Throughout the cities and woods of our land, across the valleys and dales, in candlelit rooms and outdoor drumming, this message will be proclaimed this day. Over and over, often in voices slurred with fatigue, the cry will go out - the promise of the gods is fulfilled and winter will be conquered.
This is Yule, a Pagan festival, one of eight celebrated by many modern Pagans. The manner in which it is marked may vary from group to group, but the motive is the same. For until this date, the days have been getting shorter and shorter. Winter's cruel grasp had a stranglehold on us and death surrounded us. The darkness growing since Samhain (Halloween) had been growing and laying heavy on our souls. However, just as we are promised rebirth after death, the gods have promised that after the little death of Winter will come Spring and rebirth.
My group celebrates this sabbat by a full night vigil the eve of Yule. We say farewell to the dying sun, keeping a fire burning all night long. In the morning, we make a great noise, beating drums and singing, praying that the sun will rise again and with it fulfillment of the ancient promise.
One of my students once asked if I truly believed that the sun might not rise. As a creature of modern times, I answered that of course I knew that the sun would come up without our help. Then I hesitated. I thought back to Yule eves past. I remembered those mornings standing in the cold dark and staring off into the sky. Of course, I =know= that the sun has to rise .... But ....
I can still remember the thrill last year as I stood in the morning chill, beating a drum for all I was worth, and praying from the bottom of my heart. Did I truly believe in that moment all that science promised? Or was my soul caught up in the ancient dance of the seasons? Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall weave in and out to create the cloth of the Universe. What did I believe then?
No matter. By the time you see this, I have answered the call of the gods. I
will have spent my night tending a fire, enjoying friends and family, and
touching the darkness and calling forward the light. I will have suspended my
belief in certainty and trod a path into the unknown. And by this time, I am
probably sleeping peacefully. Happy Yule, everyone. May whatever faith you embrace bring light into your
Happy Yule, everyone. May whatever faith you embrace bring light into your heart!
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