Twelve days of Christmas on Zen

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” on Zen Mountain

On the First day of Christmas my true love gave to me
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Seven does a-munching
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Eight towhee flitting
Seven does a-munching
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Nine jays a-squawking
Eight towhee flitting
Seven does a-munching
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
No lords a-leaping
Nine jays a-squawking
Eight towhee flitting
Seven does a-munching
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Ma sitting spinning
No lords a-leaping
Nine jays a-squawking
Eight towhee flitting
Seven does a-munching
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the Twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve elk a-mewing
Ma sitting spinning
No lords a-leaping
Nine jays a-squawking
Eight towhee flitting
Seven does a-munching
Six Cawcaws quawrking
Five Broken Strings – RATS!
Four eagle soaring
Three coyote singing
Two hummingbirds
a bobcat lurking around the Birch Tree

On the countdown

We have only a few days left until Yule begins. As , I am sure, you know , we are pagan , Ma and I. We  celebrate  Yule starting at the eve before Winter Solstice  ; Mother’s Night and of course, ending with Twelfth Night; everyone’s favorite New Years

We celebrate Christmas as well, though as one of the twelve days of Yule  just about as much as we celebrate New Year’s Eve. The New Year starts off for us as a night filled with rollicking…..Ok , fine, we usually  ” rollic, frolic and cause great mayhem”  in more of a sit by the fire until I fall asleep in the ” Evil Sleepy-time chair”….generally around 10pm.

Ma and I celebrate by ourselves as we do pretty much every other day:

If it is a work day we scramble to get me out the door to head to work , when I get home one of us tosses together one of our “Zen fast foods”…Then I pretty much fall asleep in my chair.

On the occasional day off together, we still get up early , relax and wake up for a bit then it’s off to work around Zen…most often ending when it is too dark outside and or we are bone weary inside putting together a meal and then …………I pass out in my chair.

And so concludes “Zen mountain rollicking and frolicking 101” 

*chuckle* This is probably one of the many reasons we don’t get a lot of company………………

” What are you guys up to this weekend? Thought I’d stop by and say Hi.”

“Well, we have a cord of wood to move, a little work on Lil red , some road repairs ,some cooking to do and clean the house….. You like splitting wood cause that would be cool . ”

” Um ….Yeah.. oh.. I …um..forgot about this………..um…….Thing…….. I have to go to..umm ..at..that time…..”

” No worries. If you change your mind, I have a second axe….. and cooking beans is a hoot too….”

” Ummm…Right…Well…gotta goooo just now.”

” Have a jolly day.”

I don’t for really remember when people stopped asking * snort*.

So what IS the deal with Yule?

One of the cool things is…Yule generally is like a miniature year with all of the holidays stuffed in a bag together. From a Halloween sort of eve to Mother’s day , Christmas ( of course) through to New Years Eve…

Another fun  fact or lack there of is that it is far more loosely held than other folks’ holidays.

It more or less started as a three day holiday ( or as long as the mead and ale held out ), long before ” Yule” was it’s name. A small problem for the newer folks celebrating at the time I would imagine was that the name/ holiday boiled down to ” Slaughter Day” Beasts were ritualistically slaughtered to give thanks then later the festivities began…

Now , everyone knows that I would be delighted to whip out a few dozen varieties of Hallmark Holiday Slaughter Day cards but then I AM a bit twisty.

There are stories as to how the name came about, though I am more of the mind that it was actually something that was slurred out during drinking games causing much merriment and held. Sort of a ;

A hand full of guys around a large bonfire with casks of mead , the gals around the tables watching ” their men” in a pissing contest trying to think up the best Slaughter Day stories. “Ralph  the Ugly” touts that he could hack down a bull in one stroke. Well, “Ben the unwashed and unwise” counters with;

” I could…”

Ralph; tired of Ben’s blathering , shoves Ben into the fire with a;

“You’ll what?”

Everyone laughs. The men spitting their mead over the fire as they laugh causes a sudden gout of flame making Ben jump out of a sudden explosion from the high alcohol burn, rolling and coughing , on fire,as men and women alike laugh and point as he jumps into the pond… Ben now only unwise. Everyone in an uproar , pointing at the sodden Ben stuttering in laughter repeating ;

“You’ll what?”

