Paganism? What is the Maypole

Paganism? What is the Maypole

Yesterday was “May Day” a throwback to our ancestor’s celebration of spring and the Maypole. Most of us have heard of this, and it’s likely if you haven’t heard of the Maypole specifically somewhere in your culture you have a spring festival that celebrates the season and hopes for (and prays for) a fruitful spring and growing season.

Is it Pagan though? Well yes and know. Like many holidays now, they are derived from rituals in the past which, were for all intent in purposes continuations of customs from our pagan ancestors. Prior to monotheistic religious beliefs there were several gods and goddesses the world over. I know it sounds silly now doesn’t it? Thousands of years from now maybe our religions will be silly to, as a wise man once said, todays religion is tomorrows myth….

Link to Specifics “The origin of May Pole dancing dates back to the Pagan times, and the Maypole was basically a phallic symbol. Trees have always been the symbol of the great vitality and fertility of nature.  May Pole dancing was therefore strongly associated with fertility. Traditionally May Pole Dancing was performed by the young girls from the Medieval villages as part of the May time celebrations. The History of the Maypole and May Pole dancing was connected with both the Druids, Wiccans and the Romans. May 1 was an important date for the Druids as this was when the festival of Beltane held. Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season and was celebrated by lighting fires. Wiccans celebrated by dancing round a Maypole and choosing a May Queen. Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles. The beginning of May was also an important feast time for the Romans which was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers when the Festival of Floralia was held. Over time the traditions and rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane culminating in May Pole dancing, which is still carried out to this day.”

They were more then “cool” symbols to your ancestors, most likely.

Maypole dancing of course requires a maypole so they are directly correlated in that regard. So we have druids, wiccans and romans tied to it, all of which are pagans. Of course “may day” historically is a celebration of a season, and as we do today people decorated, danced, sang, drank, met with friends and celebrated life. Many of the celebrations and rituals we have today harken back to our pagan ancestors. Did you have a Maypole in your area? Did you visit it? Did you dance around it and say a prayer?

Maybe next year it would be a cool unique think to do. IT doesn’t mean you are anti religion or a bad person, you are just celebrating a symbol that has been celebrated for thousands of years. Fertility, spring, rebirth, new life, trees waking up, flowers blooming, the sun is higher, the temperature is warmer, why not celebrate that?

Thank you for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Want to see another post like this one? Click here.

Glogg

It’s time for Glogg!

For all of my Scandinavian readers (yes there are a few), my Norse enthusiasts and general pagans it’s that time! Around thanksgiving is when I create my first batch of Glogg for friends and family. This year we aren’t having many guests but I will still make it. Now this drink isn’t for everyone, it has a lot of booze lol but it is a traditional Scandinavian drink. Its origins are not precise but it goes back many, many years.

What is Glogg? Glogg is a hot spiced wine and liquor punch served in Scandinavian countries as a Christmas drink. It’s often served on St Lucia day 12/13 but has become most identified with the general “holiday season” So how do I make it? Below is a traditional Norwegian recipe that I have been using for years. I use Cognac, but you can use Vodka instead. Remember like any food or drink, the better quality of the ingredients the better the recipe turns out.

Drink and be Merry !

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 large sliced cinnamon stick
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • ½ 750-ml bottle of Cognac
  • ½ cup of raisins (ROUGHLY)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds (ROUGHLY)

Directions:

Heat the red wine slowly in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Put the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a spice bag (OPTIONAL, YOU CAN JUST PUT THEM IN) and add to the pot. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let this get to a temperature of 175f. Then put in the Cognac, let it simmer for 5-10 min. This depends on the mixtures journey to 175, did it get very hot and you brought the temp down or did you bring the temp up slowly? When the Cognac was added how did the temp drop? This is really the only part of the recipe where you have to be mindful and pay attention to your creation.

After the simmer period (7 min approx.) remove from the heat, cover and let it steep for 1.5 hours. Strain the mixture of the non-liquid ingredients if you used a spice bag or cheese cloth remove it. Reheat slowly on a very low heat.  This is a mulled wine it is supposed to be served warm or hot but not scolding/boiling. Warm enough to see slight wisps of steam rising from the glass.

