“Love came down at Christmas” writes English poet Christina G. Rosetti, “Love came down at Christmas. Love, all lovely, a love divine.” She continues, “Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave sign.”
Admid the sea of wisdom traditions, within this big umbrella of a holiday season, which I dub “solsta-christa-kwanz-ikkah, Christmas seemingly and overwhelmingly stands alone. No sooner have we extinguished the jack-o-lantern and BAM!along Deck-the-Halls is playing at every turn. Allegedly Santa’s on His Way! Judy Garland wants you to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas! All Mariah Carey Wants for Christmas is You. Rosemary Clooney is curious about your Silver Bells. (Rosemary, they are doing just fine!) They say, it’s going to be a Holy Night. A Silent Night. We might even Rejoice Greatly, oh daughter of Zion!
Regardless of what we believe or don’t believe as Polytheists, Pagans, Heathens and more, the tides of Christmas are alongside us. And as we honor our own Goddesses and Gods and celebrate our own holy night, we still know Christmas.
Over the years, as I have come out of the orthodoxy of conservative Christianity, I have wondered what the lesson of Christmas might be? The reality is, for myself, Christmas is more than secular. It has been forever ingrained in me as being connected to something other than Santa Claus and gifts. And, this is the life legacy for many people who have been fractured by one faith tradition and, then, healed radically by another by stepping into the heart of a community that rejoices in inclusive Goddesses and Gods.
It is from my own work with the Goddess that I have been able to re-frame and release myself from the trauma of my childhood faith to be able to stand in the wisdom tradition of this time of year and what is called Christmas. Whitney Houston once sang, “Said the night wind to the little lamb. Do you know what I know?”
For brevity’s sake, here is a synopsis of this biblical epic minus many important names, places, and people. The Angel of the Lord appears unto Mary informing her “unto you a child will be born and you shall call him Emmanuel.” It is told that a different Angel of the Lord (there are many) appears to Joseph warning him of great danger; instructing him to take Mary and flee. At this same time, The Star (not the tarot card, but also symbolic of hope… just saying) appears in the East, shining so bright that the wisest men see it. We learn that King Herod receives a prophecy that a ‘great king’ is to be born and, subsequently, Herod gave an order to kill all baby boys in the land. Alas there would be no usurpers born. We then learn that the wise men deceive Herod, and that Mary and Joseph are unable to find shelter. We discover that this baby is born in a stable for there is no room anywhere else, and that he shall bring tiding of great joy to all people.
The idea that Emmanuel could bring tidings of great joy to all people seems like a pretty tall order. I think, in modern times, Santa Clause might have a better chance.
When I see language like “the Christ child is born,” I often think to myself that the baby born in that manger isn’t a story about a Christ child. Christ means anointed, transliterates as messiah, “Jesus the Christ.” Jesus the teacher, the prophet, the ‘messiah’ hasn’t done anything in the story above. Instead he’s simply a baby in dirty manager, on the run form a crazed King whose trying to kill him. With two angels as sidekicks, a giant star, and some wise men with swag bags of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
This is the story about Emmanuel.
Emmanuel means “god is with us.” That might seem radical for the Christian who might not know transcendent divinity or divine immanence. But the very idea invokes so much. For myself and many other Polytheists, Pagans and Heathens, we know that the DIVINE IS WITH US, even if our Gods are not Abrahamic. For me, this divine is certainly the Goddess, the Queen of Heaven who Jeremiah tried to smite, but she is also the woman who birthed Emmanuel.
What might it be like if we gave ourselves permission to rebirth Emmanuel, not as a god, but as love? Love Is With Us. Love Came Down At Christmas? Love All Lovely. A Love Divine.
Oh come oh come Emmanuel… ransom captive Israel. What is the currency to ransom a captive heart? Can we call upon our souls to arise and call unto the Gods to be with us, as LOVE. Love is with us. Love is the currency, all lovely, a love divine.
What if for a moment we looked at each other the way we look into the eyes of children, with love? If one man could ransom one captive nation with love, imagine the power of every child in the world? Feeling love, and knowing what love is, believing that love is divine. Emmanuel. Love with us.
On this Christmas day, may we look toward the Goddesses and Gods of our traditions renewed with sovereignty and love. May we call upon the holiday season with tidings and may we know peace. May we know love. May we know joy. And may we too, welcome The Love Divine.