There are many myths around the holy days of this time of year, but recently new discoveries of ancient stories have come to light. According to Judith Shaw (see link below), many of the elements associated with Christmas have their origins in our Goddess worshipping past: evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, the wreath, lighting candles, and yes even our favorite Santa Claus and his* reindeer who both have their origins in Northern European Sun Goddesses. (*or was it her?)
As the world has become smaller and more information has filtered out into wider circles about the Sami and other reindeer-herding peoples of Siberia and the Nordic lands, their mythology around this time of year and flying reindeer has also brought new ideas.
Did you know…
That only the female reindeer retain their antlers past the mating season which ends in early December? Science proves Santa’s reindeer could not have been male.
That the myth of flying reindeer comes from the fact that a favorite food of reindeer is the Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), a hallucinogenic also favored by the Shamans who worked closely with the deer?
That deer were the spirit animals of the Shamans… a spirit you can journey with in your vision quest and… these shamans also have a tradition of dressing up like the [mushroom] … they dress up in red suits with white spots. (Carl Ruck – see reference #4 below) and… in these early cultures shamans were mostly women
That in these early cultures, shamans were most likely women? (
As an anthropologist I am always interested in cultures and their beliefs and how that translates into their mythology, traditions and material culture. As a goddess-affirming woman, I am especially intrigued and thrilled when older, more ancient myths come forward to show us that the ways of earlier peoples were very different than those brought forward by the modern patriarchal mindset.
As opposed to today’s mythology that has been altered and carefully re-constructed to fit a particular cultural mindset, earlier mythologies were born out of the observance of the patterns and cycles of nature and how the lives of humans were intricately and intimately interwoven with both.
If you want to know more about these ideas and earlier versions of our favorite winter holiday stories, visit the links below. Perhaps you’ll find new ways of celebrating this very special season.
Article – Arlene Bailey, ©2018
Art – Saule, Sun Goddess by Judith Shaw
Links to Seasonal Stories:
References in addition to links above:
The Woman in the Shaman’s body, Barbara Tedlock, Ph.D. (2005)
Max Dashu, Suppressed History Archives – https://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/womanshaman.html