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Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth (Holiday Series) [Paperback] [2000] (Author) Dorothy Morrison

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  • Llewellyn Publications (2000)
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Read online or download a free book: Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth (Holiday Series) [Paperback] [2000] (Author) Dorothy Morrison

 

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  • By Indigo on February 3, 2011

    Unfortunately, this book made me feel less-than-jolly.It quickly became apparent to me that Ms. Morrison uses the words Yule and Christmas interchangeably, which is absolutely not the same holiday at all. While they may have been originated from the same tradition originally they are not the same holiday now. When reading Yule trivia, I don't expect to read about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.In the very first paragraph, Dorothy takes the reader through a quick lesson in the history of the evolution of the Pagan celebration of the solstice to the modern day Christmas. To my personal dislike, she is very subjective and, admittedly in the first footnote, draws her own conclusions based on various sources. This can probably be an applied statement of her entire book- she continued her generalizations, biases, and drew her own conclusions. Why do I say this?In the small portion of the book that is not arts and crafts- there are some very strong assumptions and large errors. First of all, the Oak King/Holly King archetypes are mentioned throughout the book as a Celtic gods traditionally celebrated at the solstice. This is not factually accurate, as there is no record of the Oak/Holly King in any Celtic mythology nor any other traditions from the culture. However, Sir James Frazer did make a mention of the King of Summer and King of Winter battling for their rule in The Golden Bough, which was expanded upon by the poet Robert Graves in The White Goddess. Neither sources can be called historical fact as both authors took some creative freedoms with their blending of ancient mythology and modern fiction. Graves gave the name to these archetypes, Oak and Holly, and it was first introduced to the Craft by Stewart and Janet Farrar in their book Eight Sabbats for Witches (which is now a part of A Witches Bible).Upon further reading, there are much more modern and widely known errors that cast a shadow upon this book. According to Ms. Morrison, "China is predominantly Pagan" (pg. 24). Even at the time of publishing, China was prominently Atheist and the country declared its national "religion" as Atheist only two years later. The next most practiced religion (recorded at only 10-14%) is Taoism, which cannot be called Pagan by even the loosest definition; Taoism can be defined as a philosophical school of thought based on the texts of the Tao Te Ching.Only two pages later, there is mention of an unnamed solstice tradition practiced by the Moslems and Hindus of India. "[They] celebrate the return of the light by placing oil lamps on their rooftops. To ecourage the Sun to shine, homes are decorated...These remind the Sun that He is a valuable part of existence and without His help, all of Nature would cease to flourish". (pg. 26) I wish Dorothy had included the name of this celebration, since the most predominant celebration of lights in India is Diwali- which is absolutely not the same celebration described in the book. Diwali is a four day festival of lights in October or November which is a victory celebration of good versus evil. The celebration is not of the return of the Sun, but of the return of Lord Rama from a 14 year exile and his killing the Demon King of Lanka (However, the celebration and it's deities change from region to region- but it is always a celebration of goodness triumphant over evil). Houses and public places are decorated to welcome the return of their deities. The lamps placed on the rooftops are not to encourage the sun to shine, but as a reminder of the inner light from within our souls. This is the biggest celebration in the Hindu world- since Dorothy did not mention the name of the extremely Pagan celebration she described, it only leads the reader to associate this celebration with the Pagan's Winter Solstice celebration. In my research, I have not found any Winter Solstice celebrations to match what had been presented in Yule, A Celebration of Light & Warmth.What is curious to me, is that there is no mention in this chapter of the Shinto legend of