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Did you ever read something that made you feel a bit dense? Well I just had that experience. It's ok though, I see it as helping me to overcome my ego via the virtue of humility. Christopher - It's less difficult to understand if you actually experiment with it, and more fun, too. More often than not that is the case isn't it? On paper something looks tremendously complex, but in practice it's simpler than it looks.

I'm going to be experimenting with it soon. Let the fun begin. Talking About Ritual Magick. Pageviews since the beginning. Subscribe Now: Feed Icon Subscribe in a reader. Subscribe via email Enter your email address: Delivered by FeedBurner. Blogmeister Frater. Barrabbas author, witch, practitioner of ritual magick, past member of the OTO, Gnostic Bishop, founder of Order of the Gnostic Star, musician, artist, ritual ordeal craftmaster View my complete profile.

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For this article, I would like to focus on one such energy construct, the Vortex. Unlike the cone of power or the pyramid of power, the vortex is characterized by a feminine gender, which powerfully alters the quality of the magickal energy generated and contained within it. This should be old hat for my regular readers, since I have been talking about using a number of different energy structures that profoundly extend the basic theory of the energy model of magick.

In extending and working with the energy model of magick, I have already discussed in previous articles that there are four different mechanisms used to qualify the concept of magickal energy as it is used in a temple. Let us review these four mechanisms as they are so defined here:. Additionally, one can use colors, devices such as spirals, crosses, pentagrams, hexagrams, etc. Accessing the imagination can make this list of qualifying mechanisms nearly endless.

However, for our discussion we will limit ourselves to discussing shaping, vectoring and gender. First of all, we need to be aware that the magick circle confines and condenses the energy generated within it, giving it a basic shape, which is a sphere. Other shapes can be determined by the 11 points of the magick circle, which I consider to be a major part of the temple energy architecture. Also, talking about the four Elements would bring us into the topic of working Elemental magick, which is not the theme for this article.

Shaping and vectoring play a part in the generation of a vortex, but they are minor elements when compared to how they are used in other more complex structures. We can shape energy into forms using vectoring, focusing inward and expanding outward - through involution and emanation.

This is accomplished with ritual actions and movements within the temple area. We can also determine a relative gender quality to the energy based on the definitions of Fire and Water, and by other means as well. Still, gender is the preeminent topic for this article, since the Vortex is considered, by contrast to all of the other structures, to be a feminine based energy.

We also need to consider the definition of resonance in magickal energy work. Resonance is defined in ritual magick as an iterative increase in the intensity of action and motion to achieve a climax or ecstatic release. We will discuss a bit more about resonance later in this article. The first real shaping of energy that most witches and pagans understand and probably use is the Cone of Power.

For some, this is only energy shape that is used in a magickal working. I have proposed that the Cone of Power is an archetypal masculine energy, and I think that I have some good reasons for believing this to be true. The six reasons why I believe that the Cone of Power is an archetypal masculine energy:. It seems rather obvious to me, but some will maintain that the Cone of Power is not inherently masculine.

However, I think that the six points shown above pretty much demonstrate my point. The cone of power is used to generate an energy that projects itself into the mundane world like a bolt of lightening, where it travels to its target, irresistibly attracted to the imprinted magickal link like static electricity is to the earth, and similarly blasting the target with the full force of its latent charge.

The cone of power is generated, imprinted and released, and what remains is banished, or cleansed from the circle, to eliminate any possibility for the power to rebound back to the sender. If it is possible to communicate with the otherworld what can we learn from them? Are the spirits trying to communicate with this world but, we do not understand how? This section will attempt to give some real life accounts of near death experiences, as well as any other phenomenoms that can address the next life. I will add to this section periodically. The Underworld beliefs are in a previous posting, and the different mythologies are additional previous posts scattered about.

What happens after you die? Depends on your belief? Heaven, or Hell? Paradise, or Torment? Different sections where each person goes? No after life? Does each person experience a different afterlife distinctly unique; same afterlife as some others but, not all; or is the afterlife the same for everyone? Another explanation? Are these near death experiences just a mind experience based on personal belief or thought before ithe mind dies, and not actually occurring?

The following stories are the same for some, while others experience different experiences. Either you experience what you believe, or each person experiences a different afterlife, or some of the stories are lies to push their beliefs, or other explanations? The stories are too numerous to list all here but, a search on youtube or google will offer you many more. But, how common was Human Sacrifice in Europe is much a matter of interpretation, and the source.

Claims were made but, the frequency comes down to the source. Such as when one political, or religious entity chooses to defame its opponent it may resort to smear tactics in the war propaganda. Middle age Christianity is one such source that proved to demonize the pagans spreading rumors of devil worship, and human sacrifices to justify the murder of innocent native Europeans.

It is evident that even today's societies kills its own. In the name of governments human are killed in wars, its legal system, medical, and other forms that one can interpret as human sacrifice. Archaeological burials some interpret as human sacrifices to their religion may be nothing more than the killing of war prisoners, or criminals, or to stop disease. It is difficult to fully prove skelatal remains are from some witchery sacrifice, a normal death, a murdered body, or even a death as punishment or other reason.

It may have been just a ritual of the death itself just as in today's ceremonial funeral traditions, and not necessarily the cause of the death itself. I'm sure in a few thousand years from today people will try to explain that our society was involved in ritual human sacrifices which is quite evident from the practises of our Governments, and Legal System, or the embalming the dead and draining of blood and dressing up and placing in caskets and placing of artifacts, etc Retainer sacrifices seem to have been common in early Indo-European religion.

