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.