I think the last newsletter was written on a gloomy autumn day and here I am again, writing on a very dark and stormy afternoon. As it is the season, today I thought I'd talk a little bit about Yuletide greenery (more here), and just a bit about Yuletide baddies.
Bringing plants inside goes back at least to the Ancient Greeks who brought Hypericum (St. John's wort) in to ward off evil. It was hung above icons and entrances to the house. We still do that today with our Yuletide greenery; we hang it on doors, decorate our fireplace mantles and windows with it. Those are all entrances, of course! Evergreens- pine, spruce, juniper, holly, cedar and boxwood - were often chosen for both their smell and color - the fact that they were still vibrantly green in the winter. Holly also has the added bonus of red berries. The berries are toxic and can make children and pets sick if ingested, so keep that in mind if you have holly with the berries.
Our greenery decorations are often accented with red ribbons. Red has long been considered a sacred color related to rebirth. It's been used since at least as far back as the Paleolithic. It seems natural that it is in our decorations this time of year to signify the rebirth of the sun.
What were these greens protecting against? Evil spirits, of course! Here in the US we tend to associate these kinds of spirits with Halloween. In Europe, however, these spirits started roaming at about Samhain. Yuletide was the crescendo. In some Scandinavian countries the worst time to be home alone was around the Solstice and Christmas Eve. Trolls, goblins, boggarts, and all manner of evil spirits were out at this time. The Germanic and Scandinavian countries have the scariest of these spirits: Krampus, The Yule Lads (there's 13 of them!), The Yule Cat (she eats children), Frau Perchta. Wales has the Mari Lwyd, a horse skull on a pole that goes from house to house and challenges the dwellers to a verbal contest. If the householders loose then the Mari Lwyd and her crew gets food and drink. Greenery helped protect dwellings and barns against intrusion...as well as keeping your house really clean, having good winter clothing and having the flax all spun. Check out the Bone and Sickle podcast for more on these types of characters.
I decorate liberally with greens: mantle and windows inside with wreaths and green filled urns outside. I buy some of the greens and wild harvest others from my yard and gardens: cedar, white pine, holly and winterberry. Winterberry is a native holly species, Ilex verticillata, that keeps red berries all winter that not only are gorgeous in the snow but also feed our native birds. Look for this in wet, shady areas. Winterberry, like holly, is sold in garden centers. What could be better than growing all your own Yuletide greens?!
Making Your Own Swag
If you'd like to make your own swag, check out my video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6k6nZ5Xt9U .
You'll need greenery of your choice, red ribbon, floral wire, plant nippers and wire cutters. Plant nippers may do in a pinch, though, if you don't have wire cutters. I make these and hang them inside from the latches on my windows. Swags can be made any size. You can also wrap any leftover cedar, juniper, spruce and pine into wands to fumigate dispel negative energy; cut the needles small to make a loose incense or grind and make incense cones. For the wands, use cotton string or embroidery floss.
Blog Post on the Ancestors.
I've been working with my own Ancestors for years as well as connecting them with clients and teaching classes about working with the Ancestors. This post talks mainly about our European Ancestors and what DNA evidence tells us about how they looked. Deeply thinking about and acknowledging these Ancestors with acceptance and love will help heal so many of the wounds all of us have inside that desperately need to be addressed right now.
I may be offering Blessings of the Deer Mother again this year. The Deer Mother is an ancient spirit I work with who has offered to lead us on new paths. Several years ago we offered clearings and blessings. Due to the pandemic we are considering offering them as a live Zoom group healing session. I'll be sending out separate information on that.
Shamanic Skills Apprenticeship
My current class is full and closed! I have a wonderful group of students and I'm so excited to be teaching this class. Enrollment for the next offering of this class will be around the Spring Equinox.
My reworking of ReWeaving is a bit behind. Right now I'm looking at an Imbolc start date (February). Let me know if you're interested in that.
In December I am seeing clients via distance several days a week until December 15th then I am taking a break until the New Year. If you are interested in a session, contact me by replying to this email with availability and a brief description of what's going on and I'll see if we can work together and when I can get you on my schedule.
With warmest wishes of the season to you,
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
~Old Celtic Blessing