And so it stuck as the

“You’ll” celebration over the original ” Slaughter Day”

Seems quite probable ……… Well.. It does to me ….

 

Days and Nights of Yule

First night of Yule (December 20th) Mother Night, Sacred to Frigg, Freyja and the Desir

Second night of Yule (December 21st)The Wild Hunt, Sacred to Odin and Ullr

Third night of Yule (December 22nd)High Feast of Yule – Beginning of Runic Year, sacred to Thor and Freyr

Fourth night of Yule (December 23rd) – Sacred to Aegir, Niord and Freya

Fifth night of Yule (December 24th), Sacred to Community

Sixth night of Yule (December 25th) – Sacred to Eir and Healing

Seventh night of Yule (December 26th) – Sacred to Thor

Eighth night of Yule (December 27th) – Sacred to Skathi and Ullr

Ninth night of Yule (December 28th) – Sacred to Odin

Tenth night of Yule (December 29th) – Sacred to Sunna and our ancestors

Eleventh night of Yule (December 30th) – Sacred to Goddesses and the Valkrie

Twelfth night of Yule (January 1st) – Sacred to all of the Gods and Goddesses as well as the Asir and Dsir

celebrate , celebrate sway to the music

When you look at it like this , it looks pretty , well , possibly tedious … Fortunately , pagan tend to be more of a relaxed and festive type crowd than some of the other religions.

A day is sacred to such and such….. Toast them! Beats the heck out of getting my knees  and forehead dirty. * shrug*

If a person celebrates Yule with all of the gusto of the young , you could easily end up with a thirteen to fourteen day hangover…

Other than the trappings that follow any practice there is the daily toasts that many if not all imbibe in …..

The toasts are for not only the deities of the day but also the four directions ( winds) , up to each and all of the gods and goddesses , heroes and heroins , the community in general , one’s own elders alive , and dead….as far back as whomever is toasting…..friends and of course family ……Daily….Ale , mead, beer and or wine….Just yikes.

Meals ( feasts) also have place settings for deities and so on of the day…which once again can get crazy.

Whew thank goodness it is how it is

As I say…. Thank goodness there is nothing set in stone….(* grins* it predates the written word for the cultures where shaman(s) would pass down the stories by the fire)…. ( Also early written words were burned by other cultures … Not the first, not the last .) Celebrating more so fits those who celebrate. Many simply celebrate Yule as a whole remembering Mother’s Night and Twelfth Day…. Many get Mother’s Night wrong , seeing Holidays as days instead of actually starting on an eve. Thus celebrating Mother’s Night on the Solstice ….* shrug*

There is also practices starting with the three day event going up to two months of celebration…..I have no problem with that. Well, as in we don’t toast everything every night , or if at all. Two months of toasting everyone….uuughhhhhhhhhhh Maybe with water which would be rude on the order of inviting many guests over for a feast and serving crackers and mint jelly ….Mmmmmmmm

Woot!

We celebrate loosely . I use to work harder at it, for a long time actually.

Preparing for Yule, I would find the largest oak log that would fit in the wood stove at the time. Bark would be stripped off. Surface sanded . I would spend weeks writing out runes for a Safe and Happy New Year and such. I would then carve them out by hand.

The next thing on the list would be to find an antler I liked, cut a round off of it, sand and polish it then engrave the inner surface more of less in the same fashion as the log. I would then fill the runes with gold dust then polish the ring out again. All in all the two would take me many days at the shop table .

On the eve , I would walk down to ” Mother Tree” find the bough she had waiting for me, trim and thank her, talking to her as I worked. Hang the new bough, take down the old.

The evening setting in , I would set the fire from the old bough ending the early part of the evening with light toasts , placing both ring and log into the fire to sit and watch the evening pass.

The next day those ashes would be placed at entries and window sills. This would be the start for the next day of the holiday.

Notably , December 24th , the eve starts the Festival of Lights…. It use to be bonfires and candles , now we get to use Christmas lights…er AND fires and candles.