In ancient Rome, human sacrifice was infrequent but documented. There is no evidence of the practices Caesar described, and the stories of human sacrifice appear to derive from a single source, Poseidonius, whose claims are unsupported. And when the guilty are in short supply its legal system resorts to the death penalty of the innocent. The Julius Caesar commentary seems to suggest that based on interpretation. The Celts in their beliefs may have felt the balance of justice involved human death similarly as todays death penalty such as for murder a life for a life.

And since medical technology in ancient times could not cure diseases it would need to be eradicated to prevent its spread to the remaining tribe. So what we may interpret today of the ancient pagan ways as some supernatural devil worship was actually just a normal societal function for the technology they had at that time. The interpretation comes down to science, or religion. Human sacrifice to appease the Gods and Goddesses, or Human sacrifice to appease government, and law.

This commentary suggests that when bad men did bad things it upset the Gods and Goddesses. That to appease them justice must be served. A life for a life. Death sentences for crimes. To kill disease involved killing the human that carried the disease. But what is most troubling to me by this commentary is these people became obsessed and corrupt that it led to the killing of the innocent.

Not to please the Gods but, probably to please the corrupt system that had evolved in that day. How common was human sacrifice in Europe? Others have images great in size, the limbs of which, interwoven with twigs, they fill with living humans; the men, with these having been set aflame, perish. The punishments for those apprehended in conspiracy or in thievery or in other crime are thought to be most pleasing to the immortal gods; but, when abundance of this kind fails, they even defer to the punishment of the innocent. Shrines to Hecate were placed at doorways to both homes and cities with the belief that it would protect from restless dead and other spirits.

Likewise, shrines to Hecate at three way crossroads were created where food offerings were left at the new moon to protect those who did so from spirits and other evils. Hecate was generally represented as three-formed, which probably has some connection with the appearance of the full moon, half moon, and new moon.

Triple Hecate was the goddess of the moon with three forms: Selene the Moon in heaven, Artemis the Huntress on earth, and Persephone the Destroyer in the underworld. Like Hecate, "[t]he dog is a creature of the threshold, the guardian of doors and portals, and so it is appropriately associated with the frontier between life and death, and with demons and ghosts which move across the frontier.

The yawning gates of Hades were guarded by the monstrous watchdog Cerberus, whose function was to prevent the living from entering the underworld, and the dead from leaving it. Dogs were closely associated with Hecate in the Classical world. Her approach was heralded by the howling of a dog.

The dog was Hecate's regular sacrificial animal, and was often eaten in solemn sacrament. They played a similar symbolic role in ancient China, where dogs were conceived as representative of the household sphere, and as protective spirits appropriate when transcending geographic and spatial boundaries. Dogs were also sacrificed to the road. As Roel Sterckx observes, "The use of dog sacrifices at the gates and doors of the living and the dead as well as its use in travel sacrifices suggest that dogs were perceived as daemonic animals operating in the liminal or transitory realm between the domestic and the unknown, danger-stricken outside world".

Hekate's Deipnon is, at its most basic, a meal served to Hekate and the restless dead once a lunar month on the night when there is no visible moon, usually noted on modern calendars as the new moon. As a goddess expected to avert harmful or destructive spirits from the house or city over which she stood guard and to protect the individual as she or he passed through dangerous liminal places, Hecate would naturally become known as a goddess who could also refuse to avert the demons, or even drive them on against unfortunate individuals.

It was probably her role as guardian of entrances that led to Hecate's identification by the mid fifth century with Enodia, a Thessalian goddess. Enodia's very name "In-the-Road" suggests that she watched over entrances, for it expresses both the possibility that she stood on the main road into a city, keeping an eye on all who entered, and in the road in front of private houses, protecting their inhabitants. She was the only child of the Titanes Perses and Asteria from whom she received her power over heaven, earth, and sea.

Hekate assisted Demeter in her search for Persephone, guiding her through the night with flaming torches. After the mother-daughter reunion became she Persephone's minister and companion in Haides. But, Greek and Native European beliefs may have evolved from a similar source further back in further ancient history, or the oral stories may have been shared during migration and trade between the different peoples. The underworld or netherworld is an otherworld thought to be deep underground or beneath the surface of the world in most religions and mythologies. Typically it is a place where the souls of the departed go, an afterlife or a realm of the dead.

Chthonic is the technical adjective for things of the underworld. Psychopomps, deities of the underworld, and resurrection deities are commonly called death deities in comparative religions texts. The term colloquially refers to deities that either collect or rule over the dead, rather than those deities who determine the time of death. However, all these types will be included in this article. It can be found particularly in Indo-European mythologies However, the two roots are similar enough that a connection can still be argued.

The yawning gates of Hades were guarded by the monstrous watchdog Cerberus. A wide variety of ominous or hellish supernatural dogs occur in mythologies around the world, similar to the often seen dragon They are often assigned to guard the entrances to the world of the dead, such as graveyards and burial grounds, or undertake other duties related to the afterlife or the supernatural, such as hunting lost souls or guarding a supernatural treasure. In European legends, seeing a hellhound or hearing it howl may be an omen or even a cause of death.

They are said to be the protectors of the supernatural, guarding the secrecy of supernatural creatures, or beings, from the world. With the forces assembled there, an immense battle will take place. This foot will bear a legendary shoe "for which the material has been collected throughout all time. The Crane symbolizes secret knowledg, patience and longevity. Three cranes guard the entrance to Annwn the Underworld. Some sources claim dog s as the Celtic guard of the entrance to the otherworld but, this source claims the crane.

