Yule Greetings From Edinburgh 2009

Greetings friends,
I just wanted to post a quick Yule greeting to you.
Kathryn and I spent this weekend in Edinburgh and had a wonderful sunrise to greet this morning.

Hope all are healthy and happy this festive season,

O Christmas Tree…

San Francisco Chronicle
Letters to the Editor
Dec. 13, 2009
I read with some amusement the letter from Marilyn Wacks of Montara printed on page A13 of your Sat. 12/12 issue, titled “Respect other faiths, too.” She states that “A Christmas tree is an expression of religious faith for Christians” and a “Christian symbol.”
No, it isn’t. The Christmas (or Yule) Tree is entirely a Pagan symbol—as is nearly every other image and symbol (other than a crèche) associated with Winter Solstice (the real “reason for the season”). Like the Yule log, the holly and ivy, the wassail, the five-pointed star, and even Santa Claus, all these ancient Pagan (i.e. “pre-Christian”) symbols are about the Turning of the Wheel (Yule means “Wheel” in old Norse, the language of Viking Scandinavia, where most of our familiar midwinter customs originated). They mark the advent of the longest, darkest, coldest night of the year, and the turning again towards the light with the dawn of Solstice day. In all northern countries, this darkest time is celebrated by festivals of lights—candles, bonfires, hearth-fires, menorahs, and now, Christmas lights—all intended to drive back the darkness and bring back the Sun.
Evergreens, which keep their green leaves and needles throughout the bleakest winter months, were seen as symbols of renewal and have always been features of midwinter celebrations. In Rome, during the festival of Saturnalia, boughs of pine festooned Roman temples even as they do Christian churches today. The Druids of Britain saw holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and placed evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits. The Teutonic people of Germany and Scandinavia decked the halls with boughs of holly and erected evergreen trees inside their homes as a winter refuge for sylvan spirits—and to affirm their hope in the coming spring.
Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early Pagan traditions, and came to America with the first German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio. But in Colonial New England, the Puritans banned Christmas itself as being “Pagan.” Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a Christmas tree in his church.
As a Pagan, I am delighted to see Yule Trees and lights everywhere at Solstice time—and I do feel included. I would also recommend that other seasonal “expressions of religious faith” be included as well—for Hanukah (Jewish), Kwanza (African), Soyol (Hopi), Pongol (Hindu), Xurram (Persian), Tsao Chun (Chinese), Basilinda (Greek), Modresnacht (Norse), and the Solstice birthdays of Jesus, Horus, Mithra, Inanna, Saturn, Dionysos, Tammuz, Quetzalcoatl, Adonis, Attis, Frey, Freya, Herne, and Buddha. This is the most universal festival on the planet, uniting us all, of every faith and nation. I wish you all a Merry Solstice and a Happy New Year!
Rev. Oberon Zell
Church of All Worlds
Sonoma County Pagan Network

 ORIGINAL LETTER—SF Chronicle 12/12, p. A13
Respect other faiths, too
A Christmas tree is an expression of religious faith for Christians.. I am at a loss to understand its appropriateness in the workplace.
There is a very large expression of this religious faith in the lobby of the Financial District office building where I work. Many employees in America are not Christian, and the presence of a Christian symbol in the office serves to remind us that we are different, that to some, we do not truly belong here.
I am saddened by then insensitivity of the building management and surprised that this particular management company, being Jewish, would not have thought to be more inclusive of all people who pass through the building lobby.

Blessed Yule Tide
From Leeanen Sidhe

Yule tide is my favorite Sabbat for it's one of the few in which I can include my non-Wiccan friends. When I was a solitary Wiccan it could sometimes be quite lonely especially around the sabbats so if I could involve my friends it made it a bit better for me. I have two dear friends who are very open minded about things and they have allowed me to introduce my ritual into our annual Winter Solstice gathering. Every year I make a Yule log from the stump end of the previous year's Christmas tree. The log is usually no more than a foot long and about four to five inches thick. I then take some jute twine and wrap the log a few times in a criss-cross fashion and tie the loose ends together. I then snip fresh branches from the new Christmas tree and a few small branches from the local madrone trees or piracanthra or anything bearing red berries at that time of year. I arrange them nicely and tie them together then tie them onto the log. I let it sit for a day or two so the greenery isn't too fresh. Then on Solstice day I bring the log with me along with a few sheets of parchment paper, a bottle of mead (honey wine), little bag of mulling spices and a box of See's chocolates.

We usually sit down for a visit first and put the mead to warm up in a pan on the stove. I toss the small bag of spices in. For this I fill a sealable tea bag with a 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. When it's warmed up on low heat for about 10 minutes or so we fill our mugs and soon sit down to a casual dinner. Afterwards we go into the living room to sit by the fireplace. I pass out the parchment paper and my friend passes around her colored pens and we all write down our wishes that we want to come true in the coming year. We do not tell anyone what our wishes are and once we've finished writing we fold our papers and slip them under the twine wrappings on the Yule log. When everyone is finished I'll take the Yule log say a little blessing over it and then toss it into the fire. Then we pass the box of chocolates around and pass out gifts to eachother. This has been our little tradition for many years now.

A Winter Solstice Prayer
By Leeanen Sidhe

‘Tis the time of the Winter Solstice,
the blessed season of Yule Tide.
‘Tis the end of the Dead Time,
when after the longest night of the year
the sun finally rises in triumph.
And so begin the days of growing light.

‘Tis the point of conception,
when the first signs of life begin to stir
within the womb of the Earth
kept warm and safe from the cold world above,
awaiting the season of birth.

‘Tis the beginning of the cycle of life,
when the old ways must be shed
and new ways take their place,
when the seeds of growth, understanding
and change should be planted.

Blessings to the Mother Earth for all she gives.
May we learn the lessons she teaches us well.
May we never take her gifts for granted.

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