Fisher Medicine Guide?

After the previous post appeared, I was asked; When I do see a Fisher – or in this case Mathilda, in a shamanic sense, what does that mean to me?

What Medicine wisdom does Mathilda – or any other Fisher carry – or point towards?

In front of workshop window (2)

For me personally a Fisher has the connotation of “adversity” living , dealing and overcoming adversity – and reaping the rewards of that.

How come?

It has its roots in how my neighbours see and HATE Fishers, How I fear MR Fisher and his appetite for Raccoon babies, how I remember the tears when “Midnight” my friend Barb’s cat got taken by a Fisher……

So when we moved here learned to despise Fishers…..

But then, about 10 years ago I had a friend come to see me – as a client – with the thread of a a rather nasty and debilitating condition hanging over her head. She is a gifted healer herself and this “thing” was threatening her independence and her livelihood. So we got to work on what was causing it and send it packing! As Medicine Gifts for that healing help she gave me a Fisher foot and a Bear Claw. During the “workings” I called on the Spirit of that Fisher to please forgive the trespass on his life and also asked, iffff he was willing to help getting rid of that problem. He was, and over all these years did a good job.

Since then that Fisher foot is on my Client Altar to help, keep my friend safe.

But soon / about a week after this shamanic session the first Fisher showed herself to me- in Animal form. I think, somewhere on this blog there is a post about it…. I have to look….

Anyway, that one we named Bissiger Beisse = “BB” = the Sharp-toothed Biting One”.

The Fisher Queen on wellfare

Soon after, even her mate appeared at the door. He is about twice as big as “BB” and had NO Fear of us at all and after only a day or 2 he took food from my hand, carefully keeping his sharp teeth in check.

Often he sat at the sliding door, waiting for me, to give him a treat.

The Fisher King

Peter thought this was soooo extraordinary, that he made for me an FFO = A “Fisher Feeding Order, complete with a staff, a Fisher head-shot and a bunch of chocolate Easter eggs, for which Mr Fisher developed a craving……

Order of the Fisher feeders sm

When the snow melted, both Fishers disappeared back into the forest- and our Raccoons all re-emerged from their hibernation trees.

So we now have a positive relationship with the wild Fishers of our surrounding forest and the Ee’ren of the Fishers = the Manitou of them sometimes helps me on trance journeys, pointing out adversities a client faces but is not conscious about.

Is he one of my Miahanits?

No, He is one of my friend’s Miahanits for sure, although I am not sure if she, as an Anishinaabe lady would see it that way……

She is a reader here and I wonder, ifff she will speak to the matter……♥!

As I said, she is a gifted healer and I would love to beat the “word of mouth drum” for her.

We neeeeeeed many more like her.

making pretty for another egg (2)

Bird Food

Every 2 weeks the large wast containers at the crossroads down by Kawpakwakog river are getting emptied. During the winter months all the locals bring their garbage there. The Ravens know that. They are lurking around, high on top of the surrounding trees, hoping for a spilled morsel. So when I went there last Sunday to bring our recycles and other stuff, I was not surprised to see them. When they see me, they caw a ruckus and come down to the lowest branches. They know me well and know, that ifff there by chance is a morsel in easy reach, I will feed them.

 

They were VERY agitated , so I in turn knew, that there was something, that they could smell and they WANTED IT!

Oh, right! Yet again we had lost the “hydro” = electricity a few days ago, due to a snow storm. This is a sad, but rather regular occurrence here. The overland line neeeeeds to get fixed, but the city does not want to spend the money….

When we loose power, all the cottagers usually throw out, whatever was in their fridges and freezers.

No wonder, the Ravens were going “nuts”Ravens

Yes, there was a whole chicken, a leg of lamb, still sealed in cellophane, best before date march 2017 and lots of other goodies. I got a knife, opened some stuff and tossed it into the bush behind the large containers. The Ravens descended onto their feast…..

