Embracing the Krampus


 

I’m feeling more Krampus than Kringle this Christmas.

For those unfamiliar with the Krampus legend of Alpine Europe…

Krampus is scraggily beast with cloven hooves, horns on its head, and a long demonic tongue.

A counterpart to Santa Claus, he snatches up naughty children and takes them back to his lair, where he serves them up for dinner.

So why am I more Krampus?  Why this snarly mood?  Is my attitude merely a reaction to the way we rush and swarm this time of year—stalking, snatching, and devouring with the rapaciousness of the locust mole?

Perhaps…

But since I try to avoid the crowds, perhaps my frame of mind has more to do with the Winter Solstice—perhaps the darkness of these days darkens my mood.  In any case, I’m not alone.  Our statistical elves tell us that many suffer with the holiday blues.

But how could losing a couple of hours of daylight affect us so strongly?  Safe and secure in our warm, well-lit abodes, don’t we find pleasure in the winter’s long night?

For myself, the mystery of the night seems to call to my own depths—so winter only enhances the affect.

Actually, I can’t really call my Solstice mood “grim”; the better word would be “agitated”.  Maybe this feeling of rawness comes from a deep desire for balance of spirit…

I do crave light—but that’s only one part of my desire.  Another side of my spirit desires what is drawn by the deep roots—desires the cave water, desires the rich black earth.

Of course, I could be waxing poetic when the real answer lies in neuroscience.  Maybe the shorter days around the Solstice time affect my brain chemistry.

I don’t wish to throw out science.

However, science can only concern itself with the functioning of the brain; not the functioning of the psyche.  What if changes in brain chemistry actually result from changes in the psyche?

Because I can’t say what the reality is, I will embrace what I see as my best option: the belief that best helps me deal with the holiday season.  That best helps me cope…

…not by telling me to change my brain chemistry, by telling me to lighten up, to be positive, to be of good cheer.  No!–I’ll tell myself that I need this Winter deepening, that I need to descend into the darkness…

…and because of this need, I may snarl and snap at any attempt to make me bright, to distract me with blaring light of Xmas—any attempt to make me more Kringle and less Krampus.

I’ll tell myself that the light must wait ‘til Spring.  I’ll tell myself that, for now, I must spread my roots through this labyrinthine cave—I must, if I’m to sprout into that golden light again.

I find much satisfaction in this belief—it explains me to myself.  Ironically, it may also lessen my agitation…

…as it eases the conflict, the conflict between the desire for light, and the need for dark.

I think this belief could help others as well.  It can bring awareness and understanding, without dispersing with the mystery, the mystery of being human.  So perhaps it belongs in our new mythology

The holidays do usher in the blues for many of us…

…but maybe this belief can give us some relief.  This belief tells us that our blues are just a natural part of life, another phase of the cycle…

Our blues may speak of the desire for light, but our blues may also be telling us that this desire must give way to a greater need—the need to deepen.

By holding this belief, maybe we can even make our blues into a type of pleasure—just as the great Blues masters have done.  We can sit and dine with our dark ghosts…

…instead of trying to evaporate them with the glare of artificial Christmas light.

So to all the sad Kringles out there, I say: embrace your Krampus Solstice.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, essayist, cartoonist, graphic artist, peace miller, new mythologist, and fledgling world citizen.... I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and have lived and worked all over the United States.... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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