YOU BETTER WATCH OUT
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Today, I went into the office early. I was asked to do an interview on another talk show and give my opinions on the mythologies and stories about Christmas that are seldom talked about.
Of course, I was happy to talk about Santa Claus, and I was also very happy to discuss the little-known fact that Christmas is not only a time to talk about gift giving and Jesus but at one time the winter holidays were set aside for telling ghost stories and other tales of shadow entities that would scare the children into behaving.
For example, the supernatural plays a part in taking an old hateful miser like Ebenezer Scrooge and exorcizing his demons in order to have love in his heart for others on Christmas day.
Dickens commented about the story and how it certainly was a story of exorcism at the hands of terrifying ghosts – who used the bending of time and space to show Ebenezer that all of the bad decisions in his life were being forged like a chain and that this chain he carried was dragging him down to hell.
“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”
A Christmas Carol is one of those scary ghost stories that was ahead of its time. Who would have thought that a Christmas story would include ghosts, exorcism and time travel in order to make a point about having to change in order to see progress?
Scrooge was shown his past, his present and a foreboding future where he would lie cold and unloved in a pauper’s grave.
Scrooge’s first ghost, Jacob Marley, who is Scrooge’s deceased business partner, introduces the subject of higher consciousness. He warns Scrooge that success in business is not enough: “Man was my business, charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business.”
So also the changes that emerge with the practice of quantum techniques both improve our ordinary lives and bring about higher consciousness. For example, we become courageous, enjoy life and have satisfying relationships; we also become compassionate, spiritual beings, which are characteristics of higher consciousness.
Opening the mind up to magic and miracles at Christmas can raise our consciousness.
The magic spoken of during the Christmas season can now be interchangeable with quantum philosophy. That is of course if you are afraid that your character will be judged harshly for engaging in magical thinking.
As adults, we are certainly aware of the flaws in the conventional Santa Claus theory, but young children seem to accept it quite readily. The older children get the less gullible they are and require a more rigorous proof of his existence.
Santa, of course, was a Saint forged from the exposure of old cultures to the darkness. The darkness of the winter months would bring with it sickness and death. The people needed to rally around something that would give them light and in the middle of all of their worship of the Christ there still was the threat of sold scratch knocking at the door to take the loves of the children and the elderly.
Every year I set aside time to talk about Santa’s horned counterpart named Krampus. In my radio interview, I unapologetically brought up Krampus and how a dark figure of Christmas legend has made its way from Europe to the United States as a symbol of Christmas indulgence.
He is a menacing demon like figure, an eight foot tall monstrous form, covered in shaggy brownish-black hair with wicked curving horns on either side of its man-goat like face with its flicking lolling tongue hanging. His cloven hooves replace the prancing of little reindeer paws.
Over its back is an old burlap sack, and in its right hand, a switch. In its left hand, held in wicked claws, is a chain lined with tiny rusted brass bells.
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, because Krampus has arrived and he has now been made into a horror icon that is becoming a part of the festivities at Christmas parties in the United States.
Not that Krampus is anything new. He has always been part of European Christmas tales. As Andy Williams sings in the song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
“There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And talks of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago.”
Yes, you heard right, caroling and scary ghost stories have been a part of the old time Christmas charm for many years before America turned it into Hallmark cards, boxes, and bows.
Krampus pre-dates the notion of Santa Claus by thousands of years, rooted deep into Germanic Paganism. The Krampus is said to be the byproduct of medieval witchcraft reworked in 18th-century folk Catholicism.
Now, Krampus is a growing presence in the American counterculture. With the appearance of Krampus in contemporary Hollywood movies, television shows, advertisements, and greeting cards, medieval folklore Krampus-related events and parades in North America and Europe, Krampus is a growing phenomenon.
Krampus’s arrival is usually tied to December 5, the day before the Feast of Saint Nicholas.
In Catholicism, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. His Saints Day falls in early December, which helped strengthen his association with the Yuletide season. Many European cultures welcomed the idea of a patron saint that would bring cheer to the people because there was a time in the ancient cultures where the winter solstice was a time of terror. It was especially hard on the children as the winter cold snap would take the children in their sleep.
There was also the risk of people in earlier times of developing the winter sickness which was not a typical cold or flu but a type of madness that many thought was the mark of the devil.
Despair and sadness would have many people it its grip during the winter months and the times were such that many people would succumb to demonic possession.
The old European legends spoke of the “night demons” and how they had to be chased out by the church in order to celebrate Christmas in a manner that would be considered reverent and dignified.
This tail of the night demons is known by many names, such as the wild chase, the Swiss Saelig Volk or the dead folks, and the French chasse infernale.
While much of what is described comes from Norse mythologies “The Wild Hunt” was believed to be an army or assembly of dead souls, who appear at certain times, usually at midnight, chasing through the night with noise, dogs, and horses until the cry of a rooster makes them vanish. Seeing the “Wild Hunt” was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. People encountering the Hunt might also become possessed by demons and condemned to the underworld.
Many who have been possessed and avoided being dragged to hell made claims that while under a trance, they were possessed by biblical figures like Herod, Cain, Gabriel or Satan himself.
The Milky Way’s position in its yearly run and its spiritual meaning had great importance at that time.
Its characteristic as the home of dead souls seems to have been global and was expressed in many ways as a passage or pathway for souls. It was a conduit for the dead, a stream that appeared to be closer to earth. It was certainly the basis for the thinning of the veil and the idea that souls of the dead would walk the earth and were able to possess the bodies of the sick and afflicted.
