Pagan Studies

Focusing on the Arte Magical as a practice and profession, we study various facets of magic through the lens of both classical and modern perspective. From ancient myth to urban legend to fiction and philosophy, all viewed through the eyes of a very practical magician.

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A Geekomancer's Yule

Season's Greetings from the Geekomancer's desk, everyone! 

Now, I know this season is not always holly-jolly for everyone, sometimes thanks to religious issues or philosophical differences, sometimes due to more practical or emotional concerns.  That's why I thought it might be helpful to show you how this pop culture witch celebrates the Winter Solstice, in hopes that it will assist you in finding new and innovative ways to deal with this, the most (expletive) time of the year.

As some of you may know, I am a former Grinch/Scrooge/whatever.  I used to have a very hard time with the holidays, and only by the grace of a very persistent friend with diabolical cookie powers am I able to now enjoy the Holiday Spirit without flinching.  That being said, I'm still a very non-standard pagan, and my witchcraft is unorthodox even to other witches.  So, it took me quite a while to find (really, build from semi-scratch) a way for me to relate to and celebrate the season.

So, without further ado, my Geekomancer's Holiday Checklist!  Feel free to adapt this for any Sabbat or holy day tradition you like- why should winter be the only fun season?

  1. Find your Holiday Spirit!  And no, I don't mean necessarily your "peace on earth goodwill toward men" thing.  Just... find the reason to celebrate.  In geekomancy, we rely upon our pop-culture and geekerific (shut up, I'm inventing words) genres to provide spiritual and philosophical space to work in.  What does your geekdom say about the winter season?  Believe it or not, nearly every geekdom accommodates the holidays- it's their best season for sales, after all.  Even Star Wars had a Christmas special.

    However, I recommend that you don't just draw from what looks right.  Draw from what you need.  For me, I needed a reason to believe in kindness and hope again.  My holidays were pretty much straight-up crappy for years.  I needed fellowship, generosity, and people working together, to heal my heart of its wounds.  I found that when I found My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  The television show stole my heart and fascinated my mind.  It led me to fellow fans (yes, I'm a proud brony, and I don't mind if you laugh), and I saw an astonishing thing- people of all ages and genders celebrating kindness, loyalty, and the magic of friendship UNIRONICALLY.  People of all walks of life were celebrating diversity, harmony, and working together to accomplish amazing things.

    My Holiday Spirit is the Unicorn, because of this.  For me, the perfect symbol of hope in a time of darkness is the uplifted gleaming horn of a unicorn, destroying poison and healing body and mind.  That was what I needed, and that's what I work with.

  2. Set up space!  Your Holiday Spirit is a real spirit, and it needs a shrine of some sort to anchor it to you.  Some people like to use a "Christmas tree," where others just set up an altar or decorate their walls.  Whatever you do, make it earnest, reverent, and fun!

    My Hearth's Warming tree is festooned not with tinsel and breakable bulbs, but with My Little Pony figurines and ornaments.  I hang the six Elements of Harmony in very specific places, and make sure that the entire tree is entirely significant.  The Heart of Hope goes on the top (at the moment, it's my Celestia figurine, but I'm looking for an actual magenta heart topper), to make it a beacon.  I also place a dragon beneath the tree to guard the presents, as dragons are an important figure in unicorn literature and lore (being allies and also natural enemies of the unicorn), as well as being significant figures in the MLP mythos.

  3. Carry it with you.  People love to wear red and green, and put on silly Santa hats, and wear holly pins and all sorts of nonsense during the holidays.  For me, the holiday colors are white and blue, and I wear unicorn paraphenalia (and of course, my MLP shirts).  I have a crystal "unicorn horn" that I wear as a pendant, and I wear cosplay ears as well as white and blue scarves or hats.

    For me, these things are as valid as anything anyone else wears to "get into the spirit."  And mercifully, my sweater doesn't light up and play a crappy rendition of Rudolph the Tone-deaf Reindeer at the drop of a hat.  For me, my crystal is as sacred a talisman as a Christian cross or a Pagan pentacle.

  4. Schedule sacred time.  Holiday celebrants don't just celebrate the day of a festival.  They spend time prepping for it.  They sing carols out in the streets, they decorate the house weeks in advance, they make food and throw mini parties and buy little gifts for people "just because."  For your practice, find out what sorts of events are relevant to your geekdom's holiday tradition, and schedule some events.  Maybe you'll involve others, and maybe you won't.  But you'll have fun doing it.

    My holiday events include decorating the Tree of Harmony (yes, this is a real thing, you totally should see the Season 4 Premiere), watching the show every week at NIGHT with my husband, reading cards for people at the local Witches' Meetup, casting small spells using the Elements of Harmony (usually in the form of gifts, pranks, or other acts associated with the Elements), and holding a ritual around the Solstice.  I also might sing songs or play music in the background connected to MLP.  Magic is important to me, so I make sure to do lots of it during any Sabbat season.  And honestly, when ISN'T it a Sabbat season?

  5. Mean it.  This is probably the most important part of one's Holiday work.  Holidays are fine with jokes, but not jokes which dilute or harm the meaning of the Season.  Be sincere and of true heart and feeling, whatever your practice is.  Think your Spirit of the Season is Jack Skellington?  Awesome!  Go hang some black streamers with little bats, and put some skull ornaments on that ebon Christmas tree of yours!  Wear mourning attire and let nobody stand in your way- make some Christmas!

  6. Do NOT be a jerk, but don't take crap from others either.  If your traditions aren't jiving well with other people's traditions, don't force the issue.  Everyone has the right to their own way of thinking.  Consequently, if they start pushing their ideas on you, stand firm in the knowledge that your Holiday Spirit is behind you the whole way.  My favorite method of dealing with jerks is to burst into MLP song.  Loudly.  In public.  Using the other person's name in the song.  *smiles broadly*

That's pretty much my way of putting together a Sabbat for any occasion.  Have fun out there, and remember- no feeding the Parasprites!

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S. Rune Emerson has been practicing witchcraft and sorcery since the early 90's, and has been teaching since 2004. He is the founder of the Risting Tradition of American Witchcraft, which is a large title for a small local tradition based in Northern Nevada. He also heads a coven tradition called the Cabal of Nocturne, and works as a diviner at Pathways Spirit, a metaphysical shop in Reno.

He likes to describe his life as "extraordinarily simple." He is fond of observing that magic as a profession is the somewhat honest alternative to those of the same mindset as criminals- smart, lazy, and prone towards thinking outside the box, often in areas of questionable morality. He believes in a strong standard of accountability in magical practice, and has very strict ethics. He's also very opinionated about nearly everything.

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