Till tomorrow, my sweets….

Circle Is Open Pictures

As we finish up our day, I would ask that you take a moment out of your day and remember those shooting victims in San Bernardino. We have a large number of our family & friends there. Please pause for a moment of silence and pray to the Goddess that they are safe and sound.

 

Stay safe, my Luvs,

Lady A

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THINK on THESE THINGS’ for December 3rd

THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Before we can share with others, we must have something to share. And all of us do have something to give. Not material things, but we can share our peace and our love and our loyalty.

Before we can share with others, there must be others with whom to share. For if we are selfish and self-centered enough, we will never have to worry about sharing anything. We will be alone.

Before we can expect others to share with us, we must be capable of accepting. We must be worthy of others who desire to share with us; we must deserve their love.

Before the two of us can ever find anything in this world of mutual interest, we must have enough concern and enough love to feel a need within to produce something good enough to offer; not only to others, but to ourselves. If we have abused our own nature with thoughts of bitterness, harboring painful experiences, self-condemnation for little progress regardless of circumstances, then we have nothing to offer.

The French philosopher Achilles Poincelot once said, “Some people think that all the world should share their misfortunes, though they do not share in the sufferings of anyone else.”

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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

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 3

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 3

“Listen to the howl of our spiritual brother, the wolf, for how it goes with him, so it goes for the natural world.”

–Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman, Traditional Circle of Elders

If we watch nature, we can tell a lot about what is going on in the world. The animals and the plants are great teachers. Some time ago, crops were sprayed with a poison to kill the insects. Other animals ate the insects. The small animals were eaten by the Eagles and the Wolves. We live in an interconnected system. What we do to one, we do to all. If our spiritual brothers are living in balance, chances are we humans are also living in balance.

Great Spirit, let me listen to my Earth teachers, the plants and the animals.

December 3 – Daily Feast

December 3 – Daily Feast

Much has grieved us, we cannot deny it. Strong as we are, believing as we do, we are still grieved, and we must overcome it. To stop grieving does not mean we no longer care, but that we cannot let this emotion consume us when we need a steady hand and a firm step. It will creep back in unlikely moments to make us cry but time will replace the pain with happy memories. Once we have a flicker of light we can know that grieving is at an end. It can no longer take our whole thought because we have things to do, places to go, and a life to live. This is the time.

~ He orders all things, and He has given us a fine day. ~

RED JACKET – SENECA

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

The Daily Motivator for December 3rd – Giving kindness

Giving kindness

by Ralph Marston

Giving kindness feels better than just about anything you could get. Giving kindness improves the world, and you can do it any time you choose.

When you become outraged by negativity, then negativity has won. Instead, become kinder, more tolerant, understanding and compassionate.

Make kindness a key part of whatever you say. Include genuine kindness in whatever you do.

Boasting and self-centeredness are quickly forgotten, if they are even noticed in the first place. Kindness is long remembered and deeply appreciated.

Kindness is a sure sign of strength. Exercise your strength with kindness and you grow even stronger.

The world can always benefit from more kindness. Give it some more, every chance you get.

© 2015 Ralph S. Marston, Jr.
From The Daily Motivator website at http://greatday.com/motivate/151203.html

The Daily OM for Dec. 3rd – The Importance of Napping

The Importance of Napping
Restorative Slumber

by Madisyn Taylor

The desire for a short nap during the day does not arise out of laziness, rather the need for the body to rejuvenate.

In the modern world, we’re often compelled to be as productive as possible during as many hours of the day as we can be. While this can lead to great feats of accomplishment, we may become exhausted and find ourselves craving rest and rejuvenation. We may feel like taking a nap but feel guilty about indulging in even ten minutes of rest. This need for personal downtime, which many people experience in the early afternoon, isn’t a sign of laziness nor is it necessarily related to how much sleep you had the night before. There was even a time when taking a nap was considered a natural part of everyone’s day.

