My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Neo-Pagan Solstice Part 2: The Tree

Photographs by Raven, 2018
We have a Yule Tree. Calling it that is a good compromise between calling it a Christmas Tree and calling it a Solstice tree, seeing as variations on the name 'Yule' are used to refer to Christmas in many languages, and Yule is also what a lot of Neo-Pagans call the Winter Solstice. As I mentioned before, our household does Solstice out of faith, and Christmas out of tradition. The decorations are mostly gold for the returning light, red for the kinds of food that last into winter, and white/clear for the snow and ice of winter. For the most part, it is like the average Christmas tree, as Christmas trees are themselves of Pagan origin - the only difference with ours is that it has a few more deliberately solar decorations. Most people these days put up a tree as an entirely secular festive ornament, an element of tradition that may be divorced from its roots in some ways (much like the average 'live' tree in that respect...) but I think it is a beautiful thing that we keep doing them, and I love how many people use their trees to express themselves, or as a creative medium on which family traditions are built. As such, I would like to share with you all our tree. It's possibly a bit self-indulgent, but as the tree is probably one of my favourite things about the festive season, and this is my blog, here we are!

2011 Yule Tree, 
not sure who took the photos
We have had our Yule Tree since Raven and I have lived together, always topped with the radiant sun. I think I made a post about our Yule Tree in 2011, or at least intended to, because I found an old collage of the Yule Tree from when we still lived in the apartment! Raven and I have been together for a decade now, and I like how we have formed our own mini-traditions for our mini-family. Every year we have celebrated Christmas day with found-family, some of whom have strained family relationships and painful memories of the festive period like myself. Solstice has often been celebrated with the broad group of friends met through the Highland Open Circle. The Yule tree has glittered through all of that, a symbol of both festivals, and of Raven and I merging our ideas. 

2011 Solstice decorations. I think I took these photos
I have a second, smaller tree in my study, known as the 'Gothmas' tree or the 'Cryptmas' tree which is black, purple and silver with sklls, bones, black cats and tomb-stones, but it will get its own post as it is an entirely secular festive decoration - and very much an aesthetic suited to the main Gothic theme of this blog rather than a Pagan thing. 

The Yule Tree, 2017. My photo
The main difference between our tree and the average Christmas tree are the solar decorations. As well as gilded plaster decorations of the sun and moon, there is a large sun on the top of the tree instead of a star. I think it was actually manufactured as a starburst, but being gold and amber, and with so many radiating points, it certainly looks very solar.

Sun-burst tree-topper with gold & amber sparkles. 2017, by me

Glowing sun bauble, 2017, by me.
I am on the look out for more sun-themed decorations for our tree, especially gold ones. It is not, as is to be expected, the most popular motif among mainstream sellers of decorations, however gold decorations in general are pretty popular.Plain gold baubles can look pretty solar, as can translucent ones if they are the right texture and carefully illuminated - I think they are the most 'realistic' solar depictions on our tree. We also have the other kind of solar decoration, the sun-face design reminiscent of Sol made popular in medieval heraldry.  It's an image that hangs on our tree, but is also in the Solstice decorations around our house and on our altar, as visible on the altar post. 

Sun decoration. Photographed 2017

Sun bauble 2018, my photo.
I bought the sun, and it's twin - a gilded moon - secondhand on eBay. I buy a LOT of things secondhand, online on eBay, in charity shops, from Facebook sales groups, etc. mostly because it is cheaper, but also because it seems you find more unusual things, especially older things, if you shop in those sorts of places. I know folk are probably tired of hearing me yammer on about the environment, but it is very important to re-use the stuff we have already made, or recycle where possible, rather than constantly use up more and more of our natural resources to make new things by energy-intensive and polluting processes (it's also worth noting that some forms of recycling are high energy, too). If you are feeling crafty, there are plenty of craft projects for tree decorations that are also recycling projects; maybe next year I'll put some on my blog.

 Moon bauble, 2018? My photo.
We have a moon bauble as well as a sun one, because while we celebrate the returning sun and coming of warmer weather, we also celebrate the longest night and those cosy evenings indoors, the snow on the hills and importance of winter in the cycle of things. The balance is important, and although there are a lot of harsh things about winter weather, that harsh weather kills off harmful pests and parasites, the frost can be what triggers some plants to grow, and snow-sports are a big part of the local economy in some regions of the Highlands. Winter is not inherently a bad thing, just as summer is not inherently a good thing; they both have their benefits and also bring problems (eg. summer can bring drought, wild-fires, sunburn, heat exhaustion etc.). In my form of Paganism I try and celebrate the seasons as they come, and while there is always something hopeful about the returning light in darkness, sometimes it's important to appreciate that darkness too (a familiar mentality for Goths!). 

Star decoration chosen for the pentagram of ribbons and sunburst centre 
Our Yule Tree has decorations that aren't solar, like owls (getting a new owl each year has become a tradition in our household, too), a blown-glass witch, some skulls, lots of tartan and deer, a fuzzy wolf to represent our friend 'Sarge' and a lot of pine-cones, some glass, some real, as well as snowflakes and snowy things of various designs; it's a seasonal tree at its heart; the ever-green pine (in our case because it's plastic and thus literally can't die) decorated with symbols of winter, much like most festive trees... and unlike my Gothmas tree, which is more a touch of Hallowe'en in midwinter! But the Gothmas tree will get its own post next! 


  1. A Most Merry Yule to you and a Happy New Year! Sending love and light from NYC.

  2. Do you have any photos of the gothmas tree? Those would be interesting. Happy New Year to you, HouseCat!

    1. I tried taking some on my phone's camera, but they were shocking. I'm waiting for Raven to get some time off work to get some nice pictures of the Gothmas tree taken and then I will put them up on my blog


Please be polite and respectful. Comments containing gratuitous swearing and insults will be deleted.