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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Winter Solstice

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As I stand outside, feet firmly planted on the grass I can feel the steady pulse of the Earth beneath me. Around me, my garden has come to life in an explosion of green, just as the insect population has rapidly grown. I sink my awareness deeper into my surroundings and feel the rapidly approaching Summer Solstice hanging in the air “Mom! Damien won’t leave the Christmas tree alone!” And with that, I am jerked back to reality and motherly duties, and to a world with a cultural clash in celebrations.

I am a Pagan, so on 21 December I’ll celebrate the Summer Solstice. But it’s hard to get into that summer feeling when, from October and the start of summer, all commercial enterprises have been pushing consumers into Christmas. Malls are decked with frosted garlands of plastic greenery, and elves practically melt in the 30˚ plus (86˚F and higher to those over the Atlantic) heat as they usher children to an equally sweaty Santa. And let’s not forget the winter foods traditional to Christmas that leave you feeling more like a beached whale than a streamlined dolphin as you swim in the pool.

Another aspect of this cultural clash is that, unlike Northern Hemisphere Pagans, our Sabbats in the South are at odds with the commercial calendar- Samhain and Yule décor in summer and Ostara décor in autumn. Not only does it hamper the convenience of the Sabbat, but I find it makes it harder to really get into the feel of the Sabbat when everyone else is celebrating its seasonal opposite.

There is a deeper side to it too. At Yule, Samhain and Ostara, Northern Pagans, especially those in America, have the opportunity to let the religious family divides slide, meaning that families can come together to celebrate the holiday in a more secular way. In South Africa, Yule is in June- everyone is either in school or working, and as the majority population is Christian, have no interest celebrating Christmas in June. And as it is more likely that a few, if even that, family members may be Pagan, it means that Yule doesn’t hold that same family-time feeling as it does in the North.

So what’s a South African Pagan to do? Do as the first settlers to her shores and adapt! With leaving my children to decide on their own religion, and naturally being like any child who will never say no to a chance for presents, we have Christmas in our home, but with a twist. We have a small Christmas tree decorated in shades of pink and purple, and as soon as they are made, some flower decorations too. And while I will make offerings on the astronomical event of the Summer Solstice, I’ll leave the true celebration of Summer to Christmas day. So instead of a heavy wintery feast indoors come Christmas day, we’ll have a light lunch of light meats and seasonal salads and fruits by the pool. And we’ll make the most of both holidays by spending the day together as a family, enjoying the height of summer.

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For those celebrating Christmas as either a sacred or secular holiday, merry merry! And the party goes on: the Twelve Days of Christmas begin today—on Christmas Day—and extend for twelve days, through Jan. 5. [Note: Some traditions begin the count on Christmas night and end the Twelve Days on Jan. 6.] Also known as “Christmastide” or “Twelvetide,” the modern traditions are Christian in nature but spring from a number of Pagan and magickal folkways.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It is finally winter here. We have had little in the way of snow; actually, only frost on a few bitterly cold nights -- which I then had to get up extra early to scrap off my car. But then the sun would rise and the day would warm and I would forget about the fifteen minutes of lost sleep.

Not today, though. Today dawned cold and gray and foggy. Then the wind rose up and pushed the fog away, and even most of the clouds. But it stayed cold. Even without Christmas looming in a few days, weather like this still would have driven people into the book store in search of hot cider, hot chocolate, hot tea and (of course) a good book.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Sit Exhausted on This Longest Night

My big plan was to finish up some loose ends so that I could truly enjoy my first winter holiday season in town, not working retail. Daughter was coming home, holiday cards were mailed away...even the weather was nice.

Did your December deviate from the plan, too?  There have been unexpected rituals, several funerals, more than one friend or circle mate whose life took a turn for the...challenging.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks for that. Blessings to you!
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I don't have any big words, just silent support from across the pond. You're in my thoughts and prayers, as is everyone else who h

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

This is going to be a banner year for Winter Solstice parties. If superstitious, you can choose to use the following theme on December 21. Or, opt to do a quiet solo meditation on that date. Then when you're still around to enjoy 2013, have a "The Mayans Were Misinformed" hootenanny to ring in the new year.

According to Lee Cart in the Suite 101 website article, "The Sacred Colors of the Ancient Maya," (January 20, 2011), the Mayan colors were red for the east and the birth of the sun, yellow for the south, black for death and the west, and white for north. You can construct an altar with a blue green candle for a centerpiece, as this was the fifth color and direction, believed to connect the other four cardinal elements. Incidentally, east/red was seen as the most important and should be placed at the typical north spot of your construction. Sacred plants and foods to the Mayans were wild corn, bees, flowers and beans. Choose one of each of these items to place at its corresponding color and direction– I would opt for yellow honey instead of actual bees, though.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Happy holidays, people! Or, should I say Merry Christmas? Or Good Yule? Or maybe Happy Hanukkah?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It’s December first…. The symbolic beginning of the winter season, at least in terms of our modern calendar. It is, above all else, the beginning of a season of light.

But why light, we may ask? Why thoughts of light right now, when the days are so short and the nights long and cold? Why thoughts of light at a time of year when the land is muddy and skeletal, when cold rains fall and winds gust and one must bundle against the ice and snow?

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