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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in yule customs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Liberal Dose of Yuletide Spirit

(or no two snowflakes are exactly alike – and that's pretty cool)

2017 has been quite a year, in more ways than one. At times, it can be a challenge to stay hopeful about what lies ahead in the future. Many of we free-spirited and open-minded nature lovers must find our simple pleasures where we can. If those of us adversely affected by the new tax plan put our minds to it, we can still stay positive and find some things to celebrate this holiday season that retain meaning and joy. It occurred to me that some of the best ways to do this, would be to act in a fashion about as anti-greed, anti-bigotry, and anti-big business corporate mindset as possible. Here's how you can proceed in 8 effective ways, in honor
of each of the eight sabbats:

1. Either opt not to exchange gifts and just spend time together; or keep it extremely simple. When I say simple, I mean price cap it at $12-$15 tops. Or, just stick to recycled white elephants or home-made presents. 2. If you do have a tree, keep it natural. These are healthier for the environment. Decorate with mementos of loved ones who have passed on, in the tradition of the Celts. 3. Make donations! Share charitably what you can for your favorite causes. Endangered animals, LGBT rights, public television and radio, Puerto Rico, and absolutely anything to do with the environment are just a few groups who would all love your help about now. If you can't donate money, share your time and volunteer for a local chapter. 4. Speaking of donations, clean out your clothes closet already. Anything you haven't worn all year or are saving for someday, pass it on instead to your local resale shop. 5. Bake some gingerbread cookies, but don't bother with icing if you don't feel like it. Personally, I just love the spicy molasses flavor and the way they make my kitchen smell. Instead of men, make gingerbread women, wildlife creatures (I am the proud owner of a wolf
cutout), or moon and star shapes. Don't hoard them. Make a few dozen and bring some along to share at each of your holiday parties. 6. Every morning you wake up frustrated after reading the news, sign as many petitions as you possibly can. Keep fighting the good fight, no matter what. It's only when we roll over and give up that dreams die, too. 7. Send an eco-friendly ecard. World Wildlife Fund always has a very nice selection at this time of year. 8. Watch all the goofy feel-good holiday movies that still make you feel good that you can. Od on the innocence of it. Two of my go-tos annually are Albert Finney in the 70s musical version of "Scrooge," and the original "Rudolph." The still timely messages in them both, never cease to warm my heart.

When you light the nightly candles, meditate on the world that you most want to live in. Let's all make it our goal next year to do everything we can to make that happen. Peace.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Yuletide Household Lore & Traditions

art by Arthur Rackham

The winter solstice is approaching.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Shadow Solstice

This Winter Solstice, I suggest getting in touch with your shadow side. This is the season to become introspective – and with the weather often urging us to spend more time indoors – this is the perfect time to look inward.

Meditation:

Brew some good spiced herbal tea and burn some frankincense and myrrh incense on your altar. Light red and green candles and turn off the lights. Get in a comfy spot and slow your breathing. I have found the best way to completely relax is to first contract, then very slowly release all of the muscles in your body, starting with your head and working your way down to your toes.

Sit cross-legged or lie in the corpse position on a yoga matt on the floor. Start with scrunching up your facial muscles, furrowing your brow. Then relax your face in slow motion. Do the same with your shoulders, hunching them up. Tighten your arms off the floor and make your hands into fists, then release down the length of your arms, starting with your shoulders, and unfurl each of your fingers, one by one. Repeat the exercise with your chest muscles, stomach and lower belly (these Navel and Root Chakras can store an awful lot of stress, so take extra time to release the tension here if necessary). Tighten your legs all the way down to curling your toes under, and very gradually relax these muscles as well.

To clear your mind of tedious recurring thoughts and worries, concentrate on breathing in deeply through your nose, letting your diaphragm fill and let go while taking your time. Be sure to keep the deep breaths coming from your belly, not up in your chest. Count down backwards from 20. Repeat several times, until you feel your mind clear and open.

When you feel ready, meditate on your shadow self. What are the sides of yourself that you keep hidden? Could any of them be positive that you are hiding from the rest of the world out of fear, or any other reason? Whether it is something really adventurous – like trying downhill skiing for the first time, or simply attending a community event you've been curious about – give yourself permission to explore that. Think about the ways you could nudge yourself out of your comfort zone, and discover one of your hidden shadow selves more fully. When you've settled on one that particularly speaks to you, resolve to act on it between now and the new year.

Send an image of yourself participating in and enjoying this activity out to the universe, thank the Goddesses and Gods of your choice, and when you are ready, carefully roll up to a standing position. Gather a bit of icy snow from outside and sprinkle it in the candles to put them out. Drink your tea and experience gratitude. Peace.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Crying Yule

In 17th century Yorkshire, after the morning service on Christmas Day, people used to take hands and dance through the church shouting “Yule! Yule! Yule!”

I'll bet the vicar just loved that.

Crying Yule as a refrain to seasonal songs, chants, and dances is an old custom in the English-speaking world (as it still is in Scandinavia) with parallels in a number of non-Germanic cultures. To take just one example, a standard refrain in Latvian Midwinter carols is Kalado, Kalado; Kalado means “Christmas,” but it's yet another descendant of the wide-spread and influential Latin calendae, like Provençal Calena and Russian Kolyadá. The calends of January have much to answer for in the course of cultural (and linguistic) history.

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Avatar, Yuletide Goddesses & Pagan Roots of Christmas and Resolutions

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.  

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Yule is a birth, and birth is a messy business.

In the old North, women used to give birth in straw. This was called the birthing-litter or the birthing-strew: cushioning, absorbent, and readily disposable.

In fact, straw and strew come from the same verbal root, apparently meaning “to spread.” It was once customary to spread the floors of the house with straw—called halm or haulm, from the same root as Greek kalamos, “reed”—to insulate and absorb spills. Generally the halm had fragrant herbs mingled among it, but even so it must have gotten pretty rank with use. So for many years it was the practice to lay fresh strew for Yule: the Yule-halm. In Sweden this was known as Julglädje, the “Yule-joy.” (The old stuff must have been pretty bad.) Some people would sleep in the Yule-halm so as to leave their beds for the visiting dead who rejoin the family during the holy tide. Straw-dreams were said to be of great omen.

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