I’ve been doing some research into winter deities, partly for The Spirits of Yule, but partly because I’m fascinated by the topic. I’ve read a lot of books on the history of Christmas, the most recent being Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders, but there’s so much more to the season than just that holiday.
There’s darkness in winter, a sense of foreboding as the land goes to sleep. Chill air nips at the fingers and toes, and wind howls through leafless branches. It’s hard to think about a long, cold night full of anxiety and wondering in a world of electric lights and central heating, and while nature may take a break, modern life doesn’t allow it. With the advent of working/schooling from home capabilities, there aren’t really even snow days anymore. I find that sad, and there’s a part of me that wishes for a time when the end of the day meant the end of the day.
That aside, the entire season still holds great fascination for me as the spirits of the dead walk and creatures of darkness lay claim to the land. It’s a great time for horror stories and contemplation, and just a quick dip into the lore of the season is enough to cause shivers.
I’m not far enough along in the research to have too much to share, but I hope to have some soon.
Until then, here is a short list of beings said to be associated with the winter months.
Amaratasu (Japanese): sun goddess who hid in a cave after a fight with her brother, bringing darkness to the world.
Father Winter: a personification of the season of winter. This being comes from a number of cultures.
The Wild Huntsman: leader of the Wild Hunt, sometimes called Herne the Hunter but goes by other names. The Hunt flies through the night and devours all in its path. Germanic and Celtic
Saturn: (Roman) God of agriculture. His festival, the Saturnalia, was held in December. It was a time of feasting and drinking where roles were often reversed.
Wah Kah Nee (Chinook): a being said to be able to walk barefoot through winter and communicate with its spirits