At the Crossroads: Anyone Bring a Flashlight?

A day in the life of one witch’s attempts at community organizing, group leadership, public Paganism, and joyous shenanigans. Balancing inner work with external obligations, a professional career with public Paganism, and a full social calendar with gratuitous amounts of sleep.

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Io Saturnalia!


And sometimes there’s nothing quite like the familiarity of a ritual you’ve attended every year, for half a dozen years, knowing that you’ll be attending the very same ritual half a dozen more.


It’s been a rough year for me, with a lot of the “stuff” accumulating here at this turn of the wheel.  The holiday season causes me grief even when I’m at my best, and this year it’s like I don’t even have the energy to rant and rave about Christmas because I’m just too tired and numb.  Christmas… bah, humbug!

Some close friends of mine have a household tradition rooted in ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin/A Druid Fellowship), and there are a few standard rituals they host every single year.  Saturnalia is a favorite in our little group, maybe because it’s like Christmas, only way better.  We pretty much do all of the same things – light candles, open magical gifts, offer thanks, share good food, tell stories, and offer well-wishes for the coming new year as well as giving gratitude for the previous one.  My dear friends are gracious enough to invite me every December, and now I look forward this ritual not because I have any special feelings for Saturn or Saturnalia, but the whole gathering has become intensely familiar and comforting.

I have a friend who is a High Priest.  He explained to me that within his tradition half of the High Day rituals are pre-written and the others are always created anew.  I think there are perks to both of these techniques – it’s nice to be surprised, but also, sometimes we just need to sink into something familiar.  This must be part of the appeal of Catholicism (I grew up Baptist) – taking comfort in a familiar liturgy, and traditions that welcome you like old friends.

My hostesses, their guests, and I enjoyed ritual, feasted, and stayed up into the wee hours discussing gods and mysticism and life and death and love and everything in between.  As I went to leave, packing up my boots and baskets and my small Saturnalia gifts, my hostess commented that she was happy to have me there, even though she knows I don’t enjoy the Holidays.  “You always come out and humor us, so thanks,” she said as she walked me to the door, and into the crisp, winter night.

But really, I should be thanking her.  Even though I’m BAH HUMBUG when it comes to the holidays, even I, Ms. Scrooge, can enjoy some seasonal magic.  I like the stories of Saturnus (a god of the renewal and regeneration), Consus (protector of the grains), and Ops (a fertility goddess).  I like when my hostesses run around their house, throwing open their cabinets in order to welcome bounty in their homes.  We always laugh when we compare birthdays to see who is youngest, because the youngest in the household was given the task of unbinding Saturn so he could roam free, bestowing his gifts. I like when we engaged in a little ritual drama involving barley, pennies, and oranges.  Each time I take a bite into that sweet-tart fruit, my senses awaken.  My spirit lightens, if just a bit.  When we pass the candles, one hand to another to another, I treasure the looks on our faces as we focus on the illumination and the reverence of the moment, each of us contributing to the task of bringing light and goodness not only to our own lives, but to the world.  And when we sit around the dinner table enjoying soup and bread and cookies, I am thankful for the blessings of my fellowship of friends.

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival celebrated right before the Winter Solstice. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days", and what could be better than spending an evening with your closest friends, honoring our Gods and spirits, drinking cider, and indulging on cookies?  I may be a Ms. Scrooge the rest of the season, but even I can get down with some merrymaking during this time of darkness.

Io Saturnalia!


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Trivia is a social worker, freelance writer, minister, and priestess. She loves to have a good adventure. Follow her exploits on Twitter ( and on Tumblr (!
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