At Black Bear Grove we celebrated Yule or Winter Solstice a little early so everyone could also do their other seasonal celebrations (In other words, we don’t schedule too close to Christmas.). This year we reached way back for a pantheon when we celebrated the deities of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.
Who were the Proto-Indo-Europeans? They were a group of people who shared a language from which most languages of Europe and India developed. They were probably not one political entity or tribal group, most likely lived on the steppes near the Caspian sea, and spread their culture and language throughout Europe and Asia by conquest, migration, intermarriage, trade and cultural influence. Over time and distance their culture and language changed and diversified to become the Indo-Europeans, becoming us (At this point, all members of Black Bear Grove have European ancestry. It’s just by chance; all are welcome.). We don’t know what name or names they called themselves.
The existence of Proto-Indo-Europeans was discovered by linguists. Commonalities were found between languages and from that the Proto-Indo-European language was reconstructed. Proto-Indo-European is not the primeval ancestor of all languages. It is merely one of hundreds of known language families, yet today there are more speakers of Indo-European languages than of any other language family. As these people shared a language, they shared a culture, which also has been reconstructed. For more information on Proto-Indo-European culture, see this book and this book. For information on their language, see this book and this book. For information on their myths and religion, see this book and this book, written by a member of Ár nDroícht Fein (ADF).
What we do as a grove of ADF already emphasizes Indo-European concepts, such as the Cosmos being divided into an Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds, the importance of fire, and a reciprocal relationship with the Gods, a gift for a gift. At this ritual we added a recreation of the Middle World Creation myth*.
The creation of the world involves twin gods. The reconstructed names of the Proto-Indo-European gods are Yemós and Mannus.
Yemós took the kingship of the gods and spirits. He became troubled and took counsel with Mannus saying, “Under my rule, there is no balance, the worlds are cursed with nothing bad. Within my kingdom is nothing ill. Everything flourishes, and there is no ending. Balance is not complete in this land of mine. Now there is only life. To balance it there must be and ending of life.”
Mannus spread his hands, and said, “Your counsel is well spoken. Ending must come that beginning might be.”
Yemós spoke quickly, before Mannus could, “I am the king, and it is my privilege to offer myself for the sake of the world.” From Yemós’ skull he made the sky, from the flesh the soil, from the blood the rivers and streams.Serith, Ceisiwr. Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. ADF Publishing. Tucson, 2007.
We recreated this event at the end of the ritual by tearing apart a gingerbread god. We threw the pieces about to remake the Middle World.
We started the ritual by bringing our minds and spirits together (attunement) by doing a modified Sun Salutation (a series of Yoga poses). We also honored the Earth Mother, the Sky Father, Dawn, and the Sun. We called on our ancestor Bards, who were so important in transmitting the ancient ways to us. This ritual was a celebration of the return of the Sun, the return of the light, and the return of life. We went back to our roots to help us grow. May you all have light and growth in the coming year.
*The word myth is from the Ancient Greek word mythos. It simply means story with no judgement of truth or untruth.