Indigenous peoples get representation at this year's PantheaCon. A black Pagan outlines her path for resistance. And another Pagan blogger writes about maintaining spiritual discipline in times of extreme trial and stress. It's Watery Wednesday, our segment about news within the Pagan community here and around the world. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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My daughter and I love watching BBC / PBS shows. Victoria is the most recent one we are watching. As I watched how people lived in the 1800s, I considered what it would be like to only have my life lighted by candles and sunlight. It would certainly make the dark part of the year different.
By 4:00 or so at night, flickering candlelight would be my only illumination. This reduces my scope of environment drastically. Right now, if it’s dark I flip a switch and illumination of my surroundings occurs. But what if I only had dripping smelly candles to light my way? What would it feel like to be surrounded by darkness? Would fear well? Would loneliness envelop?...
Growing up, my mother used to have white candles in the every window at Christmas time. I remember loving how it looked. Our traditions was different from most of the other people I know.
Christmas eve my siblings and I went to the barn with my father. Cows were milked, fed, tended. None of us could go to the house. We weren't allowed to go outside to play. We all had to stay in the barn while the chores were being done. My mother stayed in the house. As an adult, I know she was prepping the house, gifts, and stockings for us. As a child I thought it was magical....
The longest night is upon us. For three short days, we have watched the watery sun rise and set in the same place on the horizon, barely skimming the treetops at its highest point, filmed over by hazy clouds. This morning, it was impossible to tell just when the sun had risen, and indeed even though it has been up for half an hour, it's just as dark as before, with heavy overcast skies letting in only a small amount of light. I lit a candle in my lantern dedicated to Brighid just as the sun rose somewhere behind the clouds, and in Her name I lit my solstice flame. The candle's flame burns very low, just barely alight as it struggles amidst a pool of wax and an insufficient wick. There is the tiniest amount of light at the tip, with a small blue aura beneath. I look at it even as I type these words, and its struggle portends much to come.
It has been a difficult year for many. Across the Western world, we have been rocked by unprecedented political change. There is not much hope for the future. Political leaders do not have the common good in mind, and greed runs riot. Things have not changed for the better. Across the globe, war, strife and unrest rage, with millions of innocent beings suffering. And there is still more darkness to come.
Captain Flint from Black Sails...
Lately, I have been having a hard time listening to the news, as I’m sure many of you understand. It feels like darkness is winning, not just in the seasonal sense, but socially, politically, and personally, as well. But last night, when I was fiddling with my handheld device rather than winding down, I had an epiphany. I have Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Inspiration Oracle Ap downloaded, and I regularly click into it for a goddess to think about in the evening. Yesterday, I pulled Amaterasu.
I know the story of the golden throne mother of Japan pretty well: the primary deity in Shintoism once locked herself into a cave in anger at the destruction her chaotic brother had been causing. The world was deprived of light, and, predictably, things began to die. All the gods and goddesses gathered outside the cave to persuade Amaterasu to bring her light back into the world, but she remained where she was. Until, that is, the goddess Uzume kicked up her heels and performed a sexual, ribald, ridiculous dance for the gods. They laughed and hooted, and Amaterasu was curious. She peeked out of her cave, and, as Waldherr notes, “balance was restored when Amaterasu was lured out by laughter.” There’s a similar tale in the myth of Demeter, that laughter was one of the first things that broke her all-encompassing, all-punishing grief.
The solstice season is upon us, and it’s only a couple of weeks before the longest night of the year here in the northern hemisphere. It’s a season of darkness and cold, where we are given the opportunity to find the gifts that darkness brings. It can be hard, when the rest of the world seems to be doing their best to stave off their fear with bright lights, noise and extended shopping hours, but if we are able to push beyond that we can see the sacredness of this holy time, and the exquisite power that it brings.
I am mostly a diurnal creature myself. I prefer to go to bed early and rise early, rather than staying up late. However, at this time of year the darkness catches up with me, and by 4pm it is pitch black out there. My usual sunshine nature turns inwards, and time for reflection and contemplation kick in. But that is not all there is to the darkness that pervades my life at this time of year. The sweet relief of darkness beckons me to release into its embrace, when edges are abandoned and we are allowed to float free in space and time.