Monthly Archives: December 2012

‘Twas the Night Before Yule

‘Twas the Night Before Yule
– Author Unknown

‘Twas the night before Yule, when all ‘cross the heath,
not a being was stirring; Pagan, faerie, or beast.
Wassail was left out & the alter adorned,
to rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.
The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
their dreams filled with visions of belov’d Mother Earth.
M’lady & I beneath blankets piled deep,
had just settled down to our own Solstice sleep.
Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace,
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!
On the west wind flew a gaggle of geese white & gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in her giftladen dray.
The figure on her broomstick in the north sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.
From the south came a comet more bright than the moon,
And we knew that Lucia would be with us soon.
As these spirits sailed earthward o’er hilltops & trees,
Frau Holda serenaded her feathery steeds:
“Fly Isolde! Fly Tristan! Fly Odin & Freya!
Fly Morgaine! Fly Merlin! Fly Uranus & Gaea!
May the God & the Goddess inside you soar,
From the clouds in the heavens to yon cottage door.”

As soft & silent as snowflakes they fell:
Their arrival announced by a faint chiming bell.
They landed like angels, their bodies aglow.
Their feet left no marks in the new fallen snow.
Before we could ponder what next lay in store,
There came a slow creaking from our threshold door.
We crept from our bedroom & were spellbound to see
…There in our parlor stood the Yule Trinity!
Lucia, the Maiden, with her head wreathed in flame,
Shown with the radiance for which she was named.
The Lightbringer’s eyes held the joy of a child,
And she spoke with a voice that was gentle, yet wild:
“May the warmth of this household ne’er fade away.”
Then she lit our Yule log which still burns to this day.
Frau Holda in her down cloak stood regal & tall;
The Matron of Solstice, the Mother of all.
Under her gaze we felt safe & secure.
Her voice was commanding, yet almost demure:
“May the love of this family enrich young & old.”
And from the folds of her cloak showered coins of pure gold.
La Befana wore a kerchief on her silvery hair;
The veil of the Crone who has secrets to share.
In her eyes gleamed a wisdom only gained by spent youth.
Her voice was a whisper but her words rung with truth:
“May health, glad tidings, and peace fill these rooms.”
And she banished misfortune with a sweep of her broom.
They then left a gift by each sleeping child’s head,
Took a drink of our wassail, & away they sped.
While we watched them fly off through the night sky we laughed,
At the wondrous magick we had found in the Craft.
As they departed, the spirits decreed…

Merry Yule To You All & May All Blessed Be!

Twas the Night Before Yule

Twas the Night Before Yule

Twas the night before Yule, and all through the Coven,
The cookies were baked and removed from the oven.
The bayberry candles were lit on the table,
The altar was wrapped in a new cloth of sable.

The children were nestled, all snug in their beds,
While visions of Yuletime danced in their heads.
Their stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that some presents soon would be there!

With Rocker in his new robe, and I in mine,
We were asking our Goddess her blessing divine.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our Circle to see what was the matter.

Away to the window, tripping over my sash,
My eyes were a-glamoured with a bright silver flash.
The moon on the breasts of the Goddess and God
Drew my eyes to behold the blessed Circle they trod.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the manifestations of all those we hold Dear.
The physical forms of those whom we pray to,
Even Saint Nick, and his miniature sleigh, too!

Jehovah, Mohammet, Shiva, Hera and Thor.
Zeus, Freya, Brahma, and many, many more.
All the Spiritual Entities who’d ever been mentioned.
Even some, like dear Loki, who sowed seeds of dissension.

They greeted eah other with smile, warm and sweet.
Then, forming a Circle, they all took a seat.
With multiple Voices all joined as One,
The Corners were Called. And, when that was done.

The Chalice was passed from Hand to Hand.
Then, a blanket of silence enfolded the land.
A crystal clear Voice began to hold sway.
Which Deity spoke? I could not say.