Napping is a pleasurable yet brief period of sleep when our minds and bodies can take a break. Though judged by many to be a pastime for children or the elderly, napping can benefit people of all ages. The desire to nap is a trait shared by many mammals, and napping is still an important part of the day in some countries. Snoozing for a half-hour can be an enjoyable way to promote physical well-being, and naps have been known to improve your mood and memory. A 20-minute nap can sharpen your senses and revitalize you, while a ten minute nap can leave you feeling more cheerful. Falling into a light sleep during the daytime can feel meditative. The thoughts you have as you are taking a nap and the dreams you experience may offer you insights about your life that you may not have at night when you are in a deep sleep.

In order to fully enjoy the benefits of napping, you may need to give yourself permission to nap. Feeling guilty about snoozing or worrying about your to-do list won’t do you much good when you are trying to take a nap because your thoughts or feelings will keep you awake. Try to nap at the same time each day, and use an alarm clock to ensure that you don’t sleep for too long. If you go to an office, try crawl under your desk for a nap. Learning to nap and enjoy its restorative benefits can help you wake up restored, rejuvenated, and ready for the rest of your day.

 

Source:
Daily OM

Yules Lessons from Days of Yore: Perfect Love, Perfect Trust

Yules Lessons from Days of Yore: Perfect Love, Perfect Trust

Author: Morbek

This is the season to celebrate! Over one third of the people on our planet celebrate the birth of a God around winter solstice. Point-two percent of the world’s population celebrate a major holiday of light during this time and twenty-two percent of our brothers and sisters in the family of man have a celebration of new beginnings and, a week or so later, another holy day, which commemorates freedom. All of this celebrating occurs around the Yuletide season. For Wiccans and Pagans, we celebrate the birth of the God and the waxing of his power as the days from Yule will get longer which leaves the night less frightening because it is getting shorter and less intimidating.

So, why even think about other religions during our holy season of Yule? I can sum it up in two words… Available Energy! With all the positive vibes roaming around think of the amazing magic that can happen if we harness and direct that energy for the good of our home. Well over half of mother Earths population considers this time of year sacred and, in western countries; those that are not religious still exude positive energy due to the consumer driven need to present gifts to one another in the spirit of Santa. That is a lot of people putting out positive vibrations!

Merry making is, indeed, infectious. Think of the community events, the parties that are held both in our workplace and our homes, the carols that are played twenty four seven by various media outlets, decking the halls and dressing up our pets that goes on in our culture. I will diligently search every year (and then be sure to watch) for Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas because it’s not the same on DVD as it is on commercial TV. The deeply held traditions anyone who celebrates during the Yule tied season adds a type of power boost to the energy already being exuded into the environment.

Do I feel that we should greedily gather up all of this energy and use it for our selfish ends? Absolutely not…no way! That point may be moot anyway. A great deal of the sentiment in our surroundings is that of giving and loving nature. I would be hard pressed to manipulate it so that it would become egocentric. I am a lazy person by nature and that sounds to me like way too much work just to attain something that I could have acquired with other magic or by simply going to a store. The attempt would leave me way too exhausted to trim the Yule tree. What, then, do I think we should do with it and why?

Let’s examine the basis of the season and discuss what drives human beings to celebrate our planets personal star’s return into our lives. The apparent reason for the season is the New Year aspect. Back in the day, thousands of years ago when knowing the seasons was a matter of life and death for the entire group, not just an individual, people had to know when the shortest day of the year was so that they could allocate their remaining resources in order to survive until mother Earth, once again, shared her bounty with all. But there must be more to it than that. After all, in a season where ancient man had to be frugal out of necessity, traditions of benevolent works arose and persist to this day!

