The Meaning Of Mistletoe: How Love Brings The World Back To Life

The Meaning Of Mistletoe: How Love Brings The World Back To Life December 3, 2018

I’ve been sick this week, which means I’ve had a lot of downtime to read.  In my reading, I came across an interesting article about mistletoe.

I learned that in Norse mythology, Frigg, the goddess of love, had a son named Baldur, who was killed with an arrow.  Frigg wept over her son, and her tears landed on the arrow, becoming the pearlescent berries on the mistletoe plant.

In some versions of the myth, she used the healing properties of mistletoe to heal Baldur’s wound, and brought him back to life. Then she declared that mistletoe would never again be used as a weapon; it would only be used as a symbol of healing and peace.  In her joy, she offered a kiss of peace to anyone who stepped under a mistletoe bough.

I’ve thought a lot about mistletoe the past few days.  It was especially poignant as we marked the beginning of Advent yesterday.

There’s deep meaning in mistletoe.  The tears of a grieving mother who lost her son to violence became a symbol of peace and love.

Mistletoe has remained transformed to this day, evidenced by the fact that when we look at mistletoe now, we don’t think of a weapon; we think of love.  When we look at mistletoe now, we don’t run away in fear; we open our arms to embrace.

Mistletoe is reminder that the brokenness of the world that has been doesn’t have to always be. 

We can transform swords to plowshares, violence to peace, anger to understanding.  We can lay down weapons, tear down walls, surrender grudges and forgive grievances.  We can take the resources we used to use to get our own way and use those same resources to heal the world instead.

This Advent, ’tis the season to shed tears over the brokenness we see in the world, like Frigg weeping over her wounded son.

‘Tis the season to take action, to transform our tears into tangible symbols and redemptive acts of forgiveness and peace.

And ’tis the season to be filled with joy, as Love brings the world back to life.



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  • Brenda Finnegan

    I have been reminiscing recently about my childhood Christmases in the deep South. No classic Currier and Ives snow scenes for us, we spent more Christmases in short sleeves than in sweat pants. For some reason, one particular memory has been strong in my mind this year. Every year, my father would take one or two of us kids with him as he walked our woods with a rifle looking to the tops of the hardwood trees for signs of mistletoe. He would spot a clump sprouting from from a high branch, point it out to us, and then raising his rifle, he would shoot some down. Then we would delightedly scramble to where it fell to the ground in a heap. No, not the little sprigs you buy in Walmart for a buck or two, but a small branch that would fill the arms of a child, and fill a heart with wonder and glee. “Wow, how did he do that! My dad is a great shot! Now, who am I going to tease and kiss first?” My dad passed over ten years ago and I haven’t been able to go home to walk those woods for several years. Thank you for your lesson on the meaning of the mistletoe and the healing to be found where first was hurt.