Rabbit Rabbit 12-1-21

Firstly, an update on the Mesperyian situation:

Secondly, an observation: It seems to me in my recent studies into winter folklore that the harsher the winter, the spookier and more terrifying the winter spirits become. I think it is connected to whether or not winter has historically been a threat. Perhaps it explains my own recent call to the darker side of the Yuletide season; in my lifetime local winters have been quite harsh indeed, although the past two years have been… odd. But perhaps it is a premonition, an indication of what is to come within the next few years.

Christmas Carols

I like Christmas carols.

It sounds like a weird thing for a pagan to say, and I kind of agree. I don’t subscribe to Christianity, why do I like its seasonal music so much?

I assume a big part of the situation is that I grew up with some of these songs. They fall into a wider “canon” of stuff that was in the air about this time as I was growing up, alongside secular hits like “Frosty the Snowman”, “Deck the Halls”, “White Christmas”, and so on. And I’m sure a fair few of us can list at least ten Christmas songs we heard and liked growing up with little effort. So the more religious songs that were absolutely everywhere (your “Silent Night”s and “O Come All Ye Faithful”s and such) got ingrained into my soul and, hear me out, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. I don’t follow Christ, sure, but almost all these songs are about hope, joy, good news, and so on, which are shockingly apt seasonal themes for the Winter solstice (which is more or less a season in its own right, the way it’s celebrated in wider culture).

And maybe that latter bit explains my positive reaction to newer carols I’ve discovered (“Wexford Carol”, which is difficult to find anywhere let alone routinely, and “Mary’s Little Boy Child”). I have a more mixed opinion of “Mary, Did You Know” and “O Come Emmanuel” (the latter for that whole “bind all peoples in one heart and mind” business). But on the whole, when I find myself discovering new Christmas music, I am pleasantly surprised.

I’m not sure if this is a latent Christianity thing or a response to the lack of pagan hymns (a subject I am looking into thanks to a project for a community I’m involved in) and the general Christian overculture. It could be a combination of both, although I was never raised in the faith. (Mommie Dearest should have tried, since she turned out disappointed that I disagreed with her on certain theological fundamentals. Perhaps she believes the Word of God is written on my heart or something like that….) It could be nostalgia, even. Pure and simple longing for a seemingly easier past where the world seemed figured out and the future assured.

In any case, this may be my one Yule-tide based idiosyncrasy (or at least, the one that bugs me a little bit). I may never find an answer to it, and that’s probably OK.

The War On Christmas (Sadly, not an actual war)

This year, the War On Christmas began in October, shortly before Halloween when President Biden was declared the Grinch, best I can tell for trying to be reasonable about the fact that there’s a global pandemic still around.

The War on Christmas is not a new obsession of the Right. Bill O’Reilly pushed it from 2005 until he was fired for sexual misconduct in 2017 (looooots of sexual misconduct). Before that it was the product of anti-semitic conspiracy theories pushed by the likes of the John Birch Society. Evidently Jews were pushing a secular, multi-cultural agenda for decades. Now, some War on Christmas proponents (by which I mean Dennis Prager) will point out that Jewish people wrote the most famous Christmas songs in the American Christmas canon, including White Christmas, Happy Holiday, and others. So this means Jews have not been pushing a secular, multi-cultural agenda. Or something.

In its modern form, the War on Christmas is a lot of screeching from the right, Fox News, and so on, about how “the left” or in some cases “the radical left” or “the Marxists” or “the Communist socialist system of Islam” (yes, someone actually said this) are out to remove Christian traditions like Christmas from the American public consciousness in order to push an agenda of gay marriage, abolition of the nuclear family, and reproductive rights for women. Ahh yes, all the evils presented in Pandora’s Box, finally unleashed.

Now, if you’ve been paying any kind of attention to this debate at all in the past decade or so, you might be thinking, “I thought a ton of Christmas traditions had nothing to do with Jesus!” (Unless you’re Kirk Cameron, who has somehow managed to pretend everything from Christmas trees to Christmas ham is linked back to the Bible in some way, shape, or form.) You’d be correct. Many customs are secular or pagan in origin, and one can strip all “Christian” elements out of Christmas without missing very much. Many of the things the War on Christmas people claim “the left” is “cancelling” are also secular in origin, for example Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (evidently), “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, and Santa Claus (specifically the white version). There’s your standard “we can’t put nativity scenes on public government property!” complaints here as well, and that’s a matter of the separation of church and state. The current stance of the government, last I checked, appears to be that if you stick up a Nativity at the courthouse you have to also put up other appropriate display items from other traditions. Of course, this has not been a problem where I’m from. The courthouse here had inflatables of snowmen and Santa last year, as well as the standard lights on the large pine trees out front, and the only house I know of with a big ol’ wooden cross out front is also the biggest exterior display in town.

