‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for December 16th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

To be in harmony with others, we must be in tune with ourselves. This is not always a state of mind easily come by, but necessary and possible to those who truly want to put their best foot forward.

They must cultivate and re-cultivate the things that make peace within themselves. They must not only have faith, but they must depend upon it, drawing from it energizing joy, love, and lightness of heart. They must know and understand the moods and manners of their coworkers and express to their colleagues their happiness and enthusiasm for the good things of life.

At times everyone has fits of uncertainty concerning their way of life. And it is gratifying to have someone capable of lifting us out of the blues and scattering the doldrums. But the job is mainly ours. We have to cross examine ourselves again and again to be sure there’s nothing that will not contribute to our best self, or draw less than the best from others.

To be cooperative is not only beneficial to associations with others, but to our own health, peace, and happiness. Let there be peace and harmony and let it begin with me.

______________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 16

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 16

“If you have one hundred people who live together, and if each one cares for the rest, there is One Mind.”

–Shining Arrows, CROW

One of the principles of Community is Unity. The alignment of thoughts in groups of people will cause One Mind to form. One Mind is Unity. Each individual in the community must align their thoughts with what other members are thinking. If all the people think of helping one another, then the community will be service oriented and powerful results will be enjoyed. Having our thoughts aligned within a group will cause our children to experience a positive environment. When they have children, the grandchildren will automatically experience these results also.

My Creator, help me to contribute to positive group thought.

December 16th – Daily Feast

December 16 – Daily Feast

Like anything else, if one is prepared to meet winter rather than cower at the thought, it is an excellent time to be happy and alive. When we are warm on the inside and we have no excessive fears, we can lean into the wind and pace ourselves to breathe the cold air and taste the snow without absorbing it. We were created to take domination over these things and it is time we proved it. But as long as there is one other person who is not warm, who does not see beauty, we can’t be too comfortable not immune to winter.

~ I will ask him (the white man) to understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children. ~

MANY HORSES – OGLALA SIOUX,  1890

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Like anything else, if one is prepared to meet winter rather than cower at the thought, it is an excellent time to be happy and alive. When we are warm on the inside and we have no excessive fears, we can lean into the wind and pace ourselves to breathe the cold air and taste the snow without absorbing it. We were created to take domination over these things and it is time we proved it. But as long as there is one other person who is not warm, who does not see beauty, we can’t be too comfortable not immune to winter.

~ I will ask him (the white man) to understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children. ~

MANY HORSES – OGLALA SIOUX,  1890

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Daily Motivator for December 16th – Better than ever

Better than ever

If you’re in a pattern that’s taking you nowhere, it’s time to create a new  pattern. That’s not nearly as difficult as it might initially sound.

You are the person who is keeping yourself stuck in an unproductive pattern.  You are the person who can move quickly, decisively and permanently to something  much better.

Stop and take an honest, objective look at what you’re doing. If you had a  good friend who was doing the same kinds of things, think of the advice you  would give that friend.

One big reason you keep doing what doesn’t work is because it feels  comfortable. So remind yourself that continuing in a negative, unproductive and  unfulfilling pattern will make you extremely uncomfortable in the long run.

Comfort feels nice, and yet fulfillment and meaningful achievement feel  thousands of times better. Your life is meant to be filled with the richness of  new experiences, not just the comfort of familiar routines.

Get yourself out of that same old pattern and get yourself on a path that  will resonate with your passion. You owe it to yourself, and to all of life, to  continue becoming better than ever.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for December 16th – A Life of Learning

A Life of Learning
Earth School

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Earth school provides us with an education of the heart and the soul.

Life is the province of learning, and the wisdom we acquire throughout our lives is the reward of existence. As we traverse the winding roads that lead from birth to death, experience is our patient teacher. We exist, bound to human bodies as we are, to evolve, enrolled by the universe in earth school, an informal and indi

vidualized academy of living, being, and changing. Life’s lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are scores of mundane lessons that help us learn to navigate with grace, poise, and tolerance in this world. And there are those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change the course of our lives. The latter can be heartrending, and we may wander through life as unwilling students for a time. But the quality of our lives is based almost entirely on what we derive from our experiences.

