Sunday, December 27, 2015

One More Thing: Of Gods and Men - The 12th Night of Yule

If I had legs and feet I could have run to my love, my life.  If I had arms and hands I could have written a sonnet for my love and defended her with all my might.  So said the man who had no eyes, unaware that he had those things as he took his last breathe.  

Men are finite in nature and cannot know the Infinite; the finite does not stretch that far.  Spending a lifetime to know the Gods, the Infinite, is a fool's errand.  And claiming "to know" anything of that great stretch, UPG or otherwise, can border on possible madness.  Maybe the secret then is silence.  But not all men can do so.  

Books have been written and erroneously translated, in most cases, to conform to the translator's point of view.  Many more were written and continue to be written by using a very personal lens combined with UPG.  The end goal was and still is creative statehood and a considerable popular following with the followers choosing to blindly follow than striking out on their own.  There is less work involved when someone has made up your mind for you (not to mention some kind of damnation for non-belief).  Even the piercing of Jung's Collective Unconscious will not give you a true glimpse of the Infinite.  But it may give you a UPG that you will not fully understand (with the emphasis on Personal, it's just yours Pilgrim).  Even if you correctly understand your UPG experience, know that it cannot have meaning for others (do you believe that you are or can be the mouthpiece of the Gods? The interpreter of "their will"? )  It stands to reason then, that forcing it on others is not just wrong but can be brutally sadistic.  However, it's not all bad news.  

A UPG is personal to the individual.  Period.  If possible, it should be used by the individual for personal, positive development.  So, grow yourself.  Make a positive impact on your family, clan, tribe, and community.  Help those in need.  Die well, with your good name a shining star in the darkness of night.  Do not concern yourself with the Gods; concern yourself with yourself.  Do not pass from this life, like the man in the first paragraph, unaware of your own possibilities.  And you never have to tell a soul about your UPG.  

                              May you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

                                              Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yule - The Rest of It

Modraniht.  Winter Solstice.  Ancestors.  So what of the other days?  Certainly you should give more than a passing word to the Landvaettir, especially if you garden, farm, or raise livestock.  And of course a blot/faining dedicated to the Gods always is a great thing to do during Yule.  But what of yourself?  

Time must be taken for personal introspection. Questions like, what did I do to advance my good name?  And, what did I do to put myself in an infamous position?  Did my plans for the  year bear fruit or did they fall way short?  Was I a good parent?  Was I a good spouse?  What can I do to increase my personal wealth and the wealth and welfare of my family, clan, and tribe? You must be brutally honest with yourself.  Yule is not just about eating, drinking, and having a good time.  It is also about growth.  Your growth.  Keep asking the tough questions - make your plan work.


Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Yule's Third Day - Ancestors

All those who have passed on before us are our Ancestors.  Some were great to good people, while others were well less than that; it is the nature of  all things.  Regardless of where your Ancestors fall  on the good to naughty scale, they are yours as are mine.  We carry them with us in our genes and  our DNA; this is an inescapable fact.  Life in all facets should be celebrated and Yule gives us this splendid opportunity.  

Do not be satisfied with just lifting a horn in praise to your Ancestors.  Set a full dinner setting to entice them to join you at table; let them feel your welcome.  For those whom you know, tell their stories.  It is important that the children hear and observe these things while all the while it is up to you to point out the importance of word and deed.  This time should serve as a clarion call to you; you want to leave this life with a good name.  Remember, one day you too will be an Ancestor for those who come after you ... people who forget their Ancestors also lose sight of the future.  Make sure that your story is filled with laughter and light.  

                                               Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger   

Monday, December 21, 2015

Yule's Second Day - Winter Solstice (2015)

Depending on where you are, Winter Solstice can be cold as hell.  For me and others who live on the Texas Gulf Coast, it's warm, a little to warm even for this time of year.  But, it is Yule and solstice is now.  

As a part of Yuletide, our Ancestors heartily embraced the Winter Solstice; Sunna's return, and her blessings of warmth, longer days, and the rebirth of field and forest.  Even in our modern era it is hard to deny the pleasure of the warmth of the sun and the greening of the fields - barren landscapes magically changing to life giving sustenance.  At Winter Solstice, the year turns from death to life, and darkness to light.  

At this Winter Solstice and those that follow, light a candle and lift a glass to Sunna and thank her for coming back to us with her love and life.   

                                                  Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger

Sunday, December 20, 2015

For Our Mothers - Modraniht

On the eve before Winter Solstice, we celebrate our Mothers, the female aspect of our family, clan, and tribe.  These are not are birth mothers or even our grandmothers; they are our ancestral Mothers, those spirits that have guided and nurtured our family lines for millennia.  

On the continent and in England they are known as the Matrons and in Scandinavia, the Desir.   These female deities were considered "local," or closer to the common man in his heart and experience than the Aesir and Vanir.  And throughout northern Europe, there are over 1,000 votive stones attesting to this devotion (over half of these stones host Germanic names for the matron goddesses, many others are Celtic, while others appear to be Celto-Germanic).  

 Modraniht is sacred to the Matrons, the Desir, Frau Holle, Frau Perchta, Freya, and Frigga.  These wonderful female goddesses were responsible for the health and welfare of their human charges as well as the fertility of family, field, and livestock.  Let them be so again; just ask.  After all, it stands to reason that we should be good to our Mothers.  