Amatesaru, the Japanese goddess of the Sun, who withdrew into a cave until enticed out with music and dance (kagura). Japanese honor the goddess on the solstice in a celebration called "Tsukinamisai", which occurs every June and December. The Japanese Shinto celebrate the joy of the ending of the yin period of the sun, when it declines in strength, and the beginning of its growing power or yang period. The sun is of central importance in Japan; The Japanese royal family is said to be decedents of Amatesaru, She is said to be the guardian of Japan's people, and as the symbol of Japanese cultural unity. Her emblem, the rising sun, still flies on Japan's flag.If Dorothy was trying to impress upon the reader a global celebration of the return of the Sun, this would have been an important inclusion to the book.As it is, the inaccuracies in the first four chapters were so glaringly obvious, I became very skeptical if the information and legends presented had any truth at all.The fifth chapter did little to show me that there was a command of the subject, as it is basically a chapter full of urban legends and superstitions- usually with no reference to the location of the origin of the superstition. For example: "Legend has it that animals can speak on Christmas Eve. Don't listen for them though- the same legend says it's unlucky to hear them!" (pg. 31) Which legend does this come from? From which country? For all I know, she could be creating these superstitions herself!The book is mostly an arts and crafts, recipes, and party preparation book. From page 43 until almost the end of the book it is hard to decipher that it is even a Pagan book at all; unless you include the chants that are included with the various tasks. However, a concern of mine is that there is only chanting without any act of magick. There are no visualization techniques nor mention of any acts of will or intent. It is only an act with a chant to companion the motions, while in my mind is no different than singing a song or whistling while working. While there are many good decorating suggestions found in the book, there are quite a few decorations that I actually found myself asking "symbolically, what does this represent?". If the witch is intending to use their crafts as an act of magick, it should be very clear what each component of the craft represents and its use in the spell. And I personally don't feel that Styrofoam (polystyrene) should be an acceptable material for magickal workings.The Daily Event Calendar that is included is also of question- I would have liked to seen some source reference as to why each of those days are significant to the deities mentioned. I would like to know why December 4th belongs to Pallas Athena. (pg 161) And the Halcyon Days mentioned on December 14th (pg. 168) are not a festival commonly celebrated, as implied, but a mythological legend originated by Ovid. The dates are also not correct, as the dates for the solstice and full moon change from year to year-but this can be expected from any out-of-date calendar.To be quite honest, this book left me feeling a bit unsettled. For those who are not Pagan who are looking at how we celebrate the Winter Solstice, or a new Pagan looking for inspiration, this is not the material I would recommend at all. The Pagan community deserves accurate research, valid sources, and less ambiguity with the traditions and celebrations presented. There needs to be a line drawn between common Christmas celebrations and the celebrations of Yule. The two definitions, while sharing common roots, are absolutely not the same and the two words are not interchangeable.Authors have a responsibility to present valid information to the readers. I think more authors should be a bit more mindful of what they publish... we do live in the age of information and facts can be checked instantly.To Dorothy's credit, she obviously has a love of the holiday season, and is very enthusiastically sharing her personal traditions in this book.Yule, A Celebration of Light & Warmth gets one star from me, purely based on the amount of recipes and possible useful party tips that some readers may find useful.Sources used:The CIA World Factbook - China. [...]"Daoist Philosophy". The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[...]"Diwali". The Hindu Majan. [...]"Diwali Meaning and Significance". Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India. [...]"Be Happy - Celebrate Diwali" by Vinod Gulati.[...]"Amaterasu-'-Mikami." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. via[...]"Annual Cycle of Ceremonies". Isejingu. [...]