However, following the screeching about the War on Christmas is my favorite unorthodox Yuletide custom, possibly excepting the sadistic tracking of the Gavle Goat’s survival or lack thereof. My favorite Christmas movies as a child were the likes of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation so perhaps the signs were there from the beginning. The screeching hits the same beats year in and year out, especially when a Democrat is president. It’s like your holiday playlist, except it’s deranged raving about how the phrase “Merry Christmas” is banned and the word “Snowmen” is cancelled in favor of “snow people”. There’s always defiant declarations that “Real Christians/Americans will be celebrating CHRISTMAS this year and there’s not a damn thing the globalists can do about it!” Perhaps I’m strange for delighting so in watching people tilt at windmills. But I suppose finding it funny takes less mental energy than trying to explain to these people why and how they are wrong.

Andred and Mental Health

The video that started it all. “A Case For Community SPG: Ares and Mental Health”, Aliakai, Jun 17, 2021

My first impression of this video was to the effect of “Hey, this kind of reminds me of Andred and my relationship with Her.”

I have prayed to Her for protection (chiefly from creepy, controlling, or otherwise dangerous men), and She has answered every time. (The times have been few, because I have baggage about asking for things, but when I have asked, She has answered.) When I first met Her, before I even knew Her name, She kept an eye on me. I remember in college in December when the path between the dorm and the location of a test was icy, but the Moon shone in the sky, making sure I got home safely (this is mentioned briefly here).

She is not a Mother Goddess or a goddess of healing and health. That’s the thing. I’m something of a practical-minded person. I feel like if I have a direct means of solving a problem, then I can relax about it. Kind words are great and all but I don’t feel they are all that useful to me. In my experience Andred has not been about simply saying it’s gonna be OK and leaving it at that. She and Ra have helped me organize my life, giving it a structure it might not have outside of school and work. I pray daily. It’s a good reckoning, a cue that the day can begin (which is rough when I have to actually start the day before that point due to reasons, but that circumstance is very rare, and a topic for another time).

Instead, I’ve gotten pointed down different directions. I’ve been told, “I’m your mother now.” And most recently, I’ve been given practical, mundane instructions. “Pick up these things, leave them here. Finish this project.” Or sometimes I get pulled to read up on a given subject (for example, the Fae or English folklore).

Practical directions and reading material get me out of my own head, and while I haven’t needed that much lately, I can’t say it hasn’t helped. Because it has. I feel accomplished when I get something like this done, and that goes a long way toward my self-esteem. Going and doing and reading keep me from doing something self-destructive like dwell on the past with my family.

So, on a deeply personal level, She has been good to me in that way. It’s like resting the body. Resting the mind can help it heal.

Mischief Night Update

As I mentioned, October 30 is Mischief Night, a non-calendrical holiday where assorted bored teenagers get up to pranks. It isn’t very popular where I live, but can be found in urban centers in the East Coast region and the Great Lakes.

October 30 was also when the town held its Trick-or-Treat, on account of the 31st being a school night. I wasn’t present for the affair but according to the transfer sheets where I work, we alone went through six bags of candy. Others tell me it was wall to wall people, confirmed by photographs in the Nov. 5 edition of the local paper.

I suspected everyone and their brother would be out, after around a year and a half of dealing with, or trying to deny, the plague (not technically the plague but you get the point). We’ll see if the Gavle Goat survives this year, or if the ropes will finally snap. In my understanding, things haven’t peaked, but are just getting underway this year.

But, other than a ridiculous number of trick-or-treaters of all ages, very little happened on October 30, according to the Sheriff’s Report printed in the paper (I think by law, along with other public notices). There was a major accident, and a caller reported a youth in a bloody mask attempting to trick-or-treat, but who was told to come back the 31st. That’s it, really. (Of course, around here roughly 40-50% of calls are about wild animals and livestock being places they shouldn’t be. So there’s that.)

As mentioned, I’ve been cultivating a theory that many of the spirits and forces we associate with Halloween don’t associate themselves with Halloween, and we may be seeing more Yuletide activity than anything else.

Preparations

The past 24-36 hours, I have felt the urge to make sure my emergency travel/magic kit is mostly stocked and there are certain supplies in my car (blankets, shovel, spare charger, that kind of thing). I’m not sure why. I feel like something is coming. I may have prepared in completely the wrong way for what may be coming.

