Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide
An examination of the sacred botany and the pagan origins and rituals of Christmas
• Analyzes the symbolism of the many plants associated with Christmas
• Reveals the shamanic rituals that are at the heart of the Christmas celebration
The day on which many commemorate the birth of Christ has its origins in pagan rituals that center on tree worship, agriculture, magic, and social exchange. But Christmas is no ordinary folk observance. It is an evolving feast that over the centuries has absorbed elements from cultures all over the world--practices that give plants and plant spirits pride of place. In fact, the symbolic use of plants at Christmas effectively transforms the modern-day living room into a place of shamanic ritual.
Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling show how the ancient meaning of the botanical elements of Christmas provides a unique view of the religion that existed in Europe before the introduction of Christianity. The fir tree was originally revered as the sacred World Tree in northern Europe. When the church was unable to drive the tree cult out of people’s consciousness, it incorporated the fir tree by dedicating it to the Christ child. Father Christmas in his red-and-white suit, who flies through the sky in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, has his mythological roots in the shamanic reindeer-herding tribes of arctic Europe and Siberia. These northern shamans used the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom, which is red and white, to make their soul flights to the other world. Apples, which figure heavily in Christmas baking, are symbols of the sun god Apollo, so they find a natural place at winter solstice celebrations of the return of the sun. In fact, the authors contend that the emphasis of Christmas on green plants and the promise of the return of life in the dead of winter is just an adaptation of the pagan winter solstice celebration.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
ancient anise aphrodisiac apples aromatic associated baccy bean believed berries blossoms Boswellia sacra branches burned cactus called century chocolate Christ Christian Rätsch Christmas Eve Christmas flower Christmas tree Christmastime cinnamon Claudia Müller-Ebeling cloves cocoa cultures custom decorated devil’s dried ethnobotany Europe evergreen Father Christmas feast fertility fir tree fly agaric mushroom forest frankincense fruit German gods green healing hellebore hemp Hildegard von Bingen holly holy human incense ingredients Jesus juniper laurel light love goddess love magic luck mistletoe mugwort myrrh Nicholas nutmeg officinalis pagan Perger pine plant Pliny the Elder poinsettia poppy popular protection recipe resin ritual Roman root rose of Jericho rosemary Ruprecht sacred saffron scent seed shamanic Sinterklaas smoke smudging nights spirits spruce star Storl substances Sylvester symbol Three Kings Three Kings Day three magi tobacco traditional wild winter solstice witches wood world tree worship Wotan Yule