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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

My hands-down favorite Jewsploitation film (yes, gods help us, there really is such a genre), is the campy, satirical 2003 Hebrew Hammer. Here's the story.

Evil gay Santa (hey, a little gratuitous homophobia always makes everything funnier, right?) formulates a plot to destroy all the other winter holidays by absorbing them into one big, undifferentiated Christmas blob.

So the Hebrew Hammer, a nebbishy Jewish superhero—he's straight, of course—teams up with the guy from the Kwanzaa Liberation Front (also straight) to foil evil gay Santa's evil plot.

 

Satire aside, you have to appreciate the very real problem that the film addresses. Christmas as we know it has become a cannibalistic microorganism that just wants to engulf all the other holiday amoebas in its environment.

Part of this, of course, is nicey-nice Kumbaya feel-goodism. See, we're really all just alike: we all celebrate at this time of year.

In fact, of course, we don't. Muslims, for instance, don't have a festival of lights at this time of year (or at all, really). Diwali, in late October or early November, is nowhere near the Christmas orbit.

Things get a little more complicated with Yule. Pagans like to think of Yule as the mother and Christmas the daughter festival, but that's really a pretty disingenuous reading of the relationship between the two. In fact—like it or not—our modern Yule has been reborn from the womb of Christmas, and the two holidays still look a lot (some of us would say, too much) alike.

Yes, it would be nice to think that, for a while, we can all just set aside our differences and celebrate together. But reducing all the other winter holidays to mere satellites of Christmas is no way to go about it.

So in fact, no, Yule is not the pagan Christmas, and we're not all just the same.

So what?

 

On Midwinter's Eve, we sing the Sun down from the highest hill in town and kindle a fire as it sets. This fire we keep burning all night. In the morning, we sing the Sun back up out of the Mississippi Valley.

Every year, as crows call overhead, and light and color stream back into the world after the year's longest night, I always think: this is it. This is real Yule, in the nutshell.

Let me tell you, it doesn't look anything like Christmas.

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Let me tell you about the Yule that I considered becoming a suicide bomber.

Now, I'm as gay as the next guy but, for reasons that I won't go into here, I'm no fan of gay men's choruses. My housemate at the time, though, regularly attended concerts of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus: more, I suspect, for the social opportunity that they offered than for the “music.” So I wasn't surprised to see, while bringing in the mail at the end of a November back in the 80s, an invitation to that year's TCGMC Christmas concert.

It wasn't until I read the description of the concert that I started thinking about explosives.

I can't remember the title of the concert, but the stated theme was: “Moving from the darkness of the Winter Solstice through the lights of Hanukkah to the true illumination of Christmas.”

There's so much wrong with this theme that it's difficult to quantify, but underlying it all is its triumphalist religious Darwinism. That lying old story has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, down the long years.

And they thought they were being inclusive. The sheer cluelessness of it all—and the fact that this atrocity was being perpetrated by gay men on other gay men—just makes it that much more offensive.

Well, I didn't buy the suicide vest and (of course) I didn't attend the concert. But I can, nonetheless, tell you (why are these things so bloody predictable?) exactly of what that program consisted.

For the Winter Solstice, a secular Christmas carol of some sort. For Hanukkah, a medley of old Yiddische tunes guaranteed to include “Dreidel.” Then the gaggle of Christmas carols that everyone had really come to hear.

Hey, all you organizers of “Holiday” Concerts out there:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I am blissfully clueless. When I want seasonal music I go to YouTube and listen to Weird Al Yankovic singing Christmas at Ground
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, I guess I just don't get triggered by Christian tokenism like you do. My take on it is this: Christians will always c
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    Hehehe ya well. I still cherish your Pro-Dea Solstice Song book. Drag it out every year. Merry Yule!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fast Magic: Prosperity Herb Spells

As a kitchen witch and gardening enthusiast, I am always seeking to learn more about the power of herbs, plants, roots and flowers can be used in the craft. Grow your wealth, literally with these handy money attraction herbs.

Allspice berries bring good luck; gather 7 berries and place in a small pouch to carry in your pocket or purse for a week. On the 7th day, burn them with cinnamon incense while making your wish for whatever you want.

...
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On a whim the other day, I did an image search for “Yule ornaments.” What I found dismayed me.

Or rather, what I didn't find dismayed me.

Pentagrams, runes, Thor's hammers, witches on brooms: pagan schmuckerei for pretty much every taste and tradition.

Out of the first two screens, maybe 150 images in all, I found one Sun.

One.

For a moment, I felt a sense of vertigo, as if I were falling: a giddy kind of kinship with the “Keep Christ in Christmas” folks.

Solstice is relationship: Earth, Sun, Us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bewitching Brews: ProsperiTea

Among its healing and energizing properties, the herb bergamot also brings prosperity. If you are feeling down in the dumps and empty of pocket, fix yourself a pot of bergamot tea and watch the negative energy rise and dissipate with the steam. If a co-worker or boss is exhibiting the same symptoms, fix him some Earl Grey- a fine English tea bursting with precious bergamot.

If the problem runs deeper – no raises, overdue bills, general bitterness -  then more systemic healing is necessary. Come to work right before dawn one day. Boil one cup of water and steep a pinch of each of the following dried herbs:

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At my house, we've put away the harvest decor that has been up since late September and set up the house for Yule. Earlier in the fall, my mom gave me a straw cornucopia that she's had for years, and as I put it away with the autumn-hued table runner and wreath, I thought of how far back the cornucopia reaches into the past, and what it means.

Nourishment and Wildness

These days, cornucopias often take the form of vaguely horn-shaped baskets of faux fruit and flowers, like the one my mom gave me. But it was originally a real goat horn holding fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and grains. Literally meaning "horn of plenty" in Latin, the cornucopia originated in ancient Greece. In one origin myth, the infant Zeus was nourished with milk from the goat Amalthea on the island of Crete. Because He was extremely strong even as an infant, He broke off one of her horns, and the hollow horn gave forth unending nourishment.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

                                       

The Online Wassail

(Tune: Malpas Wassail)

 

O Harvest is over, and Yuletide's come in:

turn on your computer and let us begin

our online wassail, wassail, wassail.

And joy come to our online wassail!

 

The year's been a dark one, we all must admit:

we're tired and fed up, and we're feeling like shit

for our online wassail, wassail, wassail.

And joy come to our online wassail!

 

This stupid pandemic has been a real bitch;

our old plans for Yule have all taken a slitch.

Hence, our online wassail, wassail, wassail.

And joy come to our online wassail!

 

But a new day is dawning: we've kicked the foul rump

of that gibbering idiot, President Trump

off our online wassail, wassail, wassail.

And joy come to our online wassail!

 

So, socially distanced, come join in the fun

of singing our hopes for the year that's to come,

with our online wassail, wassail, wassail.

And joy come to our online wassail!

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you! I recited this as part of my full moon ritual tonight it felt right and fun.

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