From an anthropologic point of view, we could discuss all manner of reasons for this to be occurring but the most likely one is, in my mind, the need to draw closer to each other. We need love and acceptance. What better way to foster those emotions in others than by kindness? I expect that when humans were still nomadic or just beginning to settle into an agricultural lifestyle, kindness was a rare commodity. I find it hard believe that (wo) man didn’t desire to be kind; I just don’t think that there was a lot of time and opportunity to exhibit philanthropically motivated deeds. Life was short and hard what with procuring food and water, internal and external tribal struggles as well as trying to understand the greater world around an individual.

In a time of meager reserves, giving to another from what is essential rather than what is surplus without expecting payment of any kind would be seen as the ultimate act of perfect love and perfect trust. The act would have made a deep impression upon the receiver and any bystanders in the immediate area. It would have caused quite a commotion and, as we all know, humans love to gossip. There is no way that anyone can convince me that thousands of years ago, even before the advent of the city, (wo) man didn’t enjoy telling and retelling of an event that profoundly touched them. Every time the story was told, the original emotions were felt and the deed was imprinted a little deeper into the person’s psyche. The next thing you know, that person is committing similar acts of kindness and the circle begins again.

In order for my theory to be valid, one must recognize that there is an inherent and ancient respect for the concepts of perfect love and perfect trust. The people that walk upon this planet have known for millennia that if you live by those philosophies, you will live a wonderful life filled with more joy than sorrow.

Back to all that mirth filled energy! If you intend to do something for our world this Yule, as I do, take hold of as much of that joyous stuff as you can handle and visualize healing. Our planet needs to be healed from pollution, over grazing from stock animals and way too much concrete and blacktop. The animals that are supposed to continue evolving need healing in order to adapt and progress along the paths that are intended for them. They need proper habitat and to be untouched, as much as possible, by the hands of (wo) man. Last but not least, the amazing creatures that can ponder the problems and devise solutions need healing as well. Humans are struggling to become more than just a flesh sack that reacts to stimuli.

I have noticed throughout the years that spirituality is becoming, more and more, a central focus of many of my brothers and sisters in this very large family. The wounds that need healing are immense gashes in our spirits: fear, jealousy, hypocrisy, greed and loneliness. Those wounds lead to behaviors such as; addiction, selfishness, emotional pain that must be countered with physical pain and a worldwide economy that is in such a horrific state of hopelessness that the innocents among us are the ones who are paying the price. And that price is very high! It includes hunger, illness, illiteracy and homelessness. Saddest fact of all: Our children are the ones who are paying the largest percentage of that bill.

That list has been around for as long as we have been able to acknowledge ourselves as spiritual beings in a material world. We strive, generation after generation, to lessen the effects that those infections of the soul have on our lives. Now, with a little help from the witches, that healing can begin in earnest because the available energy that we will be using is already imprinted with the best desires that we have deep within ourselves.

Feel the amazing power that surrounds us this time of year, remember that it is borne from perfect love and perfect trust, visualize what you believe to be remedies for a planet and its’ inhabitants who are ill and send all of that imprinted energy out into the universe to work the amazing miracles that we know are just waiting in the wings for someone who respects, understands and strives to live within the construct of perfect love and perfect trust to give those miracles the cue to enter the stage and start dazzling all of us with the healing and understanding that we all need.

May you have a blessed Yule Tide season!

Winter Solstice: A Witch’s Yule Story

Winter Solstice: A Witch’s Yule Story

Author: Lady Abigail 

It seems that this year the Yuletide season hit the stores even faster than last year. We seem to expect that rush from commerce, to make a buck. While we are out buying our Thanksgiving turkey, we expect to hear, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” But this year I noticed, while I was picking up candy for the trick-or-treaters, that Bing Crosby was already playing over the stores’ intercom systems. Then, driving home that evening, I noticed one of the homes in my neighborhood already had up holiday lights, to include a fully decorated tree in the window.

I just don’t think the ancients had any idea that the day we honor the returning of the sun was going to be turned into such a money-making occasion. I am personally proud of the fact that our Pagan traditions and celebrations are in no way responsible for this one.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the holiday of Yule and the celebration of the Winter Solstice. I decorate, put up a tree, and prepare a delicious Yule feast. We exchange gifts and even sing Yuletide songs. And while it may seem odd to most, I am normally undecorated and have everything packed away by the 25th.

