Friday, December 21, 2012

Memories of the Oak and Holly King: Winter Solstice Story!

Growing up in CoR, Yule was one of my favorite rituals. Yule itself always has a special place in the heart of children… but I liked the ritual too. I have found that Contemporary Pagan children love ritual, so be sure to include them as well. Ritual is after-all a community affair. The best part was the story of the Oak and Holly King. Ing, one of the founding members wrote the version CoR used. Every year growing up it would be read by my Uncle, the High Priest (we used the title Druid though) of CoR, and I was whisked away. As an adult, I have read it every Yule since leaving home. I have read it at public rituals, private Coven rituals, and hearth rituals with my family. It was read every year by CoR and then by me and so it has been  read without fail by someone for the past twenty-six years. It has become part of my family heritage as I read it to my own children every Yule, and will do so tonight again just before our evening rite and meal. Enjoy!

A Solstice Bedtime Story
By: Ing, CoR Co-Founder and Chief Bard

The Oak King wore a crown made of deer antlers intertwined with leafy branches of oak and mistletoe bearing its white berries. The Oak King was majestic as he strode through the forest. He was following the sun, and he was finding the path colder day by day. Each time he crossed a stream, the Oak King would take a drink. Each time he did, he began to see that he was growing very old.
Soon the Oak King found it difficult to continue. His old and stiffened body could not carry him much further. As he pulled himself to the edge of a calm, clear spring, he said to himself; "Each day grows darker; soon I shall die." The ancient Oak King bent to take a drink. As he looked at his reflection, he saw ice forming on the surface of the water. The Oak King felt the darkness. The ice was closing his vital drinking space.
Just as he was failing, the Oak King looked again at his reflection in the spring. This time he saw the ice melting away. The antlered crown of the Oak King began to change. The rounded oak leaves became sharp and pointed. The white mistletoe berries became red as if the life fluids of all animals flowed into them. The Oak King lifted his head and felt the life force grow strong within him. As he looked into the unfreezing stream, this time he saw holly leaves with red berries instead of oak and mistletoe.
The former Oak King, now the Holly King, leapt from the stream bank, and pranced through the forest. He now follows the sun on its upward course. With each step the Holly King takes, he melts the ice, leaving the ground ready for the Goddess to awaken her tiny plants.
So Mote It Be!

Boidh Se!

-Spanish Moss

“Lost in a thicker bare-foot upon a thorned path.”


Anonymous said...

Nice story. I've never heard it told like that. It is a story of hope of the coming year for sure. Blessings.

GreenFlame said...

I have always liked this more than the "battle" of the Oak King and Holly King. I have never seen a battle in the change of seasons, only a transition from one into the other.

Anonymous said...

I tell this story almost every year too, over the years my mind has made a little change here and a little change there, but is is mostly the same.