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Dec 22, 2023


Uncover the enchanting history of Yule and Christmas in this interview with Ellen Evert Hopman, master herbalist and Druidic initiate since 1984. Her book, The Sacred Herbs of Yule and Christmas: Remedies, Recipes, Magic and Brews for the Winter Season, gets beautiful reviews. The recipes, cocktails, and traditional Christmas meals from around the world will have you salivating. Ellen introduces you to mystical figures like Gully Gawk, Pot Scraper, Bowl Licker, Flora the Roman Goddess, Saint Lucia with the candles on her head, and of course, Krampus. Learn about the origins of putting candles in windows, and why we leave a place at the table for our dead loved ones, or leave our beds empty. Plus the history of mistletoe, the traditional red and green colors, and why you should absolutely NOT answer the door on Christmas Eve if a werewolf is on the other side! Visit for more info.

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In this episode:

Intro :00

Call in or reach out with your holiday traditions for this time of the year, no matter the holiday, and particularly if it’s different from what we might think of as traditional American holiday activities. What are some of the interesting traditions that maybe have been passed down for centuries at this time of year? Email There are also a couple of ways that you can leave a voice message, and to learn more about that go to Patrick can’t wait to hear from you! :50

Ellen Evert Hopman is a master herbalist and lay homeopath, who has been a Druidic initiate since 1984. She is a founding member of the Order of the White Oak, the Archdruid Amerita and founder of Tribe of the Oak, a former professor at the Grey School of Wizardry, and a member of the Grey Council of Mages and Sages. She is the author of Celtic herbals and Druid novels, including Secret Medicines from Your Garden, The Sacred Herbs of Samhain, and Once Around the Sun: Stories, Crafts, and Recipes to Celebrate the Sacred Earth Year. She lives in Massachusetts. You can learn more about Ellen at 2:41

Reviews for The Sacred Herbs of Yule and Christmas: Remedies, Recipes, Magic and Brews for the Winter Season. 4:57

The similarities between our Halloween/Samhain traditions and Christmas. 6:20

Why do we put lights on trees? 8:20

Have goblins? Burn old shoes in the fireplace! 9:49

Have a persistent ghost that won’t go away? Burn a strip of leather! 10:21

Guising and Mumming 11:19

Memories of May Day 12:05

Are you bad or good? Mystical Icelandic figures, including Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon Licker, Pot Scraper, Bowl Licker, Door Slammer, Sausage Snatcher, and Doorway Sniffer, and yes, Krampus! 14:03

“This is really a life or death time of year.” Why have we been scaring children, for centuries, to get good behavior? 16:20

“Iceland is an unusually literate, book-loving society, and on Christmas Eve, Icelanders exchange books as gifts and then spend the night reading them, often while drinking hot chocolate or an alcohol-free Christmas ale…” 17:51

The Office (Dwight Christmas) and Belsnickeling 19:05

The Roman Goddess, Flora. “Bring a goat to the festival and liberate a rabbit.” 19:58

The Goddess of Winter 22:24

Ellen reads her Call in the Three Worlds of the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods, and the Petition for Healing, which is from the Rite for the Goddess at the Winter Solstice. 23:04

Recipes, Cocktails, and Christmas meal traditions from around the world. 28:47

The Irish tradition of Women’s Christmas 33:30

The spirit of Santa isn’t the only spirit that comes down the chimney! Plus, lighting candles, leaving beds empty, and a place set at the table with food for dead loved ones. 36:09

Libation and the Essence of Food 38:52

Saint Lucia, the Christian figure with candles on her head. 41:31

Did you know all of Santa’s reindeer were women? Plus, the red and white Amanita Muscaria mushroom. 44:15

Mistletoe 47:48

Where did we get the traditional Christmas colors of red and green? 51:11

Final Thoughts from Ellen Evert Hopman 53:01

Tip: Do NOT answer the door on Christmas Eve if it’s a werewolf! 55:16

Outro 56:06

A special THANK YOU to Patreon supporters at the Super Paranerd and Parlor Guest level! 57:26


For more on Ellen Evert Hopman

The Sacred Herbs of Yule and Christmas on Amazon





The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsPandoraSpotifyTuneIn RadioAmazon MusicAudibleiHeart Radio, and YouTube. Please subscribe and share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the seance!