I will place a disclaimer at the start of this story; it is a paganised Yule story of the classic Christmas story.
It has offended some people who are of a more Christian path, and even upset some folks who are Pagan as well. Others have made this story as much a part of their own personal Yuletide tradition as a tree, or feasts with loved ones.
With that warning in mind, I hope you enjoy it.
MARY BE GOT
The fire light flickered across the smiling faces of the ladies in inner ring of the dance circle. Each of the ladies had their hair loose and flowing, with a crown of flowers and white ribbons. The ladies giggled breathlessly, as one after another they were spun out of the inner circle they were dancing hand in hand, towards the outer circle where the men danced. One of the men would dance with her for a short while, before sending her spinning and giggling back into the inner circle. Mary still linked with the inner circle, saw who she was to dance with next, and suddenly her heart was pounding with more than the fever of the dance. She sighed softly as the hands linked to her own vanished, and she was spun towards a green painted man, with antlers bound to his head that seemed to touch the moon above. As his warm calloused hands pressed to her narrow waist, his breath brushed her flushed cheek, “Happy May-eve sweet Mary,” He spun her dizzily around until once again she was pressed to his broad chest, “I morn your engagement to Joseph. Let us for only this instant pretend that you are the Goddess and I am the God…” Then he brushed his lips softly to her cheek, and released her.
Gaze lingering on the man as she rejoined the inner circle of dancing ladies, she gasped and giggled as she blushed. Moments after her hands linked with those in the inner circle the drums hushed and a voice cried over the singing “LET US FEAST!!!” Cheers rose through both circles of dancers, as well as those watching and clapping. Linked hands released, and the dancers as well as spectators drifted towards the platform where the food was displayed. A strange voice murmured into Mary’s ear “your life is about to change the lives of billions.” Startled she spun around to confront the stranger, only to find no one there. Feeling uneasy, she started forward again, only to collide into a warm green painted chest.
The deep voice that came from above her head as she shyly gazed up sent shivers down her back, “Mary sweetness. Mind where you walk or you will have the villagers talking of us…” Blushing she met his gaze boldly, and breathlessly asked “And what could they possibly say about the great horned God and I?”
He started to chuckle “That Mary may not be so pure a virgin.” Then his eyes widening he whispered near her ear “But you called me the God, not as Christopher?” Heat and longing filled his eyes as he looked into her gaze “On this a May-day eve?”
With a shy glance down along his green painted chest she sighed “And how can a lady on this day, deny her lord?” Then as he watched with shock, she removed a blossom from her hair and placed it among his horns. Then turning from the feast, they linked hands, passing through the oblivious crowd.
Later in a moon lit clearing surrounded by trees, he his antlers tossed aside asked sadly “what of Joseph?”
Mary smiled gently “he must never know of this night. I will go to him still a virgin. He will never learn of Christopher the village shepherd…or that his bride’s faith is towards a faith different from his own. I must go to him the pure bride my father gave him.” Christopher touched her hand eyes beseeching her to stay. With a sorrowful shake of her head, she stood, and turned towards the village. He called out to her, concerned she would get lost, but she promised to remain on the path.
A month later sick with nerves, Mary gazed down at her wedding garb, knowing that from this day forth she would be Joseph’s wife, gone were the May-days, and Solstices. Joseph would be a fine husband; he was so kind, and so attentive, he had even noticed that she had gained some weight, praising her for it, saying it would be good for when she was with child. As she walked slowly towards her father, and Joseph she let her eyes drift around at the gathered villagers, seeing young and old, friends and family, sheep…Startled she glanced back in the direction of the animals, and found her gaze locked upon the face of their shepherd. He, his face no longer painted green, stared at her with tears in his eyes and a dried flower in his hand. As she gazed at him his lips moved silently around the words “no Mary”
A strange voice murmured into her ear, “you, young Mary are with child!” Frightened Mary glanced behind her, and saw no one near enough to have voiced this announcement. With a final slow step, she found herself standing at Joseph’s side. All through the complex marriage ceremony, Mary thought not of her place in her husband’s life, nor of her place in her new God’s house, but of that one night of sacred love. As the ceremony drew to its end, Mary did notice Joseph glance at her waist with a faint frown.
As was custom in her village she was separated from her new groom for the week when her blood tide was to flow, and she worried when it did not come. Alone in the hut where the women of the village spent their cycle she paced as she wondered how she could possibly explain her situation. Then she recalled the strange voice and exclaimed “An angel!” Almost joyful she sank onto a chair “an angel from the heavens! Came to tell me I am carrying a God’s child! How else could a virgin newly married be with child? It will be a miracle! A blessing!”
