sourdough

Last night – the beginning of Solstice – was one spent looking up at the stars on a chilly Ohio evening. Sitting about the fire we sipped mead, enjoyed German Lebkuchen (“life bread”), sang a few traditional songs, and pondered the mystery of the Sun among the ancestors.

It’s easy to say that, in building stone monuments, the Neolithic people worshipped the sun; but I feel that is an easy answer. I do not see these ‘ancestors’ as so naïve to think their ‘priests’ so competent that they alone controlled the rise and fall of sun and moon, or the tides of the seasons. Plus, did these ancients really need massive celestial calendars when at their immediate location, they were quite capable of detecting the signs of seasonal change. Knowing the first day of either summer or winter solstice does not tell one when to plant in their region. I have long held that the ancestors were practical, having to live a life without the conveniences that we so take for granted. When one must hunt and grow food, one has little time for frivolity; let alone the construction of structures that weigh tons and take years to complete.

So why where they created?

I think it had to do with continuity, with As Above, So Below. That the ‘passion play’ of the heavens was taken as a guide for societal structure. As such, these Megaliths were a means of greater understanding, of trying to reach and/or attain High Mindedness / Hôher Muot. Whatever the reason, I cannot help but be awed by what my ancestors ‘pointed to’, what they deliberately wanted me to ‘look at’. For instance, at Newgrange, on the Winter Solstice, the rising sun illumines the Long Passage, bursts into and illumines the Inner Chamber, and rests upon the Triple Spiral. And this is but one example alone.

The spiral, by its design, beckons us to ‘follow’ it, either inwards or outwards. The triplicity of this design suggests body, mind, and spirit, or the physical, intellectual, and transcendent; even creation, preservation, and destruction, or might, science, and holy. And the sun, is seen as the ‘heroic force’, the principle of rising above, the active principle of life and vitality. Can not the sun in this combination – with triple spirals – be a reminder that all things evolve, that all things change, that life and fertility, warmth and health are ours within the three aspects of our being, equally as it can be ‘darkened’ or taken away. And as gloomy as that may sound, it is also a promise that the ‘sun also rises’ to brighten even the ‘dark night of the soul’. And that is a promise I am comfortable with on Yule’s First Night.

Today, as that same sun rises that rose upon the ancients, I am reminded of the possible interpretation for this, the Second Night of Yule: of the Divine Twins. Purely conjecture, but the day after winter solstice in ancient Rome was Janus Day. This two-faced / aspected god had a counterpart: Juno. Together, they may represent the Divine Twins prevalent among the Indo-European tribes. If so, they could relate to Frey and Freyja, or the Lord and Lady.

Mother Earth and Father Sky are ideas without beginning or end. Frey and Freyja, for example, are twins whose parents are also twins, emphasizing their divine nature and connection back to the beginning of all life. Further, they are associated with horses and the sea, have an astral or star nature, are healers, bringers of fertility, warriors and providers of aid in battle, associated with birds and sacred dance, love humans as their children, assist in childbirth, and are the founders of cities and societies. As twins, lovers, brother and sister, husband and wife, their conjoining manifests in the world around us as increased vitality and abundance. The two threads of their primal nature intertwine and support each other while maintaining a separate and independent existence in all the worlds. Their divine pairing is a cosmic dance of above and below, sea and land, dawn and dusk {*}. And as Frey and Freyja, their names mean “loaf warder” and “loaf maker/kneader” (respectively). Small wonder that my family made Yule Dough in their shape: The Lord at Samhain, to rule through the Dark Year, and the Lady at Beltane to rule the Light Year.

So it is that on this day I will bake bread, filling my kitchen with the rich scent of buttery yeast. From a starter that has components that date back 100 years. Yes, the same starter that I use to create my God Poppet at Samhain, also fills my body and makes me whole / holy.

~ ~ ~

Reference:

Frey and Freyja: Old Europe’s Lord and Lady –
Heathenry’s Flag, Folk and Family, Flax, Fodder and Frith
by: Yngona Desmond, 2007; revised Feb and Oct 2009

 

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