But, I didn’t always have the freedom to celebrate as I desired. I celebrated the Winter Solstice and Yule within the disguised decorations of Christmas. Perhaps all this misplaced jubilation is one of the reasons for the ‘holiday blues’ so many have during this time of year.

The confusion I dealt with surrounding the Winter holidays was my own. I knew the truth, but I learned as a child that speaking of it was not acceptable. You could talk about Christmas, Santa, gifts, and eating, but not the truth. Even today, our Pagan children are not allowed the freedoms of their holiday beliefs.

Yet, once I allowed myself the freedom to rejoice within the Solstice Rites and Yule, I found the inspiration to enjoy it all, even when I am sitting with family members, who have no idea what I believe, on the 25th of December.

Winter Solstice and Yule, which I learned meant, ‘Feast of the Wheel,’ was a celebration of the ancients. Solstice celebrations were not concepts practiced only by the ancient Europeans; these traditions and customs of honoring and welcoming the sun can be found throughout history, being celebrated by people on every continent. I learned that in this rite of Winter, we welcomed not only the coming of a new year, but the excitement and preparation of the rebirth of life. It was a time of readying and a time to reflect; a time to help others and honor those who had passed into the veil.

One of my favorite parts of this holiday is the tradition of the Yule Log. This Yule Log is a Witch’s Yule Log and is, perhaps, done a bit differently than others of which you have heard. A Witch’s Yule Log is used to call the spirits of your loved ones that have passed.

I can see my Great Grandmother’s house as clearly as if I was there today. It was made of wood; grayed by time and age. There were great stones which made the fireplace wall and flat ones stacked at the corners of the house that held it up from the ground. In the Winter, the back porch was filled with wood waiting for the fire. The windows give a warming, luminous glow from the candles placed in them for the holiday. And in my eyes, as a child, that was what love and peace must surely have looked like.

In December, it was fiercely cold, even in the house. You had to wait until the fires were rekindled and had time to warm each room. I didn’t always look forward to getting out of my cozy soft bed. It was warm and I liked being in a little nest of my own. I would sink deep into the down mattress, bundled tightly in my Great Grandmother’s handmade quilts; each quilt made from tiny pieces of the past, filled with stories of people and lives long passed from this world. But, I only needed to be called once, quickly grabbing my clothes and running into the kitchen where it was warm. I would stand behind the stove where the pipe came out of the wall and there I would dress, being cautious not to touch any part of the red hot stove.

I remember how I looked over and, on the kitchen table, saw a small box wrapped in green and red cloth and tied with brown cord. I was so excited and wanted to find out what might be in the box. My Great Grandmother sat down at the table with her cup of coffee and told me that I could open it. I shook it; it felt light. Then, as if I was performing some great act of discovery, I opened the box to find a big chuck of shiny, gray charcoal. I looked at my Great Grandmother with a curious eye, wondering what secrets this small black stone might possible hold. Smiling back at me, she said, “This is a key, a key to a doorway of those we love, but no longer see.”

That evening at sunset, Yule Eve, my Great Grandmother asked me to help her bring in the big log we had picked for the Yule fire. She stirred the coals in the fireplace, then put the small piece of charcoal from the green and red box onto the coals.

Soon, the small piece of coal began to glimmer again with new life. Then we carefully placed the new Yule Log into the fireplace. The shadows within the room danced from the light of the fire as it grew within the hearth. I lay on the floor looking into the fire, my chin in my hands, as my Great Grandmother begin to explain about this key of Yule. As she told me the stories of family that had passed, and of those she loved, I could sense the room fill with the spirits of those of whom she spoke. I began to see them as she did and to share in the memories of those all about me.