You are welcome, guys! What you can not drag away, the Foxes will get and that in turn will save the lives of a few Snowshoe Hares and a dozen Mice. Mice however are food for Owls and as you all know…. me and Owls…..

OK, back home – But wait!??

Why is this there plastic bag “shimmering and glimmering” in this all soooo very familiar shaman sight way?

What is inside?

More Raven food?

Oh! yes and NO!

Inside the wall mart bag is a little lost Soul.

A local one.

A little Green Winged Teal.

Shot right through the chest.

Stuffed into the bag – for what?

And now- thrown away.

Still beautiful in its very own sad way.

 

Poor little Duck” I said. “Maybe I should take you home. Thaw you out, take your wings and make something beautiful, then put your body outside for Dilgi, our local Fox….

I did.

A day later a Spirit Release ceremony took place in our kitchen.

Then I took the wings, stretched them out and mounted them on a piece of Styrofoam to dry them.

Teal wings pinned

It will take at least 6 months, until I can get to work on them.

I will report back, when that time comes.

For now,fly well little Green Duck! ♥

09SB6208 Green-winged Teal Hen

Medicine Pieces In January:

Yes, it is January.

Every year, after Peter’s birthday we slooooowly and reluctantly start up working again, on/ for Bearpaw Jewellery, our business.

Actually, with both of us in our 60ties now, we could afford to – just stop.

But how does one “put to sleep” a successful and thriving business? We can not sell it, because its value ins not in the large workshop with all our tools and materials, it is our ideas, our designs and our creativity, that makes up the value.

Just stop everything, stuff it into boxes and bury it in the basement?

We can not really bury our creative drive either.

So for now, we decided, Bearpaw will transform from our “must do” to become more of our hobby and passion.

For me, my shamanic artwork is also a responsibility.

A promise I made. One, that I HAVE to keep, to the best of my ability.

See, there are all the hundreds of furs – all recycled form discarded coats, to be sure, but still….

Many of these Animals were bred and raised in deplorable conditions, just to be killed for their fur. Then, quickly and with the rapidly changing social consciousness, it became “inappropriate” to wear fur and so the beautiful pelts ended either in the trash bin – or the 2nd hand shop – or people brought them to me, traded them in, for a piece of jewellery, knowing, that I would make meaningful artwork from the pelts.

I promised to do that. Not so much to the people bringing the fur, but to the Animal Spirits still alive within…….

For a shaman EVERYTHING is ALIVE! ALWAYS!

Now however, I have about 10 large bins full of fur. Toooo much to ever be able to use it and work it all. So, I will share with the Native crafters living in the area…….

Then, there are all the beautiful Bird Wings, waiting to be re-awakened to a new life. – Just remember this post, where I found several Hawks dead on the road on Manitoulin island on the busiest weekend of the year:

https://shamanicdrumm.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/a-box-with-wings/

Now these are cured and ready to work with.

But before it is their turn, I have to work on the 2 Wings that came before them.

This one is yet another Sharp Shinned Hawk. I mounted it onto a piece of Cactus root.

DSCN8220

Then, remember this post?

https://shamanicdrumm.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/medicine-pieces/

Now the 2nd  Northern Harrier wing is ready to take flight. – get “adopted”.

DSCN8298

 

It is a truly LARGE piece with a Quartz Crystal and a Heron feather at the top and a silver feather on the sturdy handle. The handle is also a functional rattle, being filled with Turquoise pebbles.

This Female Northern Harrier Wing Fan is my Medicine Piece in honour of Full Moon In January.