But, clearly, I heard all the love in that Voice.
It caused my tired heart to take flight and rejoice.
“Our Children, it seems, have missed the whole point.
“We now join together, their hearts to anoint.

“Pour all of Our love O’er their hearts of stone.
“Let them see that together they’re never alone!
“Show them it matters not which of Us that they choose.
“Their sad hate and mistrust cause each of Us to lose!”

As I stood there transfixed, I could suddenly see
If we all stand as one, what a world this could be!
Put ALL of our differences well behind us.
Let the love of the Gods enfold and remind us.

We ARE all the same,though varied our skins.
We all dream the same dreams, we all sin the same sins.
With a look of enlightenment etched on my face,
I beheld all the Gods in Their glory and grace!

They all bowed Their heads then said”So mote it be!”
They all smiled at each Other bestowing winks on me.
One by One they disappeared from my sight.
Just the Goddess and God were left in the light.

As slowly They twinkled, fading by degree,
“Happy Yuletide to all!!
Blessed be times three!”

~Written by Mary, a.k.a. Wandering Poet, a.k.a.littlebit~

Twas the Night Before Solstice

Twas the Night Before Solstice
By Kristie Burns

‘Twas the night before Solstice and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even our pet mouse

Knitted wool stockings were hung with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there

The children were tucked in organic cotton sheets,
The air filter blocking pollution from the streets.

While mama stayed up to make handmade gifts
I co-slept with the kids and watched auras shift.

When out in the herb garden arose such a clatter
I sprung out of our futon to see what was the matter!

Away to the solar panels I flew like a flash.
They took me hours to install, I hoped they hadn’t crashed.

The crystals we’d laid out to absorb the moonlight
Sparkled like fairydust and blocked my sight.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh without any reindeer.

At that moment I knew that the little old man
Had received my last letter so bold and so grand

Could you stop using reindeer? Last year I wrote him,
And enclosed with the note a PETA pin.

As he neared the house in his all-wooden sleigh
I noticed it was powered by wheatgrass and hay.

Ostheimer! Kinderkram! Stockmar! Fair Trade!
Don’t bother landing if the toys aren’t handmade!

“Hey Arriana,” I called to my wife with chagrin,
“With that body mass do you think he’s vegetarian?”

She paused only a moment from her crafting and said,
“One moment dear! I’m shaping this gol-darn Waldorf doll’s head!”

On our roof I strained to hear the ole boy
But I’d recently insulated it with soy.

So I drew in my hand and was turning around,
When in through the front door came St. Nick with a bound.

The Advent wreath had caught in his hair
As I said, “Why in the world did you enter from THERE?”

The soot in your chimney contains poisons galore.
You should consider the environment more.

But he was dressed in fur from his head to his foot
So I said, “Look whose talking about my soot!”

A bundle of felt he had flung on his back.
“I hope you like handiwork,” he said with a laugh.

His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples were treats!
His cheeks reminded me of when I dye silk with beets.

He must be of the choleric type I mused.
It’s a good thing with lavender the stockings I infused.

With his fur boots he slipped on the bamboo wood floor.
I offered him Arnica and then closed the front door.

After all that I’d paid to the energy company this year
I didn’t want one bit of that cold air in here.

He had a broad face and a little round belly
I asked him, “Have you seen your naturopath lately?”

He was so chubby and plump I worried for his health
But I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to task,
Needle-felting dragons and weaving a mask.

He knitted a pure cotton sweater and two pairs of mittens,
Then picked up a knife and carved 2 wood kittens.

He finger-knitted an entire nativity scene.
With the most amazing skill I’d ever seen!

When he sprang from his seat on the floor and arose
I yelled, “Arianna – watch – there he goes!”

With the unfinished doll she was struggling to sew,
Arriana went to watch him out the window.

And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight!
“Arriana, my dear, the stiches are too tight!”

A Night Before Yule Day

A Night Before Yule Day

By Matrin Calderwood, Utah

Twas the night before Yule Day and all through the cave,

Every Troll child was doing their very best to behave.

