The gift of yule

Ryebread. Marinaded herring. Leek salat. Eggs.
Ryebread. Meat balls. Liver paté. Roastbeef. Pork roll. Sausages. Bacon. Hot red kale. Pickled beet root. Remoulade. Fried onions. Roasted mushrooms.
Beer. Mead. Gløgg. Rhubarb juice.
Ris a la mande. Canned forest berries.
Another important ingredient. Fire wood. Excess firewood. All 3 stoves burning hot, candlelights in every window.

And we all nodded to the sunset.

In the old days the foremothers would go the pantry on this night, to check. “Do we have enough?”.
If one had enough one was to shout it into the dark. “WE HAVE ENOUGH”. Halfway through winter it’s important to have enough.
All of the other yule nights I have shouted into the dark. For more than 10 years now I’ve been a conscious heathen (as opposed to an unconscious heathen) and the rituals of my ancestors have been incorporated into our lives and celebrations.
Because I, still, find great inspiration in their world view and practise, because I believe in something bigger, deeper, higher, gods, I do.
It’s just that we didn’t have enough.
Not enough energy. Not enough time. Not enough love. I shouted as if I, by my words, could create reality and change the course of time. I shouted as if I, by my words, could create the world, a coherent narrative, some kind of truth in this post modernistic fragmented hellish house of mirrors. But I couldn’t. At some point I broke. Truth broke. Story broke.

I thought it was to be avoided by all means so I screamed my lungs apart. You cannot surrender to fatigue if things are to change, the paradigm, the system! You cannot surrender to fatigue if you want to be whole and happy, never let apathy win! You cannot surrender to fatigue if you want to run into the wild and build your own log cabin, like pioneers, insisting on a land of milk and honey that doesn’t exist and BAM, hello to you depression only this yule I realised something: you CAN surrender to fatigue. And it’s not the same as depression. Fatigue is different. Fatigue is stillness. Still. Needed.

To fetch firewood and a yule tree


The only yule decoration we have left after all of these years in the wild is the bell of yule. Ring it and yule is here!


And the sun of course. We still have the sun.


The ground is hard as rock now and the frost keeps everything crisp and white. We ran around like headless hens today, fixing all of the last things that needs to be fixed before the world is fixated in it’s winter form, when fixated it does not change… until the ice on the lake begins to melt and oh, the beauty of that friction!
For a while, a winter while, the world stands still. There is movement underneath the frost and the snow and the ice, sure, deep down everything moves. But for a moment, a brief moment in time, everything is quiet and the stars shines uninhibited.

There are many things I don’t tell you, many movements beneath. For the longest while I thought that was wrong, I thought everything needed to be said as if you could somehow purify the world with words but you can’t – only snow can do that.

I am a viking. It’s the gods honest truth. I fight. This is my metaphor. But you know what the old did around yule, what they have done for thousands of years in these parts of the world, all of my ancestors?
They sat down and they ate and drank to fill the hollow hole in themselves and then they shouted “WE HAVE ENOUGH”
They didn’t need more. More. Than what they actually had.

I don’t need more than I actually have.
I have enough.
This is the most important thing to say on the thinnest of all nights.

A couple of minutes past midnight tonight the world will change.
The sun will gain it’s strength, right now it never even rises above the top of the trees but soon it will, soon it will shine again on all that is hard and solid because such is the world: it flexes between hope and despair, love, hate, surrender, victory, it all changes, it flows.
It’s just that we have to recognise it. Observe. Say.

I wish you all a very happy and merry and fairy winter solstice. Thank you for all that you have given me.

Kindest regards

39 thoughts on “The gift of yule

  1. Thank you Andrea! I, too, wish you all a very happy and merry and fairy winter solstice. Thank you for all that you have given me! Even though I know that the coldest days are yet to come I also rest in the knowing that half of it is behind us. We, too, have enough. Really.


  2. “Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in”
    L. Cohen

    Oh how we have rung those bells, oh yes we have
    Now it is time to let the light in, what do you say…. 🙂

    For the heavy of hearing and the “lawless” croud
    Well, they might need a thunder cloud
    Or a few more turns on the wheel
    Or what ever et is they feel
    They are lacking

    My confession:
    I AM a VIKING too 😉


    1. “Forget your perfect offering” 🙂
      Sørenn, you sure you are not same person as Eumaeus? You both listen to Cohen, and say same stuff. . Nice.

