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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in yule

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Winter Solstice Reflections Free Form

So here's the thing. I'm feeling a million different thoughts and emotions right now, and I'd really like to let them go and let them flow. This is the time of year for that sort of thing, right? Here it goes. I long for peace. On earth and in my life. In all my relations and dealings with people. I know this isn't always possible. Some folks want to remain combative no matter what, at all costs. It costs a lot if you hold on to that and carry it around with you. It just shouldn't be that hard to maintain peaceful relations with your fellow human beings on a daily basis. The struggle is real, you know? I realize all too well that there are several motivating factors that have led to this peaceful possibility being more difficult at this point and time. I can still wish, and hope, and strive to be peaceful and project that, regardless. I choose to do that.

I long for people to be kinder and gentler with each other. Stop fighting, stop competing, stop backstabbing, stop the negativity, already! There's way too much of it out there, but that doesn't mean we all have to jump on the cray-cray train. Live and let live, I say. When I say that, I mean let me be me, too. If I give you respect, I have every right to expect it in turn. You can take the high road, but it's also high time to stand up for ourselves when someone crosses a line. Let's speak our truths in a strong and intelligent way.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Fragrance and Taste of Yule

The scent of evergreens marks the Yule season like no other, except perhaps cinnamon. We bake it into cakes and cookies, sprinkle it on toast, and add a wee dash to a cup of coffee, coco, or a rum hot toddy. A Yuletide potpourri wouldn’t be quite right without cinnamon’s warm spicy scent. Even the rolled sticks of cinnamon fit in with holiday decorations.
        The genus and common names of this spice were derived from the Greek kinnamon or kinnamomon, meaning “sweet wood,” which in turn is thought to have come from the Malayan and Indonesian kayamanis, that has the same meaning. Cinnamon is believed to have been first cultivated in Sri Lanka. One of the world’s oldest and most important spices, cinnamon has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes in China and India for over 4,000 years.
        There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum syn. C. verum); also known as true cinnamon, and cassia Cinnamon (C. cassia syn. C. aromaticum); also known as bastard cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon. Cassia has a stronger taste and fragrance; Ceylon cinnamon is a little sweeter. Consuming excessive amounts of either type of cinnamon can be toxic.
        Cinnamon was a highly prized commodity for the Phoenicians and Arabs in trade with the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. According to Greek legend, the phoenix constructed its nest with cinnamon twigs. On the island of Rhodes, cinnamon oil was used during wedding ceremonies to anoint the bride’s hands. The Hebrews valued both cinnamon and cassia. Cassia was regarded as a sacred in China where, according to legend, eating the spice from a gigantic cassia tree bestowed immortality. During the Middle Ages in Europe, it became especially popular for spicing wine. It still is.
        Cinnamon is helpful for aroma therapy at this time year when we often get frazzled. The scent helps alleviate depression and nervous exhaustion, and it provides emotional. support. When you need clarity to focus on gift lists and everything else, combine cinnamon essential oil with mandarin and rosemary. Use it in the melted wax of a pillar candle for meditation and spiritual support.
        Use cinnamon to spark awareness, stimulate psychic abilities, and support astral travel. Also use it to increase the power and success of spells, and to support clairvoyance. It enhances divination and dream work. Cinnamon is also effective for consecrating amulets and magic tools as well as raising energy for ritual. Put a little powdered cinnamon in the palm of your hand and blow it away as you make a wish for the coming year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Calm Before the Storm

Many of us are bracing before the big blizzard that's due to hit, across the northern Rockies, northern Plains, and Great Lakes area of the Midwest in a matter of 24 hours or so. Not only will there be dangerous snowy conditions, but there will also be strong gusts of wind, and icy, bitter cold. There could be power outages, so folks are advised to hunker down and stock up on food, water, and batteries for their flashlights. The storm is predicted to be at its worst Thursday evening into Friday morning, when many businesses will likely be shut down. At times, it's somewhat disconcerting to realize how addicted we are to electric power and just how helpless we are without it. Even most gas stoves, and water heaters require it to function. If you're not lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home, your only option may be many layers of clothing and blankets to bundle up in and keep warm.