The old socks were hung by the fire with great care,

In hopes Old Troll Father would soon enter their lair.

There was pudding and mutton and a hunk of old cheese,

Set out on the table for the Old Troll to please.

And each child was smiling and snoring with glee,

Pa winked at Ma Troll both as proud as could be.

The Winter outside seemed to swirl and to rush,

When suddenly my ears became aware of a hush.

And the soft crunch of snow was all I could hear,

As if some big boots were drawing quite near.

To my lair’s door I shuffled to peer into the night,

Excited and hoping I’d find everything right.

The full moon shown brightly through a broken cloud sky,

And I wondered if the Old Father was now drawing nigh.

I could feel my heart pounding in time with each step,

And I wondered how Old Father could move with such pep.

Then out of the shadows appeared a bearded old man,

He was carrying a large sack that looked battered and tan.

When he saw me he started and his eyes showed some fear,

But I motioned him forward and so he drew near.

A long woolen coat trimmed with sooty white fur,

Made him look like a peddler, not a Troll that’s for sure!

“My friend!” he said brightly, “The Old Father Troll,

has asked me to help him. Things were out of control!”

“So who are your Stranger?” I asked with a sneer.

“Why I’m the Yulenissen. Are there good children here?”

Behind me came giggles and snorts of great joy,

I knew in an instant t’was my girl and my boy.

They both gasped together, “We have heard of this one!”

“How he helps human children is really quite fun!”

“And if Old Father Troll trusts him here with this task,

Then we’ve both been good, for our toys we’ll now ask.”

With an ‘Ho!’ and a ‘Ha’ he reached into his sack,

and pulled out a horse that could rock front and back.

It was wood and troll-rough and much bigger than he

Yet the bag looked the same, it was easy to see!

For the girl he reached in and pulled out a wood doll

It was as big as she was and the bag seemed too small.

“And now for a treat!” said the Jolly Old One.

And he ate all the goodies, not leaving a crumb.

And then with a nod he picked up his old bag

and gave a deep bow to this Troll and my hag!

“I must now be going. I have far to go.”

He said as he hurried out into the snow.

But I heard him exclaim as he trudged out of sight:

“Blessed Yule time to All and to ALL a Good Night!”

A Nordic Yule

A Nordic Yule

‘Twas the night before Yuletide in the Horde’s hall
Not a person was stirring, not even a thrall.
The wineskins were hung on the mantle with care
In hope that great Odin soon would be there.

The clansmen were snoring, passed out on the floor.
And I made to join them. I couldn’t drink more.
I found a place quickly, my furs for a bed.
The mead I had drunk had gone to my head.

Then came a noise from way out in back.
So loud that I swore, we were under attack!
I leapt from my furs, my sword clutched in hand,
And went to the window to survey the land.

I looked into the night and muttered a curse,
Could it be Grendel or something much worse?
Then what to my eyes should the full moon reveal,
But an old fashioned sleigh drawn by a creature unreal.

And a huge burly driver so fierce and forbodin’,
I knew in a moment it was Allfather Odin.
He yelled at the creature with a snarl on his lips,
And after each word, gave a crack of his whip.

“Obey me now, Sleipner, for I am your master,
An eight-legged horse ought to run faster!?”
I ran from the window, so quick and so able
And sought a safe haven under the table.

I heard the sleigh stop and Odin get out
And as he drew nearer, gave a great shout.
He kicked the door open, which then hung askew
And I shook when I saw him, what else could I do?

He was dressed in his armor, so regal and fine
But I caught a strong odor of cheap women and wine.
His bundle of weapons he dropped where he stood,
All bright gleaming steel and dark polished wood.

His face was like granite with a long flowing beard
His one eye glowing like an ember, or so it appeared.
I watched him quite closely alone with my fear
As he surveyed the hall with a glare and a sneer.

He cursed and he muttered and seemed to grow madder
And I fought to keep some control of my bladder.
He lifted his foot and pulled a nail from beneath
Then seemed to grow calmer. I sighed with relief.

