As we enter December, and approach the winter solstice, so begins our end of year rituals. Ritual celebrations convoluted over time, only to fit in with the society today. The traditions of our popular culture (Christmas, New Years, etc.) actually find their roots in early Pagan ceremonies that guide us to the closing of a chapter, to be reborn in a new year. The cultural Zeitgeist tells a story that during Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, however we are actually following astrological patterns, celebrating the balance with seasonal cycles and the precession of the equinox. This is the finite choreography of the stars, and the winter solstice is special occurrence that allows dreams to manifest in the year ahead.
These traditions were passed down, and found their way into the rituals of civilized societies like Denmark and Great Britain. With that, they lost an integral piece of the puzzle that was the soul of these rituals.
Mankind tends to seek a better definition, even if the root of the story is lost beneath the soil. So, eventually we find an opportunity to anthropomorphize the spirit of the shaman, which is where St. Nicholas comes into play. Jolly old St. Nick is the patron saint of the weary traveler, and the poor. This is one of the most important parts of the story, because with St. Nick, there is the importance of “making a list”, which is actually a Pagan ritual that will allow the manifestation of intention. This tradition was brought to Great Britain by the druids. Children are powerful, and using their energy to perpetuate something negative like capitalist gains, only further degrades our current society. The secret is not to make a list of material things that we desire – which is absolutely perpetuated by consumerism – but make a list of needs met with good intention. Whether for the self, of the better of humanity or the environment, it is important to understand what it is you truly need.
St. Nicholas also embodied the ethos of “giving to others in need”. This is the most significant part of the interpretation of this mythology. As the Shaman gave the psychedelic experience to those stuck in their homes during Siberian winters…this awoke their spirit, and gave them an understanding that could never be explained. It’s a sacred experience, and it was ritualized. St. Nicholas on the other hand, took what he could, and gave it to the poor. That is the tradition we need to perpetuate. It’s not about family gifting. It’s truly about spreading joy, and bringing joy.
While this time of year can be daunting due to the cold, it is a time for reflection, hibernation, empathy and gratitude. The darkness of winter, only brings forth the light of the spring…your intentions during the dark of winter should lay in positive actions, that will bring forth a positive future. In keeping to the concept of Karma – you reap what you sow. It’s a time of year, where we plant the seed of our intentions, into the soil of the universe. Life is beautiful, and it’s the season to reflect and embrace it. Give what you can, and the universe will respond positively in the year that follows.