You can garnish your cups with cinnamon sticks if you like, or powder the top with cinnamon. There are many recipes for Glogg out there, some vanilla based, orange, you can really be creative here.

Happy Holidays!

A Norse God House Found.

As we enter the winter season in the northern hemisphere I was reminded recently that Yule is right around the corner. This blog isn’t a pagan blog I don’t do a lot of pieces on paganism and the ancient ways but I am admittedly a pagan. Like so many other people out there I do not adhere to a strict doctrine of a religion. I am more spiritual and I find that “God” or “Gods” are usually manifestations of the mind to explain the unexplained and the human condition.

To be blunt, I don’t know if there is a god or not, or several. I believe in higher powers but the notion of some old guy sitting in the clouds watching my every move and recording it seems as far-fetched as a god riding on an 8 legged horse and hanging from a tree of wisdom.

In my –pagan- travels around the web I found a great article here, a temple to Thor and Odin has been unearthed.

From the article: “This is the first time we’ve found one of these very special, very beautiful buildings,” Diinhoff told Live Science. “We know them from Sweden and we know them from Denmark. … This shows that they also existed in Norway.”

The Norse began building these large “god houses”, as they’re called, in the sixth century. The god houses were much more complex than the simple sites, often outdoors, that the people previously used to worship the Old Norse gods.” It is a stronger expression of belief than all the small cult places,” he said. “This is probably something to do with a certain class of the society, who built these as a real ideological show.”

This is a great find and it may serve to do a bit more back work on softening the stigma of Norse culture. Of course we have all heard of Vikings, ruthless pagan raiders who terrorized the west after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Yes that’s part of their story, and a big part. They were also very spiritual people, as were most in antiquity. While we can haggle over whose god is the only god, like most civilizations the Norse had representation in their god hierarchy similar to the roman, Greeks, Egyptians and other ancient cultures.

Come from the land of Ice and Snow?

As others who have studied Norse mythology and the dark ages will tell you, they valued home, they valued family, and they strove for measures of equality. They celebrated the harvest, feared the winter and relished the spring and fall. Its great news when we find glimpses into our ancient past. Regardless of what you chose to believe or where your particular ancestors come from, it’s always interesting to see what our distant cousin’s lives through.

This find is great for archeologists and for pagans a like. It’s important for us to understand the reverence that was paid to the gods at the time. This was, for lack of a better term, how they understood they were supposed to worship god(s). They weren’t so unlike our modern interpretations of faith now really, perhaps even more devout. Yes they were Vikings, they were brutal but so were most people and most religions at one time or another.

Thanks for coming by and supporting my blog! Want to another post like this one? Click here.

Wisdom from the Havamal

Yes another foray into the Norse world with your pagan friend Karac.

First, what is the Havamal?

The Havamal (Hávamál) is “The Sayings of the High One” telling stories about Odin the All father and his journey of acquiring knowledge and wisdom. The Havamal is neither heroic or mythological. Rather, it is somewhat didactic. Simply put, these are similar to Christian commandments in the sense it is meant to instruct ones morals. Unlike our Christian friends these are not laws to build society on, but rather sayings one internalize that allows you to evaluate the character of others.

The saying that has served me well as I age:

The cautious guest

who comes to the table speaks sparingly.

Listen with ears,

Learn with eyes.

Such is the seeker of knowledge.

Of course you have seen some iteration of this saying in your travels. Listen more, speak less etc. This is ancient wisdom, and every culture from antiquity has some reference to it in some form. This still holds true to today and as individuals with anxiety it is a prudent course to take.

When you are an expert, or very experienced on a subject it is important to speak on it. When you are not, you listen to what others say but the most important part of this saying is how you learn, with your eyes.

When someone is speaking, how are the other people reacting? What do you see? Are their arms folded? Are they leaning in? Are the using a lot of hand gestures? It’s vital for all of us to be very careful who we listen to, and understand who is speaking. This of course is applicable anywhere. As we garner more and more information in life from more and more sources we have to be diligent not to leap too quickly to a conclusion.

Do you want to read more about the Havamal? Check it out on the Wiki

Be mindful of what you hear, listen, watch and learn.

You are doing awesome, one day at a time….