He then went to work, his task to assail
And filled all the wineskins with mead and stout ale.
Then using his finger to scratch at his crotch
He strode from the hall as I silently watched.
He mounted his sleigh and his whip gave a crack
As Sleipner jumped forward, he laughed and leaned back.
He said as he rode, “Fight hard and die well.
And when that day comes, in Valhalla you’ll dwell!”

© 2002 Michael G. Tucker

A Viking Christmas Carol

A Viking Christmas Carol
To “´Twas the Night Before Christmas”
original lyrics Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Hall
Not a creature was stirring, not warrior nor thrall.
And I in my armor, my shield and my helm
Was drunker than anyone else in the Realm.

I staggered upstairs and fell into bed
While four quarts of mead were ablaze in my head.
Then up from below came the sounds of a brawl
So I grabbed up my axe and ran down to the Hall.

I missed the last step and crashed down in a heap
Thinking, “Why can’t those low-lifes downstairs go to sleep!”
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But two brawny strangers, wielding mallet and spear.

I said to myself, “We’ll soon have them beat!”
Then I noticed ten warriors laid out at their feet.
I gave out a yell and leapt into the fray…
I’ll always regret my poor choice of that day.

For the one laid his hammer to the side of my nose
And up, up, up to the rafters I rose.
Then came a lone frightened voice from the floor,
“Those are no mortal warriors — that’s Odin and Thor!”

Then they looked at each other and they said, “Battle’s done.
Now they know who we are, it no longer is fun.”
Then Thor raised his hammer, and his elbow he bent,
And with a loud crash, through the ceiling they went.

I crawled through the Hall and flung open the door,
Not really sure that I’d seen them before.
The snow bathed in starlight, the moon like a glede,
I saw them ride off on an eight-legged steed.

And I heard them exclaim, ‘ere they flew out of sight,
“TO HELA WITH CHRISTMAS, WE JUST LOVE A GOOD FIGHT!”

© Guy L Bradley aka Sir Cipriano d’Alvarez, SCA

Yule History: Legend of the Wild Hunt to the Christmas of Today The Connection of Yule to the Wild Hunt and Saturnalia

Yule History: Legend of the Wild Hunt to the Christmas of Today
The Connection of Yule to the Wild Hunt and Saturnalia
by Linda StCyr, Yahoo! Contributor Network

Yule or Yule-tide is a pagan festival that has been held through out the centuries. It is a winter festival that honors the divine mothers or female deities of the Germanic peoples where the festival originated. The night that this festival took place was originally on New Year’s night and was called Mōdraniht, old English for Mothers-Night. A sacrifice was made and then a feast was shared among the celebrants.

When the Germanic lunar calendar was changed and the Julian calendar adopted the date of the Yule festival changed to December 25. It has since been absorbed into the Christian holiday of Christmas. It is now celebrating among Wiccans, Pagans and Neopagans during the winter solstice on December 21st. It is believed that the pagan Yule festival was influenced by both the Wild Hunt and the Roman winter festival of Saturnalia.

Wild Hunt, Odin’s Hunt, Woden’s Hunt and the connection to Yule-
The Wild Hunt goes by many names including the ones mentioned above and others including Cain’s Hunt, Herod’s Hunt, Ghost Riders and Devil’s Dandy Dog’s. The latter names mentioned have origins in the original folk-myth/legend of Odin’s Hunt but are the Christianized versions. The legend is that a group of huntsmen with hounds and horses make a mad dash across the ground or through the sky in pursuit of something unknown. The huntsmen, depending on the folklore, are often undead, demon possessed clergy or fairies of the underworld. The legend goes on to warn mortals from viewing the hunt because if one sees it a catastrophic event such as plague, famine, or war could follow. Another warning in the legend against the viewing of the Wild Hunt is that the spirit or soul could be grabbed by the riders and taken to the underworld.