Another product of middle age Christianity was taking Pagan traditions, or beliefs to be demonized for propaganda. Then later to be used against the innocent at trial which led to wrongful convictions, tortures, and death sentences. Or maybe the werewolf escaped from Hell on Samhain to extract vengeance on a corrupt society. Hyping up exagerations and falsehoods to be used against the innocent is nothing new. The fact it was the Roman Government's Church System taht changed the entire belief of Hell to a place of the Devils abode and all people who do not believe in the teachings of this Government Church will be sent to Hell to suffer torment forever.

This makes the Government backed by the Church an omnipotent authority. It is Absolute Power to make the people slaves of the Government and the Church at the time. If you did not obey, or you were not liked by another, or you were a competition to another then you could easily be falsely accused of being a devil, a witch, a werewolf, or whatever.

The werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore, existing in many variants, which are related by a common development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore developed during the medieval period. From the early modern period, werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World with colonialism.

Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches, in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Like the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland especially the Valais and Vaud in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century. The persecution of werewolves and the associated folklore is an integral part of the "witch-hunt" phenomenon, albeit a marginal one, accusations of werewolfery being involved in only a small fraction of witchcraft trials The werewolf folkore found in Europe harks back to a common development during the Middle Ages, arising in the context of Christianisation, Their underlying common origin can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European mythology, where lycanthropy is reconstructed as an aspect of the initiation of the warrior class.

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The concept of the werewolf in Western and Northern Europe is strongly influenced by the role of the wolf in Germanic paganism There was no widespread belief in werewolves in medieval Europe before the 14th century. It was as if people believed that werewolves were every where.

The trial records of lycanthrope increased at an epidemic rate.

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In France alone between and some 30, individuals were labeled as werewolves, many of them underwent traumatic interrogation and torture. Confessed or not, most of them suffered vile death at the stake.

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Here few recorded sensational werewolf trials have been mentioned. Many people went to jail or were executed. Sometimes, authorities put actual wolves on Hel was one of the children of the trickster god Loki, and her kingdom was said to lie downward and northward. There stood a castle facing north; it was filled with the venom of serpents, in which murderers, adulterers, and perjurers suffered torment, while the dragon Nidhogg sucked the blood from their bodies.

Mention is made in an early poem of the nine worlds of Niflheim. It was said that those who fell in battle did not go to Hel but to the god Odin, in Valhalla, the hall of the slain. In some accounts it was the last of nine worlds, a place into which evil men passed after reaching the region of death Hel. Situated below one of the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasill, Niflheim contained a His exact nature and role, however, are difficult to determine because of the complex picture of him given by the wealth of archaeological and literary sources.

Valhalla is depicted as a splendid palace, roofed with shields, where the warriors feast on the flesh of a boar slaughtered daily and made whole again each evening. They drink liquor that Ancient Scandinavian ways were mostly orally transmitted and not written. By this time of the writing the belief had progressed to the souls of the dead in Faeries and elves.

Was this an original belief of the native Norse, or the belief of the Celts that was shared.. These were Powers of the dark and hidden things, death, the mysterious. These spirits were the most powerful during the dark winter-months and their power was of a kind that made people decide that it was best to keep them on our side.

The female ancestors have their own time of celebration at winter solstice Yule , if you wondered why the ancestral elves are all male ancestors. The dark powers are not evil, but they will not offer any assistance unless we ask them to and honor them for it.

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  • The Norse Heathens offered what they thought anyone would want most on a dark and cold night: Beer and meat. Thus we see that in Old Norse lore, the elves are strongly associated with souls. There were Light Elves and Dark Elves. In the Gylfaginning, Snorri describes the Dark Elves as darker than tar and offers a very sombre vision of them, in contrast to the Light Elves The Dark Elves represent the souls of the dead that still reside in the world, albeit in the underworld, still able to communicate with the living.

    They may have been kept in the world by their descendants, who prayed to them and sacrificed to them for their wisdom, their guidance, their healing powers and their protection — exactly as it was said that people could pray to Freyr in his mound after his death. Pagans would sit on burial mounds or on the sacred hills and mountains where the dead were thought to reside, meditating until communication with the dead could be obtained. Their darkness is the darkness of the unknown, that which is not seen by the living, of the hidden reality that is death.

    The Light Elves, on the other hand, may very well refer to the souls of the dead that have achieved immortality. Perhaps they have become shining bright and transparent through a descent or ascent in the Well of Origin — a feat achieved through spiritual training and initiation, leading to the transformation and the immortality of the soul? What kind of soul or what aspect of the soul is an open question — the sources indicate that the elves are the souls of the dead, The elfin ancestor resides in the burial mound and may be helpful to those who seek him there.

    To all appearances, the elf is the embodiment of the soul of a dead male. If he resides in the mound or in other aspects of the Underworld, he is a Dark Elf. If he resides in the upper heavens, he is the immortal soul of the enlightened, and is a Light Elf. When Freyr is the Lord of Elves, he is also the Lord of dead men, the lord of the realm where the souls of dead men linger. In a fashion, he represents or rules the soul of males. To conclude, we may assume that the annual harvest celebration of the Elves was powerfully connected to the worship of dead ancestors, The witches wand is likened to the native american ritual of the peace pipe that allowed safe passage between tribes.