But now I’m succumbing to the slightly subtler urge to blog about it. And I know this is where Andred makes me put things She wants me to write about. So I think She might have something to do with this. So I may have been guided correctly after all.

In an upcoming post I discuss an incident early in our relationship, before I knew Her name, when She protected me on a walk home. I remember still how that felt. Undeniable.

I think She may be acting again in Her capacity as protector. Of women, of the people. She has acted this way before, and I have prayed to Her specifically for protection on several occasions. Perhaps I am finally being nudged down a path that will lead to my ultimate safety, through the winter or more long-term. It’s hard to tell, and shockingly my precognitive powers are close to nonexistent (although tarot is a useful tool to me for preparing for the most likely scenario).

Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe something will happen. But I suppose it’s better to be somewhat ready than not ready at all.

I feel the spirits in this Chili’s tonight (or, Fuses DO just blow)

At around 7:30 PM last night (11/2) power was lost to about one half of my workplace. Lights, coolers, freezers, hot chocolate machine, gas pumps, etc. without power. Until around 8:30 or 8:45 I thought we’d be able to have the registers running enough to do important closing paperwork. And then that turned out not to be the case. My bosses and I also discovered in the course of the night that a neighboring building was also without power, a slight concern to one resident who was on oxygen (but thankfully not on her deathbed because of it). That resident also says she heard a pop noise from the transformer. I was allowed to leave early, but as we were leaving gentlemen from the power company (whom my boss called three times) arrived to try and fix the issue. I heard talk of a blown fuse.

When it first started I was immediately overcome by the chill across my skin that tells me that spirits are present and the Otherworld is close. It is the feeling that lends itself to encounters like this. (Note: the rabbit is innocuous, but I felt the need to document it for a reason.) The feeling persisted for almost three hours, long after I got home and decided to lock the doors and not emerge until the sun came up (a decision I am still holding to in the morning). I was sitting in the darkened store with a candle, staring at the streetlights and thinking there was once a time when it would have been completely dark. No light of any kind but the fire. And we came pretty close to what that would have looked like. Waiting out the darkness with a sense of creeping shadow and cold, for it was also a little bit chilly.

Now, to be clear, I’m sure a fuse did blow. And fuses do blow. This is a thing that fuses do when they are worn out, overloaded, or both. This is a reality of modern living.

It is also folklorically attested that certain spirits react poorly to substances like iron (and most probably steel, which is mostly iron anyways). The fact that humans use steel in pretty much everything of import from cars to transformers to buildings has caused some to erroneously believe the Fae, who are intolerant to the material to varying degrees (except probably smithing Fae), are nature spirits or prefer natural habitats. And of course, it is also attested that there are beings that simply set out to cause problems, and may exploit their weakness to steel and iron toward this end. Or they may see a situation like a fuse going out and taking out power to two buildings as an opportunity to make themselves known, or cause other mischief.

I can’t say, but I felt the spirits in that Chili’s last night.

A good summary of my evening.

Samhain 2021

I discovered on 10-27 that the Gavle Goat, a perennial favorite target of Yuletide vandals, has survived 2020, as I had predicted. (I have been researching and preparing mentally for Yule 2021, for which I have big plans I may discuss at a later point.) Now I wonder if the Goat will survive Yule 2021, after four consecutive years of survival, or if the impulse will overtake someone and they will set fire to the straw figure once more (or at least, make an attempt).

I bring this up primarily as an update to a previous post, and a prediction for the future (in a sense). But I’m also doing it because in my mind, it is only the beginning of the most haunted, spiritually active time of the year. Last year I felt it to some degree or another until around May 1, but it peaked in December and January. The spirits will be out and about for a while, and I think many of the oldest ones are a bit slow to change with the human calendar. (In The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas, Ridenour postulates that some customs were shifted around in accordance with various factors, from the Catholic liturgical calendar to the state visits of important people. Generally, he suspects, some things moved “up” or earlier in time from older observances. This dovetails neatly with the theory that older wassailing traditions (and drunken carousing) have influenced Halloween trick-or-treating (and drunken carousing), and Christmas spirits and ghost stories being mostly abandoned in America in favor of Halloween spirits and ghost stories. Though that one is in part due to the Puritans banning Christmas altogether because it was too Pagan and too fun.)

That coupled with the general ramping up of spiritual and Otherworldly activity that everyone and their dog has noticed by this point, means I think we’re going to be seeing quite a haunted yuletide (see also When Divination Hands It To You).