Night of the Domovoi

Today is January 6. an important date for many Siberian households, as  tonight all the Domovois and Baniks = the house and bath Spirits are celebrating!
domovoi-domovik

Domovoi

They are dancing around the X-mas Tree, or Xmas decorations, that then can be taken down either tomorrow or the next following New Moon, if that is close.
For the Domovois and Baniks
Banik

Banik

one puts out treats = sweets and fat, that they like = puts it under or next to the decorations. They take all of it, especially, if they felt neglected throughout the year – or just the Spiritual essence, iffff they were looked after….
Whatever is left, will be put into the fire or outside for the Birds the next morning.
Also all the Animals, the pets and the ones in stables and fields get a special treat for tonight. Many people say, that on this night they too are celebrating and one can see them dancing.
Blessings!
 Mi-Shell
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also check:

Hired as a Shaman

In lat summer I have been approached by the city of Bracebridge, to join them as an employee of the City to bring some of the workshops I usually provide for the community under the umbrella of the Culture and Recreation Department.

I was not interested.

But, they said, I would get paid by them! 🙂

Not very much, certainly not equivalent to what I normally get paid, if they hire me as an “independent consultant”and workshop provider in this department.

In the end they chewed me down and I agreed – at least for this winter – to see, how it goes…….

BB drumming flier

They first wanted to write Shaman/ “Medicine Woman” onto my contract of employment and on the fliers for the workshops I agreed to provide. But I told them, the word Medicine Woman was controversial, as it is understood – by the Native American (First Nations) – to mean “one of THEIR Medicine People” – like a Lodge Leader, Faith Keeper (Sachem) or Shaking Tent man or Pipe Carrier……..

The word shaman is not as widely known among the general population here in Ontario and often I get asked, what exactly that is. When I explain, that it is a Siberian term for a “Medicine Person, that gains information and help from the Spirit World during theta trance journeys brought on by drumming ”

they say Ooh, like a Medicine Man! – Or ah, you are a Witch Doctor!

NO, I am not!

I am not a witch and I am not a doctor, although I do have a current RN licence and am training as a Jungian analyst from a Western university.

My father’s people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading Khamlanies = healing and other rituals.

Udega is another similar word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions.

Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in Animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise, it is descriptive of someone entering ecstatic trance in order to help, advise, divine, heal, and otherwise aid the community.

Living here in the West I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among Siberian people.

Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am. It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I engage the Spirits in order to facilitate healing, the way I mentor my students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.

But generally the ordinary folk here in Muskoka do not care so much about what I am called; they are waaaay more interested in what I do and what I teach THEM to do.

One lady, that signed up for the upcoming drum workshop and was advised by one of the town clerks taking in her application, that no, I was not going to do any healing right there…. She reportedly replied: ”I do not care if Mi-Shell teaches knitting this fall, my sisters and me and a few friends will be there and we will learn something that will be important to us – and besides, something awesome always happens anyway…..”

Well, we will see…..

Muslim Prayers in the Longhouse!?!

Yesterday were at the monthly Longhouse celebrations at Wahta. Our Sachem (Faith Keeper) is since recently teaching some courses on Native studies at Georgian college in Barrie = 100 km south of the res. and from the course had invited some students to come up and join us for the celebrations this month. The students he invited however were newly landed immigrants– from Pakistan and Syria. Only as soon as they came through the door it was clear, that few of the Longhouse participants had any idea, about what it means to BE Muslim.
5 young guys had brought their veiled women and small kids and also 1 set of doting parents and a friend from Syria, that was in the country less than a week and spoke no English. So I ended up explaining to everyone, that, no, there is NO pork in any of the pot-luck dishes, we had Beaver stew, Venison and Moose.

What what IS Beaver??? Is it halal?
What is venison?? What is a moose????? Is it halal?
I explained, that all meat is blessed by the person that killed it using the smoke of Cedar and Tobacco and the Spirit of the Animal is send home to its Ancestors, to be born again. So happily our friends dug in.
They however had brought a rice dish that blew everyone’s mind, it was so spicy!
Then, no sooner were tables and dishes cleared away to make room for the round dances, that it was time for our guests to pray.
They asked, can we do this here in the Longhouse??
Our Sachem  is– aehmm…. – not known for being a very flexible adaptive person.