    Or is the Lakota story just a similar rite common among peoples of various places? All the Germanic tribes, as well as the Vikings, nurtured groups of wise women, witches or priestesses who lived unmarried though not necessarily in celibacy and who could travel alone wherever they liked without fear. A woman who carried the wand of the witch would never be harmed.

    They were allied with the fate goddesses and thus wielded the greatest of powers. This was a time and age when witches were honored and revered and sought as wise women, healers, prophets, oracles, shamans and priestesses. Sagas show that if a witch came to visit, the lord and lady of the house would give up the high seat to her, a very powerful way of indicating that the witch had higher authority.

    The sources also make a point out of how the witch can talk or not talk to anybody at whim, regardless of their status — which means that she was outside and above the normal hierarchy of society. The primeval witch was the goddess Freya, who introduced the art of seidr [fate-magic, shamanism] and the art of conquering death to men and women, and in the first instance even to the gods. She arrived in the evening with the man who had been sent to meet her, and she was dressed like this: She was wearing a dark blue mantle to be tied at the neck. It was decorated with stones from the top to the bottom.

    Around her neck she wore glass pearls, on her head a black hood made out of lamb fur, dressed on the inside with white cat fur. Around her waist she wore a …belt with a large pouch. In that she hid the magical equipment she needed for her divinations [i. There has been much scholarly debate as to the origin of the term paganism, especially since no one before the 20th century self-identified as a pagan. While most pagan religions express a worldview that is pantheistic, polytheistic, or animistic, there are some monotheistic pagans.

    It is crucial to stress right from the start that until the 20th century people did not call themselves pagans to describe the religion they practised. The notion of paganism, as it is generally understood today, was created by the early Christian Church. As such, throughout history it was generally used in a derogatory sense. The term pagan is from Late Latin paganus, revived during the Renaissance.

    Itself deriving from classical Latin pagus which originally meant 'region delimited by markers', paganus had also come to mean 'of or relating to the countryside', 'country dweller', 'villager'; Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. In modern times, "Heathen" and "Heathenry" are increasingly used to refer to those branches of neopaganism inspired by the pre-Christian religions of the Germanic, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon peoples.

    In the 17th century, description of paganism turned from the theological aspect to the ethnological, and a religion began to be understood as part of the ethnic identity of a people, and the study of the religions of "primitive" peoples triggered questions as to the ultimate historical origin of religion. Many of the "revivals", Wicca and Neo-druidism in particular, have their roots in 19th century Romanticism and retain noticeable elements of occultism or theosophy that were current then, setting them apart from historical rural paganus folk religion. In old almanacs Yule was represented by the symbol of a wheel, conveying the idea of the year turning like a wheel, The Great Wheel of the Zodiac, The Wheel of Life.

    The spokes of the wheel, were the old festivals of the year, the solstices and equinoxes. The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year, it is the seed time of year, the longest night and the shortest day, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King. Yule is another fire festival, Yule lends itself to a more private and domestic celebration. Yet like its midsummer counterpart, is strongly associated with fertility and the continuation of life.

    Yet, at the same time, she is in the process of giving birth to Son-Lover who will re-fertilise her and the earth, bringing back light and warmth to the world. Yule Log It was deemed essential that the log, once lit, should burn until it was deliberately extinguished. The length of time, varied from region to region, from 12 hours to several days and it was considered ill-omened if the fire burnt itself out.

    It was never allowed to burn away completely, as some would be needed for the following year. In England, it was considered unlucky for the Yule log to be bought, and had to be acquired using other means, The winter solstice, called 'Alban Arthan' by the Druids, was according to Bardic Tradition, the time when the Chief Druid would cut the sacred mistletoe from the Oak. The mistletoe is cut using a golden sickle on the sixth day of the moon.

    It is often associated with thunder, and regarded as a protection against fire and lighting. Yule log: 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.

    Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration. A description of pagan Yule practices is provided notes are Hollander's own. Hollander, M. Lee Trans. At this feast all were to take part of the drinking of ale.

    Also all kinds of livestock were killed in connection with it, horses also; and all the blood from them was called hlaut [ sacrificial blood ], and hlautbolli, the vessel holding the blood; and hlautteinar, the sacrificial twigs [ aspergills ]. These were fashioned like sprinklers, and with them were to be smeared all over with blood the pedestals of the idols and also the walls of the temple within and without; and likewise the men present were to be sprinkled with blood. But the meat of the animals was to be boiled and served as food at the banquet. Fires were to be lighted in the middle of the temple floor, and kettles hung over them.

    The sacrificial beaker was to be borne around the fire, and he who made the feast and was chieftain, was to bless the beaker as well as all the sacrificial meat. In addition, toasts were drunk to the memory of departed kinsfolk. These were called "minni [memorial toast]". Santa Claus is an American perversion to demonize Odin. Jultide was hijacked by Christians. Germanics viewed Odin Father as the original gift giver which later became St. Nicholas in Turkey. The Americans are the people of Satan. But, the true descendants of Odin know their origins. Odin descendants honor Odin, and his wife Nerthus to bring back new life.

    Odin was often depicted as leading a hunting party through the skies, during which he rode his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. Sleipnir is described as being able to leap great distances, which some scholars have compared to the legends of Santa's reindeer. Odin was typically portrayed as an old man with a long, white beard Who Are the Deities of the Winter Solstice?

    This legend may have combined with that of St. Nicholas to create the modern Santa Claus. In Northern Europe, the year's longest night is called "Mother Night" for it was in darkness the goddess Frigga labored to bring the Light to birth once more. The Young Sun, Baldur, who controlled the sun and rain and brings fruitfulness to the fields, was born. Coincidental, or is Winter Solstice really the Jul's wheel death period? Jultide marks the end of deathness, and brings new birth.

    Consequently, research has proven that the period around Christmas is the deadliest time of the entire year. Notice from this article the period from Samhain to Jultide the death rate rises peaking at the Jultide. Then death rates decrease. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags. The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest.

    Its origin may be Germanic pagan and has existed in many variants during Scandinavian history.

    Religions - Native European

    The Yule goat's origins go back to ancient Pagan festivals. The last sheaf of grain bundled in the harvest was credited with magical properties as the spirit of the harvest and saved for the Yule celebrations, called among other things Yule goat Julbocken.

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    This connects to ancient proto-Slavic beliefs where the Koliada Yule festival honors the god of the fertile sun and the harvest. A man-sized goat figure is known from 11th-century remembrances of Childermas, where it was led by a man dressed as Saint Nicholas, symbolizing his control over the Devil. In Sweden, people regarded the Yule goat as an invisible spirit that would appear some time before Christmas to make sure that the Yule preparations were done right. Objects made out of straw or roughly-hewn wood could also be called the Yule goat During the 19th century the Yule goat's role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the giver of Christmas gifts, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule goat.

    In this, there might be a relation to Santa Claus and the Yule goat's origin in the medieval celebrations of Saint Nicholas. The Yule holiday is the most important and most popular of all the native Germanic spiritual celebrations. Yule marks the return of the God Baldur from the realm of Hel The first night of Yule is called Mothernight, when Frigga and the Disir female ancestral spirits are especially honored Yule is also the season during which the dead return to earth and share the feasts of the living.

    Elves, trolls, and other magical beings roam freely, and must either be warded off or invited to come in friendship and peace. Yule is the time of the year at which the Wild Hunt - Odin's host of the restless dead - rides most fiercely; it is dangerous to meet them, but gifts of food and drink are left out for them, for they can also bring blessings and fruitfulness The straw animals, which are still widely found throughout Sweden, are intimately related to ancient Norse Germanic mythology; originating in legends of the sacred animals of the gods; the Goats of Thor Yule Goat - Julbock in Swedish , and the Wild Boar of Freyr Yule Boar - Julgris or Julegris - also Swedish During Yule, we honor Thorr for driving back the frost etins, Frey to give us prosperity in the coming year, Odinn as leader of the Wild Hunt, and our Ancestors.

    During Yule, we are closest to the dead At Yule he surrenders his life to the young light Oak King, God of the Waxing Year and his twin, who rules over the light part of the year from Yule to Midsummer. Both rule for half of the year, both fight for the favour and love of the Goddess and both surrender their life force for the well-being of the land.

    In truth, they are one. Evergreens represent everlasting life It is carefully cut to ensure it never touches the earth. The white berries of mistletoe represent the fertile white semen of the life-giving male. Which is where kissing under the mistletoe comes from! Newborn babies used to be sprinkled with 'holly water', water in which holly had been soaked, especially potent if left under a full moon overnight.

    Holly is sacred to Holle, the Germanic underworld goddess, and symbolizes everlasting life, goodwill and potent life energy. Its red berries represent feminine blood. Sacred to Osiris, where His death and resurrection was a central theme in Egyptian religion. Sacred also to Dionysys, god of vegetation, blossoming and the Return of Spring. It is deeply connected with the spirit realms and the ancestors. Often used as the central 'world tree' in ritual spaces and was often planted in graveyards. Very poisonous.

    In ancient Rome, pine trees were an essential part of Goddess groves. On the eve of the Midwinter Solstice, Roman priests would cut down a pine tree, decorate it and carry it ceremonially to the temple celebrations. People decked their homes with boughs of evergreen trees and bushes in pots. Pines and firs were cherished as a symbol of rebirth and life in the depth of winter.

    It was the festival of Saturnalia. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm in the cold winter months - food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat. Red, green and the gold of the Returning Sun are the colours of Yule.

    Deck your home and altar with evergreens and candles. When is the winter solstice ? Cutting them down and putting them in their homes would have been too destructive to nature. But when Saint Boniface, also known as Winfrith of Crediton, found a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree in 8th Century Germany, he cut the tree down.

    Some say he then planted a fir tree on the spot after the pagans converted - others that a fir tree sprang up on the spot. Myth has it the converted pagans in the region returned the following year to decorate the fir tree. Many of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of Christmas such as the burning of the Yule log, the eating of ham, the hanging of boughs, holly, mistletoe, etc. Heathenry In Germanic Neopagan sects, Yule is celebrated with gatherings that often involve a meal and gift giving. Further attempts at reconstruction of surviving accounts of historical celebrations are often made, a hallmark being variations of the traditional blot.

    Groups such as the Asatru Folk Assembly in the US recognize the celebration as lasting for 12 days, beginning on the date of the winter solstice. Thu Dec 21 GMT Yule begins on Mother Night, about Dec. We honor the beginning of the Sun's return and the breaking of Winter, which is most noticeable in five days and is celebrated over a twelve day period. Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December.

    The birch — apart from its phallic significance — may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death They believe Krampus derives from a pagan supernatural who was assimilated to the Christian devil The Krampus figures persisted, and by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations by pairing Krampus with St Nicholas In the s, the government distributed pamphlets titled "Krampus Is an Evil Man" Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children to Hell The Feast of St.

    Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. On the preceding evening of 5 December, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht, the wicked hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own Unlike North American versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad.

    Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the ruten bundles Originally, "jul" was the name of a month in the old Germanic calendar. The concept of "jul" was a period of time rather than a specific event prevailing in Scandinavia Whereas the start of "jul" proper is announced by the chiming of church bells throughout the country in the afternoon of 24 December, it is more accurate to describe the season as an eight-week event Jul was celebrated during the second moon from new moon to new moon of the winter half of the year — roughly from the new moon of November to the new moon of December.

    At this time, the animals for slaughter were the fattest, flour had been processed, all the work of autumn was completed, and it was time to celebrate. The time of celebration has varied. If a farmer was so far away from his neighbours that this was difficult, he still had to brew as much beer as if he had been taking part of such a party. The beer should be ready by November 1. The tradition of Yule Ale and "drinking Jul" is symbolized by a drinking horn on December 25 on the Runic calendar, with an upside-down drinking horn depicted on January 13, symbolizing that the ale should be finished by then.

    By the wording of the legislation, there are two celebrations where beer drinking was mandatory. The first was a form of thanksgiving where at least three farmers attended , while the second was a smaller party for the family. The figure of the mischievous but gift-bearing Norse nisse, a mythological creature associated with the Winter solstice in Scandinavian folklore, is a white-bearded, red-wearing ancestral spirit also known as Julenissen Jul spirit , which has been integrated with the figure of Sinterklaas to comprise the modern-day figure of Santa Claus.

    Like the cookies traditionally left for "Santa Claus" today, it was customary to leave a bowl of rice porridge with butter for the Jul spirit, in gratitude. The food represented a sacramental meal. The Jul Knut's Day on January The main celebration and the exchange of gifts takes place on Christmas Eve, December The Lucia Day is celebrated during Advent, on December Around the year , it is mentioned in the Gothic calendar together with Christian religious texts.

    Around the year , the word "Jul" can be found in a tribute to king Harald Fairhair, in which someone is said to "Dricka Jul" Drink Jul. The pretext for the Jul celebration was to mark the winter solstice when the days start to get longer and the nights shorter again. The central aspect of the pagan Germanic celebration of midwinter was to eat and drink well. To bake and to produce ale and mead were important preparations for the celebration.

    In medieval wooden calendars and pre-Christian picture stones, this celebration is still symbolised by a barrel of ale, or a drinking horn. So the emphasis on food and drink traditions was originally a pagan trait of the Christmas celebration. The Christmas tree is a custom that was imported from Germany in the 's. The foremer tradition of giving joke presents, often a log of wood, was replaced in the 's by Christmas gifts given out by Santa Claus, Jultomten. In the English and later British colonies of North America, and later in the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further.

    For example, in Washington Irving's History of New York , Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" a name first used in the American press in but lost his bishop's apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. Irving's book was a lampoon of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention.

    Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December , and again in , Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in , and by the s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Nicholas on his holiday missions.

    In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven.

    In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children. Nicholas to Christkindl Christ child. Although Christkindl refers to the infant Jesus, Americans seem to have adopted the name "Kris Kringle," but reattached it to the original St. Nicholas as a synonym, which is the exact opposite of what was originally intended As such, the "Lutheran Church promoted Christ as the children's gift-giver, hoping to draw attention to the child for whom Christmas was named.

    Martin Luther intended it to be a reference to the incarnation of Jesus as an infant see Christ Child. Sometimes the Christ Child is, instead of the infant Jesus, interpreted as a specific angel bringing the presents, as it appears in some processions together with an image of little Jesus Christ. Later, the Christkind was said to make rounds delivering gifts with St. Since the s, the Christkind is facing increasing competition from the Weihnachtsmann in the American version of Santa Claus, caused by the use of Santa Claus as an advertising figure Truth Behind xmas?

    If the trees have spirits why would you cut them down just to worship them for 2 weeks as they later die? The Genus of the Tree of Life is different among different peoples. Each people were made from a different material. Some made from clay and sand, some made from tree wood, etc The spirits in trees, animals, people, and all living things come from the giver of spirits either from Father Sky, or Mother Earth. The Genus of trees is important as it contained the spirits of past ancestors.

    Pagan religion involved honor of trees where they grew in nature. The practise of bringing in a tree for Christmas was first practised in midevil Germany. Prior to that Yule trees were honored outside on living trees but, they may or may not have been decorated.

    Various articles are in disagreement as to which tree is the real World Tree. It may be they are all right. It may come down to the people it represents, and the land which that people live. Although the Rowan is not scientifically a Fraxinus. So the Rowan was known as an ash tree by these tribes who viewed it as a sacred world tree. Is the Yule Tree a symbol of the World Tree, or is it a symbol of something else such as various religious interpretations i.

    From the ancient clay tablets of ancient sumeria bc, we see the tree is a deciduous tree. It is not a coniferous tree. From there come the dews that drop in the valleys. There the gods must hold their courts each day" Coniferous trees do not produce honeydew that feeds bees. A deciduous tree such as Ash, and Rowan do produce honeydew to feed insects. Just speculation but, the whitey aureates may be apples.

    So this Ygg's Drasill Tree could also be an apple since apple trees have been a mythical tree as well as a life giving tree. Ash, or even an apple tree. That the Christmas Tree is a coniferous tree for Christian celebration that was influenced by variuos pagan beliefs, and traditions in the beliefs of tree worship, world tree, and other tree religious beliefs of the pagans.. The Yule Tree could be either a conifer, or deciduous tree.