                                                 Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger   

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Yuletide Tune

Music and song are known to lift the spirit of all men.  I took the liberty to alter a popular X-mas song so it fits appropriately into Yule (don't be so smug - y'all know about the reverse side of this coin).  The song has twelve verses.  Only the last verse is written below.  That will give you the gist.  

On the twelfth day of Yuletide 
My real love gave to me-
Twelve acres yielding
Eleven hefty cows
Ten horses leaping
Nine runes a writing
Eight swords a swinging
Seven shields a shielding
Six pigs for feasting
Five arm rings
Four hunting hounds
Three game hens
Two wily hares
And a pheasant in a fir tree.

You know the tune.  Enjoy the verse.  Prost/Wassail/Skal !!!  Merry Yule to you and yours !

                                                       copyright @2015 Terry Unger

Monday, December 14, 2015

Things To Think About During Yule

Yule is the best time of year, but it is not all about eating and drinking.  For many of us, Yule is the Holiest time of the year.  That holiness demands reflection, Blot/Faining and Sumbel.  Here are some thoughts:  

1) Your Ancestors, the Desir/Matronae, the Landvaettir, and your immediate family.  

2) The Gods, Sunna's return (Winter Solstice), and Balder.  

3) Your friends, clan, and tribe.  

4) Your home, hearth, hospitality, and generosity.  

5) A review of the past year and planning the next.  

This Yuletide take time out from your revelries to delve into the spiritual side of Yule.  "Yule" be glad that you did.   

                                                      Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Keeping a Good Yule

It never fails.  Around the time of the American Thanksgiving the battle between Christian, Asatru, Heathen, and Pagan keyboard warriors lights up cyber space over the credibility/validity of Christmas versus Yule.  In my opinion, it is a waste of time for Heathens and Pagans to argue this point with Christians.  Take heart my fellow Heathens and Pagans:  our Yule Tree is not just older than their Christmas Tree but so much Bigger.  It is a historical fact that Yule was celebrated long before the supposed birth of Christ and that Christianity grafted Yule onto their Christmas for the sake of gaining, maintaining, and sustaining converts (this is a historical point, therefore not up for debate.  If in doubt, check out Professor Google and/or any university library).  For those wishing to celebrate Yule, your focus should be on this Holy Tide.

Keep this in mind:  we live in the 21st century, our Ancestors, obviously, did not.  What was common for them cannot be the same for us.  They struggled to survive the bitter cold, while we struggle to survive the holiday sales crowds.  This point can be elaborated ad nauseam, but this example, for thinking folks, should suffice.  Yule must be celebrated and enjoyed to the best of our/your abilities in our modern times.  And Yule is a great time for family, friends, clan, and tribe to create new traditions.  

Recently I posted, A Piece of Wood (or making Yuletide memories) on 11/30/2015.  This idea easily can be expanded to a larger group.  And, because of the larger group, it can be done over different Yule days at different locations; everyone participating gets a piece of wood from the various Yule Logs.  Then these saved pieces are given up to start the Yule Logs for the next year.

Trimming the Yule Tree can be a great group event; folks can travel to and from the various homes to do this deed.  Needless to say, hospitality comes to the forefront to make sure that there is plenty of Yuletide "cheer" to go around!  Also along these lines is group baking, and of course the sharing!

Many folks of northern European ancestry are involved with making mead, wine, beer, and ale.  During Yule, it could be fun to hold a "contest" featuring these brews.  But the makers beware!  He/she is held fast to gift all present with their winning brews!

Let's not forget the children.  Making various Yuletide crafts together can create lasting friendships. The kids can exchange their crafts among themselves.  Imagine the positive emotions this can generate when these kids are adults.  Imagine the bonds that can be built.  Imagine Yuletides woven together over the ages.  It's time to begin.  It's time to begin keeping a good Yule.

                                                Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oh Tannenbaum

Many folks have been led to think that a Tannenbaum means "Christmas Tree."  It does not.  A Tannenbaum is a fir tree, an evergreen.  Period.  In 1824, musician Ernest Anshutz wrote the song, Oh Tannenbaum, based on Joachim Zarnack's tragic love story.  Zarnack's work was based on something even earlier from Germanic folklore.  In the song/story, a fir tree's symbolic traits of consistency, steadfastness, and fidelity are compared to a cheating spouse/lover.  From its origins, it had nothing to do with Christmas, but it was picked up and used as a Christmas song after Anshutz passed on.  It appears that Christianity wanted the fir tree to be a symbol that pointed the way to heaven and Christ, in addition to the heathen virtues of consistency, steadfastness, and fidelity.  Here Pilgrim, is something else for you to chew on.  

The German holiday greeting, Frohliche Weihnachten und ein Gluckliches Neues Jahr generally is translated as, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  However, that is not entirely correct; the error, I think, lies in the first two words.  Frohliche does translate like "merry or happy."  But Weihnachten does not directly translate as "Christmas," but rather Holy Nights, the latter referring to the  ancient twelve days of Yule.  

This Yule, as you deck your halls, hang the holly, and wipe clean your wassailing bowl, give thought to the consistency, steadfastness, and fidelity of the humble fir tree.

                                             Copyright @2015/2016 Terry Unger     


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