The Rich-Yule Death of Sacrifice

The Yule Log Ritual

The burning of the Yule Log on the Winter Solstice is a tradition of northern Europe, perhaps originating in Norway. There are many versions of this tradition and they always include finding a log, decorating it, attaching wishes/desires to it and burning it on the day of the Winter Solstice, usually at sunset. I have a preference regarding rituals involving desire: if it´s something I want to come to fruition, I bury the item that symbolizes the desire to plant it in the earth, or float it on the river. If it´s something I want to eliminate permanently I burn it and sometimes I might scatter or bury the ashes too.

There are many opinions on what makes a ritual and I offer mine here, to provide context as to why we are performing this particular ritual in our clan, this year. I reject the sociological distinction between the sacred and the profane as a product of, and a justification for, religion. Pre-religion, no such ´dichotomy` existed – all existence was sacred. However, it was also accepted that existence included visible and invisible realms, in dynamic relationship with each other. All archaic indigenous cultures recognized hierarchies across both realms and described Supernatural elements in various ways. For my own, practical purposes, I regard the Supernatural as a collection of non-carbon based living principles or entities, that form part of the web of life; some have higher-level organizing functions and others, not so much. A mundane act, such as decorating and burning a log, is elevated to a ritual act when it is performed with the intention to interact with the Supernatural in some way. Anyone can do it and make it stick.

Winter Solstice

In modern times, the winter solstice is generally viewed as the beginning of winter, which is another mark of our separation from the cycles of nature. The darkest part of the year is from Samhain to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Thereafter, the days grow longer, initially by only a few minutes in each 24 hour period, imperceptible to our human senses, but providing essential information to plants and other life-forms as they stir to life. We only begin to notice the change in light around mid-January, which brings us to the edge of spring on the 1st February. (Spring equinox being the mid-point of spring.) To our ancestors, the winter solstice marks the return of the sun, literally, which they would have celebrated in various ways, most of which have now been co-opted by organized religion and long forgotten. The seasons and cycles remain and acknowledging them, however you choose, still brings you into closer interaction with Nature and Supernature.

In performing rituals grounded in Nature and the cycles of the seasons you enliven dormant genetic patterns and express them in a fresh way, waking up ancestral memories to bring forth lost wisdom. We had a little taster of this as we discussed our ´Rich-Yule logs`, Dean said: Oh, good to know we`re going to burn them on our fire, so I won`t make mine 15M long. An innocent throwaway comment, or the echo of ancestral voices? According to some sources the tradition began in Norway, where Dean´s maternal grandparents were from, where winter solstice was celebrated with a giant log being hoisted onto a great fire in the village.

Our ancestors celebrated the return of the sun at the winter solstice and they used their imagination to project characters onto the Supernatural powers they observed and their narrative drive to create the stories of their lives. Bereft of this interaction, the sun still rises, the days lengthen, but without the charge of experience the life force is weakened and winter sleeps through spring.

Mourning

This year at dawn on the day of the summer solstice, we scattered my parents ashes around Mother Pine in the woods here. It was a simple and beautiful ceremony, with Dean, my brother and his wife and two young sons. This completion stage of mourning for me began on the Day of the Dead, when the cemeteries here throng with people visiting their deceased relatives with flowers and special cream cakes, known as ´nun’s farts`. My father would have laughed heartily at the idea of us eating nun’s farts on his grave, but as none were available here, we just followed the local custom in our own way and had a drink with them and Mother Pine and the denizens of the woods.

There is no grief or sadness in this stage of mourning – more of a kind of loving formality to it. My parents and all my ancestors rest in a state of non-living coherence and I feel their attentiveness. They bring gifts of insight and guidance, as well as memories that are not my own. Yet, I felt strangely unsettled, like the pull of the mercurial glue between the worlds tugging on my mind. I wanted to give something in return. I want to honour their lives and their deaths and recognize the sacrifices made by all my ancestors, willingly or not. I realized that this is a requirement for the completion of mourning.

But, what can you give to the dead?