The Yule Log is burned to open the doorway between the veils. The small piece of charcoal is the key to the thinning of the veils. It allows the years past, and today, to join, that the spirits of our loved ones who have crossed over may join us during this holiday season. As long as the Yule Log burns, the spirits of those you love may cross, but only until it burns out.

While the Yule Log burns, you may talk, see, and visit with all those you love that have passed on to other planes. It is a time to share the stories of family and those you loved. It is a time to share traditions and honor those who have given us our history. This is not a scary thing, but something we look forward to each year, in love and joy.

Before the Yule Log burns to its end, you must take a piece and save it for the next year. (Of course, you must make sure it is completely out, a cold coal. I know this is silly to say, but if I don’t, someone will get burned.) Save the bit of charcoal until the next year, preferably in a red or green cloth.

The burning of the Yule Log and sharing the past is also a part of the magick used to assure the turning of the Wheel of Life or bringing on of the seasons. We are joined with our past as we look forward to our future. Maybe this is where the saying, “May the Spirit of the Season be with you always,” truly comes from.

May your holiday be filled with the magick that really makes up the season. Have a shining Solstice, happy Yule, and blessed New Year.

Copyright: Copyright © 012212000
Lady Abigail
High Priestess Ravensgrove Coven

Winter Solstice: Introduction

Winter Solstice: Introduction

Author: Christina Aubin
Yule/Winter Solstice (between December 21st and 23rd) also known as: Nollaig; Yuletide, Alban Arthan; Juul; Jul; Jiuleis; Joulupukki; Children’s Day; Dies Natalis Invicti Solis; Saturnalia; Mid-Winter; Brumalia; Sacaea; Festival of Kronos (Cronos); Dazh Boh; Chaomos; Inti Raymi; Dong Zhi; Soyal; Sada; Touji; Zagmuk; Sacaea

The Astronomy and Science behind Winter Solstice:

Northern Hemisphere

In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice falls between December 21st and December 23rd, and marks the modern official beginning of winter. We begin to notice the sun getting lower in lower in the sky after Summer Solstice as it travels southward. At Winter Solstice the sun is at its most southeastern point over the Tropic of Capricorn in the northern hemisphere and has no apparent northward or southward motion. In other words, the sun rises and sets in its southernmost point at the time of Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year. During the winter the North Pole1 of the earth is tilted to its extreme away from the sun and the it’s position is south of the equator, creating winter’s increasingly longer days, as we receive less direct sunlight than the southern hemisphere. From the point of Winter Solstice the days begin slowly to become longer and longer.

The word Solstice is ancient Latin meaning, “sun” (sol) and “to stand still” (stice); it is a time when the sun and the moon appear to stand still in their nightly migration across the sky. Solstice occurs twice a year, summer and winter, when the sun is furthest from the Celestial Equator in its yearly figure eight migration pattern, called the analemma.

At Winter Solstice, the sun, in fact, does remain in its furthest southeast position for a period of three days, before resuming its northerly movement. Depending on one’s physical position in the northern hemisphere, to the naked eye the sun’s apparent journey would halt for a period of almost two weeks to under a week.

Southern Hemisphere

Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is on or about June 21st, it is when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, furthest north in its annual migration pattern. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is Summer Solstice. During this time the north is receiving far more direct sunlight than the Southern Hemisphere due to the Northern pole begin tilted towards the sun.

Winter Solstice Celebrations and Customs Introduction

The word winter comes from the Old English root word Wed, meaning water and also wet. In the Germanic word for winter is wintruz meaning the “wet season”, thus winter was always taken for a wet and thus uncomfortable period of time. The Welsh word for winter, Gaeafu, means not only winter but hibernate as well, a sentiment we can all understand when winter is upon us.

In the larger sense Winter Solstice is the time of seasonal renewal, the beginning of an emergence from winter, and from communal and personal hibernation. It is the time of internal and external renewal, as the Sun renews and begins its return journey to spring, so too does the soul.