The vision of the Wild Hunt takes place during the year when the wind blows the strongest and storms begin to brew. The start of Odin’s Hunt begins on October 31 and ends on May Eve or April 30th. However, the height of the hunt takes place on Yule, the shortest day of the year. Yule fires are lit to keep the hunters at bay.

Saturnalia and its connection to Yule-
The Roman winter festival of Saturnalia was a festival honoring the dedication of the temple to the god, Saturn (Greek: Cronus). Originally the festival was celebrated on December 17th but grew in popularity and was extended to a week long event. During this week there would be feasts, trickery and tomfoolery. A common practice was for slaves to dress as masters and masters to dress as slaves.

Great feasts would take place during the week of Saturnalia after the religious rites were performed in the temples. Visits to family and friends would take place and the giving of gifts was a common practice. Common gifts included wax candles and lamps. It is believed that this was to light up the area and chase the spirits of the dark away.

Pagan Yule to Christian Christmas-
During Yule it is common practice to light Yule logs for Yule fires and to eat goat or boar and to fill the air with singing and merriment. During Christmas is it common to light a Yule log, celebrate the birth of Jesus through the Virgin Mary, feast with family and friends, give gifts and witness religious rites in church. The combining of these pagan festivals made it easier to convert the heathen pagans throughout history to Christianity.

The Yule Faeries – A Winter Solstice Story

The Yule Faeries – A Winter Solstice Story
– author unknown

A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss.
Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground. “I saw the Sun King today,” the faerie named Rose said as she pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. “He looked so old and tired as he walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?

“The great oak said he’s dying” answered Daffodil.

“Dying? Oh, what will we do now?”, Little Meadow Grass started to cry, “If the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not come and sing again. Everything will be winter for ever!” Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad. As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.

“Open up, Faeries,” called out a loud voice. “Why are you hiding instead of joining us in our Solstice celebration?” Rose opened the door and the little gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat.

“We are too sad to celebrate,” Daffodil said wiping her eyes, “The Sun King is dying, haven’t you heard?”

“He is dead you silly Faeries.” Brown Knobby’s round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. “Now hurry, or we’ll be late for the celebration!”

“How can you be happy and laughing?!” Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. “If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the Sun again!”

“Silly little child-Faeries.” Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don’t you want to know what it is?”

The Faeries looked at him in surprise. “Secret?” they all said. “What secret? We are only new little Faeries, you silly gnome. We’ve never been to a Solstice celebration before.”

“Come and see. Come and see. Get your capes and come with me.” Brown Knobby danced and jigged around the room. “Hurry, Hurry, don’t be slow! To the Sacred Oak Grove through the snow!” He danced out of the door and disappeared.

“What did that gnome mean?” Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak of dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down.

“I don’t know, but the Lady lives in the Sacred Grove.” Meadow Grass pulled on her hat.

“Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, She can explain what Brown Knobby was talking about”.

The Faeries left their snug little home and trudged off through the snow toward the sacred oak grove. The forest was dark with only the light of the Moon shining down through the thick fir branches and bare limbs of maple and hawthorn. It was very difficult for them to get through the snow because they were very, very small. As they waded through the wet snow and shivered in the cold wind, they met a fox.

“Where are you going, Faeries?” the fox asked.

“To the sacred grove,” they answered, they were cold and shivering.

“Climb on my back and I will take you there swiftly.”

The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up. Then he raced off through the dark.

“Listen!” Lilac said as they neared the Grove of Sacred trees. “Someone is singing happy songs. A LOT of someones.”

The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried the Faeries right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, then knelt down.

“Look!” said Elder Blossom as they slid to the snow covered ground. “There is the Maiden and the Mother and the OLD Wise Crone, and many other Little People.”

“They are all smiling and happy,” said Lilac as she looked around at all the creatures.

“All the animals are here too,” whispered Dandelion. “Why are they all looking at the Mother?”

The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The Mother held a bundle close in Her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden reached down and took the Faeries gently in her Hands. She held them close to the Mother so they could see what She held.

“A Baby!” the Faeries cried. ” A new little Baby! Look how he glows!”

