Some Yule Poems and Thoughts

The Winter Solstice—also called Yule—falls on the longest night of the year. The great seasonal Wheel has reached a turning point, and now rotates toward the light.

 

Ancient peoples lived their lives according to the changing seasons. In the spring, they planted crops, harvesting them through the summer and fall. As fall progressed, they stored food, gathered fuel for their fires, and put the fields “to bed.” When winter came, the people took to their caves, huts, or other dwellings, where they passed the cold dark months living off of their stored bounty, hunting for scarce meat, and hoping that they would have enough food and firewood to last until spring. With the passing of the Winter Solstice—on the longest night of the year—the days begin to lengthen and the temperatures to slowly rise. It’s not surprising that ancient peoples rejoiced at Yule, for they knew that warmth, light, and abundant food would soon come again.

 

These very old poems—one consisting of only a single line—offer a dark take on the fear and depth of those darkest night, followed by a ray of hope with the Solstice sunrise.

 

 

In the black season of deep winter; a storm of waves

Crashes along the edge of the world.

Sad are the birds of the meadow,

Save for the ravens that feed on crimson blood.

At the clamor of harsh winter

Rough, black, dark, smoky

Dogs vicious in cracking bones;

The iron pot is put on the fire

At the end of the dark black day.

(Irish, attributed to Amergin, 11th century)

 

 

“I am a beam of the sun.”

(Irish, attributed to Amergin, 11th century)

 

 

Charles Dickens has been “accused” of being a dark writer, and Moonwriter says, “One of my holiday traditions is the reading of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” I like to read it just before the Solstice, when the world is at its darkest, and preferably curled up in my reading chair in front of a crackling fire with a mug of something warm in hand.”

 

Here’s a link to a nice on-line version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

 

http://www.stormfax.com/dickens.htm>http://www.stormfax.com/dickens.htm

 

 

And here’s Dickens’ take on mistletoe:

 

“From the centre of the ceiling of this kitchen, old Wardle had just suspended with

his own hands a huge branch of mistletoe, and this same branch of mistletoe

instantaneously gave rise to a scene of general and most delightful struggling and

confusion; in the midst of which, Mr. Pickwick, with a gallantry that would have done

honour to a descendant of Lady Tollimglower herself, took the old lady by the hand,

led her beneath the mystic branch, and saluted her in all courtesy and decorum.”

–The Pickwick Papers

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