Winter Solstice

The Story of King Frost

There was once upon a time a peasant-woman who had a daughter and a step-daughter. The daughter had her own way in everything, and whatever she did was right in her mother’s eyes; but the poor step-daughter had a hard time. Let her do what she would, she was always blamed, and got small thanks for all the trouble she took; nothing was right, everything wrong; and yet, if the truth were known, the girl was worth her weight in gold–she was so unselfish and good-hearted.

But her step-mother did not like her, and the poor girl’s days were spent in weeping; for it was impossible to live peacefully with the woman. The wicked shrew was determined to get rid of the girl by fair means or foul, and kept saying to her father: ‘Send her away, old man; send her away–anywhere so that my eyes sha’n’t be plagued any longer by the sight of her, or my ears tormented by the sound of her voice. Send her out into the fields, and let the cutting frost do for her.’

In vain did the poor old father weep and implore her pity; she was firm, and he dared not gainsay her. So he placed his daughter in a sledge, not even daring to give her a horse-cloth to keep herself warm with, and drove her out on to the bare, open fields, where he kissed her and left her, driving home as fast as he could, that he might not witness her miserable death.

Deserted by her father, the poor girl sat down under a fir-tree at the edge of the forest and began to weep silently. Suddenly she heard a faint sound: it was King Frost springing from tree to tree, and cracking his fingers as he went. At length he reached the fir-tree beneath which she was sitting, and with a crisp crackling sound he alighted beside her, and looked at her lovely face.

‘Well, maiden,’ he snapped out, ‘do you know who I am? I am King Frost, king of the red-noses.’

‘All hail to you, great King!’ answered the girl, in a gentle, trembling voice. ‘Have you come to take me?’

‘Are you warm, maiden?’ he replied.

‘Quite warm, King Frost,’ she answered, though she shivered as she spoke.

Then King Frost stooped down, and bent over the girl, and the crackling sound grew louder, and the air seemed to be full of knives and darts; and again he asked:

‘Maiden, are you warm? Are you warm, you beautiful girl?’

And though her breath was almost frozen on her lips, she whispered gently, ‘Quite warm, King Frost.’

Then King Frost gnashed his teeth, and cracked his fingers, and his eyes sparkled, and the crackling, crisp sound was louder than ever, and for the last time he asked her:

‘Maiden, are you still warm? Are you still warm, little love?’

And the poor girl was so stiff and numb that she could just gasp, ‘Still warm, O King!’

Now her gentle, courteous words and her uncomplaining ways touched King Frost, and he had pity on her, and he wrapped her up in furs, and covered her with blankets, and he fetched a great box, in which were beautiful jewels and a rich robe embroidered in gold and silver. And she put it on, and looked more lovely than ever, and King Frost stepped with her into his sledge, with six white horses.

In the meantime the wicked step-mother was waiting at home for news of the girl’s death, and preparing pancakes for the funeral feast. And she said to her husband: ‘Old man, you had better go out into the fields and find your daughter’s body and bury her.’ Just as the old man was leaving the house the little dog under the table began to bark, saying:

‘YOUR daughter shall live to be your delight; HER daughter shall die this very night.’

‘Hold your tongue, you foolish beast!’ scolded the woman. ‘There’s a pancake for you, but you must say: “HER daughter shall have much silver and gold; HIS daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold.” ‘

But the doggie ate up the pancake and barked, saying: ‘His daughter shall wear a crown on her head; Her daughter shall die unwooed, unwed.’

Then the old woman tried to coax the doggie with more pancakes and to terrify it with blows, but he barked on, always repeating the same words. And suddenly the door creaked and flew open, and a great heavy chest was pushed in, and behind it came the step-daughter, radiant and beautiful, in a dress all glittering with silver and gold.

For a moment the step-mother’s eyes were dazzled. Then she called to her husband: ‘Old man, yoke the horses at once into the sledge, and take my daughter to the same field and leave her on the same spot exactly; ‘and so the old man took the girl and left her beneath the same tree where he had parted from his daughter. In a few minutes King Frost came past, and, looking at the girl, he said:

‘Are you warm, maiden?’

‘What a blind old fool you must be to ask such a question!’ she answered angrily. ‘Can’t you see that my hands and feet are nearly frozen?’

Then King Frost sprang to and fro in front of her, questioning her, and getting only rude, rough words in reply, till at last he got very angry, and cracked his fingers, and gnashed his teeth, and froze her to death.

