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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wassail!

Peace. Photo by Kyla
The Winter Solstice (in our Northern Hemisphere) is the beginning of Wassail season. It isn't snowing here; it's unseasonably warm, with highs today and tomorrow in the low seventies Fahrenheit.

But it's snowing lots of other places where I have good friends. Wassail! to you!

Of all the holidays, this turn of the year is my favorite. Yule, Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah (which coincided with our US Thanksgiving this year), all Celebrations of Light at this time are joyous to me on a fundamental level. Even this year, when I have a stack of reasons to be a grinch and bah humbugging around, I find myself just twinkling away at the slightest excuse.

Wassail is the element of these seasonal markers I like the best. Not because of drinking alcohol, but because of its roots in a ceremony of profound gratitude to the land that sustains us.



In earlier times, peasants would take some of the cider made from their apples, and pour out a ritual libation to the trees, in thanks, and as a way of stimulating another season of fruit. This ritual says "We will take care of you; thank you for taking care of us." When I learned about this it made strong intuitive sense to me and I started wassailing everything. Which has been lots of fun over the years.

I would go buy a bottle of Winter Ale somewhere, and go out to my garden, whatever garden I happened to have at the time, and drink sips and pour out little bits here and there, and sing to the plants and the dead sticks still in the pots. I used a traditional Wassail carol that I changed up a bit to reflect my purposes.

There is something sacred about sharing out the stores of the Sun at this time. Every creature has a share of the Sun's wealth in some way, as long as we are alive. The magical sharing of that with family, neighbors, friends, the land, the other creatures in our circles, is a weaving that holds lifeforce and love in trust for future growth, and strengthens us for the cold dark months ahead.

We moderns like to say this is the longest night and shortest day, and it is, and we like to think that days will start getting longer right away, which they don't really, or rather, it is truly unnoticeable that they do for quite a long time. The real dark happens in February, to my mind, when we are all utterly sick of the long nights and the inclement cold and dark. That time before the slightest sign of Spring.

Having shared our Light with each other helps us get through.

This year I am not wassailing a garden. This morning I woke with a case of laryngitis so I can't even wassail the dogs and the cat properly. I croak whenever I give voice.

But in spirit I sing wassail to you, my readers and friends, and to the Earth which we are all riding through space together. May we find light in the dark times and happiness where we least expect it.

Health and well-being to all.

4 comments:

  1. I love this blog. The seasons mean a lot to me too. They mark the great cycle of life. Waes Hael. Be you healthy, too. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hey, Gail, thank you so much, that means a lot. I enjoy your visits here. And I wish you a blessed Season of Light!

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  2. Hi Kyla,
    Thank you for sharing this way of celebrating the season - I like it very much, and I love Winter Ale, so will find time to do some of my
    own wassailing! love to you,
    Karen

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    Replies
    1. Hi Karen, you're so welcome. Sing to the land for me, will you? I still have only a croak for a voice over here, LOL!

      Hugs and Happy Christmas!

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