Posts Tagged ‘Storyworld: Christmas Tales’

OK, this is always a difficult one to figure out, but today it just made me laugh. I’ve been struggling to get holiday preparations going my way, and one of those preparations is making sweets. Last night was attempting my first treat when an old mixing spoon (supposed to be able to handle high temps and has many, many times before) melted while attempting a toffee. So, no toffee today! Hopefully, you all will get something more useful from today’s draw.

Blessings!

The Christmas Cookie

Meaning: OK, this is a tough one. This is NOT an oracle deck, but as the holidays approach I like to use this storytelling deck in lieu of one. Some of the cards are easy to sort out but this one did make me chuckle and scratch my head a bit. Of course, we have a cookie running away from the bakery and potential customers – the poor thing is even being chased by a fork and spoon! On one hand, I see a treat (I do so love to bake) and immediately think the message might be that it’s OK to treat yourself, whether it’s a sweat treat or another type of reward. But then there’s the part where I see the cookie is trying to run from responsibility. On the other hand, I see its running from its prescribed role as a bid for sovereignty, much like the goddess Bloudewedd. (Not much help there, am I?)

There is some other symbolism to parse out.

A goose walks along in the foreground of the card; geese are symbols of loyalty and bravery (and fiercely protective). They were also the popular choice for Christmas dinner in England. There is also a mouse in foreground, possibly awaiting a chance at the crumbs that are falling off the cookie. These two creatures seem almost opposite in nature: one small, quiet, and resourceful and the other white, loud, and fierce. 

If you look along the edges, there is an unattended hat and pair of gloves, as well as a small sack in the snow. Perhaps there is something being missed as one is running along. 

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlin Matthews

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Hope everyone is having a good Wednesday! It’s been a crazy week here, but I hope it calms down for the next couple days and I can get time for some things I love like baking cookies and watching some holiday specials (speaking of which, check out The Secrets of Christmas on on Hulu, which interviews New World Witchery’s Cory as one of the experts!)

Blessings!

Scrooge

Today’s card is … Scrooge! This card clearly shows the unreformed Scrooge as he is up in the dark, counting money and logging it in his books by candlelight while somber-looking folks walk by outside. Notice the waxing moon, a sign of a shift or change and the opportunity to change our own lives.

Are you feeling the spirit of Scrooge? Perhaps it’s time to look at why you feel this way. Holidays and winter can be stressful times for some, but can be enjoyed with the right tactics (perhaps the hygge trend could be useful here). You don’t have to completely flip the coin over in order to change your outlook. A small shift toward appreciation and gratitude can go a long way. Start small if you’re feeling Scroogey- there’s probably a reason why that you need to work through.

On the flip side, perhaps you are not the Scrooge but one of the spirits meant to shed light on how to understand oneself and how to honor the season and be charitable. Look out for those in need of self-reflection and cheer. Sometimes a kind word or some illuminating communication is the gift someone needs.

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by authors John and Caitlin Matthews

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There’s a lot of lore for these two birds, some of which we will explore below. The wren is also one of my spirit guides, so this card definitely speaks to me. Have a great Friday and weekend!

The Robin and the Wren

In this card, we see a robin and a wren sitting on a holly branch (feminine aspect) in front of a broken bird cage with an evergreen tree inside. In the bottom left, you can see little toy soldiers walking through the snow with a cat, dog, and squirrel also walking away.

OK, so the thing to note here is some of the folklore of these two birds.

The wren has associations with this time of year and is the King of Birds, according to old folk legend. This ancient totem bird flew highest of all creatures by riding on the back of the great eagle, thus earning itself the title of King of All Birds through it’s cleverness and resourcefulness rather than on pure physical ability. It serves as a reminder that the smallest of the Earth’s creatures is capable of soaring to the greatest heights and seeing beyond the furthest horizon. In Ireland, there is an old tradition of “wren boys” or “straw boys” hunting a wren on Dec. 26th, or St. Stephen’s Day. The dead wren was affixed to the top of a pole and the wren boys would go around the community asking for money.

