Living the Wheel: Seasonal Musings of the Pagan Year

Thoughts and musings of the wheel of the Pagan Year.

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Making it Work

     Yule this year passed in a blur of work and school. We sent the little boys off to school Tuesday, giving ourselves one final day to finish holiday preparations: breads and cookies baked, packages wrapped and decorated, the sunfire collected by my husband and the Hestia candle on the stove top lit, ready for the rush of children and the Mystery of the longest night.


     As each year passes faster and faster, it seems, I am continually caught unaware, needlessly so, I feel. I know in January when the Solstice will occur: all I need to do is flip to the back of the calendar and look. In fact, I already know that next Yule will be December 21, 2017, and that the solstice will occur at 11:28 in the morning. This knowledge should prepare me, but the reality is that I will be so caught up in the day to day details of secular living that spiritual observances are often pushed aside until the last minute. I often feel I am shortchanging myself.

     We did include a brief ritual amid all of the revelry; with a seven- and a three-year old involved brief is generally best. All of the lights in the house were turned off, the sole source of light the sunfire bravely burning on the Hestia candle. My husband explained to the little boys that the solstice was the longest night of the year, and that sunrise would bring the birth of the Green Man, who would see us through the springtime growing seasons until His death at Lughnasadh. Our seven-year old was quiet, wide-eyed and serious, and proudly took his place as the flame-bearer, carefully carrying a lit taper to each of us so we might have a bit of the Sun's light of our own. It was a joy to see his grave satisfaction, him knowing that he was playing a part in a greater whole, a role our ancestors played out ages past. Later, when he and his cousin are older, Ritual may become more elaborate and time-intensive, but for now lit candles and intent suffice.

     I find one of the greatest obstacles in fitting worship into every day living is that our holy days are not federally recognized holidays- an issue our Jewish, Muslim and Hindu brothers and sisters also experience. My supervisor was happy to approve my time off request for Wednesday (I'm off every Tuesday) and wished me a happy Yule, but the fact remains that I had to request time off. When I returned to work on Thursday many coworkers asked me if I felt better, assuming I had time off due to sickness. Why else would I have two days off in the middle of the week? (Their concern was touching. I work with wonderful people.) It is a situation a majority of our society doesn't really comprehend unless they work in healthcare (which I do) or law enforcement. Overall, days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are days off, and people will commiserate with you if you say you have to work. Rarely will you hear "I'm so sorry you have to work on Diwali," or "Too bad you have to work on Ostara." We take it all in stride, we non-Christians, and somehow make it all work. Mostly.

     "Making it Work" is the catchphrase for so many of us these days, regardless of our cultures and observances. Everyone finds themselves caught up in the day-to-day struggles of responsibilities. Providing for our families takes all of our time, it seems, taking us away from the very people we are working so hard to care for. Short moments are sometimes all we have. Those moments, fragile and flickering as a candle's flame encourage us to live with intent and purpose, to make the most of every moment and cherish the times we have with those we hold dear.

     Hold your loved ones close today, if only for a moment. And if all you have time to do is light a candle in honor of the season or you ancestors, or just for its light, do that. We are far to busy and life is too short to regret that we didn't do more.

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I am a writer and poet living in western Massachusetts. I have a degree in English Lit, with a focus on the nineteenth century, and am working toward a degree in Women's Studies as well. My work has previously appeared in The Pagan Activist, The Pagan Review, GrannyMoon's Morning Feast, and The Montague Reporter. I am currently working on a series of children's books, a novel trilogy, and a poetry manuscript (I simply can't do one thing at a time!). I also have several random fantasy-based short story projects that I attack once in a while.   I am a Dianic Pagan and practice Kitchen Wicca, and am also a Reiki Master. For a glimpse into my own little corner of reality, you can stop in and visit me at Ellie.
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