Santa Claus meets the “Old Nick”

An Early Christmas Season Reverie

By Dikki-Jo Mullen

At the grocery store today I saw a large red Coca Cola delivery truck parked, with the trademark Santa Claus emblazoned on its side. At the open back door of the truck a Santa Claus venue was appearing. A red carpet, festive trees and a large throne were there and free visits with Santa and portraits were scheduled.
I loved seeing the holiday truck, it evoked so many memories… Hot chocolate and cookies. I remember Santa leaving a Thank you note on Christmas mornings long ago for the plate I had left for him as a child. A few weeks earlier on December 5-6 St. Nick would have come, strewing nuts and oranges in a trail leading to a small sack of treats or decorative stocking. The legend at our house always was that if St. Nick came on St. Nicholas’ Eve then I had been good enough all year to expect Santa on the 25th of the month. Oddly, St. Nick and Santa were seen as the same and yet not the same. Today the mystery deepens. Visits from St. Nick have taken on a new dimension. Tonight I have been thinking of what to leave St. Nick. He has become Krampus during the 21st Century, if indeed he was ever anyone else. At the produce stand I found some purple-black potatoes. They are sinister, yet taste just like small red potatoes. I bought some to boil. All of the accounts of Krampus indicate that his is  a mean alcoholic with a preference for schnapps or other hard liquor… . . His dinner plate is ready now. With all of the strange situations in the world I feel the need to placate this evil twin or doppelganger of Jolly Old St. Nick.

A switch and a lump of coal on St. Nick‘s Eve. By the early 20th Century the threat had become mostly a joke. On the Eve of December 5th or 6th St. Nicklaus would visit, children were told. If they had been good all year then gifts of candies, nuts and fruit and would be found in the morning, perhaps in their stockings or shoes. The baddies, the naughty ones, might expect to be punished with a switch and a lump of coal instead. No one ever was though. It was almost unheard of for the good St. Nick, visualized as a jolly old elf, to disappoint anyone. He foreshadowed the arrival of Santa Claus in a few weeks time. St. Nick’s visit piqued the excitement and anticipation of Christmas, promising the larger presents to come.
As the 1990’s faded into the early 21st Century a change began to sweep over annual winter solstice celebrations. A yearning for a darker holiday emerged. Perhaps it indicated a need to offset an excess of sweetness and light. Perhaps a secret resentment was building as children became increasingly spoiled and dissatisfied. Santarchy was born. The phenomenon appeared in 1994 in West Coast U.S. cities such as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. A huge flash mob of costumed and sinister Santa Clauses invaded shopping malls and public parks. In early December the mysterious clan would come together to frighten and puzzle the unsuspecting public. The Santarchy craze currently has spread to Korea, Norway, Ireland and other countries. It actually is a revival of more ancient seasonal traditions. Smoldering in the dark crevices, deep in the fire place, behind the merrily burning Yule log and within the branches of Christmas trees, hidden by the ornaments and lights, lurks the spirit of Krampus. Also known as “Old Nick” or the devil, Krampus is the evil twin who shadows the benevolent Saint Nicklaus. He has been here, waiting and watching for a very long time. While kindly Santa appreciates cookies and hot chocolate, Krampus prefers schnapps, a strong liquor.
Hairy and beastlike, Krampus is black or brown in color, with a long, lolling tongue, goat- like horns and cloven hoofs. He carries a whip or a bundle of birch twigs in one claw like hand and dramatically rings a bell or thrashes rusty chains in the other. Sometimes he’s an elegant yet very sinister gentleman instead, clothed all in black. Like Santa Claus, Krampus carries a large sack over one shoulder, but rather being filled with toys, his is to carry away bad children for drowning or transportation to his den where they might be burned in a coal fire.
Krampus Throughout History
The legend of Krampus really predates that of St. Nicklaus. About four thousand years ago “The Epic of Gilgamesh” introduced Enkidu, literature’s first “ Wild Beast Man”. By the 3rd Century BCE Saturnalia was celebrated at the winter solstice in Rome. Wild and frightening satyr like characters presided over the revelry which ensued when master and slave roles were reversed by holiday makers.
By the 4th Century CE Germanic tribes in the alpine regions of Europe clung to the remnants of their pagan traditions even as they began to embrace Christianity. Old Man Winter frequented holiday gatherings. About 1250 CE “King’s Mirror”, a Norwegian manuscript, told of a mean and hairy demon who wandered in the snowy forest. During the winter evenings people practiced mummery, the creation of humorous plays. They would dress up, masking as wild creatures, animals and mythological figures. An evil force, known by many names through the centuries, was an important part of the amusement.
Krampus first paired with the white robed bishop, St. Nicklaus, sometime during the 1600’s in a Christmas procession in Nuremburg, Germany. By the late 19th Century Krampus was a regular part of holiday gatherings . Young celebrants, usually male, would dress up in hideous attire, bearing torches and carousing through the streets to terrify young and old alike. Post cards from the 1800’s featuring Krampus images exploded in popularity. Their subtle comedy combined humorous and surreal art with a primordial horror. “Grub Vom Krampus” (greetings from Krampus) was often the message.
In the late 1800’s in New York City St. Nick arrived as a beloved red suited Santa Claus, yet Krampus hovered in the background. The evil one appeared at “Pelznickle” traditions celebrated at Christmas time by Dutch and German immigrants in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Indiana.
Krampus, the punisher, continued to rein supreme as a part of European holiday celebrations, especially in Germany and Austria.
During the 1930’s – 1950’s the Austrian and German governments denounced Krampus. He was reviled in pamphlets and gradually faded from the scene. Now he’s returned, if indeed he ever left. Horror novelist Dean Koontz has written “Santa’s Twin”, Krampus greeting cards have become valuable collectibles. His holiday season has come to the movies in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
So as the solstice nears, consider the consequences of your actions during the past year carefully as you hum a holiday tune.
“You better watch out, You better not cry, You better be good, I’m telling you why … Santa Claus is coming to town …”