      I feel like our ancestors had more connection to the solstices and other nature events since they were only connected to the land they were rooted in. Today, I feel like here is the longest night in our Northern Hemisphere, and then there is some Brazilian or Australian some place on the beach enjoying the sun and longest day of the year. . I can hop on the plane and be in the opposite hours later. So everything is relative.

      Andrea, Eumaeus, you sound like an incorrigible romantics. Purify the world. Even the snow is not pure. .. Even the sun. It is good enough though.


      1. Thanks for the smile. 🙂 Looking at bad ass ones, this page would be hard to choose a winner. I like Eric the Red’s daughter. Also, you cannot beat this guy “Being an outlaw gave Egil the chance to go pillaging and plundering, which he did, along with taking on eleven men by himself, using his teeth to tear out throats, and gouging out eyes. After a lifetime of fighting and writing epic poetry, Egil died peacefully in his 80s, after having killed the slave who helped him bury his treasure.” Poetry and killing. .
        Read about the others. . I am not so sure we should celebrate these ancestors of ours. 🙂

        Ok, sorry for off-topic posts. My nice post is below awaiting moderation. 🙂


  3. Thank you, Andrea. You made my day!
    Lots of vikings here I see. 🙂
    Your sun is nice. I saw one yesterday, my daughter made a surprise and cut out a big yellow sun and posted it on the wall, as if knowing we all missed sun so much. Then she wanted to have a picnic on the blanket next to the sun. See, we do have enough.

    About having enough. Reminded me of this nice kids book The Cloud Spinner: “Enough is enough and not one stitch more”

    Vikings never had enough, went searching for more around the world. Wonder if those were the real vikings who left Scandinavia, or those who stayed? Does it take more courage to leave or stay?

    I am happy you said fatigue is not same as depression. 🙂

    In Lithuania, winter solstice has a lot of fire. Bad luck to those who spit or stomp fire out. They make blessings to the fire. Then day of Perkunas (Thunder God) comes February 2, which signifies start of spring, when the old fire is extinguished and new one is started.
    they sing to the fire

    The Fire is burning, tuta tuta
    Gabija is burning …
    On the mound
    On the high hill
    Fire Gabia
    Shine as lit
    Moulder as covered
    Zemynele, dear earth
    We are your children
    Saule – sun, dear mother
    We are your daughters
    Menuo – moon, dear father
    We are your sons
    Stars, dear sisters
    We are your sisters
    Fire, Gabia
    Shine as lit
    Smoulder as covered
    Give us strength
    Unite us
    Zemynele, dear earth
    Help us prosper
    Laima, destiny-giver
    Bless us

    Have warm and peaceful longest night.


  4. Wow. Thank you. On the thinnest of all nights, I have enough. Your words are very profound and very true, like the sharp wingbeats of winter birds. Thank you for all you write and do. And a blessed solstice season to you.


  5. In my view a Viking is a person who is brave enough to embrace his opposite, accept both side of the coin, se him/ her self as he/she truely is.
    It is the Sun embracing the darkside (the father)
    It is the male integrating the female
    It is the opressed forgiving the opressor

    There is now Power Greater than that in the entire universe:
    Self Love and Foregiveness, when you have that you needent raise a sword ever again.

    You simple turn you Viking Blue Eyes (any Color works) on the agressor, you look with a hint of a smile, and everything Stops, it is that powerfull – all our power is in the EYE’s

    We do not See with our eyes, We project!!
    We paint the World with the Content of our mind and heart!

    Lets Bring Back the two Suns, the father & son, the mother & daughter
    We need all the light we can get right now, I am game 😉
    How about you guys?


    1. “We do not See with our eyes, We project!!”
      I do so believe this and I think that there’s empirical evidence to support that we do. However, it is like evolution and gravity (both theories) in that it may be impossible to prove… for now. I think the case for projection is strong. We think we see reality but spiders, horses and eagles, for example, “see” a different reality. So what is the real reality? I have to stop here because I have no idea. Maybe it will come to me in a dream sometime.
      I am with you, Soren, let’s bring back the two suns!


