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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Spiritualism in Christmas?

As a person that practices Philenaism, I know its hard for many people during this time of year. Looking at twitter and facebook statuses can be somewhat frustrating to me at times, because people have their own versions of HIStory that they must account for. But as I look outside and absorb the energies of the sun, its time for another moment of reflection. Here are the highlights:

No one knows what day Jesus Christ was born on. From the biblical description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. One thing they agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?

The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.

In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.

Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means “wheel,” the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods.

The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.

Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ.”

The controversy continues even today in some fundamentalist sects. Kelly Wittmann - © 2002 Pagewise

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year, experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer, spring or autumn, repeatedly, year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is "a specifier of major depression".

Seasonal mood variations are believed to be related to light. An argument for this view is the effectiveness of bright-light therapy.

In many species, activity is diminished during the winter months in response to the reduction in available food and the difficulties of surviving in cold weather. Hibernation is an extreme example, but even species that do not hibernate often exhibit changes in behavior during the winter. It has been argued that SAD is an evolved adaptation in humans that is a variant or remnant of a hibernation response in some remote ancestor. Presumably, food was scarce during most of human prehistory, and a tendency toward low mood during the winter months would have been adaptive by reducing the need for calorie intake. The preponderance of women with SAD suggests that the response may also somehow regulate reproduction.

Light therapy can also consist of exposure to sunlight, either by spending more time outside or using a computer-controlled heliostat to reflect sunlight into the windows of a home or office.

The sheer amount of sun imagery carved all over the Celtic world and the role of the sun in so much of the mythos tend to lend a lot of credence to the Winter Solstice and rebirth of sun if there was any celebration

These un-spoken things of power are necessary to balance life and should be accepted, venerated and used appropriately.Death is an essential aspect to life - since one comes from the other as the wheel turns. It is also important to remind ourselves of life as with the passage into winter, it would be too easy to slip into the winter blues. And this is the flipside of the festivities. Dress-up and party.

Take a close look at the past year and determine how you progressed spiritually. Did your belief system support and challenge you? Did it encourage you to explore? To study? To listen to others? To forge your own path? Do you feel that you are comfortable within your moral and ethical skin? If you find the answer to any of these questions is "no", then there is something lacking in how you are living your spiritual life, and you need to determine what that is and resolve it.

It's fundamental to who we are and how we behave. Humans are hard-wired for it.

It brings pleasure to those engaging happily in it, and grief to those who don't.


We first become aware of it as toddlers, and spend the rest of our lives either trying to perfect it, wondering why we can't, or both. And until individuals understand its evolutionary underpinnings, we'll never learn how to truly get along with each other. It's called ethnocentricity: the tendency to measure other groups according to the values and standards of our own, especially with the belief that one's own group is superior to others.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The trick is on you

So, niece and nephew wanna play mean jokes on dad for April Fools.

He told me his was pissed.

When I arrived, they asked where my son was.

Mom said he was in the car sleep. (joking)

An hour later after eating, they ask if they could get my son out the car.

I didn�t think they would believe my mom.

So I said, �No! I�m mad at him.� He needs to suffer.�

They were scared and worried.

I let them sweat it out for another hour.