A special Thanks to “The Witches’ Almanac” for their gracious permission to reprint parts of this feature which first appeared in The Almanac.;

Notes From Dikki-Jo’s Kitchen
Sometimes I like to spend the whole night just making fragrant and snowy mountains of delicious popcorn. There is a mystical and fatalistic quality to this experience. For example this 1930’s recipe mysteriously surfaced in an old family notebook … for popcorn balls …. Just when I had a big batch prepared and was afraid I’d have to make popcorn strings for the birds in order to use it all up. If you love popcorn as much as I, then you might like to try this …

Grandmother Esther’s Easy Popcorn Balls
4 quarts of popped corn. Melt 2 Tbs butter, ½ C sugar, 1 C Karo (corn) syrup (the red label is light and not high fructose), 1 tsp cream of tartar, ¼ tsp baking soda. Pour melted mixture over the popcorn, stir very gently and shape into balls, with lightly buttered hands. Makes about 8 large popcorn balls.
Here is a quick party or dinner dessert recipe and it gives you an excuse to pop lots of corn. It’s kind of a meditative and Zen experience to indulge in this pastime of culinary excess.

1 16 oz package of miniature marshmallows
20 caramels
1/4 cup butter, cubed
10 cups popped corn
1 cup M and M’s candies
2 cups of peanuts

Melt marshmallows, caramels and butter, stir, pour over the popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Stir in candies and peanuts, press into a cake pan (a bundt works well). Let cool until firm, remove from pan with a serrated knife, serves about 7 hungry souls.

Gift Idea!

Popcorn treats make wonderful, welcome and inexpensive gifts which are certain to bring a smile. Slices of the popcorn cake and popcorn balls can be wrapped in colorful cellophane or foil and presented in a paper lunch bag decorated with humorous stickers and stamps.


Worlds Around, Above and Within

Forever onward circles of the skies,
Spanning upwards, outwards more

And more
Star watered waves ending in quiet ripples \
Near the shore,
Magnificent trees which year upon year
Spread greener, reaching upwards more and more;

A rainbow jewel formed of dew,
Turns soon to frost and falls so soft and light,
The setting and always rising of the sun,
Fades away gathered gloom of night;

These natural things alive, they move
Then cease within a natural harmony of peace
They truly own and have shown
Inspiration to brighten disordered human life
And reveal another world nearby and yet so unknown.

