Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sacred Christmas, and Disembowelment

(photographer site)

I generally try to stay out of commentary about Holidays. But you know, I'm going to. Some thoughts, as creatures stir all throughout the house...

I think it's fair to say that, for most people who would frequent this blog anyway, there is an evident divorce between anything resembling the sacred, and the experience that we have of Christmas. Hopefully, many of us can incorporate the idea of intentional family - the people you live for and would likely die for, or togetherness, into whatever it is that we do. (Why this isn't part of our day to day experience rather than something we only intend on a few days of the year is beyond me, and also beyond the scope of a little rambling blog post.)

What is Christmas for many people that I know?

Swig as much alcohol as you imagine you can stomach, and waddle through an awkward mine-field of hazily recalled, distant relatives.

What else is it?

Being dragged to Sunday mass in the freezing cold. The service, aside from its rare moments of beauty -- usually provided by the music, if the choir isn't cringingly awful -- being something to be silently endured. (Personally, I usually find myself fantasizing about having sex on the pews as part of some sort of joyful, unintentionally sacrilegious orgy. Choir girls -- with ID -- angels, whatever. Hey, it passes the time.)

And let's not ask what it is for the people in the photo to the left. That just stopped my reverie cold in its tracks, and replaced it with a desperate need for about a 5th of scotch. Moving on...

It is possible that some might actually maintain a handhold on the sacchirine myth of a perfect world of sugar plums (the fuck are sugar plums?) and eagerly anticipated presents, parents that never fight, and a fluffy Christmas tree that magically floated in the window without puncturing a thousand holes in daddy's clumsy hands. Obviously the damn thing also wasn't carrying a host of slumbering insects and a family of enraged squirrels. Kids don't scream, snow doesn't melt, and Mommy's drinking isn't eating its way through her liver.

Fuck. Obviously I have my own biases based on personal experience. No way I know what the holiday is for several million people.

This much I do know: it doesn't have anything to do with the sacred. The clamboring of the marketplace scares away the sacred, the sense of time which holidays attempt to re-connect us with. In their most traditional sense, cultural rules and chronological time is cast aside in lieu of primal, universal forces and sacred time.

This is an idea explored elegantly by Eliade in the Sacred and the Profane. Let me give a kind of Jungian reading of this idea, because it's quick and to the point. If we imagine the orbit of the Earth around the Sun as the psychological circle that all of us live in relation to, then the element of the sacred which is meant to permeate holidays originates from that supposedly fixed center-- the transcendent, the Sun. Of course, in the material world, the Sun is hurtling through space as well. But metaphors have never needed the agreement of empirical fact to have psychological impact.

There is a lot more I could say about the co-opting of holidays by political and cultural ideology-- the forces of consumerism and corporatism hiding behind the benevolent masks of smiling St. Nick having the most sway in this case.  But, instead, I'd like to show just a taste of some of the more horrifying beings lurking behind that mask, elsewhere in history and our imaginations.

I've been doing a bit of research today as I return to the text of Nyssa as Jenx and Vika do their things with the first round of photographs. I don't want to give up why it's relevant, but part of the research has led me to the Krampus, which I've written a little about here, and Perschta, his female counterpart. There is a really solid core idea of the psychological nature of winter in these two, Perschta, a swan goddess (or mythological being) of light, and at the same time, a horrifying figure that makes the Krampus look good natured.

All three of them: St. Nick, the Krampus, and Perschta are the same in this one way. All of them represent the darkest time of the year, a time when the fields lie fallow, when the unconscious gestates. Sounds pretty abstract, what it means is that there's a part of our conscious mind that wonders "What have I done well this past year? What can I do better in the future?" It wants to orient in relation to a larger picture of the self, and put us in accord with some kind of personal or cultural myth as a result.

The solstice is a passage from darkness back to light. And out of that can spring guilt. We need something else, a force both benevolent and terrible, to keep our sorry asses in line. Krampus charges out of the frigid night, howling, beating the christ out of women and children with sticks, and carrying the especially bad ones away. Perschta asks,"have you been weaving your flax little girl? Have you been good? Are you eating the awful gruel and fish that are to be consumed on my holiday?" If the answer is no, the poor children are disemboweled, and their insides are stuffed with straw and stones. So, you know. Don't fuck up.

And...Santa just gives you a bit of coal. For once Capitalism sees fit to work us with the carrot rather than the stick. If you're good, you get new toys that you can stuff full of firecrackers and blow up in the front lawn the next day. (Or maybe that was just me.)

Maybe something could be drawn from the relation between the much the kinder, gentler Coke-a-Cola Santa, Saint Nick, Christ and his mis-attributed birthday (if "he" had one at all), and these Pagan throwbacks from the Swiss Alps. It's late and I don't care enough at the moment. This much I know: Krampus and Frau Perschta would totally kick both Santa and Jesus' ass. That's for damn sure.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

1 comment:

  1. In our fallen world, degenerate humankind desperately struggles to reify its collective myopic vision of what Christmas should be--wholesome and white like milk, castrated with a gingerbead man cookie cutter, a Wham! Christmas:

    No amount of pathetic attempts will ever bring the perverse dreams of this loathsome abomination, the domesticated homosapien, to fruition. For Nature, in her cruel wisdom, has decreed that balance and order shall define her dominion. As her faithful servant, Krampus stalks the modern human like a feral shadow, an animal within which threatens to claw its way out and rend society asunder. His boon is the acceptance of life as it is, not as we desire it should be. Krampus gives us the gift of Christmas in harmony with the Nature's iron law, a pure Christmas, a holiday truly divine:

    More and more people around the world are discarded the manmade laws of society and obeying their inner law instead. Don't you think that it's time for you to have sex with Krampus?



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