Once alone with Joseph on the night she was presented to her husband, cleansed and blessed, she fell to her knees and begged Joseph not to bed her. “I have been chosen! I am a living miracle! I had a vision, an angel came to me…” she raised her hands towards the heavens, “I a virgin, am with child….Free of sin…Carrying a God’s seed! A blessing!” Joseph raged, asking over and over what other lies her father had told him? Who had known his virgin bride? How could she betray him in this way? Then he stormed out of the bed chambers.
Mary was sleeping when Joseph finally returned, he angrily agreed “Fine! An angel came to ME, told ME of this baby, before we came together for the first time.” Softer spoken, but still with a hint of anger in his voice he said “I have spoken with your father, he finally told me I married a pagan. You went to those heathen rites…But he vows he knows nothing of any sexual acts, claims you always came home untouched. So a virgin you are. MY God’s child you shall be carrying.”
Months passed and the newlyweds were the talk of the villagers, “a virgin mother?” Some called it a blessing, others call it a curse. As the conflict grew, Mary and Joseph were shunned. Asked to leave the village, they were permitted only to pack up a few meager belongings, the belief of the people being that if this baby really was God’s child, He would provide for the family. Her father gifting the couple a mule sent them on their way. Mary saw a lone figure in the shadows of the building watching as they leave. Faintly in the shadows she could see a pure white lamb by the figures feet. “Go away Christopher” she whispered silently “Stop watching over me.” Then as Joseph started on his way, she turned to follow him with her shoulders hunched, tears in her eyes and walked away.
Night after night, Mary had nightmares where leering faces with strange voices howled at her “Your life will change billions” As Joseph and Mary travel she continued to fill out, and travel became more and more difficult. Each village they came to they found the same lack of welcome, it seemed every person knew of the virgin mother, saying that God will provide, and turning the couple away.
The seasons changed, and Mary secretly found a small log of wood, which late at night as Joseph slept she whispered her hopes and dreams for the future to the log. The weather grew colder, the nights longer yet Mary stayed awake more and more fearing the nightmares she had of her child turning completely from the earth, renouncing his mother, placing men above all things.
The longest and darkest night found Mary placing her log in the fire where she watched as it burned. With the warmth of the fire on her face, she pulled out a scarlet ribbon from her bag and twisted it into her hair. Singing softly, swaying side to side, she placed her hands against her large waist, her quietude broken when suddenly pain lanced through her body. Panic in her voice she called out desperately “JOSEPH!!! The baby!” As rapidly as possible they packed up their camp, heading at a renewed speed for the nearby lights of a small village. Both of them knowing a forest is not a good place to try birth a baby, with hopes of finding a warm safe place in the village.
Once inside the village, they wandered from house to house, only to be turned away by people that had fear in their eyes. The next building they came to they saw a man bickering with someone who was obviously a stranger, Joseph sighed “he too must be trying to find a place to stay. We’ll have to move on.”
As they started to turn away a voice called out to them from the building “You there!” Startled Joseph turned and watched warily as an old man limped towards them. Wheezing the old man said “That shepherd over there” gesturing behind him to shadows that were now empty “well the shepherd that was over there gave me all his sheep in return for a warm place for the two of you to rest for a while.” The old man gazed closer at Mary seeing now the sweat on her brow and her rounded belly he gasped and choked out “you’re the virgin mother aren’t you? It seems I will be the one fool to interfere with the divine will then.” He then turned and led them to his small barn.
Alone with Mary in the barn Joseph helped as Mary labored with the birth of her child. Overwhelmed by agony, Mary cried out, her mind fearing death, her ears not hearing anything outside of her pain, she sobbed out her confession. Mary was oblivious even to Joseph as he listened, his face filling with understanding as he gazed at the sheep surrounding them.
Late in the night, Mary with babe in her arms rested in a bed of hay, wondering where Joseph was. She was thinking also of Christopher, wondering if the sheep around her could possibly be his. When Joseph returned all fury was gone from his eyes, he gazed silently at Mary and the baby for a while. Then he handed her a set of antlers, watching as shock entered her eyes. He smiled slightly and said “So you do recognize them. I just had a talk with a shepherd who gave up all his wealth, so that a God’s child could be born. I think we shall name the baby Christ.”