And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
- John Barleycorn Must Die - Traffic
The Winter Solstice hath come and gone, and it marks the end of an old cycle, the beginning of a new.
It is no small wonder, that our ancestors regarded light and darkness in the manner that they did. Nor that they divided the year into quarters (hence, the creation of a cross as a holy icon). It is in the nature of the child to personify, to put a human face to a lack of understanding.
Cycle of life to death, death to life. To grow, and to wither away, back to the womb of the world one sprang from.
An intricate dance of light and darkness, one overcomes the other, new life replaces the old.
The pagans have an interesting tale to tell: “The Holly King and the Oak King are part of Celtic mythology, and they represent two sides to the Greenman, or Horned God.
They battle twice a year, once at Yule and once at Midsummer (Litha) to see who would rule over the next half of the year. At Yule, the Oak King wins and at Litha, the Holly King is victorious. In other words, the Oak King rules over the lighter half of the year, and the Holly King over the darker half. The change from one to the other is a common theme for rituals at Yule, and also at Midsummer. “
It is odd, is it not, that the outcome was always simple to see?
“Another version of the Holly King and Oak King symbolism is that they do not directly switch places twice a year, but rather both live simultaneously. The Oak King is born at Yule, and his strength grows through the spring, peaks at Beltane and then he weakens and dies at Samhain.”
And the dance goes on.
Happy New Year, to one and all.
Till the next post, then.