“He is the newborn Sun King,” said the Maiden smiling.

“But Brown Knobby and the old oak tree said the Sun King was dead,” the Faeries answered her. “How can this little baby be the Sun King?”

“That is the great secret of the Winter Solstice.” The Old Wise One touched the baby’s cheek with her wrinkled hand. “Every year the Sun King must come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King.”

” You mean everything lives and dies and lives again? the Faeries looked down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.

” Yes, Little Ones,” answered the Old Wise Crone. “There is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice.”

The Faeries laughed because they were so happy.

“I think the little Sun King should have gifts,” said Rose. “I will show him where the wild roses bloom in the early summer.”

“And, I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind,” exclaimed Dandelion.

“When he is older and stronger, ” said the Mother, “then the flowers will bloom at his touch, the birds will return to sing their songs, and the air will be warm from his breath, and winter will be gone for a time. Then the Sun King will run and play with you in the forest.”

The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King, songs of the coming spring, the sweet smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the forest. And all the creatures within the sacred grove sang with them. Then the fox took them back to their snug home under the roots of the giant oak tree where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King.

*This is Chickadee’s favorite Yule story after having heard it last year at our UUF’s Yule service during the kid’s service–she’s a big fan of the Baby Sun King, and we abstractly discuss the idea of the Wheel of the year in terms of Baby Sun King>Grandfather Sun.

The First Song: A tale of how Yule got its name

The First Song: A tale of how Yule got its name
by Andras Corban Arthen

This is the story of the very first song; it is a true story, as all stories are, if you believe in them. This story begins a long, long time ago, when the Earth and Sun gave birth to the first beings-the very first plants, and animals, and people. It was springtime, and the Sun shone warm and bright from his high perch above, and Earth, proud mother that she was, held and fed her newborns and relished them with tenderness and love. It was a time of joy, it was a time of great delight.

The Moon waxed and waned time and again in the night sky, and the children of the Earth grew well and strong through summertime. They played and danced, and Earth and Sun watched over them.

Then autumn came, and the Earth began to sleep much longer every day. She grew tired and pale, she could no longer feed her children, and had no strength to grow new life. High above, the Sun grew distant, and took longer to return each morn. The nights grew longer, and cold winds blew where none had blown before.

And then, one day, Earth went to sleep and never did wake up. She wrapped herself in a blanket of snow, and rested her tired head on pillows of dried leaves, and she did not wake up, Her children could do nothing to rouse her from her slumber. They prodded her, they called to her, but she would not awaken. In the sky, the Sun was nowhere to be seen, and the children of the Earth felt fear, and also felt despair. This was the longest night that they had ever known.

“What shall become of us?”, they pondered. “Earth Mother sleeps, and Father Sun is oh so far away that we can barely see him in the sky. He is much too far to hear our call. What shall we do?”

So they brought their questions and their fears to the Moon, the sister of the Sun, for they knew not where else to turn. She closed her eyes, and took a slow, deep breath, and looked within herself, and awoke thoughts that had never been awakened until then.

She opened her soft eyes, then said, “When hope is lost, the best way to get it back is with a song. Climb you the tallest trees, the biggest hills, the highest mountains, and yule a song to reach the Sun”. (Now, yule is a word from one of the most ancient tongues. It is related to words like yell or yodel, and it means to call out in a song).

But the first beings had never heard a song, so once again they sought the Moon’s advice. “How shall we yule?”, they asked. “How shall we sing a song?”

“Take the best of what you have”, she said, “the best of what you are. Take what you love, take what you cherish most. Take your joys, your dreams, your fondest hopes, and weave them all together in a sound.”

And so they did. The climbed atop the tallest trees, the mountains and the hills. They stood on all the places that would bring them closest to the Sun. They shut their eyes, and thought and felt the best of thoughts and feelings, and dreamt the finest dreams. And, as they did, their voices rang and made a bridge of song across the sky, to reach the distant Sun.

