Winter Solstice in place of Xmas….

Every year it hits. A general unease with the season…or more, the ‘holidays’ and every year I determine I must do something about it.

This year I have talked to family and friends and it’s rather interesting. Many feel like I do…except my son and Husband.

They are the holdouts….spoiled by the previous Xmases. Having only one child has allowed us to spoil him in certain ways. He is a good young man, 21 now, but I could see it in his face when I said: “How about no Xmas this year?”. A look of panic, like the world has stopped turning. A bit of the same in my Husband’s expression.

In Christian tradition Xmas is a time not for self-indulgence, but for sharing in ways that promise renewal for ourselves and others.

Seeking a deeper meaning for this time of year, as I am spiritual, not religious.

And that is the rub. All around are the Churches….the different denominations we have attended over the years….Episcopalian (from youth and more recently) Quaker, Mennonite. But I don’t fit.

Perhaps it’s because I have never really ‘felt’ like a Christian. And that was helped along when I realized that I was part Jewish..though that ‘secret’ was only revealed after my father died. But I was born on the wrong side of the stick, I am told by a Jew, and I am not a Jew because my mother wasn’t.

So, that claim to religion is out. But then again….I think religions…of all elk, are superstition. Or something like that. I just never…well, bought it.

I think how I would describe myself best is I am really a pagan. No, not human sacrifice, though there are some folk I would gladly throw on a merry pyre, but I don’t delve too deeply into the modern paganism that I see and have once experienced. Silly stuff, with a lot of rules and regulations.

I go more towards the worship of the Earth…the turning of the seasons, what I understand and make of it all. There is such magnificence and splendor in the Earth and nature, that why do we seem to gravitate towards tinsel and ho-ho-ho?

There is enough within nature, and what we have made of it to celebrate. I came across something about the “Holy and the Ivy” and had never understood the basis of this song. Long ago, holly and ivy were considered the male and female symbols within the forest. Songs narrated their often rowdy vying for mastery in the forest or the home. Sounds much more interesting than what we are served up with plastic boughs and plaid ribbon this time of the year.

So this year I am going to institute a celebration of the Winter Solstice. It happens on December 21. I will decorate this old house with holly (we got a large tree , a male…and we have a neighbors female tree…with berries.) and Ivy we have aplenty. Fir boughs on the mantels and windows and over the doors. We will dwell in the beauty of the Solstice, and we will light candles for the appropriate reasons.

We will strive to avoid the crowds, the tinkling bells, but we will give to the Mennonites because they seem to have a strong tradition of service.

And perhaps, in essence, this is what the season is all about: charity and service to others.

Lady Nyo


I saw the Cooper’s hawk this morning. She landed on the chimney pot outside, probably looking for my miniature hen, Grayson. Four years ago she was a starving fledging who mantled over to me while I fed her cold chicken. She’s back this holiday, my spirits lifting. A good Christmas present.

In the middle of the commercialization of Christmas, Nature closes the gap. I have noticed squirrels with pecans in mouths leaping the trees, hawks hunting over now-bare woods, unknown song birds sitting on fences, heard the migration of Sandhill cranes as they honk in formation. You hear their cacophony well before they appear.

There is a brightness to the holly, washed by our early winter rains and the orange of the nandina berries has turned crimson. The smell of woodsmoke in the air and the crispness of mornings mean the earth is going to sleep. We humans should reclaim our past and our fecal plugs and join the slumber party like our brother bears.

Jingle Bells will fade and our tension with it. Looking towards deep winter when the Earth is again silent will restore our balance and calm our nerves with a blanket of peace.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008

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13 Responses to “Winter Solstice in place of Xmas….”

  1. angelawgrace Says:

    I did a lot of research on the origins of Christmas some time back. You might be interested in reading up on the history of the Catholic church and how the rituals of Christmas again. It appeals to your pagan nature and might help you get into the swing of the season. If nothing else, remember that it’s a time when the people who love you want to be with you.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Angela….

    I will do some research…..everything in churches..regardless what religion…and synagogues….harkens back to tribal and pagan times, methinks.

    I hope I have some people who want me around! LOL!

    Pretty iffy business sometimes!




  3. P Says:

    My Lady

    Like you I find ‘established’ or institutional religion to be anathema to spirituality. If I have a preference it is more towards the Gnostic, the realisation of the Deity in oneself, that personal knowledge that so terrifies The Church.

