This essay was originally written as part of an assignment for a class at Ocean Seminary College. It was revised into an article for the Winter Solstice edition of The Oracle, the online magazine of Global Goddess and published there on Dec. 18.
Frau Holle feels like a logical choice for me as a Goddess to invoke and celebrate during the winter months. The 12 days of Christmas were traditionally sacred to Holle, so she’s a perfect match for my own Goddess Wheel of the Year. Remembering that, “Even in the darkness, we are capable,” now is a time to celebrate our capacities, our strengths, and our survival instincts. Holle was perhaps a real woman who was persecuted as a witch. Among other aspects, she survives to scatter the snowflakes and to bring out our hidden powers of being.
Holle was historically honored with a feast night on winter solstice and this is a day that my family also honors with ritual as a sacred day. We begin by listening to a song called “Invocation to Mother Holle” by Ruth Barrett on her Year is a Dancing Woman CD. Then, we go outside for our annual bell ringing ceremony—ringing bells to each direction, below, above, and within. After a feast including root vegetables (perhaps a baked potato bar!) and apples, we shut out the lights and contemplate the darkness and the richness of the things that take root in the dark. Then, lighting candles, we walk our traditional “solstice spiral” (made with gold garland laid out in the spiral on the floor, ringed with evergreen branches and candles)—leaving behind our losses and that which we no longer need in the darkness, and carrying forward the bright spark of new possibility that is taking root in our lives for the new year. After exiting the spiral, we place our candles together on the Yule log to represent that which we hope to bring into the full light of dawning year.
In the book Grandmother Moon by Z. Budapest, the very first part of the book discusses the “Cold Moon” and uses Holle as the Goddess who carries the message of this part of the year. Budapest writes beautifully as Holle and her tasks for us:
Frau Holle Speaks: You can find me in the still waters of your wells and the cold depths of lakes. Come, jump in and see! You will not die. The deep cool well that reflects your face like a mirror will show you the way to my house. When you dare to follow me into the depths of the earth, you will find that even though the world is cold, there I have sunshine. My womb-shaped ovens are baking fresh bread, making new bodies for souls. My apple trees are fruiting beautifully. The vitality of my abundance is yours if you harvest them. I am working hard to bring my children good fortune. If you serve me, perform my tasks and accept the responsibilities I bring you, to take out the fresh loaves from my hot ovens, pick the apples from my trees, accept the power that I give you, I will hire you as my personal helper. When you fluff my pillows, the feathers flying will make the ground white with snow. When you water my sacred plants, that action will create the blessed rain that is necessary to sustain the life above. I am all work, you see. I am all striving; I am all that is useful. When the Moon is full, I will come and look at your lifework. What have you woven from the fine threads I have given you? Under the Full Moon, I shall examine your relationships, your accomplishments. I shall inspect your house for order, your loom for neatness. If I find your work in inspired order, I shall bring you gold, because my footsteps turn into gold and the touch of my fingertips turns everything into silver. If your life is a mess when I come by, I may mess it up even more just to force you out of your old patterns (p. 43-44).
During this ritual, we experience the perfect time to evaluate our lifework, to evaluate our purposes, and the directions of our personal paths. We take time to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and to set meaningful personal intention for the new year to come.
References: Budapest, Zsuzsanna (2011-02-25). Grandmother Moon (pp. 41-44). Women’s Spirituality Forum. Kindle Edition.
Molly is a certified birth educator, writer, and activist who lives with her husband and children in central Missouri. She is a breastfeeding counselor, a professor of human services, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. This summer she was ordained as a Priestess with Global Goddess. Molly blogs about birth, motherhood, and women’s issues at http://talkbirth.me and about thealogy and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com