Christmas: A Season NOT About Giving

It is of note that modern culture has made the Christmas season a dichotomy of giving and receiving, thus embodying its selfish materialism. Every show on nigh every channel churns out at least one Christmas special that tries to convince the audience that the true meaning of the season is to be nice to family and friends. A nice sentiment, but it’s nothing more than lip-service. Stop to consider how the commercials, the decorations, and the actions of secular society scream ‘gimme, gimme, gimme.’

The ultimate cause of this failure in the Xmas season is, like in everything, the removal of Christ. In years past, we celebrated Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus and to show gratitude for his saving mankind. In other words, Christmas is not about the family OR the gifts, but rather the ultimate gift. Of course, without that vital nucleus, the orbiting virtues of compassion, charity, and joy have gone into chaos, leaving not but a frightening echo of Christmas past.

So let’s leave this with a positive note, and return to the way Christmas is supposed to be. As C.S. Lewis said, “If everyone is heading down the wrong path, the most progressive man among them is the one who turns back first.”

And THAT’S how you prophet

Our general opinion of devout servants of God is of a really dour and serious person. However, the bible does have one particular example of a prophet who just about reverses this presentation: the prophet Elijah. Allow me to use 1 Kings 18:27 to prove it. First, the context of this verse is that Elijah challenged the priests of the false god Baal to a contest of sorts wherein they would call upon their respective gods to provide the fire for their sacrifice. This was Elijah’s response when the Baal priests failed to call on their god:

[QUOTE]27 At noon Elijah began to tease them. “Shout louder!” he said. “I’m sure Baal is a god! Perhaps he has too much to think about. Or maybe he has gone to the toilet. Or perhaps he’s away on a trip. Maybe he’s sleeping. You might have to wake him up.”[/QUOTE]

The emphasis was mine because that’s what really sold it. No, what actually sold would have to be when the Baal priests promptly took Elijah seriously. Do note that the toilet joke is only able to be read in certain translations. In most translations it is replaced with the far less amusing ‘in deep thought.’

Dalon: The Choosing Grounds

Dalon is on its most basic level the name for the moon. More specifically, it’s the name of the realm that lies upon the moon. Dalon, meaning the Choosing Grounds, is the home of the goddess Geila and the realm of the dead.

In the early days of the world, Geila departed from the earthly realms out of contempt for her neighbors. She took up with her a turtle, which she turned into the realm of Dalon. The turtle now swims over the world, constantly rolling about with Geila residing inside of it. The new moon is the turle’s underbelly while the full moon is the polished surface of its shell.

Dalon is known as the realm of the dead, but it is not the final resting place of the dead, nor do the dead immediately awaken upon it. The dead are conscious exactly when they leave their bodies, and they in turn wander until they are found by a mountain lion. Mountain Lions, being the favored animal of Geila and thus her chosen psychopomps (ferriers of the dead), lead the dead to mountain tops where they then are taken up to the moon. On the moon, Geila then judges the dead and informs them of what they might be reincarnated as. The spirit is then given a full month to decide from the options it is given and then allowed to depart into its new life.

This cycle lines up very specifically with the lunar month. The new moon, Dalon’s underbelly, is the entrance to the realm and thus spirits are allowed to ascend to the realm of Dalon when the dark side of the moon is visible. In turn, the light side of the moon, Dalon’s shell, is when spirits may descend to their next life in the cycle. As a result, the full moon is both loved and feared for bringing life into the world while simultaneously trapping ghosts upon the earth.

Needless to say, Dalon did not originate as the realm of the dead. It took on this role in the aftermath of Reho tearing a hole in the dome of the world. After the Wasp Mother and Iwau crawled out of the rift, water and otherworldly energy also was pouring through. Reho was naturally charged with plugging up the hole, which he did remarkably well. However, there did come a time shortly afterward that the gods realized an issue with this plan. There was now far more water and energy in the world than before, too much for it to support. Therefore, Geila took it upon herself to carry the rift around with her in the turtle of the moon. She would open the rift at times to either force the water on the earth to return to the realms beyond or to allow more water to return as rain when she took too much.

This cycle of water eventually drew ghosts to her realm, who’s vaporous bodies often got taken along for the ride. After going through the ordeal for enough time, Geila decided to just become the goddess of death and take care of all these things formally.

Finally, it is of note that, though Geila does pass judgement and dole out new lives to spirits accordingly, there are no forms of reincarnation that are thought to be intrinsically bad. The manner in which Geila judges the deeds of a person’s life is by cataloguing them as being of one of the five elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. A human spirit who is particularly strong in one element risks imbalance and harm to the world around it, so Geila selects option for the soul that would encourage taking on qualities of another element. I.e. someone who is highly excitable and frivolous  (both seen as belonging to the wood element) might be reincarnated into a family of merchants or banker (both professions of the metal element) in order to teach discipline and self-control.

Aegir: A Commentary

In the story of Across the Kolgan Sea, Aegir, the god of the sea, went through many stages of evolution. In the very beginning of writing AKS, I didn’t give very much thought to the god beyond the simple need for a sea god. AKS’s original idea was to be a Norse version of the Oddessy, which naturally meant that I needed a Viking equivalent to the god Poseidon.

As for his motive, I must admit that there was a degree of misrepresentation. He was designed for AKS in my early years of studying Norse Mythology, so he consequently was simplified to his role as the final destination of people who drown, which naturally lead to the sea dwelling folk of Shaloor fearing him. However, this was later supplemented with his more detailed role as a host. His presentation in the source mythos goes to show that he was on mostly friendly terms with the gods, and often even held feasts in their honor.

Such a stark contrast went to contradict his original depiction, so I decided that that would be a good way to add further differences between the Shaloor and Agrians by giving them two very different perspectives of the sea giant. Shaloor considering him a force of evil and the Agrians honoring him as a god of hospitality.

For those of you who have not heard any of what I’m talking about, you can read about it now by going and purchasing Across the Kolgan Sea.