The Invocation of the Spirit of Christmas
The archetype of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, etc.), while ostensibly a "deity" associated with a Christian holiday, has in recent years taken on a decidedly secular and pagan-like identity. Very little of the current image of Santa Claus is associated with the actual Mythos of Christianity. While he personifies the ideal of "peace on earth, good will toward men," many fundimentalist Christian sects disclaim Santa Claus altogether as a symbol of impiety and idolatry.
But the image of the jolly old gent has never had more appeal among non-Christians, even Neo-Pagans. This is not surprising, as the idea of a deity of prosperity and generosity is not unknown to old pagan societies. In the context of post-modern magick, he represents a Jupiterian godform -- perhaps even THE Jupiterian godform. So rather than reach back into the ancient past for a invocatory diety, why not use one that already figures large in Western culture?
In the context of invoking "the Spirit of Christmas,"
I've tried to lean away from the commercialized contempory image
of Santa Claus-- red suit, black boots, white hair, et al -- toward
the one used by Charles Dickens in his 19th century masterpiece,
"A Christmas Carol". The character of the Ghost of Christmas
Present personifies to me all of which is genuinely good in the
Santa Claus godform, but with none of the crass commercialism
his has also come to represent. Neo-pagans and contemporary magicians
may find this a more comfortable image to work with as well. I
hope Santa Claus "purists" will forgive me this bit
of artistic license.
Each participant brings a small wrapped gift to exchange with the others, which are placed in a small cloth sack.
Set the altar in the North, with various representations of
abundance: a horn of plenty is de riguer, along with a variety
of good, healthy food and drink (to be consumed at the feast to
follow). Holly wreaths, mistletoe sprigs, poinsettia flowers and
other plants connected with the season are also proper -- see
the text of the first invocation below to get the general idea.
A pair of golden candles are set amidst the plenty, and the cloth
sack is placed at the foot of the altar. A large goblet, and a
large wine bottle to fill it so that all may drink their fill,
is set nearby. The room should be fragrant with the incense of
pine and frankincense.
0. Each participant prepares two sigils: one to represent a gift they wish for themselves, and another to represent a gift the wish to give to others; this can be a personal gift or boon, or a "gift" to their circle, their friends or to the world at large.
1. Banishing of cold and miserly influences, especially the demons of IGNORANCE and WANT.
2. Call to the North quarter with the ritual sleigh bells. As the bells ring, all participants laugh joyfully with a hearty "HO HO HO!"
3. The first Invocation is sung by all:
"You better not shout, you better cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!" (Or something less "corny" can be substituted here...)
4. The Main Operator reads the following passage from "A Christmas Carol" wherein Dickens describes The Ghost of Christmas Present as he first appears to Scrooge. This is used as the basic vision of the godform.
"Hear now the words of the seer:
"It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see: who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door. "Come in!", exclaimed the Ghost. "Come in, and know me better, man!" Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit; and though the Spirit's eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. "Look upon me!" Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free: free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanor, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust."
5. The participants meditate upon this vision, as the main operator calls down the godform:
"Spirit of prosperity and generosity! We call upon thee to share your plenty with us, to set our tables with abundance, to fill our cups to the brim, so that not only may we fulfill our own needs, but with plenty and to spare for others."
(In the invocatory mode, the MO will assume the identity of the godform. An attire appropriate for the deity could be worn prior to beginning -- the robe, the crown of holly, etc. In the evocatory mode, the godform is evoked as present but not manifest in a particular person.)
6. At this point, an atmosphere of happy revelry should prevail. The MO takes the goblet, fills it, and bears it to each participant in turn. As it is passed, the MO cries, "Drink now from the Cup of Human Kindness, and taste the sweetest wine of all!" Each person drains it to the dregs (dribbling wine down one's shirt-front is considered entirely appropriate here) while, the others laugh and cheer.
7. After drinking, each participant laughs, dances, spins in place, or otherwise obtains gnosis by way of the excitatory mode. At the peak, the sigils are burned over the candles, one on each side. When burning each sigil in turn, visualize your desired gift or boon. This may be accompanied by words such as, "A happy Yuletide to all the world!"
8. The MO takes up the sack and the sleigh-bells, saying:
"As ye gave, now shall ye also receive! For surely, what goes around comes around!"
The MO jingles the sleigh bells with a hearty "Ho Ho Ho!". S/he passes among the participants and gives each person a gift from the sack. Some appropriate words can be spoken to each, as the spirit moves.
9. When all have received their presents, the MO returns to face the altar, and says:
"Those who receive the blessing of this season must remember this truth: As ye give, so shall ye receive. Recall the words of the seer:
'From the foldings of its robe, the Spirit brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. "Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more. "They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!" '
(The participants meditate upon this for a few moments.)
10. MO: "So I give thee this charge: where there is want, bring forth plenty! Where there is ignorance, bring forth knowledge! Where there is despair, bring forth hope! No greater task is set before humanity than this transformation. Remember the lesson: bounty shared is bounty increased! WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND!"
ALL: "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND! WE WILL REMEMBER!"
MO: "Spirit of Generosity! We give thee leave to depart and go forth on thy appointed rounds. Go with our blessing and fulfill thy sacred mission, until all the world be transformed!"
ALL: "And I heard him exclaim as he rose out of sight, "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!"
11. Banish with roaring laughter and good cheer. A feast to follow is strongly recommended.