After all he has to “hold on” and keep the Faith pure against all outside influences…..
So no, you can not pray in the Longhouse!
But now praying outside – in the snow that was coming down – and in the pitch dark cooooold?????
When I offered to give them a large comforter as a blanket to kneel on, they asked the Faith Keeper, iffff the shaman lady is willing to be helpful and accommodating, could not he too…….
He said nothing and they just knelt down right in front of all of us and prayed.
I am sure, it gave all the usual Longhouse visitors an opportunity to think and reflect…….
I decided to also pray, quietly– for cross cultural understanding and tolerance.

Then we proceeded with the usual “Standing Quiver Dance”, followed by traditional teachings – this time around Beaver and Deer hunting, Corn bread and marriage customs, when the woman goes out to choose a husband -among others…..
Our Muslim friends were all encouraged to join in the dances. The men did with gusto and also used our horn rattles in the Women’s Honour Dance.
The women did not dance. It took a while until my Mohawk friends understood, that Muslim Women are not permitted to dance in front of men. – So I went over to them to talk and teach. They told me, that they were astounded at Native customs and the matrilineal Clan system and the leadership of the Clan Mother.
I took the time to show them around the Longhouse, pointing out all our beautiful Wampum Belts and explaining their history and specific meanings. I let them reverently touch the mighty Wolf fur at the side of the Wolf Clan and explained our ceremonial Turtle Shell Rattles and a few other things.

11903744_1_x
There was also the “thing with the Red Indians”
“Red Indian” is not an appropriate term – rather use Native American or First Nations Person….”
“Oh” said one of the ladies, “That is the same as people calling us Pakies”
Yes!
(Oh maaan, I do not even know, how to write that word…)
And trying to explain that Ojibwa and Mohawk and Sioux are not different casts, but tribes, formerly independent Nations, now coexisting within Canada (or at least try to…..!!)
At the end of our gathering, after the last Stick Dancer gave up hollering for more songs and the Clan Mother did the Closing Prayers, we go around in the circle and everyone is giving everyone else a by by hug.
Of course the Muslim ladies can not allow another man to hug them, so after I explained that to the Clan Mother, everyone agreed, that a handshake would be good Medicine as well.
I hope we see our new friends again next month.

HIAWATNA WAMPUM BELT

Musician’s Pouch

 

 

CD PouchWell, here is the little pouch that should accompany the Steer Horn Rattle (see previous post) and will hold the CD, that inspired me to attempt this project:

I used European Wild Boar leather and Deer leather as these would have been skins that the Ancients had available to them through hunting. The thread is smoked sinew. Then there are a few bone beads and a smoky quartz crystal.

The Spirit in the centre might have been carved from bone of the very same wild Steer/ Ourochs that the Horn Rattle was created from. And sure, I added a little bone Bear, for the protection that the ancient Bear Mother affords us all.

Feathers are Red Tailed Hawk and Raven

AP367355494513

 

A Steer Horn Rattle

Steer Horn Rattle

I have always wondered, what type of music our ancient ancestors made. Sure; they had drums, rattles, clappers, Flutes as well as any number of inventive percussion instruments created from bone, wood antler, rocks and other materials. Then We received a CD from a musical ensemble based in Germany, that used original and painstakingly reconstructed musical instruments from the Palaeolithic = the Stone Age. The models for these instruments were archaeological finds from that time.

Here now is, how I envision one of these instruments to to look and sound like.

Materials used:

Steer Horn

Leg bone from Bear:

For the Ancients the Bear was worshipped as the Mother, the bringer of new life, the bearer of the young, with whom she emerged from the cave in spring foretelling renewal. She was also seen as the one who knows how to heal illness and wounds with herbs and honey (Honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties and was used for wound dressing)

Bear is still seen today as the Bringer of healing by all indigenous Siberian Peoples and most all Native American nations.