Be Mindful

It seems all the more appropriate then that the Winter Solstice falls today before all of this is supposed to take place. If we're fortunate, it won't quite as fearsome as they're predicting. But I believe it does urge us all to be especially mindful about our activities today as we prepare and slow down and take time to consider how we spend our time and do so with purpose, if possible. Rather than run around willy-nilly like panicked little stress balls, it would do us better to slow down and be selective. Figure out what needs our absolute attention today, and what can transpire naturally while we're snowbound. Run the errands that need to be and decide what can wait. Stop being obsessed with the to-do list and being ahead of the game and become practical and considerate. Because the latest wave of COVID/flu/and RSV, along now with this latest serious potential storm has and could possibly force many of us to be flexible with our holiday plans—we should do just that and let Mother Nature run her course.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mistletoe: What’s Love Got to do With It?

Our holiday decorations often include a sprig of mistletoe hung in a doorway or in the middle of a room. We may put it in place and think of the elaborate cutting ceremonies of the Druids as noted by Pliny or associate it with the Norse god Balder who was slain with it but later resurrected. Today, kissing under the mistletoe is a token of love, a wish for peace, and a bid for good luck.
        In the past in England, it was believed that sweethearts who kissed under a sprig of it were destined to marry but only if the mistletoe was burned on Twelfth Night (January 6th). A woman who was single and not kissed under it would forever be a spinster. But where did the smooching come from?
        It harkens back to the Roman Saturnalia, which generally took place from December 17th to the 23rd. Held in honor of the god Saturn, it was a celebration of the end of agricultural work for the year and the winter solstice. It was a time to kick back and enjoy revelries and excesses. There was a suspension of rules and anything goes promiscuity. Mistletoe was a prominent part of the decorations and an import symbol.
        Mistletoe was revered because of its liminal nature but even more so when it grew on an oak tree, an uncommon occurrence. Oak trees were associated with the most powerful gods in many cultures and mistletoe berries were believed to confer the power of fertility because they held the male/life force essence of the god. More than love and happiness, mistletoe symbolized the desire for fertility and not just for husband and wife. Sprigs were hung in cattle sheds, too, although I doubt that Elsie the cow received a smooch.
        As with other things, Roman customs were taken to Britain. Christmas in England was close enough to coincide with Saturnalia. The Christmas revelries went on for twelve days and was a celebration of the end of the annual agricultural work. The medieval Church put a damper on Pagan associations but people still decorated their homes with the traditional greenery, which of course, included mistletoe. Eventually, they all found their way into churches, too.
        By the eighteenth century, kissing boughs were adorning kitchens. In the nineteenth century there was a rule that a man could kiss any number of women under the mistletoe but he had to pick a berry from the bough for each kiss until there are no more left and the kissing was supposed to end.
        While we may not have mistletoe rules and the beliefs and reasons for hanging it may have changed, I think it’s nice to know that we are carrying on a very ancient Yuletide tradition. And that’s what love’s got to do with it. We’re using an ancient symbol that has been associated with love for centuries to mark our own celebrations and revelries. So, raise a glass under the kissing bough and give a toast to Yule past, present, and future.


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Yuletide Heathen Visibility Project Photo Shoot

The Heathen Visibility Project has a serious purpose (see previous posts) but it's fun to participate. I take photos and am also in some photos. Many others create Project images.

All Heathen Visibility Project photos are available free to use for any newspaper, news station, magazine, reporter, journalist, media illustrator, blogger, etc. to use for editorial purposes to illustrate articles about Asatru, Heathen religion, and related topics. These images are free Creative Commons license images, free to use for non-commercial uses, attribution preferred.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Yule Blessings

I am wishing you all blessings in the holiday season and new year. 


And may we be like snowflakes, 


dancing with joy joy joy,

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December 21 - Longest Night Fire Ceremony

December is named for the Roman goddess Decima, one of the three fates. The word Yule comes from the Germanic jol, which means midwinter, and is celebrated on the shortest day of the year. The old tradition was to have a vigil at a bonfire to make sure the sun did indeed rise again. This primeval custom evolved to become a storytelling evening and while it may well to be too cold to sit outside in snow and sleet, congregating around a blazing hearth fire, dining and talking deep into the night is important for your community to truly know each other, impart wisdom and speak to hopes and dreams. Greet the new sun with stronger connections and a shared vision for the coming solar year.

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