Best wishes this holiday season.

I just want to take the time to spread best wishes on this day of the year.

Merry Christmas

Happy Yule

Happy Saturnalia

Happy Holidays

May good tidings be upon you this season, and unto the new year.

This will not be the last post I publish for 2016. The last post I write for 2016 will be a retrospective on the current year and my thoughts on it, and some “New Year’s resolutions”, dare I say it for lack of a better term. For now, enjoy the rest of this day.

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Time for a happy Winter “Mass”

Today is the end of the first part of my third year of university. I break up for three weeks of winter holidays after having finished a VIVA presentation and having to hand in two written assignments, including a dissertation (or about as close as a 6000 word document gets to a dissertation on my course). It’s been a lot of work, and I think I’ve been progressively busier as the months went by until I opted to just get my shit together with the written assignments.

Now I honestly just want to begin the winter holidays and get into the spirit of the Winter Mass – my own name for the Christmas holiday season, or rather the time between the start of the winter solstice and New Year’s Day. Basically this means I start doing nothing other than try to have as much fun as possible, especially given that this has been quite a year for me. Yes, I ask not much more of 2016 than playing video games, playing my guitar, and some reading I didn’t do, interspersed with a lot of movies. There’s still plenty of time for future blog posts between now and the time when I have to get back to work again, which will of course be some time in January 2017. Essentially, I’m going into festive mode as it were, and I plan to enjoy the fruits of a long fucking year.

The grand climax

Xmas is only 3 days away, the winter solstice begins today, and the holiday season is well under way by now. And so I should take a short space of time to reflect on the nature of the season. At one time, I read about the Roman deity Silenus, and his connection to the modern day Santa Claus. It brought up a connection between the holiday season and festive abandon; merrymaking, excess, revelry, indulgence, drunkenness – all represented by the soused deity Silenus (and, for that matter, Dionysus), and reflected in Santa Claus’ jolly expression, soused face, and festive plumpness.

It seems to make sense that the holiday season would be tied to the likes of Silenus, Dionysus, and Saturn, and that the Roman predecessor of the modern Christmas/Yule would be tied to indulgence. The holiday season, being a time of the celebration of the winter solstice, represents the imminent end of the current annual cycle, the climax of the old year. In terms of the seasons, we are at the peak of darkness when we hit the winter solstice, and we can look forward to the eventual return of light. When we celebrate the closing days of the year, we can feel a seasonal release of sorts, an approaching of the end, and we relieve ourselves with great indulgence until the beginning of the new year. Saturn represents the waning of old before the arrival of the new, hence his depiction around the time of New Year’s Day alongside Baby New Year – a representation of the imminent new year. Deities like Silenus and Dionysus represent revelry and base indulgence of the senses, perfectly befitting the time of revelry. It’s also worth noting that Saturn’s festival of Saturnalia was a time of the subversion of the normal social order of Roman society, a reversal of norms and positions, effectively ushering in a time of liberation. Some also felt that Saturnalia represented a time of the releasing of souls into immortality. In any case, this sense of liberation from the cares of the old year (and, in ancient times, the order of the old year) perfectly befits the time of release, the climax of old, before the end of the year and the beginning of the new year.

This truly befits the spirit of what we now call Christmas, Yule, or Xmas; not the mass of the newborn Christ (despite its title), but the mass of the winter solstice leading up to the new year. I can’t think of the winter solstice embodying anything else, and I certainly can’t think of a genuinely Christian mass of Christ being worth celebrating because everything that makes our winter solstice is simply irrelevant to that Christian story of the birth of Jesus (especially given that Jesus’ actual birthdate probably wasn’t December 25th) and the anti-materialism he is held to have championed. No, it is the decadence, indulgence, and the release of revelry of the celebration of winter solstice and the end of the current year that makes our holiday season what it is.

The Romans of the Decadence, Thomas Couture (1847)

One last thing in advance: Happy Birthday Mithras.

That time of year

If you’ve been anticipating the holiday season, then chances are you may have been following coverage of what’s referred to as the “war on Christmas”. Every year someone does something that isn’t “festive” enough or too secular for the conservative Christian crowd, and all of a sudden it’s declared a war on traditional values and a war on Christmas. This year is no different. Most famously (or infamously if you will), last month we saw Starbucks unveil their festive holiday cups to signify the approach of the holiday season, but instead of having the cups being decorated with festive imagery, this year’s cups were a simplistic design featuring simply an ombre or red color. The company stated that its intent was to allow its customers to write their own story on the cups in contrast to previous cups telling stories of their own, which I think is somewhat noble but kind of pointless because there is a better way for people to tell their own stories than just write on a coffee cup (then again, this is the same company behind that disastrous Race Together campaign). Anyways, this is all something that nobody made a big deal out of until some guy named Joshua Feuerstein decided to whip up a frenzy about it, claiming that Starbucks wants to ban Christmas from their stores, ban employees from saying Merry Christmas, and hates Jesus.

But of course, Starbucks was not the only example of this madness. Apparently, there was one person on Fox News who tried to suggest that the San Bernandino killings could be a literal war on Christmas, and I think some people are thinking that the killings were a hoax . Then there’s the Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore (who is also a member of the NRA) releasing her own Christmas card, featuring most of her family facing the camera and carrying guns (which people in the UK probably find chilling but in America not so much) and with a caption saying “It’s up to Americans to protect America. We’re just your ordinary American family”. And then there’s the University of Tennessee being accused of placing a “ban” on celebrating Christmas, or at least referring to the holiday season as Christmas (even apparently going as far as banning Secret Santa). And America isn’t the only one participating. In Italy, the headmaster of a comprehensive school in the town of Rozzano was accused of cancelling Christmas celebrations for fear of offending non-Christian schoolchildren and parents, particularly those of the Islamic faith, provoking outrage from mostly the right-wing.

Clearly, the same old “war on Christmas” malarkey has persisted to this day. But then there’s the other side of it: when I find people commenting on the “war on Christmas”, and the foolishness of asserting that the holiday season should be the exclusive domain of the Christians, I often see the same old malarkey from the pagan point of view. You know, stuff like this:

Putting aside the narrative that all conversion was forced and happened over a short time as opposed to over a thousand years, last time I checked Christmas as we know didn’t come about as a result of violent conversion. In fact, the modern Christmas isn’t one pagan holiday (like Saturnalia for instance), but rather an amalgamation of winter solstice festivals and traditions, among various of customs even including modern commercial traditions. In the case of the Christian holiday, the winter celebration of Saturnalia was assimilated in the Roman Empire when it became Christian, but ultimately the Christian Christmas that people bicker over nowadays emerged as a result of a mingling of folk, Christian, and what were then modern inventions.

The only historical equivalent I can think of for any “war on Christmas” was when the Puritans tried to stamp out the Christmas holiday in the 17th century in England and in the early American colonies. In other words, when Christian fanatics were trying to get rid of a tradition they thought was pagan, whereas other Christians assimilated it instead.

For me the Christmas we celebrate today doesn’t exclusively belong to Christians or to pagans. And even if this was formerly the case, it isn’t anymore. In fact, Christmas is just the Christian name (derived from an Old English phrase literally meaning “Christ’s Mass”) for what we now recognize as a more universal, or secular, winter celebration that some can choose to celebrate and others can choose not to. I even know some people in LHP circles, circles where people can be against anything perceived as having anything to do with Christianity, who plan on celebrating the holidays in their own way. The Christian way is not the only way to celebrate Xmas, and neither is the old pagan way. For that matter, which old pagan way exactly? Anyone who knows about the pre-monotheistic world knows there were many ways to celebrate the winter solstice. Or are we referring to some new, more universal modern “pagan” tradition, aimed at celebrating a purely “pagan” holiday?

My point is, Xmas/Christmas/Yule is not a Christian holiday, but it stopped being a pagan holiday a long time ago, thanks to the mingling of various traditions and cultural forces and the march of cultural evolution into the modern world, and I’m willing to argue the same for all the holidays I’ve previously heralded as pagan holidays (well, maybe except Easter). And because of this, I think no religious group has the right to claim the holiday season for themselves. Shame on those who try to turn the holiday season into a conflict of traditional values versus modernity, or of monotheism versus polytheism.

