The Winter Solstice: Santa Claus vs. Dionysus

            Perhaps you have heard of a “War on Christmas,” consisting of banal clashes between ministers, merchants, and even the occasional Marxist; who can ignore the annual war for public funds, ones festively funneled into the occasional manger or, more and more often, menorah, on a million Main Streets across America? Yet, hidden right at the center of the season, with his innocent wink and big beard burdened smile, sits the saccharine sweet old St. Nick himself, a “man,” if indeed that’s what he is, with more than a few elves in his closet and his own secret Christmas War to wage.

            This is a struggle into which you will now be initiated, one which will easily put all of those various other anemic winter conflicts to shame. It's a war that's been waged against the forbidden gnosis of the pagan nature worshipers, the stargazing magi and the ancient solar cults. Most of us have been so thoroughly payed off by the Fatman in gift cards, wrapped boxes and nog that we've repressed and removed every last trace of the once well known mysteries of a True Winter Solstice, the earliest and most thoroughly forgotten Rite of Spring.

            This controversy between the pagans and the papacy, which was once a thriving struggle between liberty and sanctity, has become all but forgotten in the short and tampered with memory of popular human history. Before our modern Santa Claus was radically revised by the ad guys at Coca-Cola, back when his red and white fur lined coats were still papal robes, a pointy bishop’s hat and shepherd’s crook, St. Nick could often be seen with one iron hand firmly upon the reigns of, not a team of magically enhanced reindeer but rather, his famously enslaved and ensorcelled demonic servant, the horned and hoary Gruss Vom Krampus.

            While most modern eyes have been trained to see his toothy maw, hoofed feet and rams horns as a text-book indication of clear cut diabolism, more discerning eyes can recognize the Dionysian fertility God when you find him captured and put in chains by a powerful Catholic Bishop. The once well known demonic “companion” of old Father Christmas has existed in almost too many cultures to count, from Knecht Ruprecht, Klaubauf, Stoppklos, Pelzebock, Pelznickel, Belsnickel, Belzeniggl, Gumphinkel and Rumpelklas to Bellzebub, Buzebergt, Hans Muff, Drapp, Black Pit, Black Peter, the Bartel Beast and, last but not least, the Claw. It was not terribly long ago that the countless creepy myths and legends associated with this captive fertility god, paraded about in irons to terrify, and ostensibly punish, “naughty” boys and girls, were more numerous and well known than even the fantastic tales of St. Nick himself.

            Yet, somewhere, we lost most, if not all, of this rich mythology, and, with it, a secret pagan understanding of this ever darkening holiday season. This December 21st, on the Winter Solstice, the old war between the obviously Vernal and the secretly Infernal will be reengaged, and, if the call of the wild is heeded, as it once was, in the glorious pagan days of yore, the Fatman will fall.

            Our ritual begins at 8:00pm, on December 21st, 2011, with balance beams, trampolines and foam pit flipping throughout the reformed supervillian Simon Zealot’s open gym/open play hours. Come dressed in your best festive holiday gear, not just red vest and elf ear, but satyr hooves, werewolf fang, fairy wing, beautiful and ugly Perchten things, and anything else that will express your support for the magical Oak King, the God of Spring, the cloven hoofed, goat horned Dionysus reborn. Or come in support of the Super Sapient Holly King, the dark god of wrapping-papered payoffs and ever-shortening days who most of us have come to know and love as Santa Claus.

            Because at 10:00pm, the battle between light and dark, summer and winter, life and death, warmth and frost, our long lost polar selves and elves and wolves all schools of thought who have ever fought over any spot in a circle will be joined; it’s the Green Man vs. The Grand Elf and the only question which remains is, "Where will the wheel take each of us?"

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