“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.
Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.”

~ Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull ~

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Yule ~ Day 1

I'm participating in 'Lady Cattra's 12 Days of Yule Blog Party' which begins today. If you'd like to particpate it's not too late. Pop over to Lady Cattra's to get all the information . . .

1st Day of Yule – Mother’s Night
December 20th

"Mother's Night welcomes in the Season of Yule. As we encourage the return of Caillech Bheur (the feminine aspect of the Sun) we honor the feminine all around us. Honor the Creide, Cerridwen, Morrigan, all Mothers, Great Grandmothers and your feminine ancestors. Raise a horn to the glorious women who give birth to us and to the feminine spirits that support us. Give this time in honor to all Mothering aspects."

A belief and trust in protective maternal deities seems to have been strong among our Pagan ancestors for many centuries and continues even today. The earliest written records of these beliefs began during the first century C.E. and predominate in the lands of the continental Germans.

The core areas of the matron cult were in ancient Germania, eastern Gaul, and northern Italy, but it reached as far as present day Scotland, Frisia, southern Spain and Rome. More than 1100 votive stones and altars to the matrons or mothers have been found to date, over half of which are dedicated to beings with clearly Germanic names; others are of Celtic origin. The Germanic folk and the Celts apparently shared this belief.

On this night, children (as well as some domestic animals) were committed into the protection of the 'Mother' deity. 'Mother's Night' wrote the 8th century monk Bede, coincided with Christmas Eve. In his account of the Pagan calendar in 725 AD, the Venerable Bede wrote:

". . . began the year on the 8th kalends of January [25 December], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord. That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht [Mother's Night], because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night."

On Mother's Night, just as the children had once been committed to the protection of a goddess, ancestor, or the female deities known as the Disir (the ancestral mothers, the first of each of our ancestral line), the ceremony became Christianised and the 'mother' was naturally equated with the Virgin Mary.

But what was the ceremony?

An account written in the 19th century recounts the experience of one woman who remembered her grandmother carrying out the ritual. She explained that, once the children were in bed, the old woman rose from her place by the peat fire and made her way over to the cradle where the youngest lay. Raising her hands over the slumbering infant, she spoke aloud:

"Mary Midder had de haund
Ower aboot for sleepin-baund
Had da lass an' had da wife,
Had da bairn a' its life.
Mary Midder had de haund.
Roond da infants o' wur land."

This ritual was repeated over all the children, while her grandfather sat raking the peats in the hearth. The old man was also thought to have been reciting something but, unfortunately, his softly spoken words were inaudible.

The altar I put together to honour my own Mother and Grandmother's. I also have a picture of Hecate to represent my ancestral mothers and all 'Mother' goddesses.

A Blessing for Mother

With the first light of sun,
Bless You.
In your smile and in your tears,
Bless You.
When the day is done,
Bless You.
Through each day of all your years,
Bless You.

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Ketutar said...

This was nice :-) Thank you for posting :-)
I'd recommend my husband's wonderful entry to this 12 days of Yule :-)

Henric C. Jensen said...

This was a really nice post:) Thank you for sharing :) I hope Lady Cattra gets around to posting the list of participants soon.

Henric C. Jensen said...

oh, yes - here's my entry for day 1: http://bearinabottle.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/mothers-night/

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great post!