C By Dikki-Jo Mullen
(This poem was written near Thanksgiving, 2016, with thoughts of the coming winter and darker, quieter days and the season of Advent ahead. and the welcoming of the Son/Sun, Solstice and Christmastide.)

Autumn Equinox Poem

poem and original art by Dikki-Jo Mullen
Bright leaves from green and pale in spring 
To the fire of golden autumn
Then by winter a garb of brown in sad repentance fling
Little time measured short and bright
brief hours, bright colors
Then so soon the growing night

Harper Lee – “To Kill a Mocking Bird”
Horoscope For The Author of America’s Iconic Coming of Age Story

By Dikki-Jo Mullen

“When you have a hit like that, you can’t go anywhere but down”, author Harper Lee would often joke, when asked why she never wrote again after the 1960 publication of “To Kill a Mocking Bird”. One commentator compared this hiatus to what would have happened if Mark Twain had written only “Huckleberry Finn” or Shakespeare penned only “MacBeth”.
The theme of “To Kill A Mocking Bird” revolves around race relations and injustice in the American South, a topic which touched the pulse of the public consciousness deeply enough to win Harper Lee a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The following year her book became an Oscar winning classic film starring Gregory Peck. Eventually Harper Lee would go on to be appointed to the National Council for The Arts by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, at the peak of the Civil Rights movement. Later she was awarded the Medal of Freedom (the Nation’s highest civilian honor) by President George W. Bush. In 2015, at age 89, Lee was greeted at The White House yet again by President Barack Obama. This was after, at long last, she did release her second novel “Go Set A Watchman”, which is believed to be either a prequel or first draft of her iconic first book.
Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 at 5:25 pm in Monroeville, Alabama. Her ascendant, at 25 degrees of Libra, is within orb of a conjunction with Spica, the most fortunate fixed star in the heavens. She did enjoy a charmed life in many ways. Her net worth at the time of her death, in the early morning hours of February 19, 2016 in Monroeville, Alabama, is estimated to be about 35 million dollars. The Libra ascendant, the sign of The Scales, is often prominent in the horoscopes of those who champion the cause of justice. Her Sun at 7 degrees of Taurus and Chiron at 28 degrees of Aries form an out of sign conjunction in her 7th house. This further emphasizes a focus on the law and exploring the balance of interactions between people. She first studied law, then abandoned it, deciding instead that journalism was her real love.
Harper Lee, as she preferred to called throughout her life, was born at the Full Moon, with the Moon and Saturn conjunct in Scorpio in her 1st house. This reveals a serious and intense personality with a tendency to cherish her privacy. The Full Moon personality is always very responsive to the environment and tends to drive projects forward to conclusions. As a young college student at Huntington College, The University of Alabama and later at Oxford University in England, Harper shunned parties and fashion, preferring to wear plain clothing and dedicate her efforts to study. Her Scorpio Moon is in mutual reception with Pluto in Cancer in her 9th house. Pluto also conjoins the North Moon Node. This astrological pattern shows an affinity for the travel industry as well as excelling in academics. She worked for a time during the 1950’s as a reservation agent for Eastern Airlines. Eventually she quit that job to become an impoverished writer in New York City. Living in a cold water flat with cast off furniture, she attracted the help of friends who supported her for a year while she wrote. She also collaborated with another prominent Southern writer and childhood friend, Truman Capote. Harper Lee’s Mars-Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius points to her eclectic connections with and the key support of helpful associates. The Mars-Jupiter conjunction, which has been called the presidents’ aspect, tends to bring a memorable personality and an ability to impact others. The Aquarius planets square her natal Saturn, reveals great ambition and energy. Mars and Jupiter are in her 4th house, accenting the lasting ties to childhood home and parents. Throughout her life she divided her time between New York City, where she could live a private and anonymous life style and home town Monroeville, Alabama.
The strong 4th house conjunction and prominent Moon describe how her writing drew inspiration from her childhood. Harper Lee was the youngest of four children of a prominent local lawyer, Amasa Coleman Lee and homemaker Frances Cunningham Finch. The names and initials of her beloved parents are reflected in one of her main characters, attorney Attiucus Finch, a hint that “To Kill A Mockingbird” and recent second novel “Go Set A Watchman” are both actually autobiographical. Her Jupiter is accidentally exalted in the 4th house, pointing to the supportive influence of her childhood home and parentage. Uranus in the 4th shows the progressive and humanitarian values learned in her early home life.
Neptune in Leo in her 10th house forms an angular T- square with the Scorpio and Aquarius placements. This powerful Neptune placement propelled Harper Lee to an elusive yet flamboyant celebrity and prominence. Neptune traditionally is linked with justice for minorities and the disadvantaged, the theme of Harper Lee’s books. The empty leg of this strong angular fixed sign T- square is directed toward the natal 7th house, again emphasizing justice, social issues and relationships. Neptune forms a wide orb but mutually applying trine with her Mercury, the writers’ planet, in Aries, showing the originality, sensitivity and intuition expressed in her writing. Her subject matter is argumentative with much of the pioneer and revolutionary spirit typical of natal Mercury in Aries.