  • By Sho on January 8, 2002

    I was deeply disappointed by this book. There are misspellings, inconsistent use of type, and reversed or incorrect words. The bulk of the book is recipes and make-your-own-tradition ideas that still partake heavily of Christian symbolism and practice. The author's sources are academically and intellectually dubious, and out of date. For example, she cites (and misspells the name of) an encyclopedia of mythology in its 1968 edition. The historical information cited is often inaccurate. The attitude toward Christians and practitioners of other religions alike is smarmy and patronizing. Egregiously stupid errors include a statement to the effect that the early Christians inserted the word "Son" in the name of their new holiday because it would make people think of the "Sun" god. Duh-uhhhh--these people weren't speaking English, and "son" and "sun" are not homophones in any languages spoken in that region then or now. This one of the most poorly written non-fiction works I've ever read, and there was no reason it couldn't have been good. One star is too high a rating.

  • By Janet Boyer on October 12, 2004

    Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth is a fascinating and fun book showing that the spirit of the season is universal, no matter how you choose to celebrate or worship. Warmth and light are common to winter holidays like Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, and all of humanity can join together in the spirit of peace, love and harmony at this special time of year.This book features holiday history and customs from around the world, traditions and symbolism, craft ideas and instructions, recipes, and much more. In the first chapter, the author discusses the history of Yule and other sun-welcoming traditions which then gave birth to many Christmas symbols and traditionsBecause Pagans also worshipped the sun, Christians set Jesus' birthday on December 25th, which was a Pagan celebration--and called the festival "Birth of the Son". Since "son" was pronounced the same as "sun", the Christians figured that the Pagans would assume this was just an addition to their own festivals. Note: Historians and theologians place Jesus' actual birth sometime in the Spring. Because Bethlehem's winters are brutal, shepherds would only be tending flocks at night during warmer months.Chapter 2 provides a fascinating glimpse into the origins of Christmas and Yuletide traditions and symbols, including elves, gifts exchanges, holly, mistletoe, reindeer, snowflakes, 12 days of Christmas, wassail, wreaths, and much more.Chapter 3 explains festivals of light from around the world, including Kwanzaa and Yule, and chapter 4 provides an interesting look into holiday customs from around the world--including Argentina, Australia, China, Denmark, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Scotland, and other countries. In Ireland, for example, a candle is put in the window on Christmas Eve to light the way of Mary and Joseph and other travelers who may wander by. Most Irish celebrations are on December 26th, St. Stephen's Day.Chapter 5 is about omens and superstitions associated with Christmas. For example, legend has it that animals can speak on Christmas Eve--but the same legend says it's unlucky to hear them!Chapter 6 is about Yuletide trivia and fun facts. Did you know that the reindeer Donner is really Donder, and means thunder? He was paired with Blitzen whose name means lightning. And where did we get the modern image of Santa Claus? From none other than the Coca-Cola company!Chapter 7 addresses making room for Yule, including cleaning rituals and success charms. Chapter 8 provides instructions for quick and easy Yule decorations, such as a Holiday Harmony Tree (made with small, thick magazines), Mistletoe Ball, placemats, and even Yuletide crafts for children. Easy-to-make sun catchers and a hand print wreath are but two of these easy and fun crafts for kids. Chapter 9 features other winter crafts such as creating a Winter Scene on a small table, and making bottled snowflakes.Chapter 10 is all about the Yule tree, including choosing a tree, a tree blessing ritual, how to make a tree skirt, and nine ornament ideas--including Swirled Ornaments and Cinnamon-Apple Ornaments. Chapter 11 is about making your own holiday cards, while Chapter 12 gives great holiday gift ideas. A few include Pine Cone Fire Starters, Bath Salts, Flower Pot Candle, Scented Mug Coasters, Dog Biscuits, Kitty Treats, Peanut Butter Bird Feeder Cakes, and Herbal Energy Sachets. Chapter 13 gives fun wrapping and name tag ideas.Chapter 14 is called Let's Party! and gives wonderful decorating ideas for the holiday table, while Chapter 15 provides party ideas and games. The author even includes a full-length holiday word search that can be photocopied for your guests or children!And what holiday gathering would be complete without food and drink? Chapter 16 gives dozens of recipes from Plum Pudding to Pecan Pralines, Hot Buttered Rum to Crockpot Wassail, and Spanish Turkey Soup to Reindeer Sandwiches. In Chapter 17, the author shares some of her own personal traditions which I found particularly fascinating since she's a Pagan and her husband is a Christian.Chapter 18 is a calendar for daily celebrations ideas for the holidays for the entire month of December. For example, the Japanese celebrate Hari No Kuyo (The Festival of Broken Needles) on this day to reclaim the feminine arts and enjoy them. Also included in this chapter are formalized Yule rituals. It was a treat to read about the various traditions and holidays on each of the 30 days--and it provides a great way to imbue the holidays with traditions that may be unfamiliar but share the common thread of love, joy, peace, and charity.Chapter 19 provides ideas on keeping the holidays happy, but the author is sensitive to the fact that sometimes depression creeps upon even the most positive of folks--and that it can be a very trying time for many. Chapter 20 gives practical after-holiday tips--including putting cranberry, sunflower, and acorn garland outside as a treat for the birds.Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth also contains four appendices: Appendix I is a list of the goddesses associated with Yule, Appendix II is a list of the gods associated with Yule, Appendix III is a list of holiday greetings from around the world (for example in Wales it's Nadolig Llawen and in Germany, it's Froehliche Weihnachten), and Appendix IV is a list of 15 Yule and Christmas-related websites.In ConclusionThis is an information-packed book on Yule and other holiday celebrations of love, warmth, peace, and brotherhood that would be of great interest to history (and religious history) buffs, as well as those who love fresh craft and recipe ideas. The spells and enchantments may be off-putting to those who are traditional Christians, but there is much in this book aside from these references. Those who are Pagans, as well as those who celebrate the universal feelings of wonder, joy, peace, and hope that transcend race, religion, or geographic area, will find many great ideas and insights in this delightful holiday book.


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