    All the religions of The Book seem to be about the control of access to the Deity. Mediation of the Word through a frequently corrupt and perverted priesthood elite.

    Christianity in the 4th century AD, during one of the many ‘editing’ sessions at Nicea, altered the Truth and diluted the Message. Thereafter Christians followed a path determined by men. The Cathars of Medieval France, also called Albigensians, were horrifically persecuted by the Roman Church. They had male and female Perfects, Gnostics who were not go betweens to the Deity but instead examples for the people.

    Their simple truths so terrified the establishment that brutal bloody extermination of men, women and children to the cry of ‘heresy’ was their reward.

    It scares me that fundamentalism in ALL established religions is apparently growing. I don’t want to be told what to believe, I want to find my own path, my own knowledge of the Whole, my Gnosis. I minister of the Anglican Churh recently said to me that it was uncomfortable that the views, tolerance and ethics of the Wiccans was more Christian than those of the religious far right.

    However, I do enjoy a good Turkey dinner with all the trimmings!

    My compliments of the Season, Nadolig Llawen.


  4. ladynyo Says:


    What an educational post you write!

    I agree that fundamentalism is growing….narrowing in mind and spirit. This is not only the plight of Christians…Muslims and Jews have the same issues I believe.

    Perhaps it’s fight or flight going on here amongst the fundies.

    “I don’t want to be told what to believe, I want to find my own path, my own knowledge of the Whole, my Gnosis.”

    Agreed. Meister Eckhert in the 15th century said many of the same things…but he was more the Mystic version of Christianity. I love his writings….a few more centuries, and he would have been burned at the stake.

    Lady Nyo


  5. Athene Says:

    Paganism is a beautiful religion, and P is correct in that some Christians around are a bit unsettled that paganism is more Christian than Christianity. While I’ve encountered several Christians who believe that paganism is Devil worship (untrue as pagans don’t worship the Devil – the concept of Satan is a Christian belief), I have also encountered those who have similar thoughts of the Anglican minister.

    To me, the three religions of Abraham are growing the most fundamentalist. While I’m sure there are fundamentalists in any religion, these three seem to be the most polarizing and isolating in terms of beliefs.

    Personally, my beliefs on religion are that you may believe in whatever you wish to. If you want to worship God (Christian), Allah, Zeus, Hera, Thor, Loki, Anubis, Anzu, Nyame, Ananse, Enumclaw, Kapoonis, Ilmater, Tutujanawin, Ba Sin, Guan Di, or even no higher power at all, then awesome. The only time I will object to religion is when others try to push their religion on me (usually, again, fundamentalist behavior, and not widespread among more moderate believers). I, personally, am staunchly against a ban on gay marriage/civil unions/adoption due to the reasoning that the Bible forbids homosexuality. If there is a non-religious secular reason to ban gay marriage, then I’m all ears, but all I hear from the fundamentalists is that the Bible says it [homosexuality] is an abomination, and references to Sodom and Gomorrah. Interestingly enough, while Leviticus forbids homosexuality, it also forbids the eating of shrimp and lobster.

    But these are debates for another time…

    Christmas, anyway, is essentially a pagan holiday. Christmas trees, yule logs, holly and ivy – they are pagan Solstice traditions that have been adopted into the Christian religion as keeping such traditions would help ease the transition from pagan to Christian for the converts.

    The tree (evergreen, able to survive the winter) was the essence of life. It was also a phallic symbol of fertility.

    Red holly symbolizes menstrual blood of Diana, queen of the heavens. Holly is also an acceptable wood to make a wand (today, used for drawing down the Moon/Diana)

    Mistletoe with the white berries symbolized semen (another sun god fertility reference)

    Thus, standing under mistletoe and holly and kissing would empower that couple to be blessed by the god and goddess to be fertile and bear healthy strong children in the upcoming year.

    And the 25th? It’s the birthday of the sun god Mithra.

    To end my little bit, in good Wiccan spirit – “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”

    And for P, namaste.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Athene!

    What a lovely comment….with your permission,, I would like to move this wonderful entry to the front of the blog tomorrow…for further reading….focused reading…and more comments.

    May I???

    Lady Nyo


  7. Sandrine Says:

    Lady Nyo,
    I hope you don’t mind me popping over from Authonomy. I wondered if you would mind terribly if one of my characters were to be reading your book in a key scene? There are too few Hungarian books that suit the purpose, and yours would be perfect. Do get in touch over there.

