We Three Kings…

So, for Christians, the Christmas season traditionally concludes on January 6 with Three Kings’ Day or epiphany. This is, I think, when the three magi, kings, or wise men (take your pick of epithet) brought gifts to the baby Jesus in the manger at Bethlehem, guided there by a star. Ok, so I’m a sucker for Christmas lights (my goal is for my house to be viewable from space one day lol though I have to admit, this year we didn’t do much decorating). They make me happy and they’re pretty. Please, my Christian friends, keep them up at least through epiphany. I’d be happy to see them up through Chinese New year to be honest. The more lights the better but I digress…

It occurred to me today that we Heathens should totally repurpose this holiday. Seriously, it was probably some polytheist celebration anyway originally (Sannion said, for instance, that there was a Dionysian feast about the same time)  and we know that Christians adapted and incorporated many elements of Pagan/Heathen feast days (logical, not only to smooth over the rough edges of forcedconversions but also because religions influence each other by sheer proximity. It’s an ongoing cultural conversation) so why not reclaim, repurpose, re-appropriate?

Think about it, we begin Yule on Dec. 20 with Mothernight, honoring both our female ancestors and our major Goddesses (in our house, we give this night to the Mothers Frigga, Freya, and Sigyn, and also quite often Nerthus – there are many other Goddesses that we might honor, but these are major deities in our home cultusso we tend to focus on Them usually for this rite). There would be a certain balance to conclude Yule not with New Year’s but with Three Kings and for my household that would Odin, Frey, and – because we work in a blended tradition – Dionysos, Whom we syncretize with Freya’s husband Oðr (1). If my household weren’t blended, I’d be honoring Odin, Frey, and probably Thor. I might anyway, after all, there’s no rule that says there has to be only three Deities honored on this night and I do hate to leave any Deity out.

I actually start preparation for yule not long after the fall equinox, which we also celebrate as a harvest holiday (we honor Frey and Gerda, sometimes Thor and Sif). Then there is winternights in October for the ancestors – we do it over a span of days from about the 28thof October through Nov 2, November 11this for the military dead and Odin, December 6 is Oski’s day… then on each full and new moon we’re honoring Mani in some way. We will reclaim all that is lost and our own experience in doing so will birth more celebrations, more holy tides, more ways to honor the Gods Whom we love and that is good. That is exactly as it should be (2).

Meanwhile, come January 6, my household will be honoring the Kings of our tradition.

 

3 kings

Notes

 

  1. There’s actually a surprising amount of lore to support this. If you’re interested in learning contact sannion.
  2. This year I just learned about a lovely tradition called Sunwait. I plan on incorporating this into my household’s yule preparations next year. Learn more here. I’ll probably light candles, make offerings, and do prayers on Sundays for Sunna at this time, but I”ve a year to figure it out.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on December 28, 2019, in Heathenry, Holy Tides, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I love this idea! And thanks for the link to Sunwait. I’ve been trying to find/create/discern meaningful traditions for my household, and these all resonate with me.

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  2. A real Advent isn’t just about light in the darkness, but also about justice, judgement, and the last things. A preparation for Ragnarok and what might come after during Advent, at the darkest time of the year, would seem to the natural thing here…and then, when it doesn’t, the Sun is back, the year turns, it’s time for feasting again. Pray to the Norns that they weave a good year for kith and kin. Also, it wouldn’t be hard to tie in your commemorations of veterans, Odin, etc. into a Ragnarok focused season. As far as Epiphany goes, there’s so much to work with concerning astrology, journeys, relations between nations and peoples, blessing the waters, gift giving, that whole bit with northern shamans coming to Pythagoras’s nativity (see the works of Peter Kingsley)…there’s a LOT. I mean, if you prayed to the Norns during Advent, why not cast a horoscope and do other divination at Epiphany to see if you can tell how it turned out? If Ragnarok was averted again, how can it continue to be averted by good relations between nations? So much to work with.

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    • I simply don’t give RAgnarok that much importance, not the way it’s come down to us i lore, but for those that do, you offer good suggestions. rather than astrology i’d probably suggest rune castings but either works.

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      • Rangarok for me is more of a symbol of events that happen to individuals, families, tribes, nations, etc from time to time rather than a literal future event. Taking a few weeks to see our lives as we’re living them with an eye to disasters, upheaval, tribulation, trial, and reckoning is what I’m talking about. What would we change? What would we do?It’s not useful to indulge in nihilist fantasies or start a doomsday canned goods collection, but I do find it valuable to reassess what I’m doing and why as I look upon the dark. On a personal level, Death is always coming; if I had to face Hel herself tomorrow, what would She do with me? To what hall, what isle, would I be admitted?
        As far as Epiphany is concerned, I don’t cast horoscopes either, but I might consult a reputable astrologer in addition to the usual rune castings and card readings. If there’s any time to consult the stars and planets, that’s the time to do it, I’d think, and my, do they put on a gorgeous show “in the bleak midwinter” night sky.
        Thank you for the conversation.

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    • Lovely ideas thank you for sharing them. I really like the idea of divination, planning, and looking into the year ahead at this time with the Norns in mind.

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  3. Rock on! I’ve been thinking a lot about repurposing holidays the last few weeks. Now I’m trying to map out ways of doing it with the whole year.

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  4. Because of linguistic and cultural choices that have been made many centuries ago, the Three Magi in Irish tradition become the “Three Druids” in Irish itself, and so I’ve simply taken that idea and changed it to honor the major druids we know of from Irish tradition–and while one could make arguments for various candidates for those Three, there are three in particular that seem to have had the most attention in the medieval literary record, and I usually go with them…or, at least, two are indisputable, and the third is somewhat malleable. Anyway, it works! 😉

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  5. So long as it doesn’t replace Twelfth Night, that night to me is when I honor Mundilfari, Sunna, Mani, and Sinthgunt, Nott and Dagr.

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    • why should it? it’s the day after. We honor the land spirits as well as the House of Mundilfari on 12th night. 🙂

      you should know by now i’m never for taking away holy times but always for adding.

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  6. Fantastic idea. I love this. Might play with it some more and honor the Wise Kings of the various realms. I’ll let you know what we end up doing. Many blessings, thank you for sharing!

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  7. Query: is it really “for Christians” or for “Catholics” that Christmas concludes with epiphany? I know it’s not something the protestant denominations I’m familiar with celebrate. Or does it crop up in certain other denominations too?

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    • ah protestantism. the scourge of heathenry (given the attitudes former prots so often bring). Your 12th night is actually counted from Christmas btw, not Yule proper — which shows the ongoing intersections of these things. 3 Kings is something celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox I don’t know about protestantisms – i think Anglicans do. I suspect it depends on the Protestantism. they worked so hard during the Reformation to cull anything beautiful or interesting from their religion. You should read Eamon Duffy’s work on that.

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  8. I love this idea! A Father’s Night to balance with Mother’s Night. I sometimes think in modern Paganism male ancestors get a shorter end of the stick due to hangups with Christianity. But that could be my own prejudices talking.

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  9. My two…three cents…is that this would be a marvelous time to honor the three primal jotun kings. Aegir, Kari, and Logi.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      there’s something very profound in the space between Odin, Lodhur, and Hoenir the architects of creation and Aegir, Kari, and Logi, the Gods of elemental forces.

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