There are a lot of theories of why this is done. It is believed that the Celtic Druids considered the bird sacred, and later Christian traditions sought to dismantle its ideology, even recasting it’s resourcefulness to become King of Birds as deceit and treachery.

As for Robin Redbreast, who hasn’t heard of the “first Robin of spring”? Well, that’s not really an accurate concept, as the Robin is not a spring-only bird as the common expression would have us to believe. They will stay in winter if it does not get too cold and if there is a good food source. The striking birds were also featured on the earliest Christmas cards, but that might be due to early postal workers wearing red jackets and artists associating the two for the new postal system.

Given all this, these birds here are breaking with their traditional folkloric roles – and perhaps we need to do the same. At Yule and Christmas, it can be easy to get stuck with the traditions handed down to us. Sometimes they are wonderful and nostalgic, but sometimes they need changed or updated for the new age and new people. Perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit and create a new tradition or evaluate an old one. To quote Gustav Mahler, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlin Matthews and artist Peter Malone

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Good Thursday, everyone! As I said yesterday, we are now using the Storyworld: Christmas Tales cards for a while. Hope you enjoy them!

Today’s card has a lot of things going on in it if you look at the fine detail. On the surface, Father Christmas and his reindeer has dropped a gift that has been found by two children. But there are also two elves with curious looks on their faces as if these children were actually meant to find this gift, even though it might not be for them. There are three – an auspicious number – owls, which in Western mythology typically represent wisdom. A sly and inquisitive fox is also following along with the children. The pillars on either side of the arch have a carved king and queen, and a tower behind the hedges gives us a destination.

The feeling I’m getting is that we might have some unexpected things come our way, and we need to approach them with both childlike curiosity and wisdom – an interesting balance. Something might be lost, but if we are able to put things right, we should try to do so.

What’s YOUR take on this card?

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlyn Matthews

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Here we are with the three plants that historically most represent the season, for the decorated tree is a relative newcomer. The soft light of the sunrise shows us the three dancing in a circle, while a passage tomb is also in the background. The cycle of life and death embodied.

Have a beautiful day!

Holy, Ivy, and Mistletoe 

First, we see three people personifying the well-known greenery of winter celebrations: Holly, Ivy, and Mistletoe. Holly is considered a masculine plant and represents protection, among other things. Ivy is a feminine plant and represents death and rebirth, among other things. Mistletoe is a sacred plant representing fertility and more. All three of them were brought in during the winter because they were green and symbolized that life continues even in the dead of winter. An interesting folklore bit is that whichever plant – Holly or Ivy – came into the house first in winter indicated whether the man or the woman would rule the house for the year. 

Also note the background – it appears to be a passage tomb or a similar ancient structure in the background with the winter sun rising up, possibly the solstice sun, which strengthens the concept of death and rebirth in this card. And even a hint of a sleigh and elf are on one side, suggesting gifts, travel, and festivities for the day.

StoryWorld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlin Matthews, art (this card) by Maggie Kneen

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Santa Claus

Santa Claus is sometimes a contentious figure for some Pagans, but some of us don’t really have a problem with him. He is truly a cumulation of many mythological figures, from Odin and shamanic wild men to St. Nicholas and Father Christmas, and then hijacked by modern advertising. But beyond all that, he is a gift giver. There are many of those associated from this time of year, so he is in good company.

Here, Santa is rather kind looking as he prepares to descend a chimney with a bag of gifts. First, he is communing with a wren and a robin. The wren has associations with this time of year and is the King of Birds, according to old folk legend. There is also another frost sprite peaking from behind the chimney, so one wonders what he is up to.

On this day, a day after the solstice when the days will start to get a bit longer each day, look for the gifts you are receiving. It could be a beautiful sunset, a phone call or zoom call with a loved one, or treats from a neighbor or friend. Most of us have blessings if we choose to look for them – and this is the time of year to definitely spread those around to give others some good cheer. This has been a hard year for many; let us do what we can to make it kinder.