Harper Lee’s 2nd house of earned income is ruled by Pluto. The source and accumulation of her considerable wealth can be seen in the 9th house placement of her natal Pluto which forms a grand trine in water signs with her Venus-Uranus Conjunction in Pisces and her Moon-Saturn conjunction in Scorpio. Her Taurus Sun, which is in an applying sextile aspect to natal Pluto, further underscores her ability to acquire and guard financial assets.
The Venus-Uranus conjunction in the 5th house of romance also brings speculation about her romantic inclinations. She never married and always refused to answer any questions about personal relationships. The strong Uranus might indicate that a desire for freedom plays a role in her independent life style.
Taurus and Pisces placements often show an appreciation for music. As a student Harper sang in the school Glee Club, as an adult she is said to have had a preference for 18th Century music. Aside from her family, cats were also her constant companions and great love. The strong natal water sign influence as well as Mercury in her 6th house can describe the deep affection for small animals. Sentimental Cancer spans much of her 9th house, with the Moon there, by mutual reception, with Pluto. This points to another important interest Harper Lee was reputed to enjoy; the history and literature of the 19th Century.
The various transits and progressions to Harper Lee’s natal chart are intriguing in the way they reflect the stages in her career and accomplishments. As a young teen Uranus in Taurus transited her Sun, showing unexpected influences and challenges generated by people and situations she encountered. This transit peaked in 1940 – early 41 when she was about 14. Saturn in Taurus at that time also opposed its natal place.
From 1944-49, when she pursued her higher education and changed goals, transit Neptune in early Libra was oppose her natal Mercury. This coincided with the dissolving and refocusing of her interest away from law and toward journalism. During this time transit Saturn affected her 9th house, showing her efforts with academic work, including overseas travel to study in England. She struggled with poverty during the early 1950’s when Pluto, ruler of her 2nd house, transited Leo. This activated her 10th house of career and challenging angular natal T-square. Her Saturn return in Scorpio in 1955 seems to have been an especially bleak and challenging time. The Saturn return activated her natal Saturn-Moon conjunction, an aspect with the potential for depression and sadness. Her father suddenly became ill and passed away, an tragic event which had a tremendous emotional impact on Harper.
In 1957 a first submission of “To Kill A Mocking Bird” was rejected, with the criticism that it read like a collection of short stories. At that time Saturn was transiting Sagittarius, trine to both her natal Mercury in Aries and Neptune in Leo. Determined, Taurus-like, Harper rewrote the manuscript. While this was happening transit Jupiter in Scorpio conjoined her natal Saturn. Often a transit of Jupiter to conjoin natal Saturn (or vice versa) will indicate the start of an important career opportunity. The rewrite was completed by 1960. At that time Uranus was in Leo, again activating Harper’s natal fire sign placements. Success was instantaneous by the end of the year when transit Jupiter in Capricorn was trine her natal Sun in Taurus. In 1961 she won The Pulitzer Prize when Jupiter entered Aquarius. The Jupiter transit was both trine her Libra ascendant and conjunct to her natal Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. By 1962 her novel was translated into at least ten languages and developed into a screen play when it won an Oscar. Neptune was transiting Scorpio, activating her natal grand trine in water signs, while transit Uranus in Leo was conjunct her Neptune in her 10th house of fame and fortune. During the 1960’s Harper Lee began to shun publicity. At the time of her 1966 appointment by President Johnson to the National Council for the Arts transit Uranus was in Virgo, oppose its natal place in Pisces. This opposition, which typically occurs during the early 40’s or so, can mark a break with established situations, jobs or relationships. Harper began to become more and more reclusive. She came into the public eye only occasionally when the importance of her book was acknowledged.
On April 29, 2014, just a day from Harper’s 88th birthday, there was a solar eclipse conjunct her natal Sun. At that time transit Uranus in Aries was separating from a conjunction to her natal Mercury. This foreshadowed some changes in the status quo. It is possible that, fueled by current news coverage of racial situations again, Harper Lee began to prepare her second manuscript for publication then. On July 14, 2015, following weeks of speculation, worldwide attention was again focused on Harper Lee. Her new book “Go Set A Watchman”, was released. Once again she explored the themes of Southern life and race relations. Was the timing linked to the growing racial tensions around the United States? Or did Harper, who appeared erudite and well for her 89 years sense that it was now or never and that her own time of passing was near?
On July 14, 2015 the transiting Sun, Mercury and Mars were in Cancer activating her five natal water sign placements in her 9th house. The eclipses in the spring of 2015 further reflected the surprises and changes in Harper’s life. The solar eclipse on March 20, 2015 at 29 degrees of Pisces was close to her natal Uranus at 27 and not very far from her natal Venus at 21 degrees of Pisces. The lunar eclipse at 14 degrees of Libra on April 4, 2015 was accompanied by a stellium of Aries transits (with the Sun, Uranus and Mercury), all forming powerful cardinal sign aspects to her natal Mercury in Aries. In true Uranian fashion the excitement generated by the new book has been short lived, though. Perhaps Harper had been wise in not trying to expand upon her initial success after all.
Harper Lee passed away peacefully in her sleep during the early morning hours of February 19, 2016 at an assisted living facility in her hometown of Monroeville. At the time of her death transit Mars was at 23 degrees of Scorpio, exactly conjunct her natal Saturn, the Moon was in Cancer and transit Neptune was sextile her natal Sun. The aspects suggest a time of completion honoring an intriguing life well lived.

Data – Birth Data Table
Tropical Placidus Houses
Nelle Harper Lee
Born on April 28, 1926 at 5:25 pm CST in Monroeville, Alabama 31N31’40” : 87W19’29”
Sun 07 Taurus 54 – 7th house
Moon 19 Scorpio 33 – 1st house – Full Moon
Mercury 10 Aries 59 – 6th house
Venus 21 Pisces 57 – 5th house
Mars 26 Aquarius 34 – 4th house
Jupiter 23 Aquarius 39 – 4th house
Saturn 23 Scorpio 54 – 1st house (retrograde)
Uranus 27 Pisces 44 – 5th house
Neptune 21 Leo 59 – 10th house (retrograde)
Pluto 12 Cancer 47- 9th house
Chiron 28 Aries 29 – 7th house
N. Moon Node (true node) – 18 Cancer 57 – 9th house
Ascendant (rising sign) is 25 Libra 47

Dikki-Jo Mullen
Astrologer and Parapsychologist https://dikkijomullen.wordpress.com

A Florida Hurricane Poem
By Dikki-Jo Mullen
Veiled the sky, just one cloud,
No shadows of trees or even birds,
The Wind hides in the trees,
Silent yet not.
Disturbed, yet feeling a deep joy,
Nature holds a vital delight.

Gene Wilder

Astrological Tribute To A Comedic Genius

By Dikki-Jo Mullen, Astrologer

With his trademark irony and manic energy, Gene Wilder created gentle and amusing characters that will live on in our hearts and minds. Late August of 2016 finds the sad news of his death circling the globe. Born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933 at 3:50 am CST in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the actor adopted Gene Wilder as his stage name when his career began in the early 1960’s on the television program Armstrong Circle. He would go on to act in many films, Young Frankenstein and Wille Wonka and The Chocolate Factory being two memorable favorites. He was a double Gemini, with a first house Sun and ascendant in Gemini. His characters combined a quiet irony with a kind of manic quality, showing the true duality of his birth sign. Born with Mercury and Venus conjunct in Cancer, he had an artistry spanning all kinds of communication.   Wilder was a gifted writer as well as actor. His Pluto in Cancer was square Uranus in Aries, the 2nd and 11th houses were activated by this powerful pattern. Satirizing political issues and values were favorite recurrent themes in his work. The Moon and Saturn in Aquarius in his 9th house, reveal a strong social consciousness and humanitarian qualities as well originality. Health and fitness were always significant issues, perhaps because of his Virgo stellium involving Neptune, Jupiter and Mars. The Mars- Jupiter conjunction has been called “The President’s aspect”,  it gives great personality and a warm charisma. Also Mars and Neptune conjunct have been called the  “Lamp of Aladdin or “White Witchcraft” aspect. This conjunction  brings a natural ability to manifest, to make things happen.

When Wilder’s beloved third wife, Gilda Radner, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer they founded Gilda’s Club together. This group continues as a reminder to  those fighting cancer that they need not have to face the nightmare alone. Wilder continued charitable work throughout the remainder of his life, being true to his strong Aquarius and 11th house influences. He kept his own diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a secret for years, as he said he couldn’t bear the thought of being responsible for the fading of even one more smile in the world. Complications from the disease led to his death on August 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm PDT in Los Angeles, fortunately it never progressed to the point where it claimed Gene’s  ability to recognize loved ones or to lose his personality. The transits surrounding his passing are interesting. The Aquarius eclipse on August 18, 2016  was in a wide orb to his Saturn in Aquarius, Saturn always relates to health, also his Moon, signifying changes was edged by the eclipse. Transit Uranus in Aries was just 2 degrees away from a return to its natal place, an aspect frequently found when there is a passing. Transit Jupiter and Venus, the celestial benefics, conjunct in Virgo activated his Virgo placements, hinting that the passing had elements of being peaceful, in its way a blessing. It was reported that those closest to Gene commented that he was with his beloved Gilda.

Their romance was like a comic love story. Gilda was born on June 28, 1946 at 7:30 am Est in Detroit, Michigan. She was a star on Saturday Night Live. When they met in 1981 she was unhappily married and made a strong play for Wilder, who at first felt she was too needy and baby like and so backed away from the involvement.  After a roller coaster relationship they eventually married. Gilda had a Leo ascendant with Mercury, Venus and Pluto in Leo, showing her strong and colorful personality. Her Moon was at 27 degrees Gemini, very close to Wilder’s Sun.  Also her Uranus in Gemini, was also near his Sun,  describing  the electrical connection between the two comedic legends. The Sun-Moon tie in compatibility astrology is traditionally interpreted as the strongest link between horoscopes. Her Sun and Saturn in Cancer in the 12th house added complexity and notes of secret insecurity to her personality. The strong 12th house as well as her natal Mars in Virgo indicate her health challenges too. Gilda passed away on May 20, 1989, just before her 43rd birthday. At that time Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were transiting Capricorn, afflicting her 6th house of health and oppose her natal Cancer placements in the 12th house. Transit Mars in Cancer was also in Gilda’s 12th house, at the midpoint between her natal Sun and Saturn. These are all influences frequently found in event charts of deaths. As is common in the horoscope of a famous person with a strong planetary emphasis in cadent houses, (she had Jupiter and Neptune in Libra in her 3rd (cadent) house as well as the strong 12th   house) events in the future continue the story and influence of her life. In 2008 Gene published a book honoring her. Pictures of the book signing marked one of his last public appearances. The charitable foundation in her name to help cancer patients continues on as well.