I added belly fur from Wolf, because Wolf was an important Clan Guardian for the First People of Eurasia, standing for family values and survival through the long winters as well as for his skill in communication with his pack members. Wolf is a “Song Dog” and so was associated with songs and music. Just imagine a Wolf howling in one of the large caves in France and Spain, that were back then used as ritual rooms by the people. It was the time when the first Wolf pubs were raised and bread to accompany humans on hunts – the ancestors of our modern Dogs….

Fox Fur: Here we have another cunning “Song Dog” revered for its fur having the colour of the sun.

Deer leather, snippets from the clothing of the people.

The Feathers are Hawk – an Air Spirit with a distinct piercing call and

Trumpeter Swan, a regal Bird who would be hunted in the marshes and his feathers used to create warm feather quilts to be worn on rainy autumn days.

The Pictographs I added are

The Labyrinth – a symbol pointing to the brain with its ridges turning back and forth – place of meditation and of trance.

The Sun symbol from Pasparo Rock in the Camunica valley,

a Spiral of Life,

a Deer Everyone always says, the old rock art is created for the sole purpose of “hunting magic” – what doe these anthropologists understand hunting magic to be? Very few of them now dare to talk about shamanism….

Lastly I drew a Female figure from the same area, because I belief, that our women Ancestors had important roles to play in all aspects of daily life and in the music of the time, that accompanied ceremonies  and ritual workings.

I am planing to ad a copy of the CD in a decorated leather pouch to this instrument, so that its future owner may get a taste of what inspired me.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 Here is a link to a site where one can ?? acquire/ listen to the CD:

https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&es_th=1&ie=UTF-8#q=Knochenklang&es_th=1

altamira_bull

 

 

Shiva’s Dance:

25.4. 2015  Shamanic journey:

Altar for Nepal

I felt compelled to set up a little memorial Altar for all the People of Nepal.

The ones that passed

The ones that survived

The ones suffering The ones that are helping

Everyone involved.

I feel involved, because we have been there.

In this beautiful country with sooo many of its gentle people living in the simplest conditions – some in what WE call poverty.

Then I took my drum- urgently, because the trance was coming on fast.

A few beats and I was THERE!

Scenes drifted by with me as an observer…….

People in the streets – surprisingly mostly men – Where are the women? Where are the children?

Many men were holding cell phones – others were engaged in helping, digging away rubble – brick by brick…. Then a HUUUUUGE semi-transparent Snow Leopard – a Spirit Being jumping onto a huge pile of concrete and re-bar – a collapsed structure. Hissing and scratching with his see-through paws, then jumping of to grab a large brown mongrel dog with a black tipped tail and dragging it up onto the pile of debris – making it scratch – and bark – and so alerting the ever present men., who soon began clearing away smaller pieces of rubble – then trying to hand down a plastic water bottle – to no avail- the person below has his hands trapped ( and crushing injuries to his pelvis and abdomen) Not good for survival even if he makes it to one of the overcrowded hospitals. Someone opened the bottle and poured the continence over the man’s head and into his open mouth…….

Grey Spirit Beings, transparent, like the Snow leopard, walking away, up in the sky above…. Souls on their way towards re-incarnation.

Bhola! Where is Bhola?

I am looking through the window of my Mt. Kailash rock crystal.

 

The Portal

From the fist size stone on my makeshift altar it has changed into a HUUUUGE mountain of ice, snow and clear crystal.

This one starts to tumble and roll, changes into an Earth sphere = where the whole world is seen like in an atlas. It lands with Europe on top –

Ah, I ge it, he is “over there! 🙂 I then see him, somewhere, in the city centre, in amongst some green plants, white shirt – maybe his shaman outfit – with some smudges of fresh blood on his chest, where his heart is – his heat is bleeding for all his people….he seems exhausted, but OK.

Then I am in ?

…. Bhaktapur -? The city centre is in ruin! Soo sad! The shop, just off Druban square, where I bought my nice Owl…. in ruin and rubble…. but no lives lost, just dust, bricks, wooden planks and broken carvings, large and small. People sifting through it, saving what they can…..

