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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Oak King

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Summer Solstice With Dad

Dads don't always get a fair shake. They have to take a good deal of kidding around, and often aren't as idealized as Moms. They aren't always the first parent that kids run to when they need nurturing or advice. Let's be honest—they often are the recipients of lame gifts. There are ways we can shift some of these attitudes and routines, however. What are the positive aspects of a father? Protection, safety, and security are strong associations. How about gifting you the confidence to do things on your own? Fathers can be great mentors in this regard, teaching you how to master a task, then stepping aside to let you take the wheel. This Summer Solstice think about ways that you can honor the fatherly aspects of the Oak King, the Holly King, and your own Dad.

Consider a cookout or camping trip with your Pop. If you do plan to camp, check your county and state parks' rules ahead of time this summer. Many have changed due to COVID-19, and most campgrounds require you to make a reservation in advance online. It's still all about the outdoors for safety right now, so even if weather is a little dicey, try to plan so that you'll be under a picnic shelter or tarp if necessary. You might need to take a deep breath and be flexible with your plans, if Mother Nature has others in store. Keep the mood light and fun, for everyone's sake. For a really unique theme and an open-minded Dad, try an Incan Summer Solstice ceremony and menu. Bring a locally bought or home-brewed beer, mead, or wine to share with him. Play a favorite card game that you used to growing up (might want to don the face masks for this one, though). To this day, my family is still cultivating some fierce Uno players. Set up a bean bag toss that the young ones can join in. Despite any rumors, badminton remains a nice no-contact sport. Likewise with that old-fashioned croquet set gathering cobwebs in your garage. Enjoy reminiscing about some of your more comic adventures growing up. Share a toast to more good times to come.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dark Twin/Light Twin

The things warlocks worry about.

I was born at the Summer Solstice of 19xx. My friend and brother warlock Adaron was born at the Winter Solstice of the same year.

Clearly, the two of us embody (in some sense or other) the Dark Twin and the Light, if only to one another. (Life imitating myth imitating life imitating...) But which, may I ask, is which?

(Bear in mind that, being warlocks, we both want to be Dark Twin.)

Well, you might think that, in a bipolar year, it would be the Winter-born Twin who's the Light Twin. So one might think.

But, of course—this is mythology that we're talking about, after all—it's not quite that simple. You're telling me that Him who reigns over July, August, and all the Harvest is the Year's Dark Half? Sorry, I'm just not buying it.

Well, at thirteenth and last, I've got both a light side and a dark, and so does Adaron. We all do. A crow needs two wings to fly with. The paradox of the divided self lies at the very heart of Old Craft theology and psychology: we're all our own opposite, dark and light. When you notice yourself projecting onto someone else, be sure that it's you you're projecting.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    This reminds me of the Bucca in Gemma Gary's "Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish book of Ways" described as a goat headed hermaphro
  • Mike W
    Mike W says #
    Thank you elder brother! I think that you are correct, each contains a part of the other, as in the Yin/Yang symbol, the so-calle
Why the Oak King/Holly King Story Doesn't Work for Me

Ah, Yule coming up. (Or Midsummer.)

Time to take the old Oak King/Holly King trope off the shelf and dust it off.

No offense intended if they're friends of yours, but the Oak King/Holly King just don't work for me.

It's not that they're a modern creation. Robert Graves had some good ideas: the Triple Goddess, for one...or three.

Gee, two guys in never-ending combat over who gets the girl. Gets her for the next six months, anyway.

Is that really the story we want to be telling the kids?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for the reminder, Anthony: I remember trying to read it when it first came out, but not managing to get very far. Maybe it'
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I read that book Oak King, Holly King and the Unicorn about the Unicorn tapestries. As I remember the argument the Unicorn is Jes
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Hello and thanks for this commentary. I like what you have to say and think it makes lots of sense indeed. Is it reflected also in
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I thought that Andy Gosling's treatment of the theme--the illustration at the head of this post--captured that aspect of the story
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    I prefer the one Feri version, where the two are lovers.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hunting the Green Man

All too often, summers slip away from us, like a will-o'-the-wisp, gone with the morning dew. Especially for those of us in the Midwest, we wait for the better part of the year. When it is finally upon us, we all too often jam-pack our calendar full of social events and family obligations. In this way, we inadvertently deter ourselves from slowing down and actually breathing in time with the summer. Do you multi-task, even while lounging in your hammock? Wrong approach! Truth be told, I myself am all too guilty. Let's examine some of the ways we can stretch out the season for enjoying, and perhaps bend time in the process.

Lounge in a hammock
Acceptable behavior 101: staring at the sky above and/or bird and cloud formation watching. Reading a good book. Napping. Going barefoot. Petting a cat. Not acceptable: any social media or a cell phone. Banish them from your sacred hammock space, please.

Camp in the woods or in farm country
Acceptable: strolling. Meditating. Breathing deep in the fresh air. Listening to trees and wildlife. Feeling the wind on your face, the sun on your skin, the sprinkle of raindrops, the fresh earth as it runs through your fingertips or a collectible stone. Building fires. Dancing in a rain storm, preferably naked. Dancing around the aforementioned fire. Taking a canoe out at night among the moon and stars. Laying down in the grass and staring up at the sky. Unacceptable: TVs, cell phones, social media selfies.

Watch a sunset, preferably near a body of water, in nature
The rules would be that you watch it from start to finish. You take it in, watch the colors that light up and change the skyline and the landscape. You take the time to notice all the songbirds that have a routine at this magical time of day. Like the swifts, who just seem to go nuts, like clockwork, swooping around in their quick little aerodynamic patterns. Guess what you don't need to do? Take a digital photo – they never do it justice, anyway. Notice all of the little changes that occur as day slips quietly into night.

Take a lunch break outside
Either sit under a shaded umbrella, go walk in a nearby park. Again, you don't need to share every moment with everyone you know. You can learn to truly take stock of your surroundings more, if you go solo. Kick off your shoes and let the grass tickle your toes. Watch the birdies, squirrelies, chipmunks, bunnies, and butterflies. Marvel at the greenery and flowers that surround you, everything perfectly at their peak. Eat slowly, savor every bite, and be thankful for these simple pleasures. Oftentimes, they are the things that make life worth living.

I realize that the Holly King rules for now, but he is still that shadow side of the Oak King. They are both the Green Man, and while we can appreciate him in his outdoor glory, we certainly should.

More reading:

Photo, "Natural Bridge Waterfall," by Rob D. from


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In the ancient days of the world, when all was still mostly froth and chaos, there lived two great Kings.  The Oak King was the ruler of the places that were light, and the Holly King ruled the places that were dark.  At first They feared one another; for the Holly King was the master of the places that the Oak King dared not go, and the Oak King was the master of the places that the Holly King dared not go.  What secrets might the other be keeping?  But the Goddess of the Moon and Stars knew Them both, and She bade Them to go to one another.  “You’ll like Him!” She told each of Them with the twinkle of the stars in Her deep dark eyes.  “You’ll see!”

So They agreed to meet at the border of Twilight, where light and dark meet.  The Goddess guided Them to the meeting place with the twinkles of Her eyes, and then She tactfully withdrew.

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