I know there are a lot of people that may be lost on how I like to bring up strange and paranormal metaphors. I know that it may seem like an oddity, but I have read many things about the outside influences that tend to have their way when the cold air intensifies and we tend to remain indoors.
Let us also realize that the story of Santa is an age-old story that children unconsciously repeat, however, they are unaware that he was once seen as a darker lord of the air riding upon the milky stars and finding his way into homes through the chimney or through mirrors.
The reigning power of the winter months is darkness, as the nights seem long and shadows tend to play tricks on the mind as they are cast away from the flickering fire.
When winter arrives, my mind often turns to stories of magic and how the secret powers use their influence to shape our beliefs. I know that there are many people who tend to think that magic is all a fairy tale parlor exercise. But as a man who has witnessed folk magic, I am willing to believe that the mind is a very powerful tool.
Magic, of course, can be written off by those who believe it is fantasy. However, there is power in the will. Curses and prayers have an impact and there is always that fine line between those who witness the power, who utilize the power and those who abuse their power and fall into a type of psychosis.
It is hard at time to determine the stages and so we must assume that while magic is real, the person who uses it has the potential to abuse it and when this happens the ether can open up and this is when we hear of the arrival of monsters.
We are all told that there are no monsters, that there are no real monsters; however, a monster is also a matter of how you think, what you observe and their hunger for souls is overwhelming in the winter months.
No one would ever equate Christmas with demons or possession; we leave that for Halloween and yet the old Christmas legends are chock full of all kinds of stories that lend themselves to the darkest of horrors and the threat of the devil working overtime to possess them into committing the seven deadly sins.
We see greed at its worst at Christmas – people asking for, hoping for, and wishing for big expensive gifts. Retailers go to ever more excessive lengths to boost sales. Commercials encouraging even little children to beg for impossible toys. Greed is everywhere this holiday season.
Some people can afford more than others. The nice things on TV or on the shelves that only a few can afford to encourage huge amounts of envy. It’s a fact of life, but in the Christmas season, it gets rubbed in the face of the have-nots. This is where we see the coveting aspects of greed possessing people and driving them to anger.
Christmas also can bring about the gluttonous among us. Who hasn’t gone to a Christmas party and come home drunk, stuffed, or both? It happens to most of us several times over the Christmas season.
To a lesser degree, Christmas fuels sloth, pride, and lust as well.
Christmas is a day when people do not go to work, and many take the day to do nothing. Sure, there are others hosting their family’s Christmases, but I’m talking about the people who open gifts in the morning, then do nothing else for the rest of the day. Not to mention all those gluttons sleeping off their excess.
So much of Christmas is about excess: showing off with huge ornate Christmas trees parties and lights, buying expensive gifts to prove you can.
Lately, I laugh out loud at the news stories of people who wish to protest homes that have so many Christmas lights you can see it from the International space station. What is even funnier is the reason why these “Light bearers” put up so many lights in the first place — they claim it is their religious right.
But cracking open a bible you see that these images of light and trees with symbolic bangles may not be what God intended.
If you open the Bible to Isaiah 57:5, you read about the ancients placing idols of worship under a tree:
“You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags.”
In the tenth chapter of Jeremiah, we can also see that the decoration of trees was a custom that happened before Christmas:
“For the customs of the peoples is vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.”
It is a religious right to have an overabundance of vanity and pride I guess, and when you see the frenzied looks on the faces of shoppers on Black Friday – wrath seems to be the way to describe such activity.
You haven’t seen wrath until you’ve seen a dad who missed out on the last must-have toy on the shelf to some over-aggressive grandmother.
Now, is it any wonder that this time of the year is a time where most people feel they are possessed by some dark and depressing force that feels like it is from the devil? Belief in demonic possession is widespread in the United States today.
Polls conducted in recent decades by Gallup and the data firm, YouGov, suggest that roughly half of Americans believe demonic possession is real.
The percentage who believes in the devil is even higher, and in fact has been growing: Gallup polls show that the number rose from 55 percent in 1990 to 70 percent in 2007.
Perhaps as a result, demand for exorcisms seems to be growing as well and the demand is always high around Christmas time a statistic that many people would want to avoid hearing about.
The inescapable question is: Why? Or rather: Why now? Why, in our modern age, are so many people turning to the Church for help in banishing incorporeal fiends from their body? And what does this resurgent interest tell us about the figurative demons tormenting contemporary society?
Anger has been the norm at the end of this year. It has become less episodic and more persistent, a constant drumbeat in our lives. It is directed less often at people we know and more often at distant groups that are easy to demonize.
With so much anger and outrage, we must try to find some way to unite against the darkness that is often associated with the cold unforgiving winter.
Ordinary anger can be sharpened, manipulated, and misdirected and it is difficult for many people to resist the temptation of rage and wrath during the holidays.
Under certain conditions, the emotion can transform from a force that helps keep society knitted together into something that tears it apart. Left unchecked it can open you up to many things you thought your soul was immune from.
Ordinary anger can deepen, under the right circumstances, into moral indignation which is a more incendiary form of the emotion, though one that can still be a powerful force for good.
If moral indignation persists, however, and if the indignant lose faith that their anger is being heard — it can produce a third type of anger: a desire for revenge against our enemies where we believe n inflicting punishment over reaching an agreement.
If we can understand anger’s mechanisms, we might find a way to turn our indignation back into strength.
If we are able to draw from that which is humble and beautiful about Christmas, we can embrace the warmth and the light that can tranquilize even the strongest of demonic influences.