The old agricultural year is winding down to its usual conclusion. This time of the Long Dying is still vibrant here in the southern highlands of the Appalachian mountains. Today began in thick fog and reached a temperature nearly 20 degrees higher than the average for this day. Warm, light breeze, perfect for outside work in the garden.
As we move into the time of the year that we call "the holidays", I've been thinking a lot about traditions. No, not Pagan Traditions with a capital "T". The traditions I'm talking about are more like rituals when you think about it. Its those little or big things you do with your family or on your own that mark a special time. You do them consistently and probably look forward to doing them. You might even feel like you absolutely have to do them. None of us are strangers to family obligations.
My family has a lot of little traditions that most people probably could identify since they don't seem that out of the ordinary. But as I get older and start making my own traditions, I'm realizing just how special the traditions I grew up with were. Thanksgiving is a great example. My mother didn't often host it at her house. It was common knowledge that my aunt had Thanksgiving. We had hosted Christmas Eve. And Christmas day? No one does anything on Christmas day other than exchange gifts and eat Christmas eve leftovers. The first snow of the season meant I got a ride on Papa's snowmobile (pictured). Its those little things unique to my family that make this time of year special and powerful.
When I started practicing Wicca at a young age, my family was fortunately very welcoming and accommodating. The first year (when I was 12) I tried to get my presents a few days early in time for Yule, although that part didn't go over so well. Instead, I gave everyone else their little handmade gifts on the solstice. It probably meant more to me than it did them, but it made me feel like I had an original part to play in the family process. An activity I could call my own. I had made my own tradition!
In less than a month we will be at a threshold that has been looming for many years. I'm talking about the Winter Solstice of 2012 with all its associated hype and hoopla. For the sake of simplicity, I will talk about the upcoming Winter Solstice, with full knowledge that it is also the Summer Solstice for our neighbors south of the equator. What I have say applies whether it is Summer or Winter. Countless books and articles have been written about this momentous point in time. For some in the New Age and metaphysical communities this has been the focus of their studies or careers for some time. As the owner of a metaphysical shop, I've had quite a number of people ask me whether or not I believe in the Winter Solstice of 2012. Sometimes glibly, I've responded “yes of course I believe in it”, and then I point at the calendar and “say there it is.” Then, if they are willing to listen, I share what I'm about to share with you in this blog.