Saturday, December 21, 2013


It's the solstice: time to take stock, and (in the Northern hemisphere, where I am right now) give thanks to the guardians of Asgard for another Ragnarok deferred.

It's been a slow year in this blog - only eight  posts, though most of them proved surprisingly popular. The post on Aztec political thought, in particular, was an unexpected hit, with more than 8,000 views so far, and my review of Randall Collins' Interaction Ritual Chains was even republished, with minor changes, as a more or less proper book review here. Many posts were about ritual, since for the first time I feel like I've "got" ritual; a friend told me recently that I was like a man with a hammer now, seeing ritual everywhere. In any case, thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared these rather irregular footnotes!

In the season's spirit of sharing, here are some links for your reading pleasure, some older than others:
  • Phil Schrodt writes a dispatch on the insidious War on Yule:
Yes, the outward signs surround us: the evergreen wreaths on doors, the houses and streets festooned with lights against the darkness of December, the ubiquitous gaily-decorated trees—aluminum, plastic, occasionally real, all invoking the world-encompassing Yggdrasil—and festive gathering of friends and family [1] before the blazing Yule fire [2] to feast and drink mulled wine. Even that ever-present “Santa”: obviously an odd synthesis from many cultures, but coming out of the northern skies in a sled pulled by reindeer and accompanied by elves. The signs of Yule are everywhere.
But this has become shallow amid the crass materialism, the anodyne references to “the holiday season” and the confusion of social obligations. Where has our appreciation of the true Yule gone?: the blessings of the wisdom of Odin, the protection given us by Thor, the abundance bestowed by Freya? Recognition that with the passing of another year, the guardians of Asgard have again held off the Frost Giants [7], Ragnarok is again deferred, and in a few months the light and warmth of summer will return?

And now for your regularly scheduled solstice extremophiles blogging:

Deep Lake in Antarctica. Crawling with haloarchaea.

Happy Yule/Winter Solstice/Summer Solstice!


  1. Thanks a lot for your blogging during this year. It really was a pleasure!!

  2. Really cool blog, and your Pinboard links are also a treat. Happy new year.