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My wife and I have made profound changes in our lives through green Paganism and simple, ecological living, which have resulted in unforeseen, yet very positive opportunities for peace, joy, laughter, and success. In fact, these opportunities have been so powerful, that I was stirred to share them with others, and not keep all these amazing discoveries to ourselves. We 'unplugged from the matrix' that is the cause of so much distraction and busyness in our lives and created a magickal Pagan homestead. I will share some of these discoveries of how, as a Pagan, you can simplify your life, while living more in sync with your purpose, nature and open up an incredible world of opportunity and possibility.

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Yule and the Winter Solstice

Yule and the Winter Solstice are two separate events for me, with Yule being celebrated around December 21-25 just to keep up with family that celebrates Christmas, and the solstice being celebrated when it actually occurs, which for 2012 (5:12am CST) and 2013 (11:11am CST) is December 21st where I live. I wrote an article already explaining why I try to get so exact with the date/time of the celebrations, if you’re interested.

On the Winding Path, I have a couple of different rituals that are done around the time of Yule, besides the main one, because this is such an important time of year. Although I live in a climate where it’s unusually mild for this time of year this time around, there have been years of great hardship from harsh weather here. It is in the balance between all of those cold and mild winters that I place my mind when thinking of the Winter Solstice because it represents the breaking of the grip of winter upon the land. In northern climates, this was more true because they hardly if ever saw the sun around this time. There are symbols from the times of our ancestors which have been carried through to today, even by the usurpers of our traditions, like the use of evergreens, or celebrating for twelve days. On the Winding Path, we don’t celebrate for twelve days, but evergreens do play an important role in ritual and just a decoration because it reminds us and signals to us the promise of the return of spring.


The Cold Night

One of the Yule rituals I perform, usually a few days before the actual day and time, is designed to do nothing more than keep me rooted in the world that is rather than the world which our technology has created. The reason for this is clear to any Pagan that has gone through a disaster in which the power was lost for an extended period or even worse things happened. The technology has dulled us in a sense, and that makes it more important to reconnect with nature in a situation more under your control. I look at this opportunity as a kind of rebirth; one in which you may still utilize and benefit from technology, but gain an understanding of what the natural world is without it.

This ritual is not for everyone, and it’s designed to be performed outside for the reason that it’s really cold out there this time of year. It is not a long ritual because I don’t want to catch a cold or suffer from hypothermia, but it’s long enough to acquaint me with raw, natural world, in case I’ve forgotten through out the year, which is more likely for anyone doing this for the first couple of years.

The Gift

Many cultures and religions have gift giving traditions around this time of year. It is a time of rejoicing and celebration. In the old days that was mostly thanks for still being alive; a chance for communities to come together, and revel in that spirit of community. Today, however, it is all to often just a pop culture chance to sell stuff and indulge in petty consumerism. We also get to see which store can begin selling lights, and other holiday paraphernalia the soonest, which house can literally outshine the rest on the street, which church can set up it’s nativity scene the earliest, and which Santa can beg for money the fastest, all while hearing the unbelievably naive decrying of the “war on Christmas.”

To keep with our efforts to live a simpler life, with less of the “clutter” that seems to especially creep into our homes, lives, and even minds at this time of year, we keep the tradition of gift giving to a modest level, and try at all costs and efforts to make the gifts ourselves or trade with a craftsman to something crafted on our behalf to give to someone else. This season, as well as any time of the year when we’re growing our food, working very hard at manual labor tasks, and sharing that adventure with anyone who cares to listen, are probably the times when my “Pagan Mennonite” tendencies show through the most. I dress plain, I talk plain, and act in the interests of my family and our devotion to the gods. Anyways, back to the gift giving.

At this time of year, we make sure to give a special gift to the creatures who live around us. We do not treat them as pets, we do not regularly feed them all winter long because doing so would upset the nature of nature. We do, at this one time, offer “the critters” a little something to show our acknowledgment of them as members of the same system as ourselves. I know that it is especially appreciated when the weather has been particularly foul. Sure, that’s a personification, but I think it’s also true.

The gift we give is broken down into several parts because different animals need different things. Bird seed for the birds and smaller critters, mixed with a few nuts. Some fresh fruit, berries if possible, and bigger grains for the larger animals, like deer.

Yule House Cleansing

This is a short ritual simply used to help clean up the energy and ‘vibe’ of our house. By the time Yule arrives, the air in the house can be getting a bit stale. You can actually feel it when you come in from being away. Neither of us like that mainly because it impacts our creativity and that is one tool we rely on to make a living. We have similar ritual around Litha as well, but this one is more appropriate for this time of year.

What rituals do you have for this time of year? Is there anything you do which specifically gets you in touch with the natural world? How about your gods?

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Peter is an American of British and German ancestry who lives in Missouri with his wife Mary, where he is (re)discovering his connections with nature and the Gods. When he's not tending to their homestead, which feeds his family and provides an expression of gratitude and work in veneration to the Gods, he writes for several blogs, and works as a freelance artist/graphic designer. Having many years of experience in various forms of occult systems, including Asatru, Celtic, and Dragon Hollow Wicca, and Witchcraft, Peter finally found what he had been looking for all his life in a blend of Traditional Witchcraft (the nameless art), Heathenry and personal gnosis/exploration (vision/mystic).


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