A few streets on the “drum shop” …. Bricks and wood and the ever present tangle of electricity lines – dust and debris, but the shop still stands, with part of the upper story of the house having come down… Here too people clearing the narrow lane way, saving what they can and not knowing, where to put stuff they recovered. …..

The Pottery market – where my Rhino is from – all just rubble, all just pottery shards….

The cobble stone plaza right before me starts to buckle and heave and out of the cobblestones a life sized Rhino emerges, shakes itself, looks at me: “It has always been like this – only “THIS” was not always here!” The primordial Beast shakes it’s head and moves off, down the street…..

Shiva, blue as always he is depicted dances upon the chest of a “monster”

fireShiva_small

 

He has done that for ages of eternity. But sometimes, on rhythmic occasions (having to do with 80 sun cycles ) the monster moves. Sometimes Shiva just looses a step or so, regains his balance and dances on.

No big deal. Sometimes Shiva stumbles- steps off the monster, with 1 foot….. and then steps back on, in his dance. Sometimes he loses his step, because the monster rears up quite a bit and both feet come off, then Chungmolungma grows and his backbone becomes higher – and yes, She also shakes off some of the snow, and it comes crashing down.

This dance has taken place for aeons. Sometimes the Monster beneath Shiva – which by now is clearly to be seen as a Green, living female Elder, releases the Nagas from caves deeeep down in her womb and they come forth as Snakes of molten rock……

Sometimes, Aeons ago, Some Beings living upon this Earth Elder – regardless of the dancing Shiva, get hurt, when She moves. Then they get trapped beneath Shiva’s feet- or swept down by beads of his sweat……

It was always like this! Shiva is blue = for truth!

Usually the Animal Beings sense, where Shiva’s feet are, and when the Earth woman moves- and they get out of the way – fast….. Most make it – others become food for the survivors and then become part of the Earth Woman – until she sweats them out and up to live between Shiva’s feet again…..

Now maaany of the Earth Beings have started to erect dwellings out of stone and wood upon the Earth Woman – right between Shiva’s feet. Sometimes he stubs his toes on them, when they get toooo high!

But now, when the Earth Woman moves, these dwellings topple over, killing them = returning them to her womb.

It happened before – it will happen again…… it is always a tragedy, when it happens.

But Shiva dances on, regardless.

The scenery shifts

I see a giant Turtle, swimming in??? The sky!?? – no, in the water, carrying the world, as in Native American world view. She too is very much alive, of course! She moves, her back shakes, then, she lowers her head and dives beneath the waters, while a HUUUUUGE wave washes over her back, drenching all that live there, washing some of them off into the sea. The Turtle re-emerges and swims on….

Forever.

Somewhere I realize, the tone of the drum changed!

It is wet!

Everything is wet!

My Altar,

Me…!!

I too got drenched, when she moved??

The beautiful sun in which I started drumming had turned into yet another icy April shower and I better get “with it” and get inside, save all my things, dry them out and put dry cloth on!

By the time I did that, the sun is back out again – and through it all I still see Shiva dancing……

I re-erect the little Altar in the living room, adding my hand carved Owl from that shop in Bhaktapur.

Then I go outside and distribute the Gift for the Spirits of the Land – this land, where I live and The Land, we all inhabit.

A Sunflower Seed for everyone who died.

A Sunflower Seed for everyone who survived

A Sunflower Seed for everyone who is helping

A Sunflower Seed for everyone who feels connected

We are all connected.

Please Shiva, dance gently on Earth Woman!

DSCN5994

How are YOU celebrating the Winter Solstice?

 

yule log Today I want to share a few of the many Winter Solstice customs from around the world.

Most of them date back to a time before Christianity and most of them have an element of shamanism at their centre.

When we get together in our house, each Solstice Circle participant reads out loud  about one of these traditions.

