Pagan

Good King Wenceslas

Hello again, all! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate and just a lovely Friday if you don’t. I know it’s been a fair weirder winter holiday season than many of us have ever experienced. I hope you’ve all found ways to still find meaningful connection with what matters to us – family, faith, nature, self – even when it looked totally different than it has in years past.

Here’s our last winter holiday song of 2020, “Good King Wenceslas.” I’m posting it today because 1) I figured a lot of folks wouldn’t be internetting much yesterday; and 2) Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen, which turns out to mean St. Stephen’s Day, which turns out to be December 26th.

This way to the Wenceslas!

And so we come to the end of our holiday music journey together for the year. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Please consider leaving a comment to let me know! I know that one lone Pagan naturalist with a recorder is insufficient substitute for all the holiday concerts that had to be canceled this year, but I hope I’ve at least brought a little fun into your month. Stay safe, stay hopeful. I’ll probably do this again next year, even if we’ve all emerged by then into the sunlight of a new post-COVID reality. There are plenty more holiday songs where these came from!

Much love for a brighter and more just 2021,

-Eli

Other posts in this series

Photo from engraving by Brothers Dalziel, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Pagan

Winter Solstice 2020: Interdependence

One thing I don’t hear talked about much in Pagan circles is that sometimes you can plan the best ritual, and then it just… falls flat, either for you or for others attending. It’s seldom your fault (or at least, it’s seldom entirely your fault), but it still sucks.

And it’s okay anyway.

I’d been looking forward to Leora and my Winter Solstice ritual for weeks. The concept was simple: for 24 hours (from just before sunset Sunday to just after sunset Monday), we would have a ritual retreat day of rest and reflection. It called back to the spiritual retreat days that Leora and I used to do several times a year back in the day, and gave us a time to honor the quiet contemplativeness of the longest night of the year.

That is exactly what we did. And I was miserable.

Continue reading “Winter Solstice 2020: Interdependence”
Pagan

The Holly and the Ivy

The Winter Solstice is tomorrow! Yay! Leora and I will be celebrating in epic fashion, which I’ll be writing about here later. In the meantime, here’s a song!

By next year, I hope to have learned a real Winter Solstice song. For now, we’ll make do with “The Holly and the Ivy,” the most Pagan Christmas carol I know how to play. I mean, have you looked at the opening lyrics?

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown

O, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir

Yeah, sure, there’s bits after that about Mary bearing sweet Jesus Christ. But… “the rising of the sun and the running of the deer”? “The holly bears the crown”? That’s feels like straight-up nature reverence, y’all. Like, yes, yes, we love Mary and Jesus – but have you seen that holly berry, as red as any blood?

“The Holly and the Ivy” puts me in mind of those quaint, remote English villages someone’s often stumbling across in cozy mysteries, where Paganism and Christianity exist inextricably – if not always comfortably – together. It’s a metaphor for something, I’m sure.

Blessed Solstice, all!

Other posts in this series:

Photo by Rick Barrett of Ambitious Creative Co., via Unsplash.

Photo by Valentina Pescape' on Unsplash
Pagan

Little Drummer Boy

Something about “Little Drummer Boy” makes it super easy for even a novice to play with gravitas. Also, it turns out to be a carol my lovely spouse likes, so it’s a win-win.

Fun factoid: no one really knows the background of this carol. It was written as “Carol of the Drum” by American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941 and first recorded in 1951 by the Trapp Family Singers (yes, those Trapp Family Singers). But was it based on traditional Czech lullaby carol “Hajej, nynjej” or the 18th-century Burgundian carol “Pat-a-pan“? No one knows! It’s a mystery for the ages. If… the ages are interested in things like that.

Anyhoo… here’s the song! O rather… here’s a link to the song, because now WordPress won’t let me add it. Butts.

Happy listening! Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

Other posts in this series

Photo by Valentina Pescape’ via Unsplash

image by Ri Butov
Pagan

The Dreidel Song

Since September, I’ve been reteaching1 myself how to play the soprano recorder. I’m enjoying it immensely; I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed playing an instrument. It’s become an important part of my meditative and spiritual practice as the cooling weather and lengthening darkness have kept me increasingly inside.

My beginner’s method book is full of holiday songs. Makes sense: a lot of them have very simple, repetitive melodies, and they’re very familiar, so I know instantly if I’ve made a mistake. I’m learning a few to share with you, to bring some extra holiday spirit to you this very weird holiday season.

Am I good? Heavens, no. Squeaks abound! But I’m having a lot of fun, and maybe you could use a little fun today?

Let’s get rolling with “The Dreidel Song,” because Hanukkah starts tonight. Chag urim sameach!

1. By which I mean I spent a few weeks learning how to coax something like music out of an instrument much like this in fourth grade. Which was a long time ago.

Other posts in this series:

Photo by Ri Butov via Pixaby