    In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights The Christmas tree is sometimes compared with the "Yule-tree", Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time.

    The modern Christmas tree is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, wherein Viking and Saxon worshiped trees In such plays, a tree decorated with apples to represent the forbidden fruit and wafers to represent the Eucharist and redemption was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.

    The modern Yule tree, rather, has its roots in Renaissance Germany: ironically, the period of the Great Persecution. So it's really a Christian custom How do we know that it's the World Tree? Obviously: because it's got the North Star on top. As novelist Richard Grant puts it, Yule trees are seedlings of Yggdrasil Families Taxaceae, Cephalotaxaceae, and Podocarpaceae which are superficially similar to other yews, are also known by this name Thence come the dewdrops That fall in this dale.

    It stands aye afar from The green pine of Urd Burn of Eden. Harts too there are four , Their heads thrown up. From Babylonian seal. Note rayed Sun on each side of tree which stands on a mountain, and crescent Moon over the assailant. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan in Scotland and Ireland. Rowan trees planted near stone circles in Scotland were especially powerful. Scottish Fairies were said to hold their celebrations within stone circles protected by Rowan trees.

    Rowan twigs were placed above doorways and barns to protect the inhabitants against misfortune and evil spirits. It was one of the trees sacred to Druids and used for protection against sorcery and evil spirits. The Druids burnt Rowan on funeral pyres, for it also symbolized death and rebirth.

    The Druid Ovates and Seers burnt Rowan in rites of divination and to invoke spirits, and Druids used Rowan wood in rites of purification. Rowan is also associated with dragons and serpents - sacred Rowans were once guarded by dragons. In America, the Rowan is usually referred to as Mountain Ash. Rune staves were often cut from the rowan tree for amulets by the Norse people who invaded Scotland. In the Christian era, the twigs have been used for protection against witches, sorcery, negative magic and the Evil Eye.

    Walking sticks made of rowan are used to protect the user from the spirits of the woods.

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    Rowan is also called the Witch Tree, or Wicken Tree, and can be used for divining precious metals, just as hazel can divine water. Witches used Rowan to increase their psychic powers, for spells of healing, success, protection, and often used the wood for their magic wands. Heat gently to dissolve sweetener with a few sprigs of rosemary in the pot. Cover to allow the fragrant resinous rosemary to properly infuse. Garnish with rosemary and raise your cups to the parting mists!

    The shape of the tree resembles an Ash, however it is not related. It can live up to two hundred years In May, Rowan blossoms into clusters of little creamy white flowers. The tree berries in autumn with a bright red fruit beloved by birds The Rowan berry is bitter, but when mixed with sugar or other sweet fruits, is excellent in pies, jelly or jam. Rowan berries are also made into juice and wine.

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    The berries provide vitamins A and C, carotin, pectin and essential oil, and stimulate the immune system. Medicinally, Rowan berries are a laxative, and can also be used for sore throats, inflamed tonsils, hoarseness, even diarrhoea. A decoction from the bark is used as an astringent. The Rowan tree is one of the most sacred trees in Scottish folk tradition The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at their things. Conflicting scholarly theories have been proposed about the etymology of the name Yggdrasill, Old Norse Yggdrasill is "Odin's horse", meaning "gallows".

    This interpretation comes about because drasill means "horse" and Ygg r is one of Odin's many names. This tree may have been Yggdrasil. Gallows can be called "the horse of the hanged" and therefore Odin's gallows may have developed into the expression "Odin's horse", which then became the name of the tree.

    According to this interpretation, askr Yggdrasils would mean the world tree upon which "the horse [Odin's horse] of the highest god [Odin] is bound". Odin describes how he had no food nor drink there, that he peered downward, and that "I took up the runes, screaming I took them, then I fell back from there.

    Odin provides a list of things that are what he refers to as the "noblest" of their kind Yggdrasil first, and states that it is the "noblest of trees". Gangleri described as king Gylfi in disguise asks where is the chief or holiest place of the gods. High replies "It is the ash Yggdrasil. There the gods must hold their courts each day". Gangleri asks what there is to tell about Yggdrasil. Just-As-High says that Yggdrasil is the biggest and best of all trees, that its branches extend out over all of the world and reach out over the sky. In chapter 16, Gangleri asks "what other particularly notable things are there to tell about the ash?

    High continues that an eagle sits on the branches of Yggdrasil and that it has much knowledge. This seems to be a very ancient conception, perhaps based on the Pole Star, the centre of the heavens, and the image of the central tree in Scandinavia may have been influenced by it Among Siberian shamans, a central tree may be used as a ladder to ascend the heavens. Davidson says that the notion of an eagle atop a tree and the world serpent coiled around the roots of the tree has parallels in other cosmologies from Asia. She goes on to say that Norse cosmology may have been influenced by these Asiatic cosmologies from a northern location.

    Davidson adds, on the other hand, that it is attested that the Germanic peoples worshiped their deities in open forest clearings and that a sky god was particularly connected with the oak tree, and therefore "a central tree was a natural symbol for them also" Scandinavian and Turkish People, What is the connection? This, like Tengri, was likely a contribution from Germanic to Turkic unless it is a case of convergent evolution with the roots coming from a common earlier ancestor in Eurasian. As we have seen Ygg comes from Ing. The tree of life in Norse legend refers to the first male mortal, Ask, who was fashioned from an ash tree.