Blessings!

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Happy Monday and Blessed Yule to all! My family and I had a beautiful and relaxing time at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas this weekend, and we used the time to have a mini Solstice celebration. Even in winter, the area is gorgeous with craggy hills and small mountains, streams and waterfalls, cedars and bare limbed redbuds and oaks, moss and lichen, and beautiful light.

Now we are home and have more energy from the fresh air and short hikes. Hopefully, we can keep the spirit of the forest with us and spread it around a little.

Blessing of the Solstice!

The Christmas Carolers

Caroling is just one classic activity to express joy of the season. I remember with fondness caroling with Girls Scouts at nursing homes, and I also enjoyed our local high school’s Vespers concert the previous four years (sadly, Covid canceled this year’s concert). Of course, I feel this card is saying to take part of whatever bring you the joy of the season, whether it’s baking cookies, vegging with wintery movies and popcorn on couch, or long walks in the woods.

But if you look closely, this card also tells you to watch out for those Scrooges who want to put a damper on your joy and celebrations. Also note the elf and Jack Frost helpers in the foreground – they can be tricky too. Don’t let them spoil your fun!

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlinn Matthews, art (this card) by Debra McFarlane

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Well, here is the card for our weekend, and it would appear we need to watch our Ps and Qs. The holidays can bring on a lot of stress, so be aware if you need a break or start to snap at someone who doesn’t deserve it. (I’ve already fallen prey to that!)

Have a great weekend!

The Frost King

This is a complicated figure, The Frost King. In the Russian folktale about Father Frost, he can be very generous and helpful to those who are kind and polite. As is the case in many similar folktales, he can also leave someone for death if they are rude or lazy.

Here, we see him peering through a cozy window, his touch leaving beautiful patterns of frost on the window. With him are many little frost fairies and small winter creatures to help him with his plans. He sometimes likes to play tricks on people, but not always. Perhaps our card says to be our better selves today in order to avoid the tricks of the Frost King and instead reap his rewards? What do you think of the Frost King’s visit?

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlinn Matthews, art (this card) by Tomislav Tomic

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We continue Yuletide messages, and today’s bear is a great one for anyone needing encouragement.
Have a lovely Thursday!

The Polar Bear

Bears are often seen as protective and fierce, and here we have a polar bear carrying a girl on an adventure by the light of the full moon. Behind them is a cozy home with a couple folks watching her leave – at least one of them is a child as well. Notice how she doesn’t look frightened at all? She knows the power of the bear is with her and will guide and protect her.

I think we might be getting the suggestion that we should seek a powerful ally in a forthcoming journey, whether it’s an adventure or a journey to a new job, home, relationship, or connection to spirit. Don’t forget that we are not alone. Even if you do not believe in deity outright, the symbolism of a powerful ally like a bear, wolf, or eagle can empower us. The cold of winter and the dark season need not frighten us when we are prepared.

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlinn Matthews

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This is no elf on the shelf, so give him a good look. Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone!

The Christmas Elf

Though the Christmas elf is normally associated with the workshop where the toys are made, here we see one in the woodland setting surrounded by animals: an owl, a deer, a woodpecker, a bird and badger, squirrels, and even a little rodent in there. What would make the little guy leave the shop and take time in nature? Of course, most elven lore indicates a strong association with nature, rather than just being production machines for the man in red.

Normally, I might suggest that this is a reminder that as we are busy with all of our events and gift buying, it is good to take some time to appreciate season for what it is. But for many of us, those activities have been restricted this year already. But have we used this time to truly relax and appreciate the smaller, quiet ways to enjoy the season. Are you holding up indoors or remembering to enjoy nature in even small ways, such as feeding and watching birds, bundled up strolls in a park or nearby trail, or even caroling with your family? Remember to appreciate the beauty of the wildlife in your area.

What does this card remind you to do?

Storyworld: Christmas Tales by John and Caitlin Matthews

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