There are many symbols that pervade the holiday season and yet, like with many things, we have disconnected from the meaning inherent in the hidden blessings they hold. This has been a year of reconnection, as we go within to embrace the stability of who we are in a world of fluctuating instability. Layer after layer, the framework we’ve been used to living in has been crumbling and peeling away, as we reach deep within to discover the true foundation beneath the rubble. It is from this place that we are able to rebuild anew with authenticity and lasting value.

The mistletoe symbolizes this sort of Tarot symbolism of the Tower card, revealing to us what lies beneath the glass house window when it shatters, in the mysterious way the Druids believed it was brought to Earth and conceived where a stroke of lightning struck trees. Thriving in the trees rather than being rooted in the Earth, these bearers of peace, fertility, blessings, and immortality, are also felt to represent both the divine and the disorderly confusion and chaos.

Its old, pagan religious meaning was forgotten, but many of its other meanings and customs have remained with us including the kiss under the mistletoe, being a token of good will and friendship, and an omen of happiness, good luck, and new religious significance. While being a romantic symbol, this parasitic plant also holds lunar, female, and fertility energy. (Diana, a.k.a. Artemis, wore a crown of mistletoe as an emblem of fertility and immortality.)

Mistletoe was a sacred plant in the pagan religion of the Druids in Britain. They believed it to have all sorts of miraculous qualities and therefore called it “All-heal.” Since it grew on the sacred oaks they worshipped, Druids believed mistletoe was of divine origin and shared in the strength of the oak. After Winter Solstice they communed in a great ceremony and sacred fertility ritual offering to their gods, which involved gathering the plant, cutting it with a golden sickle, and placing it in a white cloth to avoid contamination by contact with iron or the Earth.

The Germans shared the Druids’ feeling, calling this plant Gut Hyl or “all-heal.” In spite of its toxicity it was used as a universal remedy, fertility drug, worn as protection, and thought to provide strengthening effects. It carried very powerful meanings for many ancients including a beautiful belief that if enemies accidentally met under wild mistletoe in the forests, they would lay down their arms, embrace, and enjoy a day of truce. Maybe we should string mistletoe across the Earth?

Although it had pagan associations, which often banished mistletoe from Christian festivities, it has remained a popular Christmas symbol of love and eternal life and was used as a symbol of Christ, the Divine Healer of nations. It was called Herbe de la Croix and Lignum Sanctae Crucis or “the Wood of the Sacred Cross” because it was believed that the wood for the cross of Christ came from its tree. It is because of this that it was condemned to the life of a parasitic vine for its part in the Crucifixion, just as the very symbolic serpent was condemned to crawl upon its belly for its part in the fall of man. Interesting how what once served great meaning can be altered by a simple change of perspective. Does that mean the symbolism and healing powers of those things have actually changed, or has the meaning been transformed to lead us away from remembering the inherent qualities in everything around us awaiting our transformative reconnection?

With the coming of the New Year, mistletoe reminds us of what lies beneath the illusion once lightning strikes, as it becomes the legendary Golden Bough whose withered yellow leaves were believed to assist its owner in the search for buried treasure. Legends such as Virgil’s story, tells of Aeneas (leader of the Trojan refugees) carrying this Golden Bough into the Underworld as he sought news of his future from his deceased father. Other legends share that the Golden Bough brought freedom to any slave that touched it.

We have the ability to live in true freedom and discover many a buried treasure, as the walls come crumbling down. What is revealed to us then, are magical blessings that are impossible to keep hidden once we embrace the truth within our hearts.