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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in yule

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I have a confession to make: Christmas is not my holiday. Never has been. I grew up Jewish, and the only time I ever celebrated Christmas was the couple of years I was married, way back in the 1980's. And these days, as a Pagan who runs an artists' cooperative shop (and sells her jewelry there), I am mostly just grateful that it isn't my holiday, so I don't have to feel guilty about focusing all my energy on making money...

This doesn't mean I don't celebrate at all, though. Every year, my group Blue Moon Circle gets together for a Yule dinner party at my house. We don't do a ritual, so it is a "safe" time for people to bring the husband who isn't comfortable with witchcraft, or the kids who don't sit still well. We usually invite a pagan-friendly friend or two, as well. BMC is really one big family anyway, so for us it is a time to gather as an extended tribe and enjoy being together and celebrating the light in the midst of the darkness.

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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

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Since we walk two different paths – my husband follows the Norse path, and mine is a mixture of several Latin American paths (mostly Venezuelan Spiritualism and Umbanda) - we celebrate both Yule and Christmas. In the last post, we created a very talismanic Yule Tree; in this post, we'll move into the creation and history of a Nativity Scene.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Yule and the Winter Solstice

Yule and the Winter Solstice are two separate events for me, with Yule being celebrated around December 21-25 just to keep up with family that celebrates Christmas, and the solstice being celebrated when it actually occurs, which for 2012 (5:12am CST) and 2013 (11:11am CST) is December 21st where I live. I wrote an article already explaining why I try to get so exact with the date/time of the celebrations, if you’re interested.

On the Winding Path, I have a couple of different rituals that are done around the time of Yule, besides the main one, because this is such an important time of year. Although I live in a climate where it’s unusually mild for this time of year this time around, there have been years of great hardship from harsh weather here. It is in the balance between all of those cold and mild winters that I place my mind when thinking of the Winter Solstice because it represents the breaking of the grip of winter upon the land. In northern climates, this was more true because they hardly if ever saw the sun around this time. There are symbols from the times of our ancestors which have been carried through to today, even by the usurpers of our traditions, like the use of evergreens, or celebrating for twelve days. On the Winding Path, we don’t celebrate for twelve days, but evergreens do play an important role in ritual and just a decoration because it reminds us and signals to us the promise of the return of spring.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Darkest Month

As if seen through the wrong end of a telescope, blurred and dimmed around the edges, the darkness of December beckons as November draws to its end.  For the general non-pagan public in America, December is the brightest month of the year, a gleeful blending of commercialism, family ties, and food comas.  For many (if not most) pagans, it is a conundrum of sorts,  a season when non-pagan family obligations directly or indirectly conflict with the allure of like-minded spiritual gatherings.  Historically, for Europeans throughout the middle ages, especially in northern Europe, it was a time of gathering the family tightly together against the outer cold, of taking in travelers and guests with generosity but caution (for who knew what--or Who--might be wandering out there in the freezing gusts, hobnobbing with the trolls), for lavishly feasting the gods--pagan or Christian, depending on the time and the setting--and the dead, but at a careful distance, ever mindful that the next hand on one's doorknob might not be a human one, that the skeletal scraping against windows might not be the branches of dead trees, that the dead walk this time of year, and that things and People far more dire walk alongside them--or worse, fly through the stormy night skies--keeping careful count of debts accrued throughout the year passed, and demanding Their due.

For me, as for my spiritual ancestors, December is the darkest month of the year, with the traditional twelve days of Yule--the "smudging nights," so called in folklore because you had better be smudging your home with protective herbs against the wild spirits that roamed the long nights--beckoning at its black heart.  It is the most precious month of the year for me--for it was in this month that I took sacred marriage vows to my Husband, Odin, that darkest of gods, at this darkest of times.  But it is also the most dreadful month.  It is a time when the air is filled with ghosts and the trolls spill upwards through the cracks in the earth, freed from their underground lairs to walk among humans.   

For me it is, beyond all else, Odin's month--although that is certainly not limited to December.  Although I feel and honor Him equally, yet somewhat differently, throughout the other seasons of the year, during the period of late September through the beginning of January we see His darkest face, the face of Yggr (the Terrible One) who sacrificed Himself on the World Tree, the face of Wilde Jaeger (the Wild Hunter) who rides His flame-eyed steed at the head of the Furious Host.  Perhaps I am biased, but although I do have special festival days throughout the year for Him, and especially in late September through November, for me December is all about Odin, from beginning to end, even though several of the actual festival days within it are goddess-focused.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jolene
    Jolene says #
    As you already know, I'm of two minds about claiming saints' days for my own calendar. I've tried it, I don't love it, but I can s
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Interestingly, I just read an excellent book by Claude Lecouteux entitled "Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghos

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Damn the Man, Save the Empire

Liv Tyler wasn't always an elf.  Robin Tunney wasn't always a witch.  Renee Zellweger wasn't always Bridget Jones.  Once, they worked at a record store together in that hazy fun that was the 90's.  

I came of age during the 90's.  I remember when my parents would leave my sister and I home alone we would listen to their records, lying on the floor on our tummies for hours, singing along until we heard the garage door open and we would put everything away quickly so our parents wouldn't get the wrong idea that they could ever possibly own anything that would be considered cool to us.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
And so it begins

I've written before here about how, in our household, Samhain starts early.  For us it begins at the end of September, during the week when we've repeatedly lost beloved pets and on the day when, two years ago, I pledged my service to the Wild Hunt.  This year, that day was marked with an inadvertent bloodletting when the Hunt, not satisfied with the efforts I had made thus far on their behalf, aided me in slicing open the knuckle of my right index finger almost to the bone with a pair of sewing shears.  (Followed, of course, with a expensive trip to the emergency room and several weeks of limited ability to do anything--including typing and crafting--with that hand.  The Hunt does not play.)  

It continued the following week when I made a trip to one of the city's oldest cemeteries (and bear in mind that here on the west coast, "oldest" means the 1800s, and the most ancient looking monuments, crumbling with apparent age, are not truly ancient at all but merely rain-damaged).  I brought with me home-brewed mead and bone meal, to feed the dead, and locally harvested apples for Sleipnir, Odin's giant eight-legged steed.  (Eight legs, by the way; have you ever thought about that?  Why does He--the horse, that is--have eight legs?  Spiders have eight legs.  So does a casket, when borne aloft by four mourners.  Sleipnir is, indisputably, a horse of death, a steed to carry one to the land of the dead--which, throughout the Norse myths, is exactly what He does.)  I discovered an area devoted to the Civil War dead, which startled me because it seemed the wrong coast for that, but the monument statue of a soldier in uniform and the plots of the military dead exuded an aura of welcome for me, a kinship with the "once human" contingent of the Hunt, with Odin's fallen heroes.  Here was succor and support, and so it was here that I marked the stones with my blood, freshly drawn from my finger (not the one with stitches!) using a lancet.  (The dead were especially interested in and enthusiastic about the mead, by the way!)

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  • Jolene
    Jolene says #
    Another excellent post! I'm looking forward to both our celebrations, and I'm thinking that splitting them up as we have this year
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I found a small pomegranate at the store this weekend and bought it, so I should do something. Just no idea what. Some of it is be

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