The Death of Sacrifice

The answer came, quite literally in a flash, as we were walking the dogs just after sunrise on the last day of the Snaketamer shift. It was grey and raining – it’s rained every day this month, which is quite unusual. Suddenly, as we walked into an open field the sun burst through the clouds and trees, low on the horizon lighting up the landscape for just a few seconds before disappearing. It sounds kind of dramatic, but in that moment I knew that the best gift I could offer them was the Ritual Death of Sacrifice.

The idea that you must sacrifice something important to you, even your life, to a higher authority, in order to get something you already have, has been around for a long time. It might have originated in the myths of the dismembering of a primordial being to create the universe, which could have been a genuine gift, offered without expectation of anything in return. But that was not how the priests interpreted it. The word ‘sacrifice’ comes from two Latin roots, sacer, meaning ‘sacred’, and facere, meaning ‘to make’ or ‘to do’. So sacrifice would mean, ‘to make sacred’ which was job security for the priests.

Sacrifice has gone mainstream since ´Jesus gave his life for our sins.` Sacrifice is now an every day expectation; ´You can’t make it without sacrifice,` or ‘ It has to hurt to work.` I’m sure you are well aware that the sacrifice of adults, children and animals is as alive today as it was in the ancient world, especially as it’s openly flaunted.

Giant statue of Molech, erected by the Vatican at the entrance to the Roman Coliseum

Sacrifice works as a twisted threesome between the sacrificial victim, the sacrificer and the higher power that must be appeased. Those who commit or order the sacrifice, are compelled to appease the Supernatural entity because they have convinced themselves that ´it` is the source of their power. In other words, they have made their survival dependent upon the notion of sacrifice and these rituals of appeasement.

That begs the question: what does it take to slay the egregore of sacrifice?

I´m opting for the tried and tested methods of fire and famine, boosted by the three Supernatural weapons that can only be wielded by the Luminous Child: playfulness, gratitude and innocence.

Fire is obvious, you burn the log, rich with symbolism. Famine means starving the beast, burning away all memory of sacrifice from your mind and never letting those thoughts back in. The only way I can do this is to make it into a game. It also requires authentic, heartfelt gratitude for the death force, to free it from the grip of the egregore.

Freedom of Death

In our modern society, death receives only the briefest of nods in plastic funeral parlours and sterile crematoriums. His contribution to life is unacknowledged. He is trapped in an artificial limbo, force-fed on unripe and unwilling victims, unable to fulfil his destiny in turning the wheel of life. With a full belly and no welcome from the living, death is a poor ally, yet without death these parasites and predators would live forever. Even death needs a bit of guidance in these dark days.

As I was contemplating the freedom of death, my friend GreenVVood sent me his astrology reading for this month:

“Intensity and a deep connection to the D-Force (Death Force) are hallmarks of the constellation of the Scorpion. When referring to the D-Force however, many can become intimidated as they take death literally. The D-Force provides the opportunity for constant transformation, dying to the rigidity of who we were, or of whom others think we are, which of course leads to the inevitable rebirthing process of who we are as timeless beings of infinite awareness. In many shamanic cultures, rites are performed to initiate individuals into different phases of power in one´s life. In order to fully enact these rites of transformation, one must die to who one was before the rite was performed. Living a life of many deaths is extremely empowering and essential for any individual attempting to attain the Great Work.

With the Moon conjunct the Sun in the head of the Scorpion, the venom and transformational potency of this moment asks us intimately: do we have the courage to relinquish and die to what impedes us from truly being? Can we be authentically genuine expressions of individuated genius, birthing continuously in all moments? Do we have the courage and vulnerability to be truly ourselves, dying continuously in all ways that inhibit us from expressing this was of life?”

This is the time to welcome death to the party, to reconnect him with the fire of life and free him from the bondage of sacrificial rites. You really do need a personal relationship with death if you want to recommend your enemies to him, he´s not on WhatsApp. Not only that, but you might also want him to show up promptly, to ease the suffering of a loved one when they are ready to move on. And then there is your own completion and final transition. I’ve been making my acquaintance with death and when I’m ready I’d like to sit under a tree and invite him to wrap me in his black feathered cloak of eternal compassion and return me to the womb of the Great Mother.