Earth school provides us with an education of the heart and the soul, as well as the intellect. The scope of our instruction is dependent on our ability and readiness to accept the lesson laid out before us in the circumstances we face. When we find ourselves blindsided by life, we are free to choose to close our minds or to view the inbuilt lesson in a narrow-minded way. The notion that existence is a never-ending lesson can be dismaying at times. The courses we undertake in earth school can be painful as well as pleasurable, and as taxing as they are eventually rewarding. However, in every situation, relationship, or encounter, a range of lessons can be unearthed. When we choose to consciously take advantage of each of the lessons we are confronted with, we gradually discover that our previous ideas about love, compassion, resilience, grief, fear, trust, and generosity could have been half-formed.

Ultimately, when we acknowledge that growth is an integral part of life and that attending earth school is the responsibility of every individual, the concept of “life as lesson no longer chafes. We can openly and joyfully look for the blessing buried in the difficulties we face without feeling that we are trapped in a roller-coaster ride of forced learning. Though we cannot always know when we are experiencing a life lesson, the wisdom we accrue will bless us with the keenest hindsight.

Daily OM

The First Yule

The First Yule

Author:   Serenity Starbright Dilsworth (Owl)  

Once upon a time … before your mother was born … and before her mother was born …and even before your mother’s mother was born …. when the world was new and the Earth and the Sun gave birth to the first beings …the very first people … the very first animals … and the very first plants.

It was the season of Spring, which celebrates new life, and the Sun shone warm and smiled down upon the world from his lofty perch in the sky while Earth took pride in all her newborns and nurtured them tenderly and with love. It was a time of great joy!

The Moon waxed and waned and traveled the night skies and Earth’s Children grew healthy and strong through the warm Summer season. They laughed and worked, played and danced and The Earth and Sun watched over them lovingly.

Then came the Autumn season …and the Earth began to sleep longer with every passing day. She grew so tired and was not able to feed her children any longer. She did not have enough strength to bring forth new life. High overhead … the Sun grew distant … and took longer and longer to return each morning. The nights grew longer and cold winds replaced the gentle breezes of the Summer.

Then …one very cold day …the Earth went to sleep. She laid her head down upon a pile of fallen leaves and nestled under a pure white blanket of snow. And she slept … and she slept … and she slept and nothing the Children could do would disturb her Winter slumber. The children called and called to her, but she did not wake up.

The children looked to the skies for advice and comfort from the Sun … but he was so distant that he could no longer be seen at all …and the children were frightened and sad … it was the Longest Night they had ever known.

The people wept and wondered what would happen to them now for it was bitterly cold and the bounty from Spring and Summer was depleting. They were afraid that they would starve and freeze with Father Sun so far away and Mother Earth sleeping.

They went to the Moon … sister to the Sun … with all their concerns and worries … entreating her to have the Sun return and Moon listened quietly.

The Moon gazed upon the children and advised them gently:” Do not fear little ones … go climb the tallest of trees and the highest of mountains … turn your voices to the sky and yule a mighty song to reach the Sun.”

The children had never heard of a yule or a song. (In the Ancient Tongue, to yule means to yell or yodel … to call out loudly in song.) And they asked Moon to explain what it is because they very much wanted to reach the Sun in hopes he could wake the Earth.

The Moon smiled gently. “Look deep within yourselves and find your magick …find that thing that makes you the special person you are … find the thing that brings you joy …take your dreams and your desires … your hopes and your love … and weave all of that together into sound.”

So the children climbed the tallest trees and the highest mountains and closed their eyes to find the magick within them …they brought forth their hopes, their dreams, their joys and their love and when they opened their mouths … their voices rang across the skies in a symphony or harmony and the Sun heard them …he turned and began his journey back … the better to hear this glorious sound.

The closer he came … the more his warmth spread across the Earth … and the Earth smiled in her sleep and dreamt of Spring… The Wheel turned and hope and joy spread amongst the children.

And that …dear children …is the story of the first Yule.

This is an old story that has been told and retold many times. It is one I used to tell at Winter Solstice in the coven I belonged to when I lived in New England. I put it into writing so that the story may be preserved and enjoyed by others and it is my hope that folks will tell the tale to their children who in turn will eventually tell it to their children.

Yule is a time of joy, of hope, of dreams and wishes. On the Longest Night, it is good to gather with those that we love and cherish and stand upon the Earth as she slumbers and call out to the Sun in mighty song to herald his return and the fulfillment of dreams and wishes.