    Two ash trees are actually involved in Norse tradition. The rowan or mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia, gave us the Norse word runa meaning "charm", Swedish word ronn meaning "red" as in its red berries. Ash as in Asgard refers to the "center post" or "king post" provided by the true ash tree, Fraxinus excelsior. Neither of these ash trees occurs naturally in the East. In the West it would be the oleaginous true-ash-tree that would used to give the highest heat for the purpose of metalworking and would become the "noble main tree" of life for Odin leaving the rowan in the lurch, the icon of a failed religion.

    Ash also features strongly in Irish mythology. The mountain ash, rowan, or quicken tree is particularly prominent in Scottish folklore. There are several recorded instances in Irish history in which people refused to cut an ash, even when wood was scarce, for fear of having their own cabins consumed with flame. The ash tree itself might be used in May Day Beltaine rites.

    Under the Old Irish word nin, the ash also gives its name to the letter N in the ogham alphabet. Together with the oak and thorn, the ash is part of a magical trilogy in fairy lore. Ash seedpods may be used in divination, and the wood has the power to ward off fairies, especially on the Isle of Man. In Gaelic Scotland children were given the astringent sap of the tree as a medicine and as a protection against witch-craft. Wands of druids were made from wood either of the yew or of the apple. Hazel leaves and nuts are found in early British burial mounds and shaft-wells, especially at Ashill, Norfolk.

    In the ogham alphabet of early Ireland, the letter C was represented by hazel Thought a fairy tree in both Ireland and Wales, wood from the hazel was sacred to poets and was thus a taboo fuel on any hearth. Heralds carried hazel wands as badges of office. Witches' wands are often made of hazel, as are divining rods, used to find underground water. In Cornwall the hazel was used in the millpreve, the magical adder stones Even more esteemed than the hazel's wood were its nuts, often described as the 'nuts of wisdom', e. The letter F, third consonant in the ogham alphabet In Ireland many individual elder trees were thought haunted by fairies or demons.

    The evergreen yew with dark green, needle-like leaves and red berries has commonly symbolized immortality in the Indo-European imagination as it is the longest-lived entity, often lasting more than 1, years, to be found in the European environment In folk religion and folklore, trees are often said to be the homes of tree spirits.

    Historical Druidism as well as Germanic paganism appear to have involved cultic practice in sacred groves, especially the oak. The most ancient cross-cultural symbolic representation of the universes construction is the world tree This Sumerian Clay tablet is dated c. The original Sumerian Indo-Iranian concept It is said to connect the Underworld to Heaven with its branches and roots. In Egypt the Holy Sycamore is said to stand on the threshold of life and death, connecting the worlds Other examples of trees featured in mythology are the Banyan and the Peepal Ficus religiosa trees in Hinduism, and the modern tradition of the Christmas Tree in Germanic mythology, the Tree of Knowledge Kabbalah of Judaism and Christianity, and the Bodhi Tree in Buddhism.

    Historical Druidism as well as Germanic Paganism appear to have involved cultic practice in sacred groves, especially the oak. The term druid itself possibly derives from the Celtic word for oak. Sacred Trees and their Meanings Forests were also personified or ruled by a single goddess The Celts made their sacred places in dark groves, the trees being hung with offerings or with the heads of victims. Human sacrifices were hung or impaled on trees, e. Pliny said of the Celts: They esteem nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree on which it grows.

    But apart from this they choose oak-woods for their sacred groves, and perform no sacred rite without using oak branches. Other Aryan folk besides the Celts regarded the oak as the symbol of a high god, of the sun or the sky, A people living in an oak region and subsisting in part on acorns might easily take the oak as a representative of the spirit of vegetation or growth. It was long-lived, its foliage was a protection, it supplied food, its wood was used as fuel, and it was thus clearly the friend of man Folk-lore survivals show that the spirit of vegetation in the shape of his representative was annually slain while yet in full vigour, that his life might benefit all things and be passed on undiminished to his successor.

    Hence the oak or a human being representing the spirit of vegetation, or both together, were burned in the Midsummer fires. How, then, did the oak come to symbolise a god equated with Zeus The fires were kindled to recruit the sun's life; they were fed with oak-wood Stonehenge has now been proved to have been in existence before the arrival of the Celts, Tribal and personal names point to belief in descent from tree gods or spirits and perhaps to totemism. The Eburones were the yew-tree tribe eburos ; the Bituriges perhaps had the mistletoe for their symbol, and their surname Vivisci implies that they were called "Mistletoe men.

    The veneration of trees growing beside burial mounds or megalithic monuments was probably a pre-Celtic cult continued by the Celts. The tree embodied the ghost of the person buried under it, but such a ghost could then hardly be differentiated from a tree spirit or divinity These embody the belief that the spirit of the dead is in the tree, which was thus in all likelihood the object of a cult.

    Instances of these legends occur in Celtic story. Tree-worship was rooted in the oldest nature worship, and the Church had the utmost difficulty in suppressing it. Councils fulminated against the cult of trees, against offerings to them or the placing of lights before them and before wells or stones, and against the belief that certain trees were too sacred to be cut down or burned. Heavy fines were levied against those who practised these rites, yet still they continued.

    Amator, Bishop of Auxerre, tried to stop the worship of a large pear-tree standing in the centre of the town and on which the semi-Christian inhabitants hung animals' heads with much ribaldry. At last S.