The Stories of Christmas
The sky wept stars last night and rain today, and now the heat begins again. It presses against skin and grass so that everything struggles to open and close, and the world becomes increasingly parched. Down here in the south, we are singing to our Mother Ocean for relief. And she is coughing up slugs and deadly jellyfish.
I love Christmas. I love all the old traditional images of snow-covered cottages, night-eyed reindeer, chimney smoke spiralling into a wizened, grandmother-grey sky, perhaps because it is like a beautiful dream of something I have never experienced. But I become frustrated with all the online articles and posts about this mythic season of winter, light-in-darkness, death, silence. There's an arrogance to it which could take on an -ism if one was so inclined. Myth was made to be local. It may have universal messages, but the particulars of the stories were based on what people saw when they opened their door. That's the point of it - truth, godhood, exists in all forms for everyone. Please do tell me your local myths, your heritage, by way of sharing. Then ask about mine. Together we will weave a tale of many different colours and textures, different seasons and landscapes. When indigenous stories are disempowered, we also lose hold of the sacred truths that not only guide us but also protect our environment from human ignorance.
Christmas here is midsummer. The stories of light-in-darkness do not fit into our brief sweltering smokeless nights when the clouds are so pale you know they are infused with lingering daylight. For us, the king is not a child, but at the height of his glory. He rises to take his golden throne. He feels safe, he is benevolent, we seldom have storms. Lady Nature loves him with a mature love - no delicate trembling petals, but the robust blooms of roses and hibiscus, the laughing colour of pohutukawa. Sometimes it seems she loves him too much, she forgets all else but him, and the earth becomes too god-golden; it becomes dried up.
The message of summer solstice is the same as the winter one : trust. (All these stories, they hold our hands, they remind us we are sacred ourselves.) But now our trust is for dark-within-light, for the little death (rest) of a cool night. We are promised rains to come again. We know the summer birds will find their long way home, same as we will.
Often I read rich, earthy stories from hedgewitches and wild-dwellers, and I wish I could write like them. But being in the forgotten half of the world reminds me of the importance of writing locally - from my own heart. I do not gather medicines from bushes. I gather it from the sky. I must write the universal truths in the dialect of where I live inside. Otherwise I'm just appropriating summer stories for my winter heart, earth-drums for my sky-sighing, and that's the surest way to lose language.
What is the world where you live telling you about Life in this season?