“The birth of the Persian hero and sun-god Mithra was celebrated on December 25th. The myth tells that he sprang up full-grown from a rock, armed with a knife and carrying a torch. Shepherds watched his miraculous appearance and hurried to greet him with their first fruits and their flocks and their harvests. His cult spread throughout Roman lands during the 2nd century. In 274, the Emperor Aurelian declared December 25th the Birthday of Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable Sun) in Rome.”
– Christmas Even and Day
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I hope this finds you with friends and family, warm and happy on this winter’s night. It has been a fun season for us, as we stumble now through to Hogmanay. I have a higher percentage of people smiling on the street, and in stores. I don’t think I have seen so much happiness in the general public for a long time. This gives me hope for the coming year, and for the turning of the wheel. Remember, smiles are infectious, and simple laughter can bring empires down.

I have put a small offering up, with poetry, a bit of history and music. Enjoy it as you can!

Bright Blessings on this Yule!

Gwyllm
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On The Menu:
The Winter Solstice Boar
Annie Lennox – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Poetry For The Heart Of Winter
Jethro Tull The Whistler
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The Winter Solstice Boar
Pictures of boars feature on many of the ancient Pictish stone carvings and it is therefore not surprising that it was important in the arts and myths of the Picts and the celtic peoples. The boar was known for its cunning and ferocious nature. A famous legendary boar was Orc Triath, which the goddess Brigit owned. In the Arthurian tales of the Mabinogion the boar Twrch Trwyth was a terrible foe to Arthur. The White Boar of Marvan sent inspiration to its master to write music and poetry.

It used to be customary for the ancient Druids to kill a boar at the winter solstice and offered its head in sacrifice to Freya, the goddess of peace and plenty, who was supposed to ride upon a boar with golden bristles. Hence it was not unusual even in Christian times
to gild the head. The very lemon placed in the boar’s mouth was a Norse
symbol of plenty. An orange or an apple was sometimes substituted. The common practice in England of eating sucking pig at Christmas has the
same origin.

Even in medieval Christian England it was customary to commence all great Christmas
feasts by the solemn ceremony of bringing in the boar’s head as the initial dish. The master-cook, preceded by trumpeters and other musicians, and followed by huntsmen with boar-spears and drawn falchionsand pages carrying mustard, bore the smoking head aloft on a silverplatter, which he deposited at the head of the table. The head was garnished and garlanded with rosemary and laurel and a lemon was placed between its grinning chops.

Queen Victoria has retained the old custom. Her Christmas dinner at Osborne House or Windsor has for over fifty years consisted of a baron of beef and woodcock pie, -historic dishes, – while the bringing in of the boar’s head is performed with all the ancient ceremony.
Bringing in the Boar’s Head

The bore’s head in hande bring I,
With garlandes gay and rosemary,
I pray you all synge merely,
Qui estis in convivio.

The bore’s head I understande,
Is the chefe servyce in this lande
Loke wherer it be fande
Servite cum cantico.

Be gladde, lords, both more and lasse,
For this hath ordayned our stewarde
To cheer you all this Christmasse,
The bore’s head with mustarde.

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“Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.”
– Yule Lore
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Annie Lennox – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

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Poetry For The Heart Of Winter

“The snow is lying very deep.
My house is sheltered from the blast.
I hear each muffled step outside,
I hear each voice go past.
But I’ll not venture in the drift
Out of this bright security,
Till enough footsteps come and go
To make a path for me.”
– Agnes Lee

“The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land,
A voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths,
Toward harbors safe, concealed from raider bands,
Of icy galleons coursing wintry dearth.
Squirrels don thick coats against Wind’s numbing dare,
Mount last determined searches ‘long the ground.
Brown grass conceals the season’s paltry fare,
As hopeful birds scratch for what may be found.
Through frosted windows glow the hearth’s warm light,
As fading day casts shadows ‘cross the lawn,
And grey meets grey as winter gathers might,
Undaunted as the chimney starts to yawn.
Farewell brave day as twilight draweth nigh.
Perchance on morrow sun will gather high.”
– Dan Young, The End of a Winter Day

“How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.”
– William Shakespeare, How Like a Winter Hath my Absence Been (Sonnet 97)

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
where the wild creatures ranged
while the moon rose and shone.

why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.”
– May Sarton, December Moon

“Love awoke one winter’s night
And wander’d through the snowbound land,
And calling to beasts and birds
Bid them his message understand.

And from the forest all wild things
That crept or flew obeyed love’s call,
And learned from him the golden words
Of brotherhood for one and all.”
– Author Unknown
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Jethro Tull The Whistler