In the chill of ice, trees stand stark as bones, the land is cold iron, frost slows all movement so Gaia is still as death. Only the brilliant stars in the black sky remember the rhythms of earth as they wheel through the night. All is connected. As stars bloom and die, as flowers fall to seed, as bone becomes nurturing ground, the wheeling universe lives in its Beauty and pattern. We are stardust, born of the Great Goddess, and in her is all hope. Even in the most severe terror of darkness and cold that Kali brings, the Spark flares again to ignite the perfect miracle of life. When all seems lost, the mystery of the universe begins to lift us into light and renewal once more. Women will tend the sacred fires until the voice of Demeter is heard in the Halls of Dis, and Persephone returns, a Queen filled with the knowledge of great mysteries. The pomegranate seed will become again a tree of life....
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The insanity of the holidays can drive anyone crazy. Getting gifts, arranging to visit with family, work parties, and more. It is a time of the year when you can lose track of the importance of the phase of the year we are in.
You can find any posting on what to do on Yule, how to decorate your house with all the associations, what food to cook and so on. I don’t do any of it. I find the holidays stressful and unbearable in most years....
Old holidays die hard.
Throughout the Persian-speaking world—Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan—the Winter Solstice is a widely-celebrated, if secular, holiday. (For Zoroastrians, of course, it retains its religious character.) In Farsi, it's called Yalda, a word which may or may not be related to the Semitic root YLD, “to give birth.”
It's customary to stay up all night, to see the year's longest night through from beginning to end. People pass the long candle-lit hours, as one would expect, telling stories, singing songs, and eating. In Iran, the tradition is to serve 13 different fresh fruits—pomegranates, melons, cucumbers—one for each moon of the coming year.
Just thinking of digging out the old AVATAR DVD. That's part of my year end tradition, starting the new year out with a great movie that shows the under dogs beating the odds and claiming victory! What's yours?
I get teary-eyed every time I watch Avatar. I love seeing the hero kneeling before that great tree, a long-time symbol of Goddess. And he's praying to Her. He's telling Her the Sky People, otherwise known as us, the Earthlings, are coming for them, for Her and they're hell-bent on stealing the natural resources of the planet at any cost. Sound familiar? Sound like something ripped from the headlines as some multi-national corporation comes for the water or minerals on sacred land, never mind they'll devastate the local economy and the lives of people living there. Or maybe it reminds you of the United States going after the oil in Iraq....
Travel with me, across the world and back in time, to a Winter Solstice morning in ancient Crete. We are among the special guests, the important members of the community who have been invited to join the priests and priestesses of Knossos to witness a most sacred event. The gathering begins in the darkness before dawn.
The air is crisp and cold as we join the others waiting in silence in the great plaza at the center of the temple. We stand in the dark, pressed close together, listening for that special sound – the blast of the conch shell that announces the first glimmer of the Winter Solstice sunrise over the land to the east. Our breathing generates tiny clouds of steam that are barely visible as the sky begins to lighten from deep black to dark blue. Then, as the first rosy fingers of light stretch up from the horizon, the triton sounds, its call echoing around the stone-paved plaza. Though we are still surrounded by dimness and cannot see the Sun over the tall temple walls, we feel its presence as the process of dawning begins....
It was one year ago today that my life changed forever. It didn't change as much as it could have changed, and for that I'm grateful, but nothing has been the same since this day one year ago. My own error resulted in my falling 10 feet onto the thin edge of the control panel of a spare washing machine. I broke 6 ribs at both ends and broke my left shoulder blade in half. I spent several days in the hospital, 2 months off work, and 6+ months in physical therapy. I would never have made it through all of this without amazing support from my friends, family, and co-workers. I am still paying off medical bills, but I am alive and healthy. I am nearly back to the level I was before the accident (and in some ways I am actually healthier). It still amazes me that less than 2 months after the accident I climbed on a plane and flew to San Jose to do my 3 workshop presentations at PantheaCon. I owe thanks to many of the people at that event as well. While lurching around with broken bones, trying to haul incense making supplies from one workshop to the next, a lot of people I'd never met helped me haul things around and set up or tear down. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED IN THE LAST YEAR.
But there was more help given to me than that and I want to try and thank as many people as I can from the Pagan Community. In less than 1 day after my accident I was able to get online and, very slowly, type a message with one hand. I sent out that email letting folks know what happened and asking for any spare energy to help me with the extraordinary pain as well as energy to heal. The response was overwhelming and nearly immediate. Within an hour of sending that message, I began to feel the energy pouring in. I know that there were groups or covens who sent me energy and that was an immense kindness that truly made a difference. Even more surprising was the energy that continued to come to me for weeks, much of it being sent by Solitary Pagans who had never met (or even heard of) me and who lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away. That Community of Solitaries, without any coordination whatsoever, continued this outpouring of love and energy for months.