Dear Apocalypse: You missed us, you missed us, neener neener neener!
I didn't get my hair done for nothing!
I KNEW Mayans were extinct for a reason!
Anyway...On to mistletoe.
Mistletoe is an amazing little plant. It can exist on it's own, but is more likely to be found as a parasite, living on a host tree. Because it draws its nutrients from its host, it also absorbs the magical properties from the tree. It is no surprise that mistletoe growing on the sacred oak would be the most magical and powerful of all. It is a plant associated with the sun, as it is green with berries even as the host tree is bear of leaf. It is the symbol of the rebirth of the sun at Yuletide. It was associated with Taranis, a sun deity, and the white berries are formed from his sperm. (OK, so there is an obvious fertility aspect to the mistletoe which has lead to current customs.)
Mistletoe was considered a protection against fire, lightning, and cured poison (even though the berries, themselves, are poisonous. Keep away from pets and children, weird spouses and peculiar significant others...you know who you are...) It was called “all heal” in Medieval Times (Applebees, Olive Garden..sorry, bad restaurant joke.)
If you hung a sprig in the barn, or a sprig over a baby's crib (minus berries, I hope) it warded off fairies. If a sprig was anywhere in the house, love would dwell within. It gave rise to the English superstition that if a single person was not kissed under the mistletoe at Solstice (or Yuletide) they would remain unmarried for the coming year. I guess it inspired this Sherlock fan art I found on Tumblr.
Druids were said to harvest the mistletoe by cutting it with a gold blade and catching it in a white sheet of linen. It was not to touch the ground. As it grew on the oak, and not from the soil, touching earth would ground all its powers.
As a thank-you to the gods for this magical gift, one or two white bulls would be sacrificed. This is interesting because it may hearken back to Mithra. We do know that the Romans had a rite of purification called the Taurabolium. In this rite, a white bull was sacrificed, held over the heads of the faithful (or they passed under it via a pit) and the blood was allowed to drip upon the believers and thus “cleanse” them. This rite has been associated with Mithra by many (and the time of year would correspond with the date of his birth, as I explained in a prior post), but some claim this is a misunderstanding. You can draw your own conclusion.
In Victorian times, the mistletoe was hung in the doorway as a round clump called a “kissing ball”. Sprig or ball, the same custom applies. According to some, when a couple kiss under the mistletoe, a berry should be removed. When there are no more berries, there can be no more kisses. So if you see a bare kissing ball, move off to another to get lucky. All the kisses have been taken (or else the hostess is plotting to spike the cider with a merry dose of death...sorry. Sherlock overload.)
If you think no one cares abut the mistletoe in this day and age, please see the following video. It's slow starting. It also proves that the Brits – gods bless em – have no native sense of rhythm. See the dance at the end, for example. Riverdance it ain't.. but they love their mistletoe.
As for me.. I've been unattached for too many years. This time, I am taking no chances.
I think 2012 has seriously screwed with my mind (sigh). Gary wouldn't come anywhere near me until I took the damn thing off.
Have a happy, everyone!