The Holiday Season. Beneath the theological ownership (you had better say “Merry Christmas”, damn it!), mindless, competitive consumerism, and talking caribou with bizarre otorhinolaryngological symptoms, there lies an often-ignored tradition of folklore, myth, and legend—traditions that are steeped in occult practices. Occult, when properly defined, means “Hidden Knowledge” and nothing more. Some of these date back thousands of years and have little to do with the Jesus myth. Myth simply means Sacred Narrative.
It’s no mistake that Christmas iconography is full of ethnobotanical symbolism. (Pay attention to how many Amanita muscaria mushrooms you find hidden throughout holiday imagery.)
Faerie lore, Santa Claus being the jolliest elf of all, and the undeniable astrotheological elements that shine down upon all of the holiday events when one is exposed to the alternate evidence and theories of historicity, and when we decide to pay extra close attention to when the “spirits” wink at us, the obvious often happens. Clarity, peace, and sometimes even hope, which brings us to “A Christmas Ghost Story.”
Vineyard Utah. It was late December in the Year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Six, and the little boy that lived on the old farm was outside walking around in the snow. It was a little past 1am. His family was fragmented and dysfunctional, so most of his days were spent alone. This night he was particularly melancholy, for earlier in the day he found out his dog, “Squash”, had been hit by a car. (The irony hadn’t escaped the little boy.)
It had been snowing all day and the wind was blowing hard as the little boy pushed his way against the storm, making his way to the horse stables to take food and an extra blanket out to the mother of a fresh litter of kittens. After seeing to their feline needs, he tripped and fell, hurting his hand. It hurt really bad as he sat against the stable nursing the pain while the snow storm rushed and pounded around him.
But then …. silence. Everything was still. No wind, no snow, just a snow-lighted landscape and … music? There was an old 1950s radio that sat on a ledge directly above him. His dad would listen to music on it as he tended to his horses, but his dad was nowhere near. The radio turned on by itself and began playing a bizarre rendition of Joseph Mohr’s Silent Night.
The little boy got up and turned the radio off and sat back down in the snow. He was crying now, feeling lonely and hurt. He missed his mom. And then … the radio turned on again. Silent Night was playing again. Instead of turning it off, this time he just listened. And there was something else. The music came with what he can only describe as a warm hugging sensation, a sensation that surrounded his entire person.
There he sat, embraced by some unexplainable entity that seemed to care about him. The little boy sat there for an undetermined amount of time, eventually falling asleep and waking the next morning, still warm. That little boy is a man now and for these many years he has searched and searched for that particular version of Silent Night he heard all those years ago. He has not found it yet. Perhaps it doesn’t exist. Maybe it was a gift only for him—a gift from one of the “Spirits of Christmas…”
Danny B. Stewart is an “anomalogist”—a scientist of anomalies, a performance artist, teacher, lecturer, and professional storyteller. And in spite of his curmudgeonly exterior, you can often find him listening to Christmas music in early October.
To see more to Chris Bodily’s illustrations visit his website.