The Rich-Yule Death of Sacrifice

At sunset on the winter solstice this year, our clan will perform the Rich-Yule Death of Sacrifice. For us it will be a 21 day ritual, but it does not need to take that long. Tomorrow, on the 1st December, each of us will find a log in the woods and decorate it richly and beautifully, but not with anything precious. As the days descend into mid-winter we will contemplate what we have willingly sacrificed in our lives, or been forced or duped into sacrificing and write it on a piece of paper and pin it to the log.

The sacrifice must have been personal, although you might not have viewed it that way at the time – you might not even have been aware of it, especially if it happened to you as a child. Childhood vaccines and circumcision are examples of how health and emotional well-being of children are sacrificed to the medical authorities, henchmen of the demiurge. Dean was lied to by doctors and bullied into sacrificing a parotid gland and his sense of taste to the medical mafia, supposedly for his health. I sacrificed my intuition and direct connection to the Supernatural in my 20s, when I decided to become a lawyer, so that I could ´fit in` and be ´successful.` These are just a few examples.

The yule log, carefully selected, lovingly adorned and covered in sacrifices becomes a substitute for the egregore of sacrifice we will burn it to ash and scatter it to the winds.

With thanks to Hecate.

Freya’s Sulphuric Necklace

In another post, Yellow Dock: Badger Medicine for a New Story I recounted how our dog Freya got a new tale and became my teacher. So, the other day, when she began digging again, relentlessly, all over the newly grassed loonie pad, I took notice. She knows so much more about the gods and nature spirits than I do, as she runs with them every day. This time she was eating clay, rather than roots, so I duly searched on ´Freya and minerals´ and it didn’t take long to uncover the story of the Norse Mother Goddess Freya and her signature necklace, Brisingamen.

Freya, the most beautiful goddess and supernatural embodiment of lust, fertility, battle and magic is said to have acquired the fiery necklace from four dwarves, that she stumbled upon in their forge in the borderlands. The necklace was so beautiful and her desire for it so intense that after the dwarves refused to sell it to her for gold or silver, she agreed to their exceptional terms and spent a night with each of them in turn. The rest of the story drivels on about how she felt ashamed after and eventually shrivels and dies under the standard Christian morality makeover. The necklace is a mystery, but then so is Freya. The dwarves are probably a later addition to the story.

As it happens, we have some friends here who have introduced us to the Bock Saga. The Bock Saga speaks of prehistory, long before Norse lore and Christianity. In this story, Frey and his twin sister Freya are the progenitors of the human species. I’m not familiar enough with the Bock Saga to know whether there is any mention of Freya having an actual necklace, but the metaphysical allusion is clear. The Saga tells, that as Frey reached puberty, he began producing ‘seeds’ and this was the signal that he was ready to receive the seed sounds, referred to as the alphernas beten.

I’m struck by the similarities between the described function of alphernas beten and the seed sounds known as bija in the vedic system. I think it’s quite likely that a root language emerged at the same time in different locations on the planet. Many researchers agree that the old vedic language originated from beyond the Indian sub-continent, but a ‘mine is older than yours’ mentality is not useful here. Coming (gulp) back to Frey and Freya and her magical necklace.

As Frey aligned himself with the vibrational frequencies of the sounds, he is said to have come into resonance with the primal wisdom necessary to maintain harmony on the planet, which he had to impart to his sister, Freya, so that it could be received and activated. According to the Saga, the intention of this incestuous coupling was to generate a system of procreation that maintained goodness and balance in the descendants of Frey and Freya. Much is made of the physical, biochemical properties of semen as the vehicle of procreation, however, the seed sounds as pure frequency are likely to have a far broader co-creative function. ….and what about Freya?