I recognize there are a lot of mundane reasons that drive someone to vandalism of Christmas or other property: boredom, drunkenness, doing it because they can, seeing if they can get away with it, any combination thereof. But, I have been nurturing a theory that something else is also stirring this on, encouraging it. A potential candidate? Of course, I can’t be 100% certain of these things, especially these things, and I won’t say there’s one single answer to everything all the time, but I think there’s something here worth looking into.

Mischief Night

Mischief Night (sometimes called Devil’s Night) is not on any calendar, but I grew up with it being the night before Halloween (making it 10/30). It was the night when houses were TP’d or egged, and pumpkins smashed. Now, police don’t take kindly to such rowdy misbehavior, as the kids who went around smashing pumpkins around here a few years back probably learned (if they were ever caught). But, as I’ve researched into the concept of Yuletide vandalism, I’ve started to suspect that the world needs a little bit of that energy at least once in a while.

My going theory is that there is some potentially otherworldly force (nothing large, mind you, just a nudge) urging people to do things like kidnap baby Jesus figures out of nativity scenes or set fire to the Gavle Goat. I’m unsure what this force is, but I think it’s connected to (and possibly remembers) ancient customs of going door to door demanding food and drink from one’s wealthy neighbors, getting progressively inebriated as the night wears on. Things like the Lord of Misrule and upturning the social order for a little while each year (such as by dressing in costumes or as the opposite sex). I wonder if this force is urging people to do the things they do (like TP houses and yards or egg cars) in that same spirit.

Perhaps bored, drunk teenagers are just the type to be susceptible to that kind of influence? Alcohol can be used to lower inhibitions and allow one to enter an altered state of consciousness. (Don’t ask me about entheogens please.) And perhaps some of it is tied to a resurgence of the otherworldly into the world we have considered “physical” and even “ours” for so long.

But the haunted season is only just beginning.

Black Dogs of Norfolk

The Iceni were a tribe who lived in the area of England now called Norfolk.

According to Black Dog Folklore, there are eighty-two accounts of black dog sightings of various kinds (or of some kind, as there are no details in many cases) in the region. Also according to Black Dog Folklore, East Anglia broadly is home to the Shuck type of black dog ghost, an ominous creature sometimes said to kill those who witness it.

Going off the data provided in the book:

  • at least seven sightings position the dog as an omen of death
  • there are two headless dogs
  • there are five dogs with chains
  • there are three one-eyed dogs (possibly Shucks), one is a local legend
  • there are two reports of hell hounds, including one local legend
  • one dog is called Skutch
  • there are four overt references to Shucks
  • there are four dogs with physical effects, sometimes violent

There are several for which no data has been recorded, so it’s hard to say how things really look without living over there yourself.

There is also the concept of the cu sì, or fairy dog, which I learned about from Morgan Daimler’s works Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk and Fairy Witchcraft. Fairy hounds are recognized as unusual in some way and are sometimes conflated with (or possibly otherwise connected to) other forms of black dogs (many fairy hounds are black, but they can come in white and green, as well as other colors, missing limbs, eyes, etc.), such as the aforementioned Shuck.

I had a sighting of my own, which could fall into either category. All I know is I got a vibe off the encounter and I remember it well.

On page 173 of East Anglian Witches and Wizards, an individual is described as having had a sighting of a Black Dog or Shuck while he was a child, an encounter which inspired him to become a “traditional magical practitioner”. The chapter goes on to describe further encounters with the Shuck, some of which I recognize from Black Dog Folklore but others of which are new to me.

In both sources the Shuck or Barguest (depending, I suppose, on where you are) seems to be connected to the dead. Ancient burial mounds and old tracks used to take the dead to the graveyard. Crossroads. (Barguest may be a corruption of the phrase “Barrow Ghost”, but who knows?) The lines in the Isles between the Gods, the dead, land spirits and the Fae are notoriously blurred, hence the aforementioned conflation, and Christianity has changed a great many things in order to comport with its worldview. (The earliest written account of a Shuck, involving two nearly simultaneous attacks on churches during a thunderstorm, attributed the apparition to the work of the Devil, but if the motif existed then (and there’s a whole discussion to be had about using handy metaphors to describe inexplicable things, it happens to this day in the UFO world) then it is surely based on something.)

It’s possible the Iceni and their tribal neighbors knew of entities similar to the Shuck and other Black Dogs found throughout England. But it’s too difficult to tell and no one’s bothered to write anything down about it. The spirit (which I believe is there) has surely been around for quite some time and is still around, causing the odd spook here and there. Perhaps more sightings will come in given the increasing awareness of the magical world. Who can say?