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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PRAYERS FOR THE BLUE PLANET

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Prayer for a blue planet

Our Father of the Heavens:
Your whole creation, sun, moon, stars and this earthly orb, which you made with your hands in all its fragile beauty, and every creature of this earth to which you have given life, all of them testify to your power and grace, save only man whose mouth is stopped with words. Forgive us for what we speak and do not speak. Forgive our world, your world, which you have left us free to nurture and to defile. Make yourself known to all who are broken in spirit or in flesh, and that is all of us. We long for your peace, which the world can neither give nor take away, the peace that exists only in the eye of the storm, and the heart of the battle. Give us finally the joy of the child born to Mary, whose mercy stretches out across the skies. Amen.
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BLUE WORLD
by Justin Hayward of THE MOODY BLUES
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Heart and soul took control
Took control of me
Paid my dues spread the news
Hands across the sea
Put me down turned me round
Turned me round to see
Marble halls open doors
Someone found the key
And it's only what you do
That keeps coming back on you
And it's only what you say
That can give yourself away

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Underground sight and sound
human Symphony
Heard the voice had no choice
needed to be free
Fly me high touch the sky
Left the earth below
Heard the line saw the sign
Knew which way to go
Cos it's easier to try
Than to prove it can't be done
And it's easier to stay
Than to turn around and run

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It's a blue world
It takes somebody to help somebody
Oh it's a blue world
It's a new world
It needs somebody to love somebody
Oh it's a blue world

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Heart and soul took control
Took control of me
Paid my dues spread the news
Hands across the sea
Put me down turned me round
Turned me round to see
Marble halls open doors
Someone found the key
And it's only what you do
That keeps coming back on you
And it's only what you say
That can give yourself away
Cos it's easier to try
Than to prove it can't be done
And it's easier to stay
Than to turn around and run

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It's a blue world
It takes somebody to help somebody
Oh it's a blue world
It's a new world
It needs somebody to love somebody
Oh it's a blue world
It's a blue world
It takes somebody to help somebody
Oh it's a blue world
It's a new world
It needs somebody to love somebody
Oh it's a blue world
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A silent prayer for those who do not speak
From our large blue planet to the unborn, small and meek
Pray for all our brothers and sisters to be aware that all is
connected to The One.
 To the Father and the Spirit and His only begotten Son
That all life is sacred, and all life has the right
To live as soul intended, for this, we all must fight
So let your silence now be heard as the evil tries to sway
Or else nothing will be left when it comes to Judgement Day….
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Lisa P. Donato 
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

CHRISTMAS DAY

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"Digging Into The Birth of Christmas"
by Ariel David,
The Associated Press
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ROME - The church where the tradition of celebrating
Christmas on Dec. 25 may have begun was built near
a pagan shrine as part of an effort to spread Christianity,
a leading Italian scholar says.
Italian archaeologists last month unveiled
an underground grotto that they believe ancient Romans
revered as the place where a wolf nursed Rome's
legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.


A few feet from the grotto, or "Lupercale,"
the Emperor Constantine built the Basilica of St. Anastasia,
where some believe Christmas was first celebrated on Dec. 25.
Constantine ended the frequent waves of anti-Christian
persecutions in the Roman empire by making Christianity
a lawful religion in 313. He played a key roll in
unifying the beliefs and practices of the
early followers of Jesus.


In 325, he convened the Council of Nicaea,
which fixed the dates of important Christian festivals.
It opted to mark Christmas, then celebrated at
varying dates, on Dec. 25 to coincide with the Roman festival
celebrating the birth of the sun god, Andrea Carandini,
a professor of archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza University,
told reporters Friday. The Basilica of St. Anastasia
was built as soon as a year after the Nicaean Council.
It probably was where Christmas was first marked on Dec. 25,
part of broader efforts to link pagan practices to
Christian celebrations in the early days of the
new religion, Carandini said.
"The church was built to Christianize these
pagan places of worship," he said. "It was normal
to put a church near these places
to try to 'save' them."


Rome's archaeological superintendent Angelo Bottini,
who did not take part in Carandini's research,
said that hypothesis was "evocative and coherent"
and "helps us understand the mechanisms of the passage
from paganism to Christianity."
Bottini and Carandini both said future digs
could bolster the link between the shrine and the church
if structures belonging to the "Lupercale" are found
directly below the basilica.
The "Lupercale" shrine - named after the "lupa,"
Latin for she-wolf - is 52 feet below the ground.
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From THE URANTIA BOOK
Part IV, 122, 8

The Birth of Jesus

 All that night Mary was restless so that neither of them slept much. By the break of day the pangs of childbirth were well in evidence, and at noon, August 21, 7 B.C., with the help and kind ministrations of women fellow travelers, Mary was delivered of a male child. Jesus of Nazareth was born into the world, was wrapped in the clothes which Mary had brought along for such a possible contingency, and laid in a near-by manger.


