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St Thomas’s Day

Posted on November 20th, 2020 by Don Cerow

 “St. Thomas’s Day falls on the winter solstice, the shortest day in the year, as expressed in the following couplet:’

St Thomas gray, St. Thomas gray,
The longest night and the shortest day.

‘In some parts of the country the day is marked by a custom, among poor persons, of going a gooding, as it is termed—that is to say, making the round of the parish in calling at the houses of their richer neighbours, and begging a supply either of money or provisions to procure good things, or the means of enjoying themselves at the approaching festival of Christmas. From this circumstance St. Thomas’s Day is in some places designated ‘Doleing Day,’ and in others ‘Mumping [begging] Day.’ In Warwickshire, the custom under notice used to be called going a corning, from the poor people carrying with them a bag in which they received a contribution of corn from the farmers.By a correspondent of Notes and Queries, in 1857, we are informed that the custom of ‘Gooding’ exists in full force in Staffordshire, where not only the old women and widows, but representatives from every poor family in the parish, make their rounds in quest of alms. The clergyman is expected to give a shilling to each person, and at all houses a subsidy is looked for either in money or kind. In some parts of the same county a sum of money is collected from the wealthier inhabitants of the parish, and placed in the hands of the clergyman and churchwardens, who on the Sunday nearest to St. Thomas’s Day, distribute it in the vestry under the name of ‘ St. Thomas’s Dole.’ We learn also from an-other communication of the writer just quoted, that at Harrington, in Worcestershire, it is customary for children on St. Thomas’s Day to go round the village begging for apples, and singing

Wassail, wassail, through the town,
If you’ve got any apples, throw them down;
Up with the stocking, and down with the shoe,
If you’ve got no apples, money will do;
The jug is white and the ale is brown,
This is the hest (
sic) house in the town.’

In return for the alms bestowed during these ‘gooding’ peregrinations, it was customary for the recipients, in former times, to present to their benefactors a sprig of holly or mistletoe. A liberal dole was distributed at the ‘great house,’ or the mansion of the principal proprietor in the parish; and at the kitchens of all the squires and farmers’ houses, tankards of spiced-ale were kept for the special refection (sic) of the red-cloaked old wives who made in procession these foraging excursions on St. Thomas’s Day. It is said that the hospitality shewn on such occasions proved sometimes rather overpowering, and the recipients of this and other charitable benefactions found themselves occasionally wholly unable to find their way back to their own habitations, having been rendered, through the agency of John Barleycorn, as helpless as the ‘ Wee bit Wilkie’ immortalised in Scottish song.” 

                 THE HALCYON DAYS
The seven days preceding, and the seven days following the shortest day, or the winter-solstice, were called by the ancients the Halcyon Days. This phrase, so familiar as expressive of a period of tranquillity and happiness, is derived from a fable, that during the period just indicated, while the halcyon bird or king-fisher was breeding, the sea was always calm, and might be navigated in perfect security by the mariner. The name halcyon is derived from two Greek words: the sea & to conceive; and, according to the poetic fiction, the bird was represented as hatching her eggs on a floating nest, in the midst of the waters. Dryden thus alludes to the notion:

‘Amidst our arms as quiet you shall be,
As halcyons brooding on a winter’s sea.
                                                                    -from Chamber’s Book of Days, December 21st 

      Do you suppose this is the inspiration for Silent Night?


      After waking in the morning the first thing I do is to pay homage to Mother Nature. Then returning to the bed I rearrange the feathers of my nest, placing a couple of pillows behind me, pulling the blankets high up over my chest and then placing another couple of pillows, one over each arm, looking like some puffy flightless bird. It’s November. There’s a chill in the air and my cocoon allows for a return to a warm meditation for anywhere between twenty minutes to over an hour, depending on the day.

      I’m settling in for a long winter’s nap.

      Those that know me also know I do a five day fast twice a year , one while the Sun is in Pisces and the other in Scorpio, two water signs that deal with cleansing and flushing. That’s when I dig a moat and stop doing bad things to my body like sugar and alcohol. But both Pisces and Scorpio are times when the weather is changing and the season is cold, so staying warm can be an issue. The first day is the toughest as the body is used to it’s habits. The spirit or soul is generally more lightly attached to the physical body while fasting. Various traditions such as Native American, Tibetan and even Christian have stories that they relate to those who will listen. I then spend the next four days arguing with people about why I should go off my fast (most of them have never tried it. I’ve been doing fasts for almost 40 years), but, like the serpent I shed a skin and look and feel younger when all is said and done.
          I have long been fascinated with metaphysical subjects. As far back as the early seventies when Neptune was first heading into Sagittarius there was a growing public interest in eastern philosophies. A number of my clients had described experiences they had had, many of them as children. I had worked with the Monroe Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia in an attempt to follow and reconnect with Gail after she had passed, but with no luck. My clairvoyant friends informed me that she had moved well beyond that level.

      I finished my second fast this year on Monday morning, November 16th, the sixth day. Mornings are the time you’re supposed to ‘break-fast’ and I was very much looking forward to it.

      In my ‘dream’ I was ascending the stairs to the folk’s master bedroom going over a list and thinking I had finished all my dream activity for the previous evening and was heading (or so I imagined) back to bed. I turned to enter the room and as I crossed the threshold I looked to my right. There I saw myself sitting, propped up in the bed in usual fashion, meditating.

      I immediately knew that I was in the astral ‘level’ and it woke me right up. With an astral projection or ‘out of body’ experience this is one of the key clues, of seeing your own body from above or separate from yourself.

      I was one happy camper! I feel like I’ve been promoted!          

How cool is that? Now I can cross it off my bucket list!

             Blessings and Love to -All

               Happy camper ~Don

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