Friday, December 11, 2015

The Holly King

With Yule right around the corner, I can't help but be reminded of the Holly King who will be his strongest on the winter solstice. Yule is the time to celebrate the Holly King and recognize that the Sun has been reborn and soon the Oak King will come knocking.

As I mentioned in an earlier post on the Oak King, this story fascinates me. It's a lovely combination of death and rebirth that matches up nicely with the seasons. This will be a story I tell my future child one day to coincide with the sabbats. I'll go into more detail of the battle between the two in a later post, but today I would just like to focus on the Holly King.

    Image by renphoto/Vetta/Getty Images
The Holly King, Lord of Winterwood, is the dark twin of the Oak King. At Samhain, the Holly King defeats the Oak King, allowing darkness to reign until Beltane the following year. The days begin getting shorter while the nights get longer. The weather shifts from warm to cold and the Earth goes to sleep. However, it's not all doom and gloom. The Holly King is a god of transformations and new beginnings which is why we make New Year's Resolutions during this time. The Holly King helps us shed our old ways and give rise to new ones. Furthermore, Saturn reigns over this time of year, making the Holly King the bringer of gifts and merriment as well in respect to Yule. As I mentioned in my Yule, Traditions and Lore post, Santa comes from a mixture of beginnings. The Holly King is very likely one of the inspirations for Santa.

Most people celebrate the the death of the Oak King at Midsummer and the death of the Holly King at midwinter, but if you think about it, it doesn't make much sense astrologically. I'll touch more on this later, but I would like to go ahead and get you thinking about it.

I love Yule, and I love the story of the two kings. Whenever I think of Santa, I picture the Holly King, in all his glory; his cheeks flush, long white and grey beard, a wren on his shoulder, and a crown of holly atop his head. This Yule give him your thanks, write those resolutions, and celebrate the birth of the Sun once again.


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