Although there is much more that I use to do , let alone general practice, which funnily enough as Yule is practiced by far more than the U.S. realizes , generally , generally isn’t really all that general …. Many and most kinships have festivities that are their own…Go figure…And that is about as close as I come to talking religion with people…..

Short Week

We have a quick work week coming up which is nice for us.  We get a few days off together for a change . With my changing shifts again , depending on the upcoming weather we could very easily not see much if any of each other for the next month and change. Maybe the weather will hold , waiting for snow until February *grins* It could happen .. Let it Rain Let it Rain let it Rain.

With our shifts, it does a wee bit to change our beginning of Yule but pretty sure we will survive it. Working the eve of the 20th , we’ll have to start a day late with the bough.

We will have a nice start on our holiday by next weekend though , of course, I’ll be back with more  blather come Christmas eve day.

Sunday Sunday Sunday

The shorter week means only three days to worry about quick early and late meals…

As with last week , I haven’t even dug into a freezer yet to get some ideas. It is still early in the day …. Maybe something will walk by that looks tasty….mmmmmm Marmot tartare.

Today won’t be as crazy as usual , after working on Lil red yesterday..which she still needs a lot more but weather permitting for the now then bringing in a Bunch of wood, I managed to toss out my old back again…gawwwwhhhhh so nothing insane today.. No splitting wood, no river dancing …etc…

Final Thoughts

Yule is just ahead , with a short week to deal with work and the jolly

” Hey! I want you to do This Now! ”

and the ever festive;
“I don’t care if it is impossible ! You are nothing , TV says I deserve more !and I am King!”

Fussy little bag of crap  maybe…..

the Zen of Yule

Getting hung up on protocol for festivities sort of cracks me up a bit. Enjoy your holidays . Try not to make them more work than fun. People ( family) that fuss and fight over the holidays fuss and fight over the holidays because if they were invited on any old day they would STILL fuss and fight. This has nothing to do with holidays.

The stress from HAVING to buy ” the perfect gift” is self appointed FYI. Finding that “perfect gift”  is done from the heart. Boxes bows and jewelry are find and dandy if that’s your bag. There are still people out here that would enjoy honest happiness to see each other a better gift. …… Of course…. That can be the hardest gift to give for many.

Toast or don’t , feast or don’t . Burn a Yule log or buy a cake . Smile at the people you normally miss as you walk by. Shake a hand , give someone a hug…yeh don’t expect that one from me I am far more likely to jump back in terror . Maybe an extra hardy snark from me…For the season ya know.

Don’t make the holidays so friggin painful. You don’t even need to be around others and you aren’t alone if you seem to be. Humans are all well and nice…well, not in general but there are plenty of good people out there… but animals tend to make good fellows  during the season. The bird on the sill is there , the cat in the alley may run, but if you just ” BE” they sense you and are just fine with you. Don’t work so hard at stress of the season or finding that there isn’t enough time or there are too many something… Take just a moment….. close your eyes and imagine

First light greys  the sky showing layer upon layer of clouds. The first signs of morning fog rolls across the meadows , flowing over the edge and down the hill heading towards the valley below.

In the distance you can hear the coyotes begin to chat from the North and from the East as they make a plan for breakfast.

The fog leaves behind hoarfrost on fences and pine needles as it slowly moves over the lands. The light breeze making grasses sway as they begin to bend with the ever thickening frost.

In the far distance you can see light in the valley as people begin their morning drive from town to town. Reflections of headlights bounce off the surface of the river , calm and far below the breezes.

Light smoke flows from the chimney as the morning fire kicks in. The smoke flowing to the ground with the frosty currents.

Deer come over the ridge , slowly heading in as they graze mewing quietly to each other.

The breezes so light that the noises from the town more than ten miles away make their way to Zen’s crest.

The sounds of a train in the next state as it travels along the edge of the river drones in the background.

A quiet sigh and you are up to get ready for another day , stepping back into the kitchen , out of the chill morning air, the fire warming the house . Your body almost aching from the cold leaving your bones.

So starts

Just another day on Zen Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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