Since times no longer remembered, Winter Solstice was a time of celebration, for it meant the turning point of winter and the eventual arrival of spring. The return, the rebirth, of the Sun was celebrated merrily across the globe with rituals that span back through the reaches of all time. Winter Solstice was called Mid-Winter, in reflection that from this point forward the sun was beginning its return journey to its summer zenith.

Winter Solstice is the season of light and dark, of chaos and order, of upheaval and stability, of despair and hope, of sorrow and joy, of old and new, it is the season of change, and change, then again. It is a time to look deep inside the darkness, deep into the abyss, into the unknown, deep into the chaos, into that is arcane and mysterious and find that new hope, that new light that guides us through, that light that lend its strength to understand and that light that prevails over the ever encroaching darkness.

Winter serves as a reminder that chaos and darkness does indeed exist and does at times, in fact, threaten to overtake our lives, our world and being. Chaos and darkness touch upon our very basal fears of being consumed by the seemingly ever-expanding void of disorder. Stirring those worries that hit our primeval determinations of survival. Causing doubts that we will lose all we have created, all we have known and all we have ever hoped for.

Like the darkness in winter, the light never truly goes away, but rather it withdraws and does eventually return, always. Light, ebbs and flows with the rhythms of all time, the rhythm that is life, death and life once more, the rhythms by which existence dances.

We assume that in an idealistic state there would be balance between light and dark always, idealistic or not? This idealistic world would be stagnant, arduous, never changing. If perfect balance existed continually between the light and the dark, we would be apathetic, unchallenged, and ordinary. For it is in this eternal ebb and flow of life that we find that beauty that is hope, compassion, love, grace and light.

We would never reach the heights of rapture and understanding of ourselves that only the battle and victory over darkness can bring. Darkness exists for the very good reason that without it, there would be no light, there would be no opportunity to find that strength that dwells deep within us, to touch the face of compassion, to understand that we need not fear the darkness for it allows us to find that inner light, and in understanding we find the path to the wisdom that only comes through our comprehension that darkness dwells so can we find the true light that resides within. It is this light that becomes the beacon of our lives, our understanding and our being, it guides us through the darkest times and brightens our journey in merry times, once found it is never lost for it is a part of who we are and the gift we bring to others.

Winter Solstice and its celebrations serve to remind us not to become fully engulfed by darkness, but rather choose to understand it and the gift it can bestow in the form of hope.

The Winter Solstice has always been associated with the return of the Light, the Sun and Hope as well as the retreat of the Darkness, Chaos and Despair. It is the time when the young king battles for control of the year from the old king, when the young God challenge the old God, when the Light takes domination from the Darkness, when Order is reinstated, when the Sun returns and with the young God takes command of the year.

Although folk customs may vary, the theme remains the same — it is the time of the return of the light, the sun, order, hope, remembrance of the ancestors and the times before. Acknowledgement of the rhythms of life, the need for order from chaos, the victory of light over the impending darkness all herald winter celebrations. As too is the knowledge that we, as the children of our ancestors, sprung forth, as their symbol of hope and promise and too that our children hold our hope and promise of life and that above all, the spark of hope is always there.

Essential to all Solstice celebrations is Light — in times past this was hearth fire, bonfire, and candles. Light and its consequential heat, were imperative to survival in the winter months. Light and fire also symbolized the return of the light in the form of the sun and a return to the glorious days of spring, summer, harvests and times of abundance.

Periods of somber, serious rituals, which were encompassed in a sense of urgency, were followed by feasts, gift giving, the visit of otherworldly gift givers, visiting, celebrations of family and friends and wonderful festivity mark Winter Solstice celebrations. The struggle, both personal and tribally, that was needed to endure winter was recognized and understood, as was the need to celebrate the midpoint success of doing so as one’s spirit can begin to wane mid-winter these festivities served as reminder that one was not alone and that the splendid days of spring and summer were indeed returning.

Winter Solstice rituals and celebrations recognize that this darkness is not just the physical darkness of winter, but also the darkness that creeps into our minds, clouds our vision, brings despair and hopelessness. The Light of Winter Solstice is as much about the outer light as it is about the inner light, that light which will guide us through our darkest times and serve as a beacon by which to live our lives.

The effort needed to overcome any area of darkness should never be trivialized or left without recognition, for it is the greatest battle we face, one certainly we could loose. However once battled and conquered, one always knows that one can again look into the face of darkness and be victorious.

Winter Solstice is a time that is marked by stories of those who have large changes of heart, of generosity, forgiveness, understanding, a time that is marked by those better qualities of humanity. It is only the journey through darkness that can bring true understanding of life’s journey and reminds us of what is truly important.

Symbolizing the impending chaos, role reversals were common, mock kings, who were slaves that became the owners for a period of time. As well as the practice of slaves and owners, rich and poor, those considered unlikely dining partners ate together. Winter Solstice practices such as these offered not only restructured the chaos but also offered a period of time to atone and release ourselves from old practices and patterns and offer us an opportunity to restructure our relationships. For the Light of Hope ever-present at Winter Solstice, offers us not only the light to see clearly but also an opportunity and a vehicle to create change. Allowing us time for new resolutions, for life changes, it is the opportunity that warms the heart and soul, and allows us to soften and transform, as the light transforms the winter.

Dramatizations of the Old King of the waning year and the New King of the waxing year were ever dominant of mid-winter celebrations. Passion plays of the struggle of the Holly King, he who rules winter, against the Young Oak King, he who rules summer for domination of the year were played out. In some areas, the ruler stepped down, went on a symbolic hunt assisting the God of Light regain His power, upon his return ascended to power once more.

The Solstices have been celebrated throughout all time by indigenous folk throughout the world, from the Celt lands to the mountains of South America, from the far northern reaches of Norway to the eastern reaches of the Orient, from Mesopotamia to Rome, from Persia to Russia and into Greece, we find the celebration of light and the return of sun during Mid-Winter.

Ancient customs and folklore still permeate current winter celebrations worldwide; we need only to look with an open heart and open mind to find the never-ending cycle that is life. Winter Solstice affords us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the world, to give meaning through understanding, a chance to make the mundane and ourselves sacred.

Personally, Winter Solstice is the time when we honor the Goddess for giving birth to the Sun once more. It is the time we celebrate the victory of the Oak King over the Holly King, the Holly King representing death and darkness and the waning sun, and the Oak King representing the rebirth, life and the waxing sun.

Winter Solstice is the time of rituals and celebrations centered on renewal, increasing light, and to see the world through the wondrous eyes of a child. Spells to raise our spirits bring harmony, peace, and joys are done.

It is at Winter Solstice we strive to see the wisdom harvested from past experiences begin to glimmer, and in that glimmer we find hope, understanding and a renewed sense of being and direction. It is now we strive to have those personal experiences we yielded over the harvest season of the times gone past, begin to be reborn with as wisdom, new light, to guide us further down the Paths we have chosen to trod.

We decorate a tree; adorn the house with holly, ivy, pine and other evergreens to remind us that life is present even in death; they are entwined and never parted. We are visited Solstice eve by Father Winter, a white bearded chap dress in red, fur trimmed robes, who arrives bearing gifts to surprise the children on Solstice morning. We also exchange gifts and cards with family, friends and love ones, acknowledging their light and love in our lives.

Blessed Solstice!

Christina Aubin

Yule vs. the Holiday Season

Yule vs. the Holiday Season

Author: Maggi Setti

Since I became pagan, I have spent many turns of the wheel examining how Yule fits into the rest of the wheel of the year. It fascinated me that many pagan holidays either became trivialized, like Imbolc turning into Groundhog’s Day, and Lammas disappearing all together. The greater society calls November through New Year’s Day the “holiday season”. I have chosen to live within a system that has 8 balanced holidays throughout the year. It doesn’t make sense then, to have one of those holidays last 45 days and cost thousands of dollars and 15 pounds of extra winter weight.

