A Faerie Haven: Living in Myth, Being Magic

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How to Have a Happy, Meaningful, Sane Holiday Season

Taking fifteen minutes—or less—to plan your autumn and winter can make all the difference.


As you will see, I’m not suggesting the all-too-common, hyperactive, overly-ambitious, unrealistic agenda that leaves you exhausted and makes you want to rip your hair out.


If you view the modern holiday season as a non-Pagan concern and therefore see no reason to make plans, consider the following.


Ancient tribes gathered food in the fall, storing up for the months ahead. I believe a modern Pagan equivalent is planning fall and winter activities. I suspect that ancient people, being perfectly intelligent, must’ve done the same. 


Hunting, gathering, and otherwise living close to nature thoroughly tuned them into Mother Earth and Her cycles. Such immersion must have helped them recognize natural cycles in themselves and plan accordingly: the types of inner and outer discord that tend to occur during fall and winter months are not exclusively modern occurrences, nor relevant only to non-Pagans.


According to Chinese philosophy, these months are a time of family, emotions, and of unresolved issues bubbling up from the subconscious. Oh my, the combination of family, an abundance of feelings, and the subconscious offering up problematic emotions is a breeding ground for disharmony, inside and out. (Even two of those three things combined could do the trick.)


It can also be a formula for wonderfully full feelings, a joyful household, and a chance to heal oneself. Appropriate planning can help all this occur.


If that healing demands work outside the scope of this one lesson, the lesson can nonetheless have substantial curative power that will show itself more and more as the season progresses. So let’s plan a great season! Here’s how:


Make your plan sometime in the fall, the earlier the better. After that, seasonal anxiety and “shoulds” can cloud your mind, so you might build unrealistic, megalithic plans. An attempt to follow through on them, as I said, can leave you exhausted and frustrated, not to mention unfulfilled. No fun!


I try to do this planning in September or October, but planning even in November provides important benefits.


Have you ever asked yourself what you want to be remembered for after you die? Myself, I don’t care whether anyone says, “She kept a really clean, tidy house.” What I want people to think is, “She helped a lot of people and was kind.”


Apply that to the holiday season. What do you want people to remember about you and this holiday, years from now? That you were so exhausted by trying to make a supposedly perfect holiday that you didn’t have energy left to appreciate the company of loved ones? That you were so busy you had no time to listen to their problems and share their joys? That you so unceasingly fought the uphill battle of keeping the house clean that you yelled at people out of sheer frustration? These examples may not be relevant to you, but you get the idea.


Write down one to three things you want to be remembered for. Don’t make this a painstaking, frustrating exercise that will take you 100 years. This part of the exercise might take as little as 60 seconds. Just write down what comes to mind because good chance it is right.


Even in September, holiday insanity can hit us, making us immediately look at what we’ve written and start second-guessing ourselves. Instead of seeing the simple truth of what we want the season to be and how we want to be during it, we can make this planning exercise very complicated. But the point of this exercise is to circumvent all those self-defeating complications.


If what you write isn’t perfect, or you are unsure whether is it true, it’s a great starting point. Go with it! You can always change your mind later. Try what you wrote on for size, in the following months, to see if it is correct. When I do this exercise, I don’t feel I need to stick to my plan rigidly. 


Plus, this exercise isn’t meant to cover every last thing you’ll do during the holidays. But, when I lose my center due to holiday responsibilities, or to other holiday happenings, or to unresolved conflict bubbling up from my subconscious, looking at the plan helps me regain balance. Then I can make sound decisions. It might seem impossible that checking my plans makes such a difference; I suspect it’s one of those things you can’t see the power of until you try it.


After you finish the first part of the exercise, write down one thing you can do to implement each of the one to three choices you have made. 


Try to make the implementations as specific, quantitative, and simple as possible, instead of vague ideas.


For example let’s say you wrote, “I want my children to remember I was a calm, cheerful light, in the middle of our current hardships.” A vague follow-up would be, “I will try to stay serene, no matter what.” Instead you might write, “I’ll take five minutes for myself, every morning as soon as I wake up, to do a tarot reading for myself about how I can stay centered and serene that day.” Or “Every day, as soon as the kids are out the door on the way to school, I’ll make a cup of tea, sit down with it, and relax, reading a few pages of a fun novel.” 


Another example: If you write, “I want to be remembered as an inspiration both spiritually and creatively,” a vague follow-up would be, “I will be creative in meaningful ways.” A specific, quantitative, and simple alternative is “Every Sunday afternoon, I’ll crafts holiday gifts,” because your example can inspire others to do the same, and gifts you make yourself are innately meaningful. I mentioned Sunday afternoon because something scheduled the same time every week is easier for some people to maintain, but remember this is just an example, not a mandated formula.


When we keep things vague, they can be delayed forever. In fact, if you need to find a creative spark so you can make gifts, find a specific, simple approach: e.g., look through your Pinterest pins to find one or more manageable, fun projects. Then—again keeping it simple, specific, and quantitative—focus your time on actually doing one project, rather than losing all your available time making an endless list of possibilities.


If you feel choosing only one way to implement your goal is insufficient, stop worrying! Keep it simple. Plus, following through one way opens up the spirit, so you might suddenly find more ways, without even trying. 


Don’t overthink this exercise. It’s not meant to be complex and time- consuming. We can lose our power when we get caught up in too much rigmarole. Again, this lesson is not supposed to cover every last plan for or aspect of this holiday season. Instead, the exercise is a way to focus on what you really care about.


What is easily accomplished by one person can be extraordinarily upsetting—and thereby feel impossible—for someone else. This is especially true dealing with something as emotional as the holidays. If any part of this exercise causes anxiety, triggers a train of thought so complex that you can’t easily finish the exercise, or is otherwise difficult, here’s a prayer to get back on track: http://stardrenched.com/2015/09/02/prayer-in-your-hands/


This unadorned, unpretentious exercise helps create a holiday season that you and yours will remember as special, sacred, and joyous.

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Francesca De Grandis aka Outlaw Bunny is the bestselling author of "Be a Goddess!" Founder of The Third Road, a Faerie Shamanism tradition that she teaches through both text and oral tradition, De Grandis says, "I'm a trickster working for benevolent chaos Gods, so I don't play mean tricks." Bard, painter, mystical innovator, and busy elf who works part-time for Santa Claus, she blogs here and on her own sites, www.stardrenched.com and www.outlawbunny.com


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