In the days of welcoming back the Mother Sun to the Northern Hemisphere the ancient tribes recognized that, though the light returns, the true Winter is just beginning. The Days of Jultide began on December 20 or Mother Night–the longest night and deepest Dark time of the Seasonal Cycles. This “Night of the Mothers” may have been celebrated to honor Ancestors and to call for the the Disir, the sacred feminine protectors of the Old Norse pantheon, the Sisters of the Other Realms, such as the three Norns, or Wise Weavers of Wyrd (earthly Fate).
It may also have been a time in which the power of the Valkyriur, or the powerful Swan Maidens, Valkyries and protectors of warriors and dying souls were beckoned to preserve the people on the longest night. Welcoming the Feminine with lengthening light seems to be part of the Viking and pre-Viking periods in Norse mythology and tradition. On December 21, with the rising of the new Solstice Sun, the livestock were slaughtered so that they would not have to be fed during the deep wintertide.
The ritual 12 or more days of great feasting, of setting fires alight atop hills, mountains or high points above the tribal homesteads is still practiced across the northern part of the world. These Need Fires created for for Healing and Blessing reflected the power of the Sun’s fire and were meant to guide the Lady Sun’s progress as she returned from the South toward her northern home.
Feasting, shared generosity and blots or ceremonies of many kinds were celebrated up to January 12. This was a time of honor, fidelity, loyalty and service to the tribe and to the Earth. Oaths were made while sharing long nights of drinking and hand-festa, to strike a bargain by joining hands. These handfasting rituals–or the making of lifetime promises, commitments and pledges could include love, friendship, business or political alliances.
One became an OathWoman or OathMan in the ancient form of pledging and promising commitments to others, or to the Shining Ones, the Gods and Goddesses of Valhalla.
It is very probable that, along with the Roman festival of Saturnalia, this time after the rising of the New Sun may be the ancient Mother of all contemporary indulgences and New Year’s resolutions!
For 2018—consider what it would be to literally become an Oathperson, loyally honoring and KEEPING your vow to yourself, service and preservation of our 21st Century homestead–Planet Earth.