  6. Goodmorning! Just quickly want to say that popular cultural images of vikings are not accurate. That’s all. I can’t post to cool places later. For now: Woke up to the white world! Everything covered in snow! OH!


    1. Good night to you! While we’re on the subject let me say that popular cultural images of ANY tribe is probably not accurate. I’m not even sure people within the tribe know who they are. Except maybe rain forest peoples since they don’t have a lot of outside influence to confuse them. Oh, well, who knows? I’m still trying to figure out who I am.


  7. Good morning! Thank you for the well wishes, we had a wonderful solstice. Thanks for the reminder that we have enough. You may have an idea how different this concept is in America. I am trying hard to be contented. Just live. Enjoy what we have and not wont.



    1. 🙂 Read the Cloud Spinner to your kids, Scott, it is nice. Or the book called Just Enough And Not Too Much by Kaethe Zemach – less can be more. Or Barney Bipple’s Magic Dandelions by Carol Chapman, similar theme. Or The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales has some really good stories about needing more. (I think I love kids books more than they do 🙂 )
      We have more than enough. Just not enough snow according to my kids.


  8. Kære Jer alle.
    Dejligt at høre at I har nok, nu hvor der er mindst. Varme, mad, kærlighed. Lys i skoven.
    Jeppe: Jeg kan se dig for mig som du sidder der ved bordet med egernkinder. Håber du har husket at håndskære mandlerne i splitter!
    Andrea: Jeg savner dig. Og andre. Altså verden skal jo nok gå sin gang, uden at vi står i en cirkel derude, sammen. Det føles bare godt at være medskaber af en kilde til kraft og små gnister af magi. Svært at erstatte. Historierne skal nok blive ved med at komme. De er derude, hvis vi tør åbne dør og sind. Og hvis ikke andet, kan der altid blive en historie ud af, hvorfor de ikke kommer.
    Jeg ønsker jer alle et nyt, friskt år med styrke og overskud i brændeskur, spisekammer, hjerte og ord.
    Kærligst Louise


  9. Dear Andrea,
    I have been reading your blog for a while now, but this is my first comment. Thank you so much for sharing your words and wisdom with us. I live a completely different life from yours, but what you write really resonates with me. I’m looking forward to reading your book when it’s published in English (or Italian) 😉
    Happy solstice,


  10. Dear Andrea, please forgive me for hijacking your space and time here, but on this 22nd day, when the World splits apart from the infusion of light, I have One last Gift to add to yours, the only gift I can really give

    I Would like to give you All the Gift of LOVE
    The only gift I have, the only gift I can ever Give
    So here it is
    LOVE to All of you

    PS: yes it is indeed time to leave the Fear of redicule behind, we can not create the World of our dreams if we are afraid to even talk about it, talk about what realy matters, the connections between us all, the love we want to give and the love we want to get ….. Elvis has left the building and we are the ones left behind!! Plenty of room for humor in love 😉

    Yes I am a Crazy Viking
    And if I “kill” sombody, I do it my self
    Not like today where we all Kill by proxy, for real every single day
    By closing our eyes, our feelings to TRUTH
    We are not different, we are the same!!
    ET’s, Orangutangs and Elephants too
    Merry Christ Mass to all of you 🙂


  11. Dear Andrea,

    I have loved reading all of your gifts. I am not a viking, as far as I know (who knows, though, I have red hair), but I love to read your words about it.
    This is a lean year for us, and so often this year I have thought about what enough means. We have been eating just out of our garden, because we don’t have money to buy things – that means just greens, turnips and radishes right now. Some cabbage. We can grow vegetables all year here. But I like it, I like not having so much choice. It’s easy to cook. I thought the one row of turnips I’d planted wouldn’t be enough for us, but it has been. We just got beef back from the butcher – our first beef cow we slaughtered ourselves. It filled up the whole freezer. We don’t even need to buy anything now, and my children and I made candles from the tallow. We had some beeswax we mixed in, too. Those candles burn so beautifully, you can see the green summer grass and the flowers when they burn. They have brought so much light and hope to us on these long, dark nights.
    How much do we really need, anyway? Sometimes I think enough is really about how you feel, not how much you have.


