Friday, December 11, 2009

The Yule Oddessy

Don’t read this if you are easily offended. I am about to offer a very pragmatic observation in regards to Neo paganism and the celebration of Yule. I’ve been walking the path of witchcraft for nearly 50 years. And about this time every year I begin to reflect on the hypocrisies of the Neo pagan movement when it comes to Yule. I don’t say this as a judgmental comment, but rather as a realistic observation. It is quite clear that Neo paganism is inundated with folks whose mindset is that of one of the Abrahamic religions in general and Christianity in particular. And that such folks through no fault of their own have been indoctrinated from birth with such views. This is not a bad thing if such folks were to continue to follow the beliefs that they were inundated with throughout their lives. The problem arises when such folks leave their former belief systems and decide to become pagans. Why would this create a problem you may ask? The problem as I see it is that such folks tend to try and align their new found pagan beliefs with that of their former belief system. And Yule is a glaring example of this paradox. This alignment is attempted even though paganism and the Abrahamic religions are diametrically opposed in beliefs. Far too much energy is expended by so many Neo pagans in an effort to validate themselves in the views of their friends and family members who often retain their beliefs in one of the Abrahamic belief systems. And when it comes to Yule this massive expenditure of energy comes to the forefront, laying bare the hypocrisies that so many, though not all, Neo Pagans engage in. Historical evidence makes it clear that the Christian Jesus was born (if at all) during the springtime. And that circa 313, it was decided to celebrate his birthday on Dec 25th in a blatant attempt to obliterate the birthday of the Babylonian God, Tammuz. In other areas and cultures he was known as Horus or Mithra. Each of these pagan deities was worshipped as a Sun God. And yet Neo pagans in many instances are content to ignore the outrageousness of superimposing an alleged God from their former Abrahamic upbringing over that of a god that has undisputed pagan connections. Earlier I mentioned that it is primarily former Christians who engage in this hypocrisy. The reason for that comment is that of the three primary religions that make up the Abrahamic religions, the Hebrew folks don’t believe that the Jesus has been born as yet and the Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. That leaves the Christians who by their own words have declared themselves as the only true religion in the world. So why in this world would someone who calls themselves a pagan want to celebrate a holiday that was created solely for the purpose of obliterating established pagan beliefs? Of course such folks will give such excuses as “it’s for the kids”. But is this really a valid reason? If one is actually going to be a pagan would you not want to teach your children the values and beliefs of paganism? And was it not the Yule celebration that originally established the concept of gift giving that the Christian holiday of Christmas has now claimed as its own? Others would say that it is to develop an acceptance of their pagan beliefs by their Christian family members and friends. And yet how realistic is this concept? Paganism was established thousands of years prior to the advent of Christianity and so why do those of pagan beliefs have to pander to such a new found belief system? And as already mentioned the Christians recognize no other belief systems as being equal to their own. So why expend so much energy on such a fruitless effort by celebrating Christmas in lieu of Yule? Yes, there will be many such folks who will claim that they celebrate both Yule and Christmas. But then again does celebrating two diametrically opposed holidays realistic? And let’s be honest with ourselves folks. As far as Yule goes, many of these same folks will gather with others who lay claim to being pagan for an hour or two, will recite a few words off of a piece of paper and then turn their real thoughts and energy to Christmas and all that it involves. Such as buying a tree, decorating, buying gifts, visiting folks and so forth. Little of this massive amount of energy directed towards Christmas is given in the same manner to the celebration of Yule. Is this hypocrisy really the way to validate the pagan community? Or does it simply continue to feed the insecurities and hypocrisy that such actions create and which are the trademark of Neo paganism as we know it today? No one is making the suggestion that one should be openly or even quietly hostile to the Christmas celebration. What I am saying is that if we are to ever validate paganism as an established belief system then we must stop seeking such validation from those who do not follow the pagan path. If such folks want to celebrate Christmas then so be it, it is their right to do so. By the same token, Neo pagans should assert their right to celebrate Yule as it was done for thousands of years before our celebration was hijacked. I realize that it is very difficult to separate ones mindset from a former immersion in a particular belief system and then to change from that mindset to one that is the completely opposite in views and understandings as they apply to the world around us. But then no one is forced to become a pagan. That is an individual choice made by the person who now proclaims them to be just that. If paganism is ever going to be seen as a valid belief system as it was prior to the advent of Christianity, then those folks who adhere to such an identity must first be true to themselves before they can be true to others. And Yule, with its established celebration of the joyous arrival of the Sun God might be a good place to start. There is a massive amount of energy expended each year by Neo pagans in connection with Christmas, perhaps we may want to re-direct such energy to a celebration that actually is connected to paganism and not so much to one that is opposed to pagan ideals. Let’s be honest, how many Neo pagans do you know that celebrates Yule within a void of silence and yet have no issue with going all out in favor of Christmas? And so one has to wonder, is such folks really desiring to follow a pagan belief and lifestyle or is it just a fa├žade that is cool to claim to be involved with? As a lifelong witch I fully embrace my heritage and hope that others who walk under the banner of paganism do so as well. And to those folks I wish each of them a very spiritual Yule…