 In just the same manner as all babies before that day and since have come into the world, the promised child was born; and on the eighth day, according to the Jewish practice, he was circumcised and formally named Joshua (Jesus).


 The next day after the birth of Jesus, Joseph made his enrollment. Meeting a man they had talked with two nights previously at Jericho, Joseph was taken by him to a well-to-do friend who had a room at the inn, and who said he would gladly exchange quarters with the Nazareth couple. That afternoon they moved up to the inn, where they lived for almost three weeks until they found lodgings in the home of a distant relative of Joseph.


 The second day after the birth of Jesus, Mary sent word to Elizabeth that her child had come and received word in return inviting Joseph up to Jerusalem to talk over all their affairs with Zacharias. The following week Joseph went to Jerusalem to confer with Zacharias. Both Zacharias and Elizabeth had become possessed with the sincere conviction that Jesus was indeed to become the Jewish deliverer, the Messiah, and that their son John was to be his chief of aides, his right-hand man of destiny. And since Mary held these same ideas, it was not difficult to prevail upon Joseph to remain in Bethlehem, the City of David, so that Jesus might grow up to become the successor of David on the throne of all Israel. Accordingly, they remained in Bethlehem more than a year, Joseph meantime working some at his carpenter’s trade.


 At the noontide birth of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias.
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Christmas children, is not a date,
 it is a state of mind.
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Mary Ellen Chase
American Author & Educator
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He who has not Christmas in his heart,
will never find it under a tree.
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Roy L. Smith
Bible Educator
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I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.
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The character Ebenezer Scrooge in
Charles Dickens'
 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

THE END OF ADVENT 2011

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I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
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When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
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If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God's Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King
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I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
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John Jacob Niles
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The One Who Cries in the Wilderness

This is another passage from a piece we used
earlier in the series, written by a Father Alfred Delp S.J.,
who was condemned as a traitor in Nazi Germany.
He wrote this shortly before he was hanged in 1945.

Woe to an age when the voices of those who cry
in the wilderness have fallen silent, outshouted
by the noise of the day or outlawed or swallowed up
in the intoxication of progress,
or growing smothered and fainter
for fear and cowardice. The devastation will soon
be so terrifying and universal that the word
"wilderness" will again strike our hearts and minds.
I think we know that.
But still there are no crying voices to raise
their plaint and accusation. Not for an hour
can life dispense with these John-the-Baptist
characters, these original individuals, struck by
the lightning of mission and vocation.

Their heart goes before them,
and that is why their eye is so clear-sighted,
their judgment so incorruptible.
They do not cry for the sake of crying
or for the sake of the voice.
Or because they begrudge earth's pleasant hours,
exiled as they themselves are from the
small warm companionships of the foreground.
Theirs is the great comfort known only to those
who have paced out the inmost and furthermost
boundaries of existence.

They cry for blessing and salvation.
They summon us to our last chance,
while already they feel the ground quaking
and the rafters creaking and see the firmest of
mountains tottering inwardly and see the very stars
in heaven hanging in peril.
They summon us to the opportunity of warding off,
by the greater power of a converted heart,
the shifting desert that will
pounce upon us and bury us.

Let us ask for clear eyes that are able to see
God's messengers of annunciation;
for awakened hearts with the wisdom to hear
the words of promise. Let us ask for faith
in the motherly consecration of life as shown
in the figure of the blessed woman of Nazareth.
Let us be patient and wait,
wait with Advent readiness for the moment
when it pleases God to appear in our night too,
as the fruit and mystery of this time.
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And let us ask for the openness and willingness
to hear God's warning messengers and to
conquer life's wilderness through repentant hearts.
We must not shrink from or suppress
the earnest words of these crying voices,
so that those who today are our executioners
will not tomorrow become accusers because
we have remained silent.

Let us then live in today's Advent,
for it is the time of promise.
To eyes that do not see, it still seems
that the final dice are being cast
down in these valleys, on these battlefields,
in those camps and prisons and bomb shelters.
Those who are awake sense the workings
of the other powers and can await
the coming of their hour.

