I have had the pleasure of knowing Santa in person…
I should start with reminding folks that there are many cultures who accept the concept of a god or spirit coming to inhabit the body of a human. If the human has invited the spirit in, and there is a general accepted etiquette, it may even go unremarked.In Voudon, the Loas “ride” or mount the dancers, which gives the spirits a vehicle for eating, drinking, dancing, and smoking, and other pleasures that require flesh. Similarly there are Hindu rituals where the worshipers host the spirits of their gods. The ‘Calling down the Moon’ ritual in Wicca, can involved the High Priestess going into a trance to allow the Goddess, or one of her aspects to speak to the coven.
Many forms of ecstatic dance put the dancers into a trance, and allow spirits to gain access to the handy eyes, ears and vocal chords of their host. Some mediums allow spirits to speak through them, and many pagans experience some version of this experience. There are many variations of it. It’s been described as ‘if your body is the car, sometimes you let the god take the wheel, but sit in the passengers seat and direct. Other times, you’re in the back seat, and sometimes you’re thrown in the trunk, and only find out what your body did when the god ‘abandons the car’. Most of those I’ve talked to prefer it when they can speak to the god, because they can ask questions and get answers, even when the god is directing their body.
So I’m going to take the phenomenon as a given, for this audience of spiritually aware and active people.
We often discuss Santa Claus as a modern myth, and all too often stories revolve around people who stopped believing in the big man when they don’t get the present they really wanted. (The same is often said of those who lose their faith in God. That’s the problem when gods or magick as an easy answer to your problems.) But I think understanding the idea of inviting a spirit to come into you gives us an advantage in understanding how it works.
Many of us know the Lore of Santa, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, the early Christian saint Nicholas of Myra, the influence of Clement Moore’s poem, the art of Thomas Nast, connections with Coca Cola, and of course, the many movies we and our children have seen depicting the character, and forming images that create our inner expectations. Any time beings from another plain manifest from pure energy into a physical world, the filters of our expectations have an impact on how we see them. This has led to a lot of disagreement on what fairies and angels, and other beings look like. (What would we look like if we went there?)
Each time a book or movie presents a new version of Santa, it offers us a new perspective on the being, both a UPG, and at the same time, programming more readers and viewers to see him that way. I am personally fond of any Santa who presents as a powerful defender of children. Children need someone they know will protect them as well as provide for them.
But what I’m suggesting is that Santa is not an “archetype”, or symbol of the Christmas Spirit, but a real being. Whether he created and embodied the spirit of joy, hope, and wonder, of the returning light after the winter solstice, or whether he took it on when the ‘job’ became available, I am suggesting that there is a god or demi-god or spirit, known to us as Santa or Father Christmas or Kris Kringle, or Ded Moroz, etc. I am not sure whether, as was suggested Neil Gaimon in American Gods portrayal of Odin/ Woden/ Wednesday, that there may or may not be several associated entities in different cultures who may respond to those with whom they interact. But if there are more than one, they do seem to have a lot in common. And we do seem to encounter them in our world.
But more than that, we seem to be able to allow them to manifest through our selves. Have you ever tried the exercise where you test your strength, then you picture Superman (or some other being stronger than you), step into that visualization, then test again, and you’re able to lift more move more weight? That’s a simple way to bring characteristics you want into your life.
If you approach Santa as a spirit and invite him to work through you, you will probably be able to feel the energy of Santa within you, and will be able to access some of the energies and magick that the Great Being Santa has access to. I wouldn’t advise you to use this as a convenient way to access those abilities. Those who’ve invited in various gods and goddesses have often come away from the experience wiser, but not entirely unscathed, because the gods expect reciprocation for their gifts, as well as respect (and also some appropriate level of research, so you’re not asking them for something it is not in their nature to give).
I’ve known many men who carry Santa within them all year, and you can often recognize them by a certain twinkle in their eye, as well as the loving energy they emit, and, often the way their bodies begin to align with the archetypes of Santa Claus. Sometimes they have white beards, and sometimes not. But the inner spirit of Santa is far more important, and recognizable, than age, race, or clothing. Many of them have told me stories of miracles that took place around them that they ascribe to the Spirit of Santa, and to whom they feel responsible to be worthy of the mantle they’ve taken on. Some actually play Santa for crowds, others simply manifest him in the world- all year long. I’ve also spoken to people who believe they’ve met Santa. A couple during their first Christmas together had a chance encounter with a stranger they met outside a mall: a ‘friendly old man with a short white beard, wearing a red plaid flannel shirt and jeans’, who they’d never seen before, but who gave them a beautiful violin, which was what they’d been trying to save for. He felt like Santa to them, and fulfilled the role. Was he a human who had taken the role on? or did the Spirit manifest that way because he felt their need?
I’ll also mention the brilliant perspectives on how myths evolve, as explained in The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. There are old rules that cannot be broken, old magick that cannot be ignored. As so many from witches to practitioners of New Age Intention know, belief powers manifestation. Death explains this to Susan “You have to start out learning to believe the little lies.” “So we can believe the big ones?” Susan asks. “Yes. Justice, mercy, duty…. You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”. This echoes the famous editorial in the Sun in 1897, that explained: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” “Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.” Only when we believe that Santa is real, and invite him to manifest through us, can the hope, and joy and wonder of the returning light create a difference in how the world works. It’s a very real form of magick, and very accessible to all of us. I’m not saying that we have to believe in a fat man in a red suit delivering presents. I think that as with almost every entity who manifests in this plain, the name and image will evolve over time. But there is no doubt in my mind that Santa is real, and what he represents and brings into the world is real. I think he is one of the Great Myths of the modern age (along with Superman). Some may have started as Tulpas, of manifestations of the beliefs of thousands, but to a certain extent, that belief is not going to happen unless there is a need for it in the world. As long as humans are able to survive on Gaia, there will be some entity serving as Santa in some way or another, and inviting his energy into our lives is only going to make the world a better place, and us better people.