The bija seed sounds of the vedic system are also known as shakti mantras. They are used in devotion to the Goddess, but they also carry the vibratory forces of Nature that hold, resonate and propel the kundalini force, and shakti is also that power. Think of the mastery of a flamenco guitarist as he makes love with his instrument – there would be no music without his skill, knowledge of the musical language, the intention and timing behind every pluck and the she-er resonant perfection of the guitar, holding and amplifying the sound, his fingers moving up and down her neck….hold it right there!

The physical analogue to Freya’s Brisingamen is the human larynx.

It might not seem immediately obvious, but the human voice generates form, but not the form you have been taught to expect from the meaning associated with the sounds you make. Just look and listen. The connection between the mangled garbage that comes out of most people’s mouths and the ugliness that manifests in their lives is hard to ignore. The magical tongues of our ancestors hang silent as we burn the guitar for kindling – no wonder there are so many thyroid problems.

In his article, ‘Brisingamen, the necklace of Freya’ David Warner Mathisen makes the case for the Brisingamen being the Corona Borealis (Northern Crown) and the constellation of Bootes as Loki.

Northern Crown (yellow) Bootes and Viro from StarMythWorld

The Poetic Edda and other early Norse poems mention how Loki, stole Freya`s necklace and Heimdal, the watchman and the ‘most shining and whitest of gods,’ fought Loki and won it back for her. Mathisen’s goal in this article (so far as I can tell) is to prove that Norse and Japanese mythologies were based on the same constellations, however, he inadvertently highlights something else of greater significance. He points out that the Corona Borealis/Brisingamen is not located in the constellation of the Virgin, where it belongs, but is located the other side of Bootes/Loki, as he hovers over her. So did Heimdal get Freya`s necklace back or not? Or maybe, not yet?

If the human correlate of the Brisingamen is the larynx, then it follows that we lost our power of magical speech because Loki, the trickster and contriver of fraud, stole the necklace. As above, so below. The dreamtime of celestial events and mythology is not necessarily chronological and the stories they tell might play out over eons. The return of the necklace could well be an episode in the story that has not yet happened, as evidenced by the location of the Corona Borealis.

And who is Heimdal?

The authors of Hamlet’s Mill, say that Heimdal stands for the world axis. This is also known as the Shiva linga or skambha/stambha, the cosmic pillar of fire joining heaven and earth, which has at one end of it the Pole Star. Polaris is not currently aligned with Heimdal and this alignment is projected to occur within the next century, or at the latest by 3000AD – roughly in line with the predicted end of the Kali Yuga.

The Poetic Edda has this to say about Heimdal/Heimdallr:

“Heimdallr is the name of one: he is called White God. He is great and holy; nine maids, all sisters, bore him for a son. He is also called Hallinskídi [“Ram”] and Gullintanni [“Golden-teeth”]; his teeth were of gold and his horse is called Gold-Top. He dwells in the place called Himinbjörg [“Heaven-fells”], hard by Bifröst: he is the warder of the gods, and sits there by heaven’s end to guard the bridge from the Hill-Giants [Jotun]. He needs less sleep than a bird; he sees equally well night and day a hundred leagues from him, and hears how grass grows on the earth or wool on sheep, and everything that has a louder sound. He has that trumpet which is called Gjallar-Horn, and its blast is heard throughout all worlds. Heimdallr’s sword is called Head.”

In Norse mythology, the events of the end of the world/age are referred to as Ragnarok. The story goes that Heimdal signals the commencement of the final battle of Ragnarok, by blasting his horn. The gods fight their enemies and many are killed, including Heimdal and Loki who slay each other. Then a new game begins. There are, of course, many versions of the end of the world scenario. I have no doubt that an epic event (or series of events) is on the horizon, but I am also totally confident that the outcome is not predetermined. This would be absolutely pointless and utterly boring, to the gods.

The gods have already given us ALL their power, including the power to completely destroy ourselves as well as the version of them we have created in this age. They are infinite energy and will be reiterated, and the same goes for us. Once you get this, you can play. The only strategy you need is: where are you going to play and how are you going to win.

In this game Freya’s Brisingamen is one of the magical weapons offered to us – the ability to recover and deploy the magical language that creates form. This is a male/yang energy, available to both men and women, sol-fire, from Freya´s sulphuric necklace.

