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How Being Pagan Cured My Winter Blues

I have lived in upstate New York my entire life. For the most part, I love it here. I love the changing seasons and the beauty of the rolling hills. What I don’t love so much is winter—probably not a good thing in an area where the first snow often falls at Halloween, and it isn’t unheard of for it to snow in the middle of April. Essentially, of the twelve months in a year, five of them are winter. That’s a long freaking time if you don’t like that particular season.

 

For much of my life, I used to get seriously depressed during the winter. Some of this can be blamed on the lack of light, or not being able to spend much time outside in the fresh air (I’m NOT a winter sports person…any activity that involves purposely subjecting oneself to freezing cold and snow is not my cup of hot chocolate). But mostly I just didn’t like winter. Cold, snow, sleet, ice, cold….bah.

 

These days, things are different. While I still count the days until spring (48, in case you were wondering), I rarely get the winter blues, and I find that there are some things about it I positively look forward to. What caused the change? I became a Pagan.

 

You are probably wondering why on earth that would make any difference—and if you live in a chilly part of the country, you may also be wondering if it could help your own winter blues, if you get them. It’s pretty simple, really, and the reason I’m sharing this here is because I am hoping that yes, it WILL help a few other folks to turn things around too.

 

One of the major changes that happened when I started a regular witchcraft practice was that I learned to go with the flow of the seasons, living my life in tune with the ever-shifting Wheel of the Year. As I internalized this connection even more, I realized that a big part of my winter depression had come from the fact that I was fighting the flow of the season, instead of moving with it. It took a LOT of energy to push while the earth was pulling, and it was a huge waste of psychic energy to be constantly wanting the season to be something it wasn’t.

 

Once I accepted winter for the natural part of the cycle it is, I was able to start appreciating some of its positive sides I hadn’t recognized before becoming a Pagan and changing my view of the world.

 

Winter is a time of quiet; of turning inward and hibernating, being less outwardly focused and more inwardly focused. Once I realized this, I started to use that quiet internal time, instead of fighting it. (In my case, because I run an artists’ cooperative shop, my slow time doesn’t really start until January…but that still gives me January, February, and March.) I gave my self permission to slow down, instead of trying to force myself to have summer energy in the middle of winter. I focused on the quietly creative forces—usually writing a book during that three month time, when it might have taken me four to six months during a busier, less quiet time of the year. I didn’t socialize much, napped more, dreamed and planned for the more active seasons to come.

 

And gradually, I realized that I wasn’t getting depressed any more. I still don’t love winter, exactly. But I can look out the window and appreciate the beauty of the pristine white snow glistening on the trees, and the bright red flash of a cardinal coming in to feast at the bird feeder outside my window. I know that eventually the Wheel will turn, bringing with it spring and warmth. And until then, I sink in to the silence and slower pace of winter, and try to move with the flow, instead of against it.

 

Do you get the blues during the colder, darker months? If so, what helps you to get through it?

 

 

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Deborah Blake is the author of Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (Llewellyn 2012), Witchcraft on a Shoestring (Llewellyn, 2010) as well as The Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook (2010) and several other books. She lives in a 100-year-old farmhouse in upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Comments

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Thursday, 31 January 2013

    What a great post, Deborah!

    I don't have winter SAD (my husband does), but SUMMER SAD (if you can believe it). The symptoms are a bit different than that of Winter onset SAD.

    I, too, have discovered that "going with the season" helps me be an all-around more-fulfilled person. I think that seasons can also be metaphorical, and life gives us clues as to what "season" we're in (time to lay fallow, time to plant seeds, time to harvest like mad, etc.). :D

  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake Friday, 01 February 2013

    Thanks Janet!

    The summer blues, eh? Well, I do find the summer energy overwhelming sometimes, so I guess I can see how it would be possible.

    And I agree completely...it's all about going with the flow :-)

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Monday, 04 February 2013

    You're most welcome, Deborah. :)

    Yes, it's actually a variant of SAD, if you can believe it! http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195/DSECTION=symptoms Again, different symptoms, though. :D I think what triggers it for me is the sun's position in the sky more than the heat.

    Our bodies can be so crazy... ;)

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