I now invite you to copy this post and follow suit! 🙂

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The Winter Solstice is the year’s shortest day and longest night.
For our ancient ancestors it was a scary prospect, to see the sun in late fall rise later and later and sink earlier and earlier with less and less daylight and warmth left.
……………………………………..

They worried each year that the sun might not be able to gain its warms back again. They believed the sun waged a formidable battle with the forces of darkness and so they gathered and lit fires and drummed and danced to cheer on the sun and assist her in her victory over darkness.
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Solstice festivals therefore centred around the idea of rebirth to assist the newborn sun to grow in strength, when it emerged from the dark womb of night. It is a celebration of the eternal cycle of life.
The Old Norse people called their festivity “Yule” – meaning wheel
The wheel of the Solar year has turned and the light is reborn.
…………………………………………..
Many people around the world believe in the Earth as being a female, that is forever changing, a virgin in spring, a woman and mother in summer and a wise old crone in fall and early winter. The solstice is the turning point, where by the power of the sun the old crone is turned again into her virgin form.
……………………………..
In Japan the Sun goddess Amaterasu emerges from her cave again as a young woman.
For the Apache and Navajo Yolkai Estan = Changing Woman = Mother Earth changes from a tired old limping old woman to a beautiful young maiden full strength and promise.
The Apache people have all night mountain spirit dances to ward of evil and guard the village.
In Zuni Pueblo the Soyal ceremonies mark the return of the Kachina people to the human people.
………………………………………….. …….

The divine symbol of the power of the sun, the fire of new beginnings, on the longest night of the year, is the Yule log. It is set ablaze to assure good fortune and continuation. It is a sacred offering from the Tree of Life to the sun.
So let us light the Yule candle and later decorate the Yule Log.

Let everyone present take a small piece of paper, write on it their personal Solstice wishes and then tie the wishes onto the log with colourful ribbons:

DSCN7618 (2)

Another solstice custom are the so called Mummer;s Dances.
People dress up in animal skins and masks would romp from house to house to sing and dance and collect food and drink and pennies for their efforts.
In mediaeval times in Britain the Mummers Plays would re enact the ritual slaying of the old sun/year and the rebirth of the new.
It was widely known as the Morris dance.
…………………………………………

That again comes from the Moor’s dance because the dance re-enacts a story that combines the experience of the crusades with the victory of light and good over dark and unholy:
The powerful King George slays and kills the Turkish knight (the old year)
But Father Christmas (the bringer of light) intervenes calling for mercy and tolerance – and a doctor.
The Doctor has a magical drink (brandy) and revives the Turkish Knight, who promises to behave himself…….
…………………………………..

On Winter solstice in ancient per-christian Europe the people would don animal skins and sing and drum and dance to ensure not only the return of the sun but also to honour the animals of the hunt upon which they depended. This is the beginning of the still popular Mummer’s Dances.
……………………………………..
Later-in northern Europe shamans were often synonymous with the craft of smiting = power and creative force over the element of fire and by extension over the sun.
The traditional guild outfit or the smithy’s gild was a red cloak and cap with white trim and a black belt with a silver buckle and black pants.
Nowadays someone in this outfit is recognized as Santa Clause
………………………………

