The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

Monday, December 22, 2014

Moving Out of the Darkness and into The Light

Written during a waning moon in the sign of Capricorn on a day ruled by the moon.

It was a wonderful Solstice evening.  I spent the day preparing and in the evening took some time to drum the sun in, before we went out for  walk to hear the carolers sing their beautiful songs.  When home, we put the yule log on the fire sprinkled with herbs carefully chosen for their properties of comfort and joy.  It was pure tradition, without much fanfare or fuss.  No grand ceremonies or awkward rituals.   It is beautiful in its simplicity, yet powerful in its intent.  It is a tribal kind of path, observing customs simply because it is the way that it's done.

It's a strange feeling to find this peaceful place inside your home, while  violence and unrest, sadness and poverty is going on in the world.  Sometimes I feel powerless or even guilty. I do what I can, watching as my intentions cling to the bay leaves that ignite in the fire.   This is the bitter sweetness of the holiday season, the knowledge that there is much sadness, loss and despair when the rest of the world is singing and sitting at the table with family and friends.  We do what we can physically, and keep them in our hearts, in prayers and intentions.  I read the news this morning and the reality of the state of the world hit me in the face.  Yet, despite our 1950's frozen-in-time nostalgic view of Christmas, the world has always been a troubled one.  And still we sing the songs, light the candles, and keep the fire burning because it is the best we can do, because we can't do anything else.

I saw a "thing" going around Facebook, a supposed quote from Pope Francis.  It spoke of a very new revised view of religion, of God.  I was born Catholic, so I couldn't help but wonder about the authenticity of this quote. I did some internet research, and honestly I am pretty sure this quote is a made up version of what he actually said. I found the letter the quote supposedly came from, but well, it is the internet after all.  So little truth in this place, and yet so many people believe everything they read here.  These are the times I am so glad that I do not look to another to tell me what to believe.  

Hope that you all had a wonderful Solstice and weekend.  I am now off to get the last minute things for my holiday meal, and hoping that I can find some apple cider.  :) 


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Here Comes The Sun

Written during a waning moon in the sign of Sagittarius on a day ruled by the Sun

Today is the Winter Solstice in my part of the world. 

To all that celebrate the solstice, I hope that the return of the sun brings with it all that you are wishing and dreaming of, as well as a yearly reminder of the light that waits behind the darkest night.

Yesterday we went to the farm to get our Christmas turkey, and stopped along the way so that I could prune a few branches off a balsam fir to decorate my table and add that lovely scent that brings back memories of many past holiday seasons.   It's been much easier to enjoy a "real" Christmas since we put gifts in their proper prospective and focused more on the other holiday traditions.  This year my prosperity work has been quite successful, the gods and ancestors were very generous, so we didn't have to be so frugal as before, but still, we bought mostly practical things that we were in need of. 

Lately I  have been involved in conversations about the holidays, mostly because so many people are talking about it, wondering how they can turn the clock back to a time before the consuming madness that the holidays have become.  I can see a slow change, clocks being turned back and decisions made about how to take back Christmas.  I heard tell of  one family who decided there would be nothing but homemade gifts.  I have to admit that would be hard for me as I am not all that crafty, but I suppose if given enough time I could come up with something, maybe in the food department.  I do love handmade gifts, but I also know a lot of people do not.   And I wonder if I would want to go through all the trouble of making a gift for someone who wouldn't like or use it?  I suppose in some families, this would work, but maybe not all.

I suspect that what we miss the most about holidays past has more to do with traditions then gifts.  We also remember those who are no longer with us, and the stories of holidays often include these loved ones.  This is one of the best parts of the holidays, the soft-focused scenes frozen in time.  I have a very funny photograph of my father wearing a santa hat, and every time I scan my iphoto, this one appears, smiling at me.  This is no coincidence and even if it were, I never want it to stop happening.

I think what we might want to stop is the selfish motives behind some Christmas traditions, especially ones that involve children.  Love for a child isn't measured by how many overly-promoted plastic products are under the tree. Money doesn't make up for absence. When we adults remember our  holidays as a child, most of the time it is not the gifts we remember.  How many of us can remember more than a couple of them?  It's the customs, the family stories, personal interactions.  In my family, we had what some people would think was a horrible custom, but it was done with a lot of laughing so it was ok.  We had an inflatable reindeer and every year one of my siblings would blow it up and then one would pretend to shoot it, while the other let the air out of the reindeer and slowly slowly the reindeer would fall.  (my siblings were teenagers and they couldn't get enough of this.)  Yes, this is very politically incorrect and yet, I think about this every christmas and laugh at the thought of the pitiful sound that the air created as it left the plastic reindeer, and all my siblings (who I haven't seen for quite a while) all gathered around laughing their butts off.

When I raised my own children, I noticed that they too loved the traditions they could count on, at least as much, if not more than the presents.  If I forgot one of the traditions, I had three people with very good memories to remind me.  One year, I decided to decorate the tree "mall style" and my daughter was outraged.  She wanted all the child-made handmade ornaments and the store bought ones that she remembered from her very first Christmases.  Yes, the mall tree had to go.

So when we make endless or overpriced presents  the focus of our children's Christmas, what will they remember long after all the toys and games are left behind or broken?   Maybe it's time to reconsider the true magic of Christmas?  


PS:  For anyone who is not familiar with the pagan traditions of the Solstice (Yule) you can read about it HERE.