He heard, and turned, and smiled, and wrapped himself in all his light and warmth, and sped to where the yuling voices called. As he drew near, the sleeping Earth did stir, and dreamed a dream of spring. The wheel of life made its first round, and hope and joy prevailed. And ever since, that time of year has been called Yule, in honor of the song.

But the first song did not end. It had such power, such eldritch allure, that the first beings kept singing it throughout. And then the second beings bom of the Earth took up the song, as did the third. And so it ever since has gone, through seasons and through years, until this very day.

At times the song is very soft, and scarcely can be heard above the din and clatter of our lives. But when Yule comes, it rises and it swells in memory of that night when the Sun heard, and light and life were spared.

And so do we, upon this longest night, gather with those we love and who love us, and stand upon the body of slumbering Earth, and light the log with last year’s coal, and lift our voices soaring to the Sun, and join the song that first was sung so very long ago.

We sing our thanks to those who went before, and sing our fondest wish to those who come behind. We bask in the returning light of reawakened hope, and welcome Yule.

© 1994, The EarthSpirit Community (from This Winters Night by MotherTongue)

Twas the Night Before Yuletide

Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the glen
Not a creature was stirring, not a fox, not a hen.
A mantle of snow shone brightly that night
As it lay on the ground, reflecting moonlight.

The faeries were nestled all snug in their trees,
Unmindful of flurries and a chilly north breeze.
The elves and the gnomes were down in their burrows,
Sleeping like babes in their soft earthen furrows.

When low! the earth moved with a thunderous quake,
Causing chairs to fall over and dishes to break.
The Little Folk scrambled to get on their feet
Then raced to the river where they usually meet.

“What happened?” they wondered, they questioned, they probed,
As they shivered in night clothes, some bare-armed, some robed.
“What caused the earth’s shudder? What caused her to shiver?”
They all spoke at once as they stood by the river.

Then what to their wondering eyes should appear
But a shining gold light in the shape of a sphere.
It blinked and it twinkled, it winked like an eye,
Then it flew straight up and was lost in the sky.

Before they could murmur, before they could bustle,
There emerged from the crowd, with a swish and a rustle,
A stately old crone with her hand on a cane,
Resplendent in green with a flowing white mane.

As she passed by them the old crone’s perfume,
Smelling of meadows and flowers abloom,
Made each of the fey folk think of the spring
When the earth wakes from slumber and the birds start to sing.

“My name is Gaia,” the old crone proclaimed
in a voice that at once was both wild and tamed,
“I’ve come to remind you, for you seem to forget,
that Yule is the time of re-birth, and yet…”
“I see no hearth fires, hear no music, no bells,
The air isn’t filled with fragrant smells
Of baking and roasting, and simmering stews,
Of cider that’s mulled or other hot brews.”

“There aren’t any children at play in the snow,
Or houses lit up by candles’ glow.
Have you forgotten, my children, the fun
Of celebrating the rebirth of the sun?”

She looked at the fey folk, her eyes going round,
As they shuffled their feet and stared at the ground.
Then she smiled the smile that brings light to the day,
“Come, my children,” she said, “Let’s play.”

They gathered the mistletoe, gathered the holly,
Threw off the drab and drew on the jolly.
They lit a big bonfire, and they danced and they sang.
They brought out the bells and clapped when they rang.

They strung lights on the trees, and bows, oh so merry,
In colors of cranberry, bayberry, cherry.
They built giant snowmen and adorned them with hats,
Then surrounded them with snow birds, and snow cats and bats.

Then just before dawn, at the end of their fest,
Before they went homeward to seek out their rest,
The fey folk they gathered ‘round their favorite oak tree
And welcomed the sun ‘neath the tree’s finery.

They were just reaching home when suddenly it came,
The gold light returned like an arrow-shot flame.
It lit on the tree top where they could see from afar
The golden-like sphere turned into a star.

The old crone just smiled at the beautiful sight,
“Happy Yuletide, my children,” she whispered. “Good night.”

– author unknown