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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in family rituals
Outdoor Ideas & Eight Great Reads for Family Yule

When the holidays roll around, it can be difficult to hang on to spiritual meaning. I have no beef with Starbuck cups or shopping mall Santas. But I want my kids to stay in touch with what Yule is all about. For us, that’s solstice, the longest night and all that it brings with it. It’s easy to honor Brigid and the gift of growing light and warmth at Imbolc when there’s no mainstream commercial holiday to vying for kids’ attention. But trying to merge commercial Christmas with Yule makes for a much harder sell.

One way I work to reinforce the spiritual meaning of Yule is to make sure my kids get plenty of time outdoors. It’s fun to bundle up and set out on bike or on foot. Family hikes offer a chance to enjoy the brisk air and observe what the season really brings. The kids enjoy the discovery of vacated nests, animal tracks in the icy ground or snow, and the different shades of evergreens. Armed with flashlights or dollar store glowsticks, they like to go out into the backyard and marvel at how early darkness arrives now, often before dinner! Our telescope is permanently set out on our front porch so we (or the neighbors, if so inclined) can marvel at the intensity of the Long Night Moon.

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The spring or Vernal Equinox is one of the two points on the agrarian calendar of equal night and equal day. The rabbit and the egg, symbols of Eostre (the Saxon fertility goddess honored at the dawning of spring), bespeak of the same sense of victory over death; in pagan belief, the “death” of winter. Eggs represent not only sustenance but also the potential of new life. Rabbits symbolize endurance and fecundity—a prey animal that still manages to survive, thrive and multiply. Beyond hard-boiled ovum and chocolate hares, the evergreen Yule tree can again lend itself to the festival of the season in traditional ways.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Robin-Swag.jpg

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It was tradition for each member of the family to hang a strip of white cloth outside the window on Imbolc Eve, so that Brigid could infuse it with healing and protective powers as she walked through the village. These would later be used to cure headaches and tooth aches (tied around the forehead or from chin to crown), and as a special touch to poultices. Craft a modernized version of this folkway with the protective properties of the Yuletide evergreen's balsam. (If you need to backtrack a bit, have a look at our introduction to this year-long magical project and tips for preparation and storage. If you do not have access to a Yule evergreen, fallen branches from other trees can be used for this craft. Use your favorite resource to identify the tree from which the branch came, and what energy that particular tree will bring to this work.)

Materials

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Simplify, simplify, simplify--that's the word for 2016. Posting here on Pagan Square has been, well, a bit spotty, but a little organization and simplification--and a magical year-long project--will (hopefully!) solve that. We're making some changes to Broomstix: The blogspot page is being reorganized as an archive and new posts will happen here only. It's A LOT less work to manage only one blog and put up what are (again, hopefully!) useful and enlightening posts on a regular basis. We're going to start with Evergreen...

Evergreen is a year long magical working envisioned--and now expanded--by Katharine Clark (http://irishelder.blogspot.com) and Natalie Zaman (http://nataliezaman.blogspot.com). It involves the use of a live, cut Yule tree throughout the year. Here's what it's all about--look for the post on how to prepare your tree on January 6th (thanks to Robin Ator (http://glowinthedarkpictures.com/tarot/for our accompanying artwork!)!

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Why Rituals Matter - My Public Grief

It was Monday, January 5th, 2015. I was working on a blog about daily practices when my brother sent me a message on Facebook. It simply and succinctly said "If you want to see dad, you better come now". If you've ever gotten that call or email, you know that life completely slows down and goes really fast all at the same time. I've tried to describe the feeling to folks that haven't had this experience and the closest thing I can compare it to is suddenly finding yourself underwater trying to have a conversation with a world full of people that are still on dry land.

The next twenty-four hours were a blur of phone calls and airports and moments of snatched sleep and worry and sitting awkwardly between two strangers and hurtling through the air at several hundred miles an hour. When I finally breathed fresh air again, I was seven thousand miles from home, in New Zealand, and just like that winter had turned to summer and the east was in the west and the moon was upside down.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Natasha, I think honouring him in the traditional was is so wonderful.
  • Natasha Kostich
    Natasha Kostich says #
    Thank you so much for sharing your grief publicly. I lost my wonderful father five months ago and while I am a Pagan I have chosen
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Pixie, it is hard isn't it. I simply love that you've taken the urn and made art from it. Talk about transformational! Gwion
  • Pixie
    Pixie says #
    My partner was in hospice and died in November and I'm also attempting to make death/dying and grief more public, so I made a crem

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I dream of a sacred fire b2ap3_thumbnail_December-2014-127.JPG
where a family circles,
arms linked
as one.

Shared dream,
shared harvest,
shared blessing,
of family, spirit, hearth, and home.

Light the fire
with your children.
Sing with your partner.
Create a temple
of your hearts,
hands,
and bodies.

A simple seed corn ritual is a lovely addition to your New Year's Eve or New Year's Day celebration. It can be completed with a group, a family, or on your own. After reviewing your year and celebrating your accomplishments and successes, consider what you would like to save from this year’s “harvest” to plant in the new year. Take a piece of corn from a pretty dish, close your eyes, and let the seed corn share its dream with you. The above lines are what my seed corn (actually, a piece of unpopped popcorn) had to share with me.

What have you harvested to plant in the new year? What dream are you dreaming?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    I tried this and was surprised when I got an answer right away! Thanks for sharing!
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I'm so glad! Thanks for telling me!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Of Ancestors and Devotion

So here I am at Samhain-tide again. Like many Pagans this is the "big one", our month when we get to be as witchy as we want and it goes mostly unnoticed because everyone out there in the Western world is hanging up skeletons and foam cut outs of owls and black cats.

It's also the month where I find myself running from pillar to post, organizing and priestessing all sorts of Samhain-related events. As is often the case, I'm part of the organising team for the 35th annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco. I'll be part of North Bay Reclaiming's Samhain ritual and this year I'll be at a four day retreat in the Mendocino Woodlands called "Mysteries of Samhain". I'm fortunate to be a busy witch.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Annika - It's that lovely liminal space, you know. Not this. Not that. Now
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Thanks for the post. I love this season, too, especially the fact that I sometimes pass as "normal" during this time. Also fascina

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