Space is still filled with the noise of
destruction and annihilation, the shouts
of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping
of despair and helplessness.
But just beyond the horizon the eternal realities
stand silent in their age-old longing.
There shines on us the first mild light of
the radiant fulfillment to come.
From afar sound the first notes as of
pipes and singing boys, not yet discernible
as a song or melody. It is all far off still,
and only just announced and foretold.
But it is happening. This is today.
And tomorrow the angels will tell
what has happend with loud rejoicing voices,
and we shall know it and be glad,
if we have believed and
trusted in Advent.
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Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-thou second-guessing in The New York Review of Books.
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John Updike
American Author
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“You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’ … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
 2 PETER 3: 3-4, 8-9
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We live in astounding times. The combination of momentous political change and unusual natural phenomena in recent years has many folks wondering just what the heck is going on. The evangelist Billy Graham recently wrote that he has never in 50 years of ministry had so many people ask him if the end of the world is at hand. The timing of the Second Coming has always titillated Christians, perhaps because it is concealed. For as Jesus said, “No one knows that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”


That instruction often gets forgotten when believers see events that correspond with the signs Christ said would foreshadow His return. There is growing speculation that the Second Coming is imminent, a trend that will only intensify as the turn of the millenium approaches. Christians must take care to not be deceived – either by those who insist He’s coming tomorrow, or those who claim He won’t return in our lifetime. For the “scoffers” are also many, and are on thin ice as well. For decades, progressive thinkers ridiculed “Bible believing” scholars who insisted that Christ’s return would be immediately preceded by such unlikely events as European political union and a cashless society. No one’s laughing today.


But as Peter understood, a comma on a page in the Bible could be 50 or 100 years for us. God defines “soon” much differently than we do. God’s desire is for “everyone to come to repentance” – for us to invite Christ into our hearts and our lives. On a Bethlehem night 2,000 years ago, He came as a babe. One day, He will come in glory.


In our world, He comes to us through the love and caring of forgiven people living changed lives. Christ means for us to join him in eternal life. For now, His will is for us to be here, loving our neighbor until they ask us why, and then pointing them toward the Cross.


These meditations were prepared by Rich Miller of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Rich is a lay speaker who attends the The Hopewell United Methodist Church in Hopewell Borough, N.J.
From the Christmas in Cyberspace website
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Friday, December 23, 2011

GOOD KING WENCESLAS

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The Irish Rovers version of the title song (below) is
excellent!
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"Good King Wenceslas" is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king's footprints, step for step, through the deep snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935), known in the Czech language as Svatý Václav.
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 In 1853, English hymnwriter John Mason Neale wrote the "Wenceslas" lyrics, in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore, and the carol first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853. Neales' lyrics were set to a tune based on a 13th century spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" ("The time is near for flowering") first published in the 1582 Finnish song collection Piae Cantiones.
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 Source Legend
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Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, when a cult of Wenceslas grew up in Bohemia and in England. Within a few decades of Wenceslas's death four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualization of the rex justus, or "righteous king"—that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety, as well as from his princely vigor. . Referring approvingly to these hagiographies, the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, writing in about the year 1119, states: "But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched."
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  Several centuries later the legend was claimed as fact by Pope Pius II, who himself also walked ten miles barefoot in the ice and snow as an act of pious thanksgiving. . Although Wenceslas was, during his lifetime, only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously "conferred on Wenceslas the regal dignity and title" and that is why, in the legend and song, he is referred to as a "king".  The usual English spelling of Duke Wenceslas's name, Wenceslaus, is occasionally encountered in later textual variants of the carol, although it was not used by Neale in his version. Wenceslas is not to be confused with King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia (Wenceslaus I Premyslid), who lived more than three centuries later.  
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 From Wikipedia
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Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shown the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.

Hither, page, and stand by me.
If thou know it telling:
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes fountain.
 
Bring me flesh, and bring me wine.
Bring me pine logs hither.
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear them thither.
Page and monarch, forth they went,
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather.
 
Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger.
Fails my heart, I know not how.
I can go no longer.
Mark my footsteps my good page,
Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.

