These will be non-Christmas but very sunny wishes . I do not celebrate Jesus’ birthday but this does not mean I do not enjoy mid-winter time. In the end it used to be particularly happy time for the ancient tribes. The Romans had been enjoying the festival of Saturnalia first and later the feast of Sol Invictus, ‘The Unconquered Sun’, which was established by Emperor Aurelian on the basis of the Persian solar cult of Mithra. It was such a popular holiday that early Christians did not even try to fight it. Instead they adopted the if you can’t beat your enemy, join them tactics and started to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It has to be clearly stated that there is no historical evidence nor archaeological data confirming Dec, 25th as his date of birth. On the contrary, some researchers claim that Jesus was actually born in spring 6-7 before Christ (!).
By the way, it was an ‘arch-Christian’ Emperor Constantine who established the last day of the week to be The Day of the Sun. No need to mention that winter solstice was celebrated by many different tribes all over the world, most popular contemporary traditions originate from Yule, the holiday of Germanic tribes. If you dig deeper, it turns out that the whole December was the festival time in many cultures worldwide (more about it here). Personally I was amazed to read about the time of Yalda in Iran where in the evening families gather and eat pomegranate and water melon and ajil (nuts) and they read poems of Hafez. Can’t we really exchange Christmas for Yalda, please?!
This is why I do not feel compassion for Catholic priests crying over growing consumerism and losing the mysticism of this holiday. I do not like being stupified nor brainwashed. Winter solstice is mysticsm itself. It is the time when the Light overpowers the Darkness; the Sun returns after the shortest day of the year, daytime is becoming longer and spring is getting closer and closer. The more I study goddesses cards, myths and ancient beliefs the better I understand an universal rule of recurrence which gives hope that even when we’re stuck in the biggest frost and snow, the time of resurrection and joy is already awaiting us. I could never stand winter, frost, chill, catching colds, trudging in the monotonous snow etc. I have already felt depressed at the end of summer. I could not stop thinking that all the good things are dying together with summertime and nothing positive awaits me any longer.
It was not until two years ago that I started to realise a deeper meaning of seasons change. When I was analysing the card of Demeter for my forum, I began to understand the myth of her parting with Kore Persephone. The ancient people were much more dependant on the rhythm of seasons’ change than we are. They had no electricity so when the sun went down, all they could do was either to go rest or to sit down by the fire and to listen to tales. They had no supermakets so if they did not manage to gather enough crops, they were starving in the early spring. It was natural to respect cycles. Earth is not able to grow crops, vegetables and fruit without breaks, it is necessary to let her rest. Ground is never dead, even covered with snow in the wintertime it still undergoes processes which prepare it for the revival when warm and sunny days come back. Because spring WILL eventually come back. In most ancient cultures the motif of Birth – Death – Rebirth is omnipresent and this tells us about the wisdom of those times. The ancient people had neither microscopes nor computers nor any sophicticated devices which would allow them to do scientific research. However, observing the world around them they realised that there is some kind of power which makes flowers bloom, trees send forth new leaves and cereals to be ready to harvest at a particular time. And consequently at particular time this power suddenly dissapears. So where is it? If it is not on the ground then it must be underground. It is strictly logical, isn’t it? This is why one had to go underneath and bring it back!
The ancient people have created many beautiful legends to explain process either by maternal or lover’s feelings. This is why Isis, Demeter, Kore Persephone, Inanna or Ishtar had to literally or figuratively descend into the darkness of the Underworld to be reborn and bring Life back to the ground. Indeed, the Underworld is natural for us because we belong to it just by the fact we were born. Each of us has the right and often even necessity do enter it at some moments of our lives. You cannot stay happy, satisfied, smiling and energetic all the time. Each of us has the right to feel fear, sadness, uncertainty and weakness, it is consistent with our inner cycle and the law of the Universe. The only thing inconsistent with the law of the Universe is staying in the Underworld for too long. We live on the surface of the Earth, not underneath it. It took me a lot of time to realise it but eventually I understood that I am and I want to be Ishtar, not Ereshkigal.
And that is exactly the mysticsm of the Sun’s Return, the mysticsm which had existed long before Jesus was born no matter in which year it happened. That is exactly hope, joy and inspiration I would like to share with you. All the best to you, I hope you will enjoy many more Returns of the Light in your lives!