    1. “Sometimes I think enough is really about how you feel, not how much you have.”
      This is really true. For most people. Some people really don’t have enough. But, most do, yes. and then a lot of people who even have more than enough still feel like they don’t. Yes, something about the mind.


    2. Wow, that’s beautiful Angie.

      I know you’re right about the mind vs possessions. I myself, I’m trying to get there. To that state of mind.


      1. Maybe you are as crazy as Soren, since we are braking your own rules comparing everyone. 🙂 Was gonna keep quiet on this one, but now my 3 yr old said it perfectly I think, as he was making spoon music in the kitchen. He sings: “Marshmallows in your head. Eat it all up in your belly!”. Makes me laugh for some reason.

        Like yesterday, we are driving through the rain on a 40 min ride, listening to L Cohen. He listens to maybe 5 songs, and then says: Mommy, this is a real guitar. I want a song with electric guitar! (understand – rock and roll, his favorite).

        No comparing man. All perfect are bad-asses and all bad-asses are perfect. Marshmallows in your head?


  12. So someone said, when you FEEL like you ARE enough, and you HAVE enough, and you DO enough, – that’s ‘enoughness’. It gets back to that being in the moment of now, not trying to compare and calculate am I good enough, did I do enough, did I receive enough. I see it in my kids, asking for more and more, and it drives me crazy, as it must be a human survival instinct as much as it is cultural. I think this is worth watching as she talks about shame and fear and feeling “not enough”


  13. Love all of these thoughts – the post and the comments! Thank you all for sharing. I find that when some people use the term “enough” they sound as if they are settling, as in “I have enough but I wish I had more.” Sometimes, I like the word “plenty” instead, as in “I have plenty (meaning I want no more, I am filled up, live in a state of plenty not in want.) Maybe semantics but I think the idea of plenty takes the idea of enough a step further into being a choice to not take more. Contentment is another term many disparage but I think is underrated. There can be this almost delusional pursuit of happiness for happiness sake (whatever that is.) The harder someone rushes toward that idea, the further away it gets. Contentment is a realization of having enough and recognizing the many costs of having more.
    So grateful for the gift of your thoughts and those of the readers this holiday. Whatever you celebrate, may it be enough and leave you feeling plentiful and in appreciation of the silence and beauty around you!


  14. Totally agree contentment is underrated.
    I used to have a boss who would say, “Make it a good day” instead of the vastly more common, “Have a good day” implying that happiness or contentedness is a choice. I believe fully that it is. You can choose to dwell on the bad, or pick out the good to look upon, and make your day with the good.

    Wish I was this good at actually living it…. *sigh*


    1. Scott, everyone struggles with actually living it. Even those who practiced it for decades. I had read tons of positive parenting books, but keep slipping into old habits. Have to really make it self discipline to carve out some time in the day to read a few passages from some good books. Just like we wash our face to keep it clean, wash the mind to keep it on track. And it helps to keep these great teachers around, like all the people above. 🙂


    2. I have the feeling you “make” far more good days than you give yourself credit for if only because you are aware of the challenge to do so. Sending lots of good your way, my friend!


  15. Reblogged this on Cykelhviskeren and commented:
    Hvorfor er nok bare aldrig nok? Hvorfor jagter vi altid mere -mere tøj, flere penge, ting, tasker, biler, cykler, gadgets. Mens vi køber mere mad end vi kan spise og gladeligt smider resten ud?

    Vi har jo nok! Selv med kun halvanden indtægt har vi nok.

    Midvinter er et godt tidspunkt at gøre status på -nu, som dengang. Det er nok derfor at vi nu om dage bruger så meget tid på nytårsforsætter. Mere motion, mere skærmtid, mere avislæsning, mere leg, mere sex mere alt muligt. Aldrig nok.

    Men er der noget det forgangne år lærte mig, så er det at nok kan findes også når man mister en indtægt. En halv indtægt, ok, der er jo (endnu) sygedagpengene, men det var alligevel en hak i privatøkonomien -og det lærte os at vi faktisk har nok. Vi har penge nok, vi har tøj nok, ting og sager nok -og vi har hinanden! I last og brast og lyst og nød og med brask og bram og så videre.
    Vi. Har. Nok.

    Så godt nytår og glædelig -lettere forsinket- midvinter!



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