In his master's step he trod,
Where the snow lay dented.
Heat was in the very sod
Which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing
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Even as a young child, I remember feeling moved
as I sung this unusual carol. Why does Good King Wenceslas
have such a deep and lasting impact on its hearers?
Perhaps it is because there are so many levels of meaning
to this carol. A child may hear one thing,
an adult may hear another. I find that I can
sing it again and again, and new meaning continues
to pour forth from the carol. Recently the phrase
‘Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer’
really spoke to me. It reminded me that sometimes
there are times in our lives when life and its stresses
seem to overwhelm us, and we feel that
‘we can go no longer.’ .
The response of Good King Wenceslas was most interesting.
He said: ‘Mark my footsteps, my good page,
Tread thou in them boldly: Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
freeze thy blood less coldly.’
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Wenceslas reminds us that when we are all alone,
life can feel very bleak. It is at such times
that solidarity with another human being can help
‘our blood freeze less coldly’.
Wenceslas affirms that we are not alone,
and subtly points to the basic Christmas message that
Jesus our Master will never leave us in the cold.
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Rev. Ed Hird, St. Simon's Anglican Church
North Vancouver, B.C.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

WINTER SOLSTICE

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The night of December 25, to which date the Nativity of Christ was ultimately assigned, was exactly that of the birth of the Persian savior Mithra, who, as an incarnation of eternal light, was born the night of the winter solstice
(December 25 being the solstice date in the ancient Roman empire).
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Joseph Campbell
Author of The Masks of God, The Power of Myth, and more. 
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The love that descended to Bethlehem
is not the easy sympathy of an avuncular God,
but a burning fire whose light chases away
every shadow, floods every corner,
and turns midnight into noon.
This love reveals sin and overcomes it.
It conquers darkness with such forcefulness
and intensity that it scatters the proud,
feeds the hungry,
and sends the rich away empty-handed.
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(Luke I:51-53)

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THE WINTER SOLSTICE
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Tonight we celebrate the Sabbat of Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice, or Midwinter.
This is both one of the oldest of the Sabbats, and also one of the youngest.  Oldest in that ancient civilizations celebrated the solstice and the return of the sun thousands of years ago…youngest in that many of thoseancient customs have translated themselves over the years to the more modern  traditions of the holiday season we now know as Christmas.
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The word solstice comes from the Latin sol stetit,
which translates into “sun stands still,” a reference to the fact that for several days in December (and also in June), the sun appears to rise and set at more or less the same point on the horizon, appearing to stand still in the sky.
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These solstices divide the year into two – a Dark Half and a Light Half…
six months  of waxing sun and six months of waning sun.
The Winter Solstice marks the return of the Sun,
and thus the beginning of the Light Half of the year.
As such, it was of tremendous importance to ancient peoples,
governing the round of their lives, and serving as an anchor point in
 the natural as well as agricultural and pastoral year.
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The Winter Solstice has always been a time of celebration –
whether it be the return of the sun, the promise of evergreen boughs, or the birthday of the Midwinter King. This Child of Wonder has been  celebrated in so many ways with so many names, throughout an extended period of time, but regardless of the culture or time period, always seems to share some similar characteristics. A surprising number of the gods of the ancient classic world maintained nativity stories which would later influence the development of that story best known and celebrated today – the birth of the baby Jesus. Amongst those deities are Tammuz (Mesopotamia), Attis (Asia Minor), Apollo (Greece), Mithras (Rome), Baal (Palestine), and Osirus and Horus (Egypt).
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In modern times, Yule has come to be indissolubly linked
 with the festival of Christmas, and the celebration of
 the birth of Christ.
The myths of this festival have become so deeply imbedded in our own culture that we now take many of the customs of the season for granted,  and no longer stop to ask ourselves why we in fact do decorate a fir tree at this time, or place green boughs and candles in our homes, or erect a nativity scene, or have our pictures taken with Santa Claus.
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Yet, as we begin to consider the alternative history of Christmas,  we come to recognize that many of these traditions have a far deeper meaning that we originally thought. There’s the story of the wondrous birth, as explained above.
The Christmas Tree began life as the Solstice Evergreen,
being adapted in medieval and Victorian times
 to the tinsel-decked image of today.
Even the ancient carol “The Holly and the Ivy” comes from
a pre-Christian age when the Lord and the Lady of the Greenwood were honored by the hanging of green garlands from ridge poles of houses.  Indeed…holly and ivy, along with mistletoe, make up the three sacred plants of Yule…according to the Celtic Druids.
And that good old character known as Santa Claus actually derives from the ancient shamans who were the first priests and magicians of the human race.
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The very notion of a gift giver descending from a high place bearing gifts can be traced back to the shaman’s habit of climbing up the world tree to reach the otherworld, and then climbing back down with the gifts of prophecy and wisdom to give to the rest of us.
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Yet, regardless of how one chooses to celebrate this time of the year,  or by which name…the Winter Solstice has been celebrated in different places and at different times throughout history; even today we can still acknowledge it in our own individual ways.
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From the deafpagancrossroads.com website
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