| The Goddess
Path Issue #012
'Tis the Season!
This Issue: Table of Contents
2. Winter Solstice & the Goddess Freya
3. Musings on Mistletoe
4. Featured Goddess: Rhiannon
Goddess Gift will celebrate its first year on the web this month. We
stand under the mistletoe and blow kisses to all of you for your interest, support, and
encouragement during its infancy.
You probably realize that we're here to celebrate the goddess in everywoman and don't
believe in (or practice) "hard sell" , so we'll just issue these gentle
- Delight your friends and family with the unique gift of self-discovery. Gift
certificates for the Goddess Report are $15. One reader, an office manager, has taken
advantage of the "3 or more" at $10 each" to do all her Christmas shopping
for her gifts for the office staff. You can order by using this link: Gift
(Reminder: the report is now available for men as well!)
- Support the Goddess Gift site by doing some of your shopping using these links:
The Goddess Shops at Goddess Gift
Solstice, Holidays, and the Goddess Freya
The Winter Solstice is a magical season . . . one that marks the journey from this year
to the next, journeys of the spirit from one world to the next, and the magic of birth,
death, and rebirth. Throughout the world gods and goddesses of light were being born
during the Winter Solstice.
The longest night of the year (December 21 in the Northern hemisphere), is followed by
the start of the solar year and was accompanied by festivals of light to mark the rebirth
of the Sun. In ancient Europe, this night of darkness grew from the myths of the Norse
goddess Freya (also called Frigga) who sat at her spinning wheel weaving the fates, and
the celebration was called Yule, from the Norse word Jul, meaning wheel. The Christmas
wreath, a symbol adapted from Freya's "Wheel of Fate", reminds us of the cycle
of the seasons and the continuity of life.
That the timing of the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ occurs in the Yule
season is no coincidence. Christmas was once a movable feast, celebrated many different
times during the year. The decision to establish December 25 as the "official"
date of Christ's birth was made by Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD, hoping to
replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one, since this date coincided with the
pagan celebrations of Winter Solstice with the Return of the Sun Gods occurring throughout
The Solstice is also the time for visions. Rhiannon, rides through the dreams of her
people by night, transporting them to the place between the worlds where they can create
their own visions, giving them a gift of what they need most, helping them to make real
their dreams. In Scotland, the last night of the year is Wish Night, a holiday when wishes
made for the coming year are at their most powerful.
Numerous Christmas traditions derive from the earlier pagan celebrations. Yule,
celebrating the birth or rebirth of a god of light, made use of fire, both in candles and
the burning of a Yule log.
The Christmas tree has its origins in the practice of bringing a live tree into the
home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months.
Bells were hung in the limbs so you could tell when an appreciative spirit was present.
Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star,
the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree.
And on the subject of traditions, here are some . . .
Musings on Mistletoe
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on a variety of trees. Because mistletoe
remained green throughout the winter when the sacred oak was without leaves, it was
assumed that the plant contained the life, the magical essence, of its sacred oak. During
medieval times it was also known as Allheal and was used to treat numerous illnesses.
The strongest connection between mistletoe and the Yule season comes from Norse
mythology. Freya (also known as Frigga) was the goddess of beauty, love, and marriage.
Wife of the powerful Norse god Odin, Freya was a sky goddess, responsible for weaving the
clouds, and therefore responsible for rain and for thunderstorms.
Her sacred animal was the goose, and in her Germanic incarnation as the goddess Holda
or Bertha, she was the original Mother Goose (causing it to snow when she shook out her
bedding). Sitting at her spinning wheel weaving the fates, she was also a goddess of
divination and credited with the creation of runes...more precisely she was a 'seer', one
who knew the future but could never change it or reveal it to others.
Frigga (a.k.a. Freya) was the mother of Baldur (Balder), the best loved of all the
Norse gods. And she foresaw his death. Knowing that there was nothing she could do to
avert his fate, the hapless goddess extracted a promise from all things that they would
play no part in his death.
Unfortunately, thinking the mistletoe was too insignificant to bother with, she
neglected to secure its pledge. And when the malevolent prankster Loki discovered her
oversight, he crafted a dart made of the poisonous plant.
Devious and evil, he brought it to Baldur's brother who was blind, suggesting a game of
darts and agreeing to guide his hand. And this he did, directing the dart directly at
The mistletoe's white berries were formed from Frigga's tears of mourning. Some
versions of the story of Baldur's death end happily. Baldur is restored to life, and the
goddess Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the baleful plant,
making it a symbol of peace and love and promising a kiss to all who pass under it.
The Druids (British) also revered the plant's powers as an aphrodisiac, believing the
berries to contain the sperm of the gods. On the sixth night of the new moon of the winter
solstice, they would use a golden sickle to cut the mistletoe from the sacred oak, letting
it fall into a cloth held under the tree by members of the order so that the
sacred plant would not touch the ground.
The Chief Druid
would cut off sprigs for distribution to the people, who hung them over their doorways for
protection against thunder and lightning.
Click here for more about
the folklore of the mistletoe and the Winter Solstice.
December's Featured Goddess:
most famous of the Yule goddesses, Rhiannon, Celtic goddess of the moon and wind, reminds
us to follow our dreams. You can read her story here:
be the goddess featured this month in the screensaver's meditations. Windows users can
download it at: Goddess Screensaver.)
Year End Progress Report:
See how we've grown during our first year!
Here's a link for those of you who like to read our monthly progress
report in full.
. . . when people of widely varied religions and belief systems throughout the world
celebrate the birth of light and have thoughts and dreams of the year to come. We wish you
a holiday season that brings the awakening to new dreams and the release of old regrets.
The Goddess Path