But in the hut her mother was waiting for her return, and as she grew impatient she said to her husband: ‘Get out the horses, old man, to go and fetch her home; but see that you are careful not to upset the sledge and lose the chest.’

But the doggie beneath the table began to bark, saying: ‘Your daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold, And shall never have a chest full of gold.’

‘Don’t tell such wicked lies!’ scolded the woman. ‘There’s a cake for you; now say: “HER daughter shall marry a mighty King.”

At that moment the door flew open, and she rushed out to meet her daughter, and as she took her frozen body in her arms she too was chilled to death.

Story by Andrew Lang from The Yellow Fairy Book

Solstice Story

winter_christmas_hs165_90

There was the snow, and the snow fell from the heavens, slowly, thoughtful and deliberate, silent contemplation of a million spirits, crystalline and filled with logic, diversity infinite, and yet, each one did come to bless the child.

There was the night, and she was quiet, she was holy, as all nights are, and even when the nights were dancing, loud and full of whirling stars and northern lights performed for all to see or no-one there at all, and winds rush treetops and they tell their tales of night, of all the nights, and know so much, foreshadow even more …

There was the lake, and it was frozen deep and mirror smooth and mirror still, slow water, sleeping water, perhaps it dreams of spring or it may simply rest and think, and gather wisdom of each other, and of time …

There was a thought, a very special wind arose and it could only be right here, right now, and it came softly, lightly, it exhaled the finest mist of white, creates the forms and functions, sculptures in a living dance, they flow and they touch everything, reach into everything, make the connections, make something new, now hush and listen, for the time of magic is upon us, it is nearly here …

There was the child, it stepped in light and whitest shine into this night, and here, the snow did kiss its face, did kiss its hair, and laid itself beneath its feet to be a carpet, be a path, a path that leads in all directions, where you walk, there it becomes.

The night began to sing, so quietly, so full of admiration; the stars awoke and paid attention, sent their light and love to touch the child; the lake became the mirror for it all as now the wind did breathe the future into being and then the child began to smile – his welcome was the holiness, and holiness did enter into all the land touched by his light, it filled the world with hope, with beauty of a different order, the new, the unexpected, a newborn star of purest light.

And there I was, and there were you, and always, ever, always new, there is the snow for us, there is the night, there is the lake, there is wind, and always new, there is the child.

Source: SFX Solstice 2009

Winter Solstice Song for Yule


LYRICS:

On the longest night we search for the light,
And we find it deep within.
Open your eyes to embrace what is wise,
And see the light of your own soul shining.

(Chorus)

Wrap up in the cloak of starry darkness my child,
And you’ll find the center of all things.
For from this space of the deepest dark place,
Life Eternal does spring.

(Chorus)

So when you find that spark
When you dream in the dark,
Hold it close to your heart and know.
All that you see is all that can be
When you give birth to the dreams of your soul.

Chorus:
Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

Music by Lisa Thiel

A Winter Solstice Story for Children

n2bs_erm_015_winter_wonder_lge

A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss.

Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground. “I saw the Sun King today,” the faerie named Rose said as she pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. “He looked so old and tired as he walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?

“The great oak said he’s dying” answered Daffodil.

“Dying? Oh, what will we do now?”, Little Meadow Grass started to cry, “If the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not come and sing again. Everything will be winter for ever!” Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad. As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.

“Open up, Faeries,” called out a loud voice. “Why are you hiding instead of joining us in our Solstice celebration?” Rose opened the door and the little gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat.

“We are too sad to celebrate,” Daffodil said wiping her eyes, “The Sun King is dying, haven’t you heard?”

“He is dead you silly Faeries.” Brown Knobby’s round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. “Now hurry, or we’ll be late for the celebration!”

“How can you be happy and laughing?!” Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. “If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the Sun again!”

“Silly little child-Faeries.” Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don’t you want to know what it is?”

Continue reading

Winter Solstice Chant

Geese and standing stones and mist,
Baying hounds and hooting owl,
Sparkling stars, snow is crisp
Herne is here. Bring forth the Bowl.

winter_solstice

longest night of the year
winter Solstice
Alban Arthuan
celebrations
holly king
oak king
father Christmas
introspect
the future
Yule log,
evergreen
cedar
holly
mistletoe
candles
clove studded fruit
nutmeg
spices
wassail
ale
caroling
mumming
family bonds
love
peace goodwill
honor the God and Goddess

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