“Grandfather can you tell us a story?” the children asked in unison as they ran up to the old man reclining peacefully by the fire.
In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”
With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.
“We all know that Yule is at the end of December. When the night and the day are equal to each other. But the story really starts much earlier. In fact over a month earlier. For you remember that in August the Harvest Lord laid down his sword of power and went away to Summerland to rest. Well the Goddess missed her husband so much that she began to grow old just with the grief alone and that is why we have Winter. The time when the Earth grows barren and cold.
“Well the Goddess because of her sadness after a time, left us also and went on a journey to Summerland to try and find him. Now she doesn't die now, she only goes on a vision quest. But she is gone so long that at Samhain her body passes on and when she is found frozen in the forest two weeks later a wake is held for her in the Holly King's drinking hall.
“It took over a week for all the faeries and other mourners to come.For they came from all corners of Creation. But there was one unexpected guest, an old woman. She was so old that she almost looked like a walking skeleton. So of course everyone there was mean to her out of fright and disgust.
“Yet when she greeted the Holly King, calling him her Son, everyone realized with much fright that this was the Goddess returned to them. The very Goddess whose death, they were there to mourn.
“So angry was she, that she was treated so poorly, the Goddess passed a prophecy to the Holly King. That she had within her the Oak King, soon to be reborn. And for rebuking her the Holly King would pass to Summerland upon the birth of that child.
“Now this scared the Holly King that he decided to lock the old Crone away in the top room of the tallest tower in all the world. Then he walled up the doors and all but one of the windows so that she is trapped within the room at the top of this tower. The window he left open so that he could have the birds fly food to her.
“Now he did this hoping that he could escape the doom that was foretold to him. But the Crone knew that the birth of her child was her only hope of escape. The Crone then wove magick and took the light and warmth from the Sun, and passed it to her son. So that in just four weeks, she gave birth to the Oak King. Who ever after was also given the name of the Sun King. For he was born fully grown and glowing with a golden light so bright that it caused the dying of the Sun to be reversed.
“Those four weeks of magick are why we light the candles for the four weeks before Yule. One candle for the first week and two for the second and so on until we have four candles lit on the night of Yule. This represents the growing light inside her as outside the Sun grew weaker.
“But the birth was hard on the old Crone, so hard that she slipped into a sleep very near to Death. So the Sun King in his anger thinking that his mother was dead, flew out the lone window as a large golden eagle. All across the Earth he hunted the Holly King, Lord of the Wintertime. Finally cornering him at the shores of a great ocean.
“And when he found him he threw his magickal spear at him and destroyed him. The spear hit the Holly King so hard that his body just vanished. But don't worry, for the Holly King simply reappeared in Summerland. When he got there he found the Crone in one of her other aspects, the Young Maiden.
“She spoke to him of prophecy and the Wheel of the Year. She spoke of the new cycle that had been made in the last year. That the events of the last year would repeat themselves forever and ever.
“And although the Holly King had passed away now, he now knew that he would return just past the height of Summer to take the Sun King's place again.
This is why the Holly King, as Santa Claus, brings us gifts every year to make up for the Winter that he brings with him. But he only brings presents to good little boys and girls because he wants us to learn to not be mean like he was to the Crone on that first night that he met her so long ago.
“Now back to the Sun King, when he returned to the Crone he saw that she wasn't really dead but only asleep. So he went out and found a large log, the first Yule Log, cut from the largest Oak he could find. In hopes that this would revive the Goddess. And for their lifegiving properties he decorated her room with evergreens. Even bringing in a tree and decorating it with his light.
“But all this magick did was to make her youthful again, so that now she was a beautiful youthful Maiden. Yet she still slept a deep sleep almost near death.
“So you see my grandchildren there are good reasons why we do the things that we do at Yule. They served a purpose long ago and it is good to recognize and honor that. “
“But Grandfather,” spoke up the eldest, “What happened next? I know the Goddess didn't stay asleep forever. Please tell us more.”
Shaking his head, the old man said, “Lunch is overdue and I'm hungry so let us go to eat and then I will tell you all another tale. I will tell you of what happened next to the Goddess and to the Sun King. I will tell you the story of the first Imbolc.”