In honor of the solstice, I offer a trip down memory lane.
I will never forget a Yule that I spent celebrating with the Unitarian Universalist Pagans. Being exceptionally broad-minded, many Unitarian fellowships have a pagan branch called CUUPS, the covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans.
This ritual was organized by a very earnest and serious woman whom I will call Anna for the purposes of our discussion. Anna was a classic hippie old school pagan with flowing long skirts, a cotton peasant blouse, and long braided hair twisted about her head. If you were going to draw a picture of a California hippie pagan chick (or a milkmaid), Anna would be what you would draw.
She was to portray the goddess in the speaking part of the ritual, but the guy playing the god couldn’t show up. He probably ran away when he got a look at the outfit, which involved wearing an evergreen wreath, complete with hazardous lit candles á la Santa Lucia, on your head. (I think Anna might have had some Swedish in her).
So my friend Jack, a very handsome, muscular blonde guy in his 20’s, kindly stepped in. Jack usually had a graceful dignity, the kind of regal bearing that one would not normally associate with the wearing of be-candled evergreen wreaths as a hat. And he knew it.
I could see him eyeballing me as he took his place next to Anna in the tiny pulpit area of the UU church, giving me a “You better not f***ing laugh” look.
There is usually no way to make me laugh harder than to give me the “You better not f***ing laugh” look, but I did my best to control myself, pasting a smile of respectful paganhood on my face.
Anna had written her little pageant in a florid, poetic style. The original guy probably had his part memorized, but Jack had to read his lines off a Xerox copy as he stood there in his jeans, leather vest (his usual outfit) and flaming head wreath.
I have to admit that I don’t remember any of the text, except for one line Jack said, in the most morose voice possible: “I come like the winter wind.” Unfortunately, he put the emphasis on "come."
That did it. I completely lost it. Lip biting, crying, red, unable to contain myself. Anna probably wanted to brain me with the Yule log.
Fortunately I wasn’t the only one laughing - because a good-looking, muscular young guy with a wreath on his head sadly intoning double entendres? Comedy gold. I’m surprised that Carrot Top hasn’t tried it.
There was still more ritual to come – a symbolic recreation of birth with the all women who were present standing, legs apart, in a snakelike line as the attendees wriggled on the ground on their backs through them. Ridiculous weird California hippie stuff.
But it was hard work. When you were done wriggling 30 feet on your back, you felt like you had been through the birth process all over again, except the first time you did it, you probably weren’t laughing that hard. More fun than Twister or any Christian church I have ever been to, that's for sure.
Every pagan ritual I have ever been to ends with a really nice song:
The circle is open, yet unbroken,
May the spirit of the Goddess be ever in our hearts.
Merry meet, and merry part and merry meet again.
Then you eat, of course.
Good memories. It's almost enough to make me want to be a pagan all over again.