Rowan Pendragon explains: The winter solstice occurs when the Earth is tilted on its axis farthest away from the sun. This means that when the northern half of the Earth is pointed away from the sun at winter solstice then the southern part of the Earth is going to be tilted closest to the sun. This is why when we are celebrating winter solstice in the northern hemispheres our Pagan friends “down under” are celebrating summer solstice. We often celebrate Yule and the solstice on either December 20th or 21st but the fact is the date varies each year since the holiday is based on an astronomical event; when the event occurs is when the holiday takes place.

When the winter solstice comes we experiences the longest night of the year and the shortest day of light. On the night of Yule we first honor the death of the God and the decline of the sun, something that has been slowly happening from the day after the summer solstice. After we make this honoring we then begin to work acts of sympathetic magick to encourage the sun’s return and to aid the Goddess in her long night of labor as she prepares to birth the Son, the Child of Light, the Young God.

_____________________________________________

Footnotes:
Day 1 of Yule – Preparing for Yule 2011 by Rowan Pendragon
Day 7 of Yule – The Return of The Light by Rowan Pendragon

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

Author:   Lori Dake  

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.

I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!

And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!

So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.

My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.

We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!

So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!

Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.

Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.

Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)

So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!

PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? 🙂 I’d really like to start a new quest!

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene

How to Make Ice Candles

How to Make Ice Candles

By , About.com

Ice candles are a lot of fun and easy to make during the winter months. Since February is traditionally a snow-filled time, at least in the northern hemisphere, why not make some ice candles to celebrate Imbolc, which is a day of candles and light?

You’ll need the following:

  • Ice
  • Paraffin wax
  • Color and scent (optional)
  • A taper candle
  • A cardboard container, like a milk carton
  • A double boiler, or two pans

Melt the paraffin wax in the double boiler. Make sure that the wax is never placed directly over the heat, or you could end up with a fire. While the wax is melting, you can prepare your candle mold. If you want to add color or scent to your candle, this is the time to add it to the melted wax.

Place the taper candle into the center of the cardboard carton. Fill the carton with ice, packing them loosely in around the taper candle. Use small chunks of ice — if they’re too large, your candle will be nothing but big holes.

Once the wax has melted completely, pour it into the container carefully, making sure that it goes around the ice evenly. As the hot wax pours in, it will melt the ice, leaving small holes in the candle. Allow the candle to cool, and then poke a hole in the bottom of the cardboard carton so the melted water can drain out (it’s a good idea to do this over a sink). Let the candle sit overnight so the wax can harden completely, and in the morning, peel back all of the cardboard container. You’ll have a complete ice candle, which you can use in ritual or for decoration.

Snow Magic

Snow Magic

By , About.com

When winter rolls around, in some parts of the world there is an abundance of wonderful white stuff – snow! If you live in one of those areas, it makes sense to take advantage of snow’s natural properties and work those energies into your magical endeavors. Think about, for starters, some of snow’s physical characteristics. The most obvious one is that it’s cold. It’s also white. Sometimes it’s light and powdery, other times it may be heavy and wet. How can you incorporate these into your magical workings?

  • If you’re a fan of candles, make ice candles – they’re are a lot of fun and easy to make during the winter months. Try the instructions here: Imbolc Ice Candles to make your own ice candles.
  • Build a snowman as a very large magical poppet. Assign a snowman the magical task of being a guardian at the entrance to your property.
  • Got a bad habit you need to get rid of? Form that bad habit into snowballs, and throw them as far away from you as you can.
  • Snow quartz crystals are often associated with fulfillment of hopes and dreams. Use actual snow instead of crystals in workings related to wishes and goals.
  • If someone is bothering you and won’t leave you alone, try this simple bit of magic. Write their name on a slip of paper, and pack it in snow in a zip-loc bag. Place the bag in your freezer, and leave it there until the person “chills out.”
  • Go for a walk in the woods on a day that it’s snowing. Enjoy the silence, and the magic of the snowfall – some people report that they have experienced messages from the Divine as they walk on a snowy day. Perhaps it’s because we’re better able to hear the gods when it’s quiet!

History of Yule

History of Yule

By , About.com

A Festival of Light:

Many cultures have winter festivals that are in fact celebrations of light. In addition to Christmas, there’s Hanukkah with its brightly lit menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, and any number of other holidays. The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21. On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light — candles, bonfires, and more.

Origins of Yule:

In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millenia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.

Celtic Celebrations of Winter:

The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.

Roman Saturnalia:

Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honor an agricultural god.

Welcoming the Sun Through the Ages:

Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Horus – the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.

Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.

In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.