Some Christmas & Winter writing…

I can hardly believe it is already December 10th! Where have the last couple of weeks gone. NaNoWriMo has come and gone and I’m pretty happy with my mass of 50,000+ garbled words. As I mentioned before, I’ll be returning to the Isaiah series in the Spring and am welcoming some guest writers to the blog over December.

I’m just sorry to be so late starting…

To kick off, here is a piece from my dear friend, back in Ireland – Mary Barber. Mary has shared on the blog before – you may remember ‘Paradise on a Penitential Island.’ I love her writing so much and am delighted to have her back. If you’re not familiar with Irish mythology, you might need to google some of the names. Mary seems to have entitled her piece, ‘Christmas Thingy,’ 😀 but I’m going to pull rank as editor and call it…

Darkness and Light

I don’t know much about Irish mythology. Having said that, I do remember snatches of the stories of Oisín, and the Salmon of Knowledge, and Diarmuid and Gráinne, and they have a fond place in my heart. My favourite piece of modern art is Fionn MacCumhail and his dogs Bran and Sceolan at the roundabout on the Curragh [in Kildare]. There is wonder and power in our myths.

De Danann to me though just means great music from my childhood. I wouldn’t be one for believing in ancient gods that hid underground when the Celts arrived – it’s just not my kind of belief system.

Glorious Glendalough Photo credit: Annmarie Miles

I love the wonder and mystery that being a follower of Christ brings to my life. But in the run up to Christmas I find I have a lot more in common with the people that wandered this island in the days before pyramids.

It used to start too soon, but now Christmas is literally in the shops before Halloween. And this year the actual celebrating of Christmas was well underway by mid November. Real Christmas trees were bought and put up before Black Friday (don’t start me about the disregard for Thanksgiving!).

I’m just an old scrooge ruining the kids’ fun. Where’s the harm in celebrating Christmas early? I know how the criticism of my thoughts is expounded. Christians just hijacked pagan festivals….bla, bla, bla.

Sure they did.

God knew exactly how to speak to our hearts before he called Abram away from his home. He wrote it in our hearts that we would celebrate the light. And that’s what pagans did for thousands of years.

Not these modern pagans. They are too smart for that. They won’t fall for any Christian nonsense. So the tinsel and the trees go up in November and the celebrations begin.

But what is there to celebrate in November? The descent into darkness? In modern Ireland I can absolutely believe that a huge raft of our population would genuinely celebrate the encroaching darkness.

Allegedly, in Celtic tradition, druids would cut mistletoe and offer it as a blessing each solstice. And there is a myth that on the solstice each year the Oak King, in the Light corner, and the Holly in the Dark corner, would fight. And every year the Oak King of Light would be victorious.

That’s not bad for an ancient belief system…or any belief system. Darkness and Light in perpetual conflict, but Light always emerging victorious!

The ancients knew their stuff. They knew we didn’t want to surrender to the encroaching darkness. They knew we clung to the light and could never be sure there was a reason to celebrate until you knew for sure the light had triumphed. And to be sure to be sure, you’d wait a few days after the solstice before you’d celebrate – just to be sure!

And this is when I will celebrate – after the solstice, when The Light had entered the world.

Oh, and a Happy New Year!