Christmas and materialism

With the holidays well in our minds and on our agendas, I feel there is a side of the holidays many of us miss. We commonly think Christmas is about the birth of Jesus (hence all those carols and Nativity scenes), or family (hence the glut of awful family movies), or about giving for giving’s sake (hence those sappy holiday commercials), but honestly I don’t think it’s about that.

I feel it is all about joy for joy’s sake, joie-de-vivre in the midst of the cold and darkness of winter. As a Satanist and a pagan I celebrate Christmas as a time of indulgence and joy, even if as I’m older I get less gifts than when I was a kid. If there’s any joy or excitement that can be absorbed in the holiday season, I seize it and enjoy it. And materialism actually has a role to play in this joy. I think Christmas would be boring if we weren’t indulging in the pleasures of food or enjoying the material gifts we’re given because indulgence is a big part of the celebration to begin with. What good is Christmas if it’s just observance and lofty feelings of “peace and goodwill to all”?

Thoughts on the “War on Christmas”

Yep, looks like it’s that time of year again.

We all know that Christmas is coming, but something else is following the season, just as it always has been lately. I’m talking about the so-called “War on Christmas”. Only in America do we have some right-wing farce about how secular progressivism is out to destroy Christmas.

Yes, every year we have to deal with a giant and loud manifestation of the Christian persecution complex. That’s basically all this “war” is. These God-fearing fools want you to believe they’re being persecuted and that their traditions are being threatened, when in reality no one is preventing anyone from putting up a Christmas tree, signing carols, or even just saying Merry fucking Christmas, regardless of what religion or ethnicity they happen to be, because we all know that only dicks do that. To be honest, if these Fox News types had it their way, they’d force everyone to put up a Christmas tree or do the some things even if they have different traditions or have a different ethnic traditional background.

Christians also seem to be under the delusion that Christmas belongs to them. It was never theirs. Christmas, or Yule, is actually a pagan holiday, but we dressed it up as a Christian celebration in order to more easily give ourselves over to that faith. Why do Christians even care about defending a tradition that isn’t even theirs anyway? Some of these Christians are the same people who view Christmas as nothing more than a day of indulgence and Baal-worship.

If you ask me, if there really is a war on Christmas, then the Christians started it a long time ago by trying to claim Christmas as their own and turn it into a Christian holiday.

Honestly, I think we should get those Christians off of their high horse.

My feelings on Christmas

That’s not my house, or my dog, but it all looks amazing.

It’s only over a week to go until Christmas, and in that spirit, let me tell you what I think of Christmas. You know, besides it being a pagan holiday with nothing to do with Christianity.

Christmas is still a holiday I can get excited about and look forward, enough that I’ll get up ridiculously early for and engage in crap tons of festivity, though for me, the presents I can get aren’t really as big a deal as they were back when I was a kid. Filling up a Christmas list these days is kind of a hassle considering I don’t quite know what to ask for these days, though I eventually work it out. It also doesn’t mean much if I’m at the age where I can just buy games at any time, especially after the Christmas cards from my folks start rolling in.

The holiday music isn’t that bad, unless you’re talking about those excruciating Christmas pop songs, especially the X Factor Christmas “hit”. You know, I hope they actually succeed in getting Highway to Hell to be the number 1 for Christmas instead of the next X   Factor crap anthem.

In the Christmas season, I get to watch a lot of movies (not really festive movies, real movies) and play video games a lot, and on Christmas Eve I see my folks for a seafood feast. This adds much merriment, indulgence, and festivity to a festival that is all about these things.

I do try to celebrate Christmas in a pagan manner, mostly with the knowledge that Christmas (a.k.a. Yule) in its pagan form is the same holiday we commonly celebrate just without the Christian pretensions. Really I celebrate Christmas in both the pagan way, by celebrating the same holiday as the pagan holiday it always was without the pretensions of Christianity, and the satanic way, which means being aware that its a festival of indulgence and being proud of it.

Lastly, don’t ever pretend to me that it’s about “peace on earth”, because I can’t stand these pretensions.

All-in-all, I still like Christmas and look forward to it, and growing older won’t stop that.