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by Barney Battles
Pagan winter traditions
As many people know, the Christmas tree tradition has pagan roots. They brought trees into their dwelling places and decorated them beautifully so they sparkled and shined, and brought magic to the snowy woodland. To them, the decorated tree with the star or the fairy on top represented the world tree, with its roots deep within the earth and its branches spanning the heavens.
The star on top represents the eternal energy of hope and transformation, while the fairy or angel is an old tradition, in which the goddess of the world resides at the top of the tree overlooking and caring for all of her creation.
The Yule Log in another tradition which represents the World Tree. In ancient times it would be brought into the great hall with a beautiful girl enthroned upon it. Everyone present raised a glass to her and to her throne, the log of the World Tree. We can still toast the log and the world goddess, without having an actual wooden log, for instance when we partake of a chocolate yule log cake which echoes this same ancient tradition.
Traditionally, the main Goddess honored at winter solstice is Holda, She is an ancient Germanic Goddess, who is very kind and caring. She is often represented as a beautiful young woman in white and silver, sometimes with a blue veil.
She is associated with the sky, and also water, and is believed to create the winter snow. She is strongly linked with the rune Hagal, which is in the shape of a snowflake. This is a very powerful rune, and if you meditate upon it whilst focusing on your wishes and desires, it helps them to manifest more quickly.
Holda helps bring about positive change in our lives by putting focus on what we need to do next. She inspires us to complete unfinished business in our lives, and gives us energy to take new steps.
Within the shape of the rune and the snowflake you can also find the star. This connects us to another of our favorite winter goddesses, the Star Fairy Goddess - the same Goddess represented on the top of the festive Christmas tree. She can grant our wishes, and has a gentle energy which blesses and nurtures us. Her beauty and elegance shows us the way to work for the best in every situation. The Star Fairy Goddess works as an active principle in bringing joy and blessings into our lives, granting us our wishes, and bringing happiness and true friends into our lives.
Goddess Holda ritual
- Get some beautiful candles, silver, white or pale silvery blue
- Light these on the Solstice and send your thoughts out to the beautiful Goddess Holda
- Ask her to help and inspire you in your wishes and desires for the year ahead
- Then meditate for a while and see what thoughts and images come to you
- Let the candles burn all the way down, and ask Holda to continue to help you through the year ahead
- Thank her for her help and blessings in your life as you complete your ritual
- Get some sparklers
- Light your sparkler and think about your wish, if you can, speak your wish out loud
- If you are doing this with other people, all bring your sparklers together into a star shape
- Send your thoughts out to the Goddess and ask for what you would like and she will bless you in the year ahead
- End your ritual with the words â€˜so mote it beâ€™
- Share your cakes and a chalice of mulled wine with the group and offer some to the Goddess
- As you finish your ritual remember to thank her for her gifts and her blessings
With materialism running rampant, it is important to stay in touch with nature as the seasons change. Outdoor walks and simple rituals in honor of nature keep us humble and grounded, and prevent us from being hypnotized by material things.
There are many traditions that can warm our hearts and souls in the time of deepest winter, such as sharing time loved ones, helping those in need, and being aware of the importance of the hearth within the home. Nurturing yourself is perhaps most important of all. Donâ€™t be afraid to dream, to nurture the spark of inspiration and hope within you.
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