Freya and her sulphuric necklace of amber

The Alchemical Pumpkin

In the dark of the new moon before Samhain, four of us initiated the Game of Subtle Alchemy. In that game we play with desires, polarities and the alchemical principles, to reveal our Supernatural abilities.

My game plan for this month looks like this:

SALT PRINCIPLE: Thinking, Attraction, Projection

SULPHUR PRINCIPLE: Feeling, Courage, Masculine

MERCURY PRINCIPLE: Feminine, Masculine detail

How to play that hand?????

The day before Samhain, it rained and rained. The ‘play indoors’ kind of rain I remember as a kid, because I’m old enough to remember playing outside most of the time. A perfect pumpkin carving day!

In previous years, I’ve gone for the traditional fierce jack o’ lantern style, and it’s always been a solo effort. This year, after 32 years of marriage, we made our first pumpkin together…….aaawwww…….and it turned out to be a cutie.

What does this have to do with the Subtle Alchemy Game?

Mirroring Mercury

The Mercurial Principle in alchemy is the most subtle. Salt is obvious, in your face, physical reality, albeit with mysterious, feminine depths. Sulphur is most easily recognized as the fiery drives of self-expression, both conscious and unconscious, as well as will and intention – a masculine energy. Mercury has been called the universal spirit, Castaneda’s mirroring attention, present in everything. A great deal has been written about it that sounds clever, intriguing even, yet leaves me none the wiser.

In our game, I drew Feminine-Masculine-Detail in the Mercury Principle and Dean drew Masculine-Feminine-Big Picture. That certainly pinged our attention. But what did it mean?

As we played with our pumpkin, we felt the principle in action, mirroring the ideas, actions and intensities that each of us expressed on our pumpkin project. It’s one of the ways the Universe brings itself back into balance, that can be experienced here on Earth. I wanted to add a dimple (Detail) and Dean didn’t (Big Picture). We could have argued about that, but recognizing the pattern, we laughed and our Tiger Pumpkin remains dimple-less.

Tiger Pumpkin

As it turned out, the friendly tiger hiding in the alchemical pumpkin had a few morsels to share.

Wholistic Projection

When you look at a carved pumpkin glowing in the dark, you can’t not think about light, shadow and projection.

I used the term Wholistic Projection in Subtle Alchemy, without describing what I meant by it. Projection is no accidental by-product of the psyche – it is nothing less than a Supernatural ability when opened up.

Projection is the mercury of intention, that makes it stick.

If projection isn’t running on full power, intentions fall short of their target.

What drives full metal projection? The fire of self-love, more than anything.

Jung’s original concept of the shadow personality does not imply that there are toxic flaws lurking in the ore of your nascent character, but society only values raw material for exploitation. As children, in our natural, devotional innocence and desire to fit in, we filtered out the parts of ourselves that didn’t fit society’s mould – and if you didn’t do that well enough, there are always plenty of ‘helpers’ with hammers to bash you into shape later.

The result dimmer light, weak projection and less contrast.

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.”

Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

However, we don’t just project the aspects of ourselves we were trained to dislike – we also blindly project the most precious parts of ourselves onto others. Thinking about it, I wouldn’t be surprized to hear one day, that science has discovered that the entire human genome is projected in every biophoton. As such, most of what we project is necessarily, and thankfully, unconscious. You can never ‘see’ what you are projecting (this is due to the specific workings of the eyes and the different functions of the left and right eye) but you can assess the results by what you attract. Mercury mirrors the content of your projections directly into your soul (sulphur) and that can be delightful, or extremely uncomfortable.

Seeing into Life

Once you recognize this process, you can make the adjustments needed to turn up the power. If projection is the mercury of intention, sulphur is the drive – once you know you are projecting and take responsibility for what you project and what you attract, you can put a little or a lot in the mix.

Projection is part of vision, as is mirroring. Where is the boundary – do we ‘see’ reality into existence?

Drawing Hands, M.C. Escher, 1948

What are you projecting? And what is bening projected onto you?