cow manure and sprinkled over the filds as a symbolic aid to fertility, insuring new life and a fertile spring.

An Invitation To the Fringe of Reality

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I don't think I have mentioned it here in the ezine before, but I'm thinking that many of you readers would enjoy my new forum - Fringe of Reality - so I invite you all to check it out. Once you're there, I would very much appreciate it if you'd introduce yourself at this thread so we can all get to know you. That way we know you are a real live person, and not an email harvester. We've had a few of those lately, so be sure to check the "hide your email address" option when you sign up.

Just a note about the topics discussed there - well, they can be about anything you like, even if it is something completely off-the-wall. In fact, we welcome those types of topics, because they tend to make one think outside the box. Chances are, if you are subscribed to this ezine, you pretty much think outside the box anyway, so you would be most welcome there! So, if you want to rant and rave about something, that's fine - or if you just want to start a chit-chat thread, that's fine too. Everyone is welcome - except spammers, phishers, and email harvesters, of course!

Hope to see you there!

The Killer In the Backseat | Urban Legend

I was looking around for some cool urban legends and I found this classic. You have probably heard it before. I remember seeing something about it on the movie Urban Legend, I think. Anyway, I thought you guys might enjoy something like this.


The Killer In the Backseat

As told by Emily Dunbar...

One night a woman went out for drinks with her girlfriends. She left the bar fairly late at night, got in her car and onto the deserted highway. She noticed a lone pair of headlights in her rear-view mirror, approaching at a pace just slightly quicker than hers. As the car pulled up behind her she glanced and saw the turn signal on — the car was going to pass — when suddenly it swerved back behind her, pulled up dangerously close to her tailgate and the brights flashed.

Now she was getting nervous. The lights dimmed for a moment and then the brights came back on and the car behind her surged forward. The frightened woman struggled to keep her eyes on the road and fought the urge to look at the car behind her. Finally, her exit approached but the car continued to follow, flashing the brights periodically.

Through every stoplight and turn, it followed her until she pulled into her driveway. She figured her only hope was to make a mad dash into the house and call the police. As she flew from the car, so did the driver of the car behind her — and he screamed, "Lock the door and call the police! Call 911!"

When the police arrived the horrible truth was finally revealed to the woman. The man in the car had been trying to save her. As he pulled up behind her and his headlights illuminated her car, he saw the silhouette of a man with a butcher knife rising up from the back seat to stab her, so he flashed his brights and the figure crouched back down.

The moral of the story: Always check the back seat!

In another common variant of this legend, the imperiled female (and it's always a female, please note) pulls into a gas station and is frightened by the odd behavior of the attendant, who keeps trying to get her to leave the car and join him in the office. It turns out he has glimpsed a knife-wielding murderer in the backseat and is trying to save her life!

Folklorists have traced the legend back to the 1960s and believe it may have been inspired by a vaguely similar real event in 1964 involving the discovery by a New York City policeman of an escaped murderer hiding in the backseat of his (the cop's) own car.

"The Killer in the Backseat" was among the legendary horror stories dramatized in the 1998 film Urban Legend. Let us not assume, however, that real-life evildoers never lie in wait for their victims in the backseats of vehicles. As reported in the Decatur Daily News on September 14, 2007, a female college student in Alabama was threatened by a man with a gun who popped up suddenly in the backseat of her SUV. She escaped, fortunately, by slamming on the brakes and bolting from the car.


Yule Lore | December 21st | Sabbat

Monday, December 01, 2008

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) 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.

Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder's land, or given as a gift... it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

Deities of Yule are all Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses. The best known would be the Dagda, and Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda. Brighid taught the smiths the arts of fire tending and the secrets of metal work. Brighid's flame, like the flame of the new light, pierces the darkness of the spirit and mind, while the Dagda's cauldron assures that Nature will always provide for all the children.

Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb's wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Stones of Yule:
Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule:
Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

Spellworkings of Yule:
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Deities of Yule:
Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.


Tips On How To Have a Budget-Friendly Yule

I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but let's face it, our economy in the US is in horrible shape right now, and many of our pocket books are suffering.

But I say don't despair. There are ways around this sort of thing. Patti Wigington at Paganism/Wicca has written a lovely article on how you can cut your costs this Yule.

I found her tips to be very helpful and I thought you might too. In her article, Patti discusses the following 10 ways to help you save money this holiday season:

  1. Make a Budget
  2. Don't Spend a Fortune on Cards
  3. Shop Early
  4. Trim the Trimmings
  5. Don't Buy Yourself Stuff
  6. Forget the Expensive Party
  7. Ditch the Fancy Wrapping Paper
  8. Donate Time Instead of Cash
  9. Pay Now, Not Later
  10. Have a Greener Yule

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