During this time some people even suffer from the holiday blues. It seems so counter-intuitive that during the “happiest season of all” that some people would be down in the dumps. I was one such suffering of the blues. I had a family, a church I belonged to, and even money that I had presents, so my blues did not originate from a sense of lack. I feel that my blues came from the imbalance of what is going on between the world, the season, and everyone’s hustle and bustle.

Yule is the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice is the longest night. The song Silent Night had the tenor of the holiday correct. It’s a quiet time of snowfall and introspection. It’s an opportunity to turn inward and share with family. As we move from the rebirth of the Sun, toward Imbolc, the world is sleeping around us. The night is full, and storms force us inside. This inward process begs us to be introspective and quiet. We should do personal work, meditation, shadow work, and account for our past. We should take a look at who we are during this dreamtime. What can be changed within you, the internal alchemy of the soul, so that you can walk into the new growing season as something new?

In order to make a shift from the over-socialized, overbooked, excess of the season into a time of still and introspection, a change in focus must occur. The Winter Solstice is also the first day when the Sun is in the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. Saturn rules Capricorn. Saturn is all about limits and barriers. In its best light, Saturn is about proper limits. However, when Saturn, and Capricorn are out of balance, the exact opposite of excess, greed, and physical excess. The holiday season is a bad Capricorn!

So, if the lesson of this season were one of Saturn and of Capricorn, what would a good archetypal Capricorn want to teach us? Loyalty to the family and close friends would be one of those lessons. Write notes to the people you care for, who make a difference in your life. Reaching out to the people that really matter and saying “I love you” when you should is a great way to show people you care. Notice I have not once mentioned buying presents. Gift giving should be a heartfelt thing that is about care and thoughtfulness, not about a public show of the ability to spend money. That concept is enough for a whole other article!

Another lesson of Capricorn would be to know your limits. What is too much sweets or eggnog? Your bathroom scale can answer that question for you. What are too many parties to attend? When you’re tired and would rather stay home and feel frazzled! Your body tells you what you need; you need to get of the holiday train and lesson to it for a few minutes. When normal practices like morning meditation, going to the gym, or breakfast fall off the schedule because we’re too busy, then you’re overdoing it.

Another excess that a good Capricorn would try to help us with is overspending. A Capricorn would have bought presents all year, made presents in advance, or saved money in a Yule savings account to make sure that there was a little extra money to do the gift giving desired. If this advice is too late for this year, it’s at least food for thought for next year.

So what am I doing for this holiday season? I met with my coven last week, and I’ll go to the large ritual and gathering with my Tradition next week. I’ll attend a sweat lodge the day after to help detox, and give prayers to the Elements and to the Gods to keep the spiritual nature of the season in the forefront of my mind. I plan on spending Christmas day with my in-laws. We’ll watch the kids exchange gifts, have a great meal, and go to bed early! I am very vocal about not wanting to overtax myself in the holiday season. I finished my pagan teaching and my study group’s gatherings a week before Yule. Public classes don’t start up again until February. My friends appreciate this sentiment and support my retreat for the dreamtime. When Imbolc comes around, we’ll all be looking forward to seeing each other again and hopefully will have new ideas of what we hope for in the new year.

So many things we do because we think our friends expect the culture demands or us to it. If we are honest with our bodies, our spirits, friends, our families, communities, and ourselves I think we’ll find there are a lot less outside expectations of us. Balance will always be a struggle this time of year, but balance is like that. Balance is not a static moment that we can uphold.

The seasons change and time moves forward. We can only hope to grow wiser each turn of the wheel and learn our lessons better. The benefits of this balance can bring you closer to the voice of Spirit, reaching to you from within your heart and across the whisper of bare trees. You just have to slow down and be quiet so that you can hear the message.

I wish you a season of promise, of stillness, and of love.

Blessed be.