The Twelve Days of Yule: From Mother’s Night thru Twelfth Night


From sagas we have two terms: jólablót (Yule sacrifice) and midvinterblót (Midwinter sacrifice). We’re left with a puzzle, were they two terms for the same observance, or different observances. Scholars are cautious about assuming information, but I believe they are the same.

If you’ve ever heard the Christmas Carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” modern heathens opt to celebrate this as the Twelve Days of Yule, with the last day culminating on 12th Night. Since ancient calendars followed a different method of time, the solstice celebrations as well as later ‘Christmassy’ style observances can vary from place to place as to when they occur, in large part because of differences with changing calendars: lunisolar, Julian, Gregorian. This is further complicated as Christianity and Christian leaders from the church and monarchies also changed dates and celebrations, causing an array of syncretizations. For Christians it was Pope Julius I who said December 25th was the birth of Christ in the 4th Century, and later in 567 CE the Council of Tours would officially proclaim that the 12 Days were to be celebrated from Christmas Day through to the Epiphany. Remember, Christmas exists in December because Christians’ attached their religious observance to the pre-existing celebrations in the Roman Empire connected with Saturnalia, or the god Mithras. As Christianity spreads into Europe we see that syncretization blend again as it comes into contact with the Germanic cultures. Because of all of this there’s really no 100% right time, because the calendars kept changing and the dates were moved around, we’re looking at a range of possible dates from December well into January.

Today, most pagans and heathens celebrate the yuletide as running from approximately December 20 – December 31 (but there are variations), many opting for ease to focus rites around the astronomical winter solstice. We’re told by the writings of German missionary, Thietmar of Merseburg (b975 – d1018 CE) that in Denmark yule fell in the month of January (this after the country had converted officially to Christianity decades earlier).

In the archaeological record we have some runestaves (in this case they were a type of runic calendar) that points to a celebration known as  “midvinternatterna” (Midwinter nights) occurring from roughly January 12-14th (Julian calendar) or January 19-21 (Gregorian calendar, what we modernly use in the mainstream Western civilization today). While this seems incongruously tied to the winter solstice, we have records from Roman sources that talk of the Germanic tribes tying their gatherings to nights of the new or full moon. Modern recreations of the old Germanic lunisolar calendar would have Yule occurring at the full moon, after the new moon following the winter solstice, taking us into January.

We do know that the celebration of Yule wasn’t always twelve days long. In the Norse text Heimskringla: The Saga of Hakon the Good (written in the 13th Century about events 3 centuries earlier) talks about it once lasting for three days, or as long as the ale lasted. The night it began was known as the slaughter night, where animals would be ritually slain. Ynglingna saga also talks of animal sacrifice. The meat later used to feed the community, as well as the Gods. We know there were practices as well of human sacrifice too during other ritual observances across the Northern Tradition umbrella for various rites. In Ynglinga saga ( in Snorri’s Edda) is that of the Swedish King Domalde being sacrificed to help during years of drought and famine, the scene famously imagined by Swedish painter Carl Larsson in his Midvinter’s Blot.

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Yuletide Origins & Traditions – The Santa Claus Mythos

Just as our pagan cousins celebrate the eight major sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year, for those of us in the Northern Tradition we too have somewhat similar key celebrations that we call holy tides (from the Old Norsehátíðir). Some of these celebrations are more significant and special than others, and these especially important holy-days are known as high holy tides: such as Ostara, Winter Nights, and Yule which is now upon us.

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Valkyries aren’t your “babes”

Women are sadly accustomed to being sexualized to ridiculous extremes, seemingly everywhere. For those of us who (aren’t imbecilic womanizing wannabes that) identify with the religious practices surrounding Northern Tradition Polytheism, we know that women held (and should still hold) power and respect.

Despite such a rich background, it never ceases to amaze me the ridiculous attitudes that propagate within our religion, carry-overs of bigotry and sexism from the culture at broad. Some will refer to these men as Bro-satru, typically characterized by those who play fight and talk of being warriors and being waited on hand and foot by valkyries who are little more in their minds than mead-bearing tavern wenches around for eye-candy and pleasure toys. (insert heavy sarcasm and eye-rolling here): Like they’re so amazed by your warrior prowess they’ll just fuck you right there: Hardcore! In the mead-hall.

A prime example is a “valkyrie decor plaque” I recently stumbled upon in an ecommerce shop online. Since I think it’s pretty reprehensible, ignorant, and just plain tacky, I am NOT publicizing where I found it, let alone the name of the artisan behind it. Clearly we see a dehumanized woman, her only worth is in her breasts and between her thighs. She can’t have a face or head because then that means she has a brain and she starts to become a real representation of a human being with arms and legs. Limbs she can use to avoid or fight the warrior-wanna-bes who have no idea what it means to sacrifice a limb, let alone a life to protect their community including the women who they should have been raised to respect as far more than sex objects. This plaque is nothing more than a masturbatory visual aid for use.

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Loki, Discord and Weak Lore

I will always Hail Loki.

Hail be to thee Loki,
God of my heart,
Dear friend and mentor,
whispering wisdom
and bald truths.

When I find myself lost
On serpentine paths
Mired in brambles,
Eclipsed by fog and shadow,
You guide me through
back to the crossroads.

Hearth fire,
Sturdy stone,
Flickering flame;
You, dear Loki,
Beckon me home.

So do I hail!

Group Lokean Letter to the Wild Hunt

It took me several days to bring myself to read the unclean column over on Wild Hunt by Siegfried. Just the headline alone gave me a headache. Making a comparison from a mortal to a God is a problem. Painting a God with a wide brush as evil is a problem. To see a column that devalues religous expression and our Gods is disheartening and deeply troubling.

Consider my name added to this letter too: