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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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Celebrating the Wheel of the Year: Winter Solstice

Winter solstice rituals traditionally celebrate the rebirth of the sun. In a safe and socially distanced setting outdoors, build a bonfire and create a solstice altar to the east of it. Place a small cauldron with a candle in it on the altar, and surround it with mistletoe, ivy, and holly. Participants should wear masks and  also wear crowns woven from these evergreens. Begin the ritual by gathering around the fire. Hum softly, gradually building the hum to a one shout. This shout represents the cries of the Goddess giving birth once again to the sun, and to the new year. The ritual leader says:

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Heimdall's Guardians

I had a conversation via the godphone in my head with my companion Tom the day after his military funeral. In life, he followed Heimdall, and in death he joined Heimdall's company. Heimdall is the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, and those who join him in the afterlife are likewise Guardians, but they guard living people here on the earthly plane of existence. Just to be clear, this blog is Gnosis Diary and you are reading gnosis right now, though bits of lore might also appear in this story.

I've had multiple conversations with Tom since his death and I already knew he had become my spiritual protector in his afterlife. I have made a habit of starting my day by sitting next to his shrine, lighting a candle, sharing a beverage with him and spending some quiet moments together, whether we speak or not. Often the cat joins us. Our little family of three, all together.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, there are. We got one in the mail from our vet's office after our kitty Beni-Wan Cat-Obi died. It was clearly meant to be
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm not familiar with the corporate greeting cards you mentioned. Are there actually greeting cards for people who's pets have di

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

My hands-down favorite Jewsploitation film (yes, gods help us, there really is such a genre), is the campy, satirical 2003 Hebrew Hammer. Here's the story.

Evil gay Santa (hey, a little gratuitous homophobia always makes everything funnier, right?) formulates a plot to destroy all the other winter holidays by absorbing them into one big, undifferentiated Christmas blob.

So the Hebrew Hammer, a nebbishy Jewish superhero—he's straight, of course—teams up with the guy from the Kwanzaa Liberation Front (also straight) to foil evil gay Santa's evil plot.

 

Satire aside, you have to appreciate the very real problem that the film addresses. Christmas as we know it has become a cannibalistic microorganism that just wants to engulf all the other holiday amoebas in its environment.

Part of this, of course, is nicey-nice Kumbaya feel-goodism. See, we're really all just alike: we all celebrate at this time of year.

In fact, of course, we don't. Muslims, for instance, don't have a festival of lights at this time of year (or at all, really). Diwali, in late October or early November, is nowhere near the Christmas orbit.

Things get a little more complicated with Yule. Pagans like to think of Yule as the mother and Christmas the daughter festival, but that's really a pretty disingenuous reading of the relationship between the two. In fact—like it or not—our modern Yule has been reborn from the womb of Christmas, and the two holidays still look a lot (some of us would say, too much) alike.

Yes, it would be nice to think that, for a while, we can all just set aside our differences and celebrate together. But reducing all the other winter holidays to mere satellites of Christmas is no way to go about it.

So in fact, no, Yule is not the pagan Christmas, and we're not all just the same.

So what?

 

On Midwinter's Eve, we sing the Sun down from the highest hill in town and kindle a fire as it sets. This fire we keep burning all night. In the morning, we sing the Sun back up out of the Mississippi Valley.

Every year, as crows call overhead, and light and color stream back into the world after the year's longest night, I always think: this is it. This is real Yule, in the nutshell.

Let me tell you, it doesn't look anything like Christmas.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When I was very young the Christmas decorations didn't go up until after Thanksgiving even in the stores. I remember being shocke

Let me tell you about the Yule that I considered becoming a suicide bomber.

Now, I'm as gay as the next guy but, for reasons that I won't go into here, I'm no fan of gay men's choruses. My housemate at the time, though, regularly attended concerts of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus: more, I suspect, for the social opportunity that they offered than for the “music.” So I wasn't surprised to see, while bringing in the mail at the end of a November back in the 80s, an invitation to that year's TCGMC Christmas concert.

It wasn't until I read the description of the concert that I started thinking about explosives.

I can't remember the title of the concert, but the stated theme was: “Moving from the darkness of the Winter Solstice through the lights of Hanukkah to the true illumination of Christmas.”

There's so much wrong with this theme that it's difficult to quantify, but underlying it all is its triumphalist religious Darwinism. That lying old story has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, down the long years.

And they thought they were being inclusive. The sheer cluelessness of it all—and the fact that this atrocity was being perpetrated by gay men on other gay men—just makes it that much more offensive.

Well, I didn't buy the suicide vest and (of course) I didn't attend the concert. But I can, nonetheless, tell you (why are these things so bloody predictable?) exactly of what that program consisted.

For the Winter Solstice, a secular Christmas carol of some sort. For Hanukkah, a medley of old Yiddische tunes guaranteed to include “Dreidel.” Then the gaggle of Christmas carols that everyone had really come to hear.

Hey, all you organizers of “Holiday” Concerts out there:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I am blissfully clueless. When I want seasonal music I go to YouTube and listen to Weird Al Yankovic singing Christmas at Ground
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, I guess I just don't get triggered by Christian tokenism like you do. My take on it is this: Christians will always c
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Jamie, are you familiar with Rosemary Sutcliff's teen novel Frontier Wolf? The protagonist/hero is himself a young Mithraist, and
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, You're the best. Thank you for providing us with such interesting and humorous articles. I always look forward to rea
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    Hehehe ya well. I still cherish your Pro-Dea Solstice Song book. Drag it out every year. Merry Yule!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fast Magic: Prosperity Herb Spells

As a kitchen witch and gardening enthusiast, I am always seeking to learn more about the power of herbs, plants, roots and flowers can be used in the craft. Grow your wealth, literally with these handy money attraction herbs.

Allspice berries bring good luck; gather 7 berries and place in a small pouch to carry in your pocket or purse for a week. On the 7th day, burn them with cinnamon incense while making your wish for whatever you want.

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On a whim the other day, I did an image search for “Yule ornaments.” What I found dismayed me.

Or rather, what I didn't find dismayed me.

Pentagrams, runes, Thor's hammers, witches on brooms: pagan schmuckerei for pretty much every taste and tradition.

Out of the first two screens, maybe 150 images in all, I found one Sun.

One.

For a moment, I felt a sense of vertigo, as if I were falling: a giddy kind of kinship with the “Keep Christ in Christmas” folks.

Solstice is relationship: Earth, Sun, Us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bewitching Brews: ProsperiTea

Among its healing and energizing properties, the herb bergamot also brings prosperity. If you are feeling down in the dumps and empty of pocket, fix yourself a pot of bergamot tea and watch the negative energy rise and dissipate with the steam. If a co-worker or boss is exhibiting the same symptoms, fix him some Earl Grey- a fine English tea bursting with precious bergamot.

If the problem runs deeper – no raises, overdue bills, general bitterness -  then more systemic healing is necessary. Come to work right before dawn one day. Boil one cup of water and steep a pinch of each of the following dried herbs:

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