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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Holidays

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

“The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.”



We had a small family full moon ritual last night and incorporated a simple gratitude ritual into it. The sky was overcast so we couldn't actually see the moon, but my four-year-old daughter wanted to get out glow sticks left over from Halloween. We had SO much fun dancing around with them and making patterns in the dark night! We sang a chant I recently made up:

Hallowed evening
Hallowed night
We dance in the shadows
We offer our light.

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Time-Policing Our Holidays: Or, Why Americans on Social Media Are Hating On Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin spice.

1. What is it?

A mix of spices used in autumn harvest celebration foods, including pumpkin pie, apple pie, apple pastry, apple crisp, squash pie, pear crisp, and things that are supposed to taste like them, for example, spiced cider, spiced hard cider, spiced coffee, spiced wine, spiced mead, and spiced ice cream.

The basic spices are:
(allspice, sometimes)
(cardamom, sometimes)

So, for those of you outside the USA, it's basically the same spices as Lebkuchengewürz except without the coriander and star anise. When one sees a Facebook meme mocking pumpkin spice that starts with "white girls be like" they are referring to the fact that this holiday spice mixture is similar to a German holiday spice mixture. The idea behind those memes is that only Germanic descended people go nuts over this flavor, but that's really not true. All kinds of Americans like pumpkin pie and apple pie.

2. Why is it a seasonal flavor?

It's used to flavor things made from seasonal produce like pumpkins and apples. The harvest seasons for pumpkins, squashes, apples, pears, and so forth in the USA extend from August to December, since different vegetables and fruits come on at different times and the USA is so large that it has many different climates with different dates of the onset of frost.

3. Why are people mocking it?

Americans have been conditioned to time-police our holidays by observing the practice of our large corporations to start selling holiday related merchandise while another holiday is still coming up (for example, putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween), and in the case of Christmas, the practice of piping holiday music into the stores starting so early that it is nearly universally acknowledged that it reaches homicidal levels of annoying by the time the actual holiday rolls around. Americans think September is too early to start selling harvest celebration flavors. The people are attempting to time-police our corporations over it and shame each other into not supporting the practice by purchasing the product too early. The purpose of this social shaming is to cause the public to wait to make holiday purchases until the correct holiday season, and thus to cause market pressure to influence corporations to wait to attempt to sell holiday products until the correct holiday season.

4. Why are people saying it's "too early"?

To understand why Americans think selling a harvest celebration flavor almost precisely on the date of the autumnal equinox is "too early" one must first realize that the USA has an official national holiday to celebrate harvest in November, Thanksgiving. It's not celebrated in other countries at all, but it's actually our biggest national holiday -- at least for adults. Kids get a week off for Christmas and Easter, but adults only get 1 day for those if they work at a place that closes for national holidays, or if they work at a place where they can request religious holidays off and have requested the Christian set of holidays, but we get two days for Thanksgiving, a Thursday and a Friday, making for a 4 day weekend for those who get weekends off. It's the only national holiday that's more than one day.

5. Where can I learn more?

To read more about the origin, functions, importance, and modern practices surrounding Thanksgiving, and other holidays celebrated in the USA, see my book American Celebration.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The local Barnes & Noble had pumpkin spice muffins this Saturday. They even had free samples to entice people to buy them. I had

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Holding a Heathen Ritual Upstairs

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my path, in the late 90s I started holding my own blots and sumbels in my apartment. My local area had neither festivals with public rituals nor any heathen groups I could find to join, so I started holding the holidays myself, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. When I had non-heathen friends over for the holidays of the American holiday calendar, I did my holidays the American way. That eventually grew into my personal practice which I talk about in my book American Celebration. 

When I held specifically Asatru rituals, I usually held a sumbel (toasting ritual) but also sometimes held a blot (blessing) in addition. In preparing to hold a blot or sumbel for the first time, there was a practical consideration: Where do I pour out the blotbolli or horn? At the end of a heathen ritual, there is leftover liquid-- usually mead these days-- in a bowl (for a blot) or a horn (for a sumbel.) This liquid is supposed to be given to the landwights. I would have had to leave ritual space to access the ground, which was a common strip of lawn used by all the neighbors, down a flight of stairs. So I decided to pour the horn or bowl into my potted plants on the balcony, which I called "the hanging gardens of Las Vegas."

Offering through my plants connected my potted garden, in which I grew food, flowers, and small trees, with the land spirit. There is something very primal, very pagan, about gardening. It connected me with the land, the seasons, the weather, and all those gods and beings related to those things: spring maiden and harvest lord, sun and rain, and the spirits of nature.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Lesson in Carrots and Sticks

Two Christmases ago, my husband gave me a lemon tree for my garden. Last month, after I spent a whole year waiting and watering and wringing my hands, it finally produced one full-grown lemon.

For awhile, the lemon looked more or less yellow, but I held off on picking it because it still had a blush of green on the underside. I had elaborate plans for it: I would give it as an offering to the Morrigan, my matron deity, and dry the skin for magical work. I would use the juice for some very special dish or drink--a sacred mojito, maybe! I dreamed and planned and admired my lemon until one day, it disappeared.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Interesting story, but I don't see where the gratuitous Republican straw man bashing adds anything positive to your essay.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Holiday Rhythms

I awoke this morning to the smell of crisp fall air coming in my window.  It rained a little last night and I can smell that, too.  Today we gather for the first of several Samhain rituals this year as my circle is spending this season visiting other communities to learn more about how others experience the holidays.  It feels a little early for Samhain, but honestly, this holiday always comes rushing forth.  I never feel quite prepared.  This is my favorite time of year and there are always more fun things I'd like to do before the year ends.

One of my favorite parts of being a pagan is the way our holidays provide rhythm and movement to my life.  No matter what I'm doing with my work or my relationships, those six weeks always pass by the same and suddenly, another holiday is upon us.  Despite more than two decades living like this, I have to admit that they sneak up on me more often than I'd like.  Even as I build my livelihood out of my spiritual life, it is still so easy to get caught up in the mundane things going on that I don't notice the signs of season's change all around me. 

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hmmm...For more than a decade I've lived my life around a different calendar. for me it's Samhain-tide or soon to be Lammas and I
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Yes indeed, it is such a lovely rhythm! So good to have you at our Samhain last night up in the North Bay!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Holiday Magick with the Four Aces

The winter festival time can be stressful, even for Pagans. Some honor their family’s holiday traditions with a bit of discomfort. Others are caught up in the responsibilities of cooking, baking, gifting and visiting like everyone else.

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, tarot can help you make it more joyful, more inspiring and more fun.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Happy Equinox

With the school term having started again, things are crazy-busy for me here. Still, I wanted to post something for the Fall Equinox, since it begins my absolute favorite time of year. This is a little something I wrote a couple of years ago. Enjoy, folks. 

I adore this time of year. There’s a crispness in the air, the herald of colder, darker things to come. The leaves are just beginning to change into what, in my region of the US, will soon become a riotous panoply of color. I live in the belly of the mountains, in the Hudson River Valley and fall is something to be celebrated here for its beauty alone. It’s as if the lines of varied color show, for a few brief weeks, the very and varied musculature of the mountains, rippling, stretching and preparing for the long sleep of winter. It’s an awe-inspiring sight. 

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Galina, for reminding me that facing the terror and expressing it out loud can help strengthen me, so I can become the

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