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From city sidewalks to woodland paths, festivals, gatherings, and celebrations... far afield or closer to home, Natalie seeks out the magical--and it's everywhere. Come wander with me!

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Evergreen: A Year of Yule Tree Crafts and Rituals

Simplify, simplify, simplify--that's the word for 2016. Posting here on Pagan Square has been, well, a bit spotty, but a little organization and simplification--and a magical year-long project--will (hopefully!) solve that. We're making some changes to Broomstix: The blogspot page is being reorganized as an archive and new posts will happen here only. It's A LOT less work to manage only one blog and put up what are (again, hopefully!) useful and enlightening posts on a regular basis. We're going to start with Evergreen...

Evergreen is a year long magical working envisioned--and now expanded--by Katharine Clark ( and Natalie Zaman ( It involves the use of a live, cut Yule tree throughout the year. Here's what it's all about--look for the post on how to prepare your tree on January 6th (thanks to Robin Ator ( our accompanying artwork!)!

Branching Out

It happens unfailingly in the Western world every December. Folks take to the farms, shopping mall lots, nurseries or even their neighbor’s wooded property with one objective: to cut, cull, purchase or purloin an evergreen tree. Once obtained, they are spun in spider cocoons of cord and driven away, whirled through revolving doors, packed into elevators and hustled up flights of stairs. They’re popped into stands, bedecked with lights and laden with decorations of cultural and spiritual significance.

Beneath their branches, people make toasts, pray and play, and exchange gifts and tokens of affection. They are robed in garland and tinsel, crowned with star, serenaded, sung about, and made the focal point of the child’s wonder still living in all our hearts… for a while. Then the day comes: Out come the boxes, off go the decorations. The trees are zipped into evergreen-body-bags, hoisted on shoulders and taken away for disposal amid a great shower of pine needles and sometimes, poor language.

It takes between 7-12 years for an evergreen to reach the average holiday tree height of about 7 feet. And exactly how many of those 7 footers end up in homes across the world? According to the National Christmas Tree Association, in the United States alone, 28.6 million households purchase live evergreen trees as a part of their holiday celebrations. The chopping down of 30 million trees is not as environmentally harsh as it sounds. 98% of holiday trees are farm grown, which means that new saplings are planted for just about every tree that's cut. Artificial trees (most of which only have a life span of about 6 years) are not as viable an alternative as they seem their manufacture, transportation and disposal cause air, land, and water pollution.

Some cut trees go on to serve a greater good in the mundane world. There are communities that collect and use them to form needed barriers to halt beach erosion while others have public works departments that convert them into mulch. Yet, unless collected in a timely manner, many more take flight in January winds to become road hazards, or are transformed by snowplows into semi-permanent ice sculptures next to driveways and street corners. It is an ignoble end to a part of Nature taken into our homes and hearts, invested with spiritual symbolism and used as a touchstone to the pure essence of life.


Surely, that which has been endowed with magical significance should continue to be of use. The crafts and rituals that you'll read about (and hopefully try) over the course of 2016 are attempts we have made to keep the magic of our Yule cedar, spruce, fir or pine going throughout the Wheel of the Year--some have become beloved family traditions. Each incorporates the live Yule tree as well as elements and traditions of the seasons and sabbats—those significant points of betwixt and between—being celebrated. Several are purposefully returned to the earth once the season has passed. In this way, they too become a part of the next cycle. Anyone can shape them to their own beliefs; we may walk different paths, but they are all on the same planet.

We wish you a bright Yule, and a year of magic and light.

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Natalie Zaman is the author of Color and Conjure and Magical Destinations of the Northeast. A regular contributor to various Llewellyn annual publications, she also writes the recurring feature “Wandering Witch” for Witches & Pagans Magazine. When not on the road, she’s busy tending her magical back-garden. Or shopping.


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