Among Mi-Shell’s Siberian ancestors the shaman, in this case her great grand mother Ulali, would spend the Solstice night walking around the outskirts of the village singing and drumming to prevent malevolent spirits from entering the village and bringing illness and harm.
…………………………………..
At the height of the celebrations the shaman of the tribe ritually climbed the centre pole of the lodge, that represented the Tree of Life to speak to the Spirits (go on a trance journey).
Amongst drumming and singing he – or she ( often Mi-Shell’s gran) could stay up there for quite a while….
When he /she came back down it was with gifts of prophecy , advice and wisdom that would sustain the tribe through another year.
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In Iceland people fear, that whoever has not apologized by winter solstice for transgressions committed would at midnight be devoured by a giant long-toothed cat that lived in a mud-volcano.
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The Jewish celebration of Hanukah is nothing but attribute to the return of the light after a time of darkness and the lighting of the menorah with its 9 candles symbolises the newborn light. Also presents are given in its honour.
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Poem:
Here, at the gateway of the year
may we strive to make good cheer
In our revels,
shall joy abound
and sorrow be cast underground!
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The importance of the Egyptian culture is expressed in the architecture of the great temples at Karnak, Thebes and Abydos each of which focuses the rays of the Midwinter sun into the heart of the temple enclosure.
This puts these sites at par with the mighty earth temples and stone circles of Europe like New grange and Stonehenge.
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Decorating one’s doorway with holly and ivy at the solstice was so clearly linked with ancient beliefs that Christian fathers more than once tried to outlaw the practice, but to no avail.
Holly was also part of an ancient, ritualized battle of the sexes: tradition held that whoever first brought holly into the house at Yule, master or mistress should rule the household for the coming year.
The kiss under the mistletoe may have then represented a peaceful resolution and union of the two.
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In the Baltic’s reigns the Sun Goddess Saule. On Winter Solstice her heavenly smith, Kalvis, wearing a red and white suit with a black belt remade the sun for her. Using his magic hammer he formed a golden cup to catch Saule’s tears the liquid sunshine that solidified to Amber. Then he accompanied Saul in her flying chariot pulled by Reindeers and wrote over the hilltops of dawn. Saule threw presents of amber and apples over the world below as they flew across the sky.
Does this remind you of Santa, Rudolph and the presents?
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Rozhanitza Rozhanitza is a winter goddess found in Russia and eastern Europe. Winter embroideries were made to honor her, which often show her with her daughter goddess, who is sometimes human and sometimes a deer. She is shown with horns, lone among the deer species, the reindeer of the far north are the only species in which the female also has antlers. Her feast day is December 26th; and white-iced Reindeer cookies were given as good luck tokens on that day.

Reindeer Cookies

Evergreen trees are a symbol of the Tree of Life and renewal:
Romans wreathed their temples with pine boughs for the celebrations of the Saturnalia and Kalends. The former was a festival for the winter sowing season that ran from Dec. 17 – 24; a general holiday was observed and presents, often candles, were exchanged.
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The Kalends was the Roman New Year celebration. Presents were also exchanged at this time, as symbols of the sweetness, light and health the giver wished for the recipient in the new year.
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The new christian church tried to eradicate these customs in their followers but gradually had to incorporated them by declaring that presents and well-wishes were exchanged in honor of baby Jesus.
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The early church did not fix the date of Christ’s birth at midwinter until the fourth century C.E. (comon aera). The church of Jerusalem did not recognize this date for another 300 years;
One would think if Christ was indeed born December 25th, this fact would have been recognized in his native land from the start.
The current date was chosen because it was already celebrated as the birth of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun an alternate title for the rival Savior Mithras, whom even St. Augustine declared to be the same deity.
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And this date already incorporated the earlier Greek sun festival, the Helia. And of course there was the Norse celebration of Yule, which honoured the rebirth of the God Frey at the darkest point of winter.
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And what about reindeer?
Deer have always been considered magical creatures, sacred to our ancestors -especially on the winter solstice
From the shaman at Trois Freres to the Gundestrupp Cauldron, the horns of the stag were used to represent the divine male principle. Indeed, the “Julebukk” was sometimes costumed as the Horned Lord. Despite church warnings labelling him as the devil, girls still sought a chance to dance with the figure, no doubt recognizing his role as fertility king for the coming year

Gundestrup

Midwinter is the season to work powerful magic charms, spells and
rituals to assist the rebirth of the light and the continuation of the life-cycle.
What is your personal symbol of rebirth and continuation?
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I send you heartfelt Yule-tide charms,
to keep you safe from ills and harms,
to last through out the coming year,
to ward off doubt and dismiss fear,
And welcome joy with open arms.
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DSCN7662

there are many more customs, including your very own .

Happy Winter Solstice to EVERYONE!