I hope your next trip around the sun is a good one.
We’re just moving toward the end of the 2010 Yule holiday season now, but one thing is already clear: This is the year when Krampus was introduced to a large number of people living in the USA. December 2011 promises to be the first winter holiday season when Krampus breaks through to popular recognition. From there on, he may rival Santa Claus.
Why is Krampus? He’s a traditional European spirit of mischevious revelry around the time of the Winter Solstice.
Christians depict Krampus as a nasty devil who tortures, murders, and damns naughty children to eternal torment. I don’t buy that simplistic vision of Krampus, however.
Krampus was a part of solstice celebrations long before Christmas ideology came in with its moralistic stamp. Krampus can’t be truly satanic. He predates Satan.
As a trickster, Krampus exists outside of simple divisions between good and evil. Maybe Krampus isn’t a goodie goodie like Santa Claus, but that doesn’t mean he’s evil.
Krampus allows for a more adult kind of moral ambiguity than Santa does. Let’s face it – Krampus is more fun.
The tilt of the Earth, half-shrouded in darkness, is the reason it gets so dark and cold this time of year. The commemoration of the blanket of darkness and the wait for light’s return at the solstice has been the reason for the celebration of the season for a long time, long before the strategic appropriation of the time by Christ’s Mass.
When a fundamentalist gets in your face and pushily demands that you Remember the Reason for the Season, show them that you already do.
Enjoy the return of light.
People all over the world are celebrating the Solstice today, the day that marks the shift from the season of… well, it depends. The Solstice may seem like an absolute marker of universal principles, but it’s not.
We can start out by observing that the southern hemisphere of our own planet is starting summer, not winter, today. Much of both the northern and southern hemispheres doesn’t even experience summer and winter anyway, laying within the tropics, where seasons run wet and dry rather than hot and cold.
Besides that, our notion of time moving by days, months, seasons and years has no relevance whatsoever beyond the sphere of our own planet, which is, in the scale of the universe, less than speck.
The cosmos is so large that we don’t have proper names even for most of the things that we can see within it, much less the great majority of it that we cannot see. The photograph you see here is of a nebula that surrounds a pulsar, referred to only as PSR B1509-58, which has been spinning around at the speed of 7 times per second for about 1,700 years. The size of the nebula that you see is not at all comparable to the human scale of the planet Earth, or even to our solar system. It’s a cloud of dust and gases 150 light years across, yet moving within our galaxy as nothing more than a mote itself. Millions of solar systems could fit within its space, and earths beyond counting, although the entire nebula is likely devoid of all life, thanks to the surging radiation from the pulsar at its center.
Where is the Winter Solstice in this photograph? Where is own your preferred holiday? There is no Christmas on PSR B1509-58. There is no Divali or Eid, no Hanukkah or Kwanzaa there. There is no New Year’s Eve.
The Solstice is a perfect opportunity to celebrate relativity. We can appreciate the changes that come with cycles that repeat where we live while recognizing that these the patterns we hold dear are tiny in the scale of all that is.
|A Solstice Celebration, Shorter Than the Day’s Long
By Cara Buckley
Sunday morning was a nasty time to be out and about in New York, with cold rain falling hard… and yet 17 people got out of bed anyway, all with the same thought: “I shall go stand in the middle of an intersection in Brooklyn and bang on a drum.”
The occasion was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It was a moment of great importance to ancient pagans, and to a set of spiritually inclined people intent on connecting with Mother Earth through the asphalt of New York. Sunday’s ceremony in Brooklyn was convened at Grand Army Plaza, at the mouth of Prospect Park. It was led by Donna Henes, also known as Mama Donna, a self-styled urban shaman and provider of “ritual services” that include weddings, funerals, house and office blessings and energy cleansings…
The stuff in question included a small cast-iron pot, coals, sweet grass and other herbs, drums, maracas, a roadside flare, a clock and long bolts of red fabric, which Ms. Henes twisted and shaped into a large “magic circle” that she lay on the ground a hundred feet or so from the plaza’s soaring arch.
|A Christmas Celebration, Shorter Than Day’s Long
By Carl Doely
Wednesday evenning was a nasty time to be out and about in New York, with cold rain falling hard… and yet 87 people got out of bed anyway, all with the same thought: “I shall go sit on a bench in a building in Brooklyn and stand up when asked.”
The occasion was midnight mass on Christmas Eve. It was not a moment of great importance to most Christians until the mid-1800s, but it was now of prime importance to a set of spiritually inclined people intent on connecting with Jesus Christ through the wooden beams of this building of New York. Sunday’s ceremony in Brooklyn was convened near Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park. It was led by Albert Henkes, also known as Father Albert, a self-styled conduit to Heaven and provider of “ritual services” that include weddings, funerals, house and office blessings and energy cleansings…
The stuff in question included a vessel of incense swung from a chain, a puppet impaled on wooden sticks, an organ, bells, an amplification system and a vessel of red wine, which Father Albert hoisted into the air to turn it into the “magic blood” that he asked his followers to drink.
Carl’s writing would never be accepted for publication in the New York Times. Cara’s writing was accepted. The language of oddity is reserved for the unpopular and unfamiliar.