Gifts and Gift Giving at Yule / Winter Solstice! Follow the #TarotBlogHop!


Gift giving, the birth of the Sun King, rebirth and bringing back the Light have always been
the main topics at this time of year no matter what faith you follow. The Return of the Sun represented by the birth of the Sun King was all about survival and looking forward to growing and hunting food and benefiting from warmer weather. Christmas as we know it has it's beginnings in the ancient Pagan Rituals and Ceremonies of Yule and Winter Solstice. All traditions have to do with Gifts and Gifting--the three Wise Men come to mind. We need gifts--they are precious, give us a sense of accomplishment and reward, connect us to what we believe in (from a great benefactor), even if these gifts are not tangible. Rewarding ourselves is a huge self-esteem boost and receiving gifts from family, friends and loved ones can make us feel appreciated. The gifts can be lavish and luxurious or as simple as a well timed "I love you." The latter means much more at any time of year in my humble opinion. 

So how did all of these customs and traditions evolve? There are countless legends surrounding Winter Solstice or Yule depending on what part of the world you are researching and it takes the study of a bit of history. The Norse, Europe, Far East, the Roman Empire, Africa (Kwanzaa), belief in Krampus (Europe's evil twist on Santa), St. Nick or Santa Claus; the themes and celebrations of this time of year certainly overlap. 

Around the time of Christ there was the widespread belief in the cult of the god Mithras, the Sun King in the ancient Roman Empire. Mithras was worshiped from India to Scotland. He was the
patron god of the leaders of the military and the soldiers of the Roman Empire. It is important to note that the similarities of Mithras and Jesus are astounding--more than just a few coincidences. It was the aim of the early Christian Church to bring the Pagans into one place to be indoctrinated into the "new faith" and that the Church would become that "great benefactor" that would protect and meet the needs of the masses. So they blended the traditions of the Mithras and Jesus cults into one to get the masses into one place for further indoctrination.

In the early days, the Church was run as a communist model, everyone put in the middle what they owned and everyone took out only what they needed (from the book of Acts). Well, this only works in theory as we know now...and the early Christian Church benefited by having the allegiance of the masses and owning their land, property, currency, indeed, everything the masses had given up as well. The early Church won the complete servitude of the masses and at the same time, the church leaders fully exploited them. (Think of Christmas as Christ's or Mithras's birthday and the widespread commercialism of this global holiday at the present time. Hummm. Eerily similar.)

After the demise of the Roman Empire and into the Dark Ages, the Renaissance and beyond in more recent European history for example, there were two classes of people--no such thing as the middle class--only the rich/privileged and the poor--the serfs and the peasants. Gifts were measured out and given by the rich to assist the poor at this time of year and in the darkest and coldest days, when the poor could not grow food, might not have much saved or be able to hunt, were sick or might not have any resources at all. Usually divine providence was getting the creds by the poor--as the people were ruled by the serfs and in a huge way by the Church!

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
The poor started to do whatever they could to further their situation and in most cases; to take themselves out of homelessness and/or the daily struggle due to lack of resources for survival and would gladly serve the rich in various ways. They would accept the gifts (usually "crumbs") from the privileged benefactors even if it meant their own exploitation. "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, the moralistic story of the "Spirit of Christmas" (one can also check out the many movies or mini-series made for TV--read the whole book HERE)  is the perfect example of what happened at this time of year during the Victorian Age. This literary work also documented the vast social and class differences between the privileged rich and the poor. Gifting was customary but only at Christmas-time. A huge point that is rarely made is that giving and helping the poor and less privileged should be happening all year round, not just during a specific holiday season.

As an intuitive, doing a Tarot spread for someone opens up a whole new realm to me on exactly what their gifts and especially what their needs are. When one comes for a reading, they should be receiving this information in a light-filled and positive way--no judgments. I read the Tarot in an attempt to guide and help the querent on their way by speaking with them about choices, options, healing and counseling them to reinforce a sense of accomplishment for what they have done, are already doing and what they are receiving. And I let the client know that most of the time receiving is directly related to what one is giving out.

One of the best Tarot Spreads to use for others at this time of year is a Forecast Spread for a snapshot or window into what is coming for the following year. For friends and family that I am with during the holidays, I provide this reading for free. I do this reading well into January for my regular clients. This is the Astrological spread that I have referenced before in other blogs. One needs a basic knowledge of Astrology to do this one. I usually put three cards in each house and three in the center for Spirit or Significator or what the querent will learn or process in the coming year. Different gifts can be represented by the 2nd House of Taurus (material possessions), 9th House of Sagittarius (expansion, higher mind, learning), 12th House of Pisces (spiritual and subconscious). 

  1. GIFTS
The simple Earth, Air, Fire and Water with a fifth card in the middle to represent Spirit...the cross or star spread...can represent the seasons as time for the upcoming year. Or it can mean the elements or directions--or you can make up your own categories. This would be a shorter reading or you can add three cards in each element or direction and modify this spread to suit you and your reading technique. Perhaps the spread can be done with these positions (see caption under graphic). You can start the spread in any position that you feel comfortable with. My personal preference is to start in the North as that is the direction of the Goddess and She represents Earth. And the North Star lies there in the night sky to guide us as a celestial compass. 


A perfect example of how a HERSTORY morphed to a HISTORY: 
SONGS: "The Christians and the Pagans" by Dar Williams
"Ring Out Solstice Bells" by Jethro Tull
"Solstice Night" by S.J. Tucker
"The Longest Night of the Year" by Mary Chapin Carpenter
"Yule" by Sowelo

whatever name you want to call this holiday time! 
It is still all about giving!

Mother Christmas. Artist Unknown.


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