    I will now flit back to that other world


  8. smotp Says:

    At the risk of drawing such deep contemplation aside I wanted to discuss the Kiss?

    We have seen words about Holly and Ivy but there is also the Druidic traditions attached to Mistletoe. Druids are frequently depicted in slightly sinister and often comic guise but their pagan beliefs are as valid as any other and their history is long.

    I have been fortunate to visit Silbury Hill, Avebury and of course Stonhenge all in Wiltshire. The power of all three sites to fire the spirit and feelings of smallness in the face of the Universe can only really be appreciated by being there in person. I confess that I touched the stones with some wry self mocking but felt something … indefinable. Probably indigestion my partner said and it may have been simply my own mind filling a blank. But it left me feeling … different.

    Which draws me back to Mistletoe and Kissing. It is a British tradition, often used as an excuse in office parties to hang a sprig of Mistletoe and stand under it inviting a kiss. Usually the more unnatractive men hoping to get lucky!

    But connecting with a partner under the influence of the Mistletoe has deeper meaning, that of fertility and the securing of the new year in terms of abundance. I don’t believe it is coincidence that the berries bear a striking resemblence to droplets of semen.

    The Kiss is such an intimate expression of emotion. It is often said that sex workers avoid kissing as it is too personal, too engaging. Yet how many of us consider how we kiss and what pleasure can be gained from that touching of lips and sharing of breath.

    It is a complaint that I have heard that some men are too quick to penetrate. Hmm I shall rephrase that. That they use their tongue too soon and pay insufficient attention to the senses before pressing home their attention. But women are allowed to take the lead also. It does not have to be a passive experience.

    I mentioned the swapping of breath earlier. Here too there is deeper meaning and emotion to be gained from a kiss. The taking and return of life essence, the mingling of breath is to some exceedingly erotic.

    The deep penetrating and exploring kiss for others is sufficient to tip them over into orgasm. The sensations of being over powered and mastered, coupled to the embrace and caress are wonderful, needing nothing more to satisfy their sensual needs.

    Despite the schoolyard warnings, one cannot get pregnant from a kiss, of itself! But it can be a delight and worth spending time and effort to do properly. To kiss well, with dedication and concentration, considering that your partner is the only thing in your universe at that moment will make both of you feel … different.

    Perhaps it is that feeling of difference that we are all seeking in some small way.

    My regards


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Sandrine!

    I would be honored for one of your characters to be reading my book…I guess you are referring to “Az Kapitany”?

    Of course! Such a normal request between Hungarians, neh?

    Please also feel free to contact me by email… ….I have been sick this past week (stomach issues….seems that many writers get ulcers!) so have been doing little of what I should, and I have so wanted to read your book.

    Please send me the title again so I can spend some of today reading your book.


    Lady Nyo


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Phil….you (and others) make writing a blog such a wonderful event.

    Who would harness educational and sexual things, exploration together in such inviting ways but you? (and others here….)

    I am going to post an entry this morning cribbing from both you and Athene’s posts…because you both have soothed the heart and mind here in these matters.

    I also want to make a remark on Stonehedge….

    Thank you, dear friend.

    Lady Nyo


  11. Sandrine Says:

    Thank you so much. Sandrine/Szandi will spot her beloved reading Az Kapitany. I’ve sent you an e-mail with a few more details.


  12. Sandrine Says:

    Lady Nyo,

    My e-mail bounced back, so I will give the reference her – Songs… is at

    You can also find it via the Authonomy home page (it has contrived to fluke its way to the number one position in the charts.

    As you will see in Chapter 1, Sandrine and Yang are lovers. We then flash back and 40 chapters later they meet (by sight only) at Sandrine’s art college interview. When Sandrine arrives in college at Budapest I want her to see Yang reading your book (if you could recommend a suitable passage that would be fantastic). What later transpires is that throughout the preceding chapters yang has been secretly manipulating Sandrine’s actions, and the choice of an erotic book set in Tokaj would be the perfect culmination for this.

    Many thanks


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Sandrine, Congratulations on the #1 place!! Wonderful…I will read.

    I would recommend Chapter 10…or 9…where Elizabeth is in the back of a car, and the Hungarian landscape is speeding by…I will hve to check….10 I believe has a lot of erotic content….

    I will check.

    Lady Nyo


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