Of Kings and Cheerful Things
Have you ever wondered why Holly is so important in Yuletide celebrations? It started many centuries ago, deep in the roots of Pagan tradition. The beautiful boughs, evergreen in many regions, are sacred to the Holly King, who reigns over the dark months after having defeated the Oak King in battle. Additionally, during the grey, dreary days of winter, Holly is a cheerful reminder of greener days ahead.
Holly has long been associated with the Divine Masculine. With that said, the berries also hold the feminine symbology of the blood of the Goddess, exemplifying the presence of both energies in all of nature. We are each a unique balance of both, which results in a beautiful rainbow tapestry within our community as we embrace and identify with our true essence.
Holly itself is known to be calming on all energetic levels and invites us to love ourselves and each other unconditionally. Especially healing for the heart, it can relieve feelings of envy, jealousy, wariness, and hyper-vigilance.
On the flip side, it can assist in seeing the true nature of a situation or person and offers protection and strength as we work to release oppression and negative influences within our life, grounding you in your inner peace.
Traditionally, Holly has been used to protect from evil and malevolent spirits, hexes and curses, as well as lightning, which was sometimes thought to be the result of a vengeful deity or a powerful ill-wish.
When Holly is paired with Ivy, it symbolizes a balance between masculine and feminine energies, light and shadow. This is one of the main reasons why these two magickal plants were brought together at the Winter Solstice, to call back in a balance between day and night.
In many traditions, the Holly is dried and kept in the home until Imbolc, and then burned as an offering or intention. Some practitioners kept a small spring through the year, to protect themselves, their family, and their homes from misfortune.
The holly and the ivy“The Holly and the Ivy”, a traditional British carol, early 19th century.
When they are both full grown
Of all trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown