Posted in Holidays

The Reason for the Season

There are four holidays celebrated during the month of December. They are all culturally important, and in the end, they represent the very same concepts, and give rise for celebration and unity.

Kwanzaa begins December 26th and is the newest holiday, created in 1966 to unite African Americans. Having a small amount of Sudan descent, I am intrigued by this holiday. Being fascinated by the world makes me interested in all celebrations. Kwanzaa focuses on seven principals, each being thought of each day as a candle is lit. Unity, Self Determination (self strength), Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics (supporting each other’s businesses), Purpose, Creativity, and Faith in each other. Candles, food, family, community, gift giving (generosity), and hope is the basis of Kwanzaa.

Beloved Christmas was created to overshadow the pagan holiday, Yule. Who doesn’t love the twinkly lights, the music, gift giving, family, candles, greenery, and the childlike wonder that comes with the season? It is my favorite time of year. Kindness, hope, and faith fill the moments of the season.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Hanukkah is a celebration of light and hope. When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the eternal light within only had enough oil for one day. People were sent out to retrieve more oil. It took them eight days to get back, but the light had stayed lit. For this miracle, Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights. It is actually a minor holiday but was given more focus because of Christmas. Gift giving and lighting the menorah are a part of this holiday. Family and togetherness are the focus.

Yule is the original celebration- the Solstice- and is celebrated from December 21st until January 1st. The festival came about because the holly king (who looks a lot like Santa) is defeated by the Oak King, and the sun is born. In times of old, the cold and darkest time of the year was one of concern, and it looked like the sun stayed the same for twelve days. The Yule log was burned for twelve days in hopes of pleasing the sun god so that it would return. The oak king is also known as the green man, the face of crops, greenery, and life.

All of the celebrations this month have some very important aspects to them, and that is what we can focus on this time of year. There is no need to “try to get in the spirit”, the spirit is within you.

  • Family
  • Community
  • Generosity
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Nature
  • Light
  • The promise of a bright new year.
Posted in Holidays

Ostara, Easter, and the New Beginning

crocus-spring-equinoxToday is a celebration of hope.  The indigenous cultures of old and the modern spiritualists and witches of today will be celebrating.  So will gardeners everywhere.  ‘Tis the Solstice, also known as Ostara.

Seeds in hand, faces to the sun, coffee hot, hose at the ready, we are grateful and joyous that the days will now be growing longer.  Oh, happy day.  More sun.  More Vitamin D.  More outdoor play.  Spring brings with it baby animals and freshly turned soil and new life.

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Ostara celebrates life conquering death.  It had been celebrated long before organized religion did it.  The word “Easter” comes from the word “Ostara.”  Now, Pagans were nothing if they weren’t artists.  Eggs were symbols of new life and fertility and were painted in beautiful colors.  The Ukrainian folk art depicted on eggs is a fine example of art.

Ostara, the Greek goddess of fertility, loved the painted eggs so much that she asked the rabbit to distribute them all over the world.

The Solstice on the agrarian calendar was the date that seeds began to be planted and new life was born.  The death of winter was past and new life has begun.

Our bodies and our lives are a part of nature as much as they ever were, we just kind of hid away behind screens and modern lives and forgot.  You will find that death and new beginnings are prevalent right now.  The Universe may have a bright new beginning for you.  That means death comes first, but know that the sun is shining every day and that life always conquers.  Welcome your new beginning.  Happy Solstice!

Posted in Holidays

Keeping Yule Celebrations Alive

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The nights were dark and starry.  Cold as the winds blew and the people of the time stayed indoors, lamps and fires lit, families gathered in the dimly lit homes of the land.

The solstice was coming soon and across the lands the sun would shine a bit more each day.  This was a cause for great celebration among the people.  Twenty-thousand plus years before organized religion the families of the ancient lands bundled up in furs and lit lanterns and went from house to house bringing light and song to their neighbors.

The spring prior the God and the Goddess conceived and on December 21st the Goddess would give birth to the son of God, the sun.  The Holly King and his reindeer came around with gifts in exchange for a bowl of porridge.  And during the twelve days of Yule fires were lit, celebrations were had, and light was spread by all.

The newer religions of today borrow the same concepts of celebration and light.  What can we do today to celebrate Yuletide?  Spread light around you.  Compliment strangers and friends.  Check on elders and see if they are well fed and if they need company.  Invite folks into your home for a warm pot of soup and a game of cards.  Give simple, handmade gifts.  Set up twinkly lights and a Yule tree.  Sing and rejoice for the Sun God is coming and will brighten each day.

Xmas card 2017

Happy Yule everyone!

Posted in Herbal Remedies

The Sun and Moon Meet (so what does a full moon on solstice mean?)

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The moon was full a few hours ago.  The first time that the moon has been full on the summer solstice since 1948.  The large moon meets the strongest day for the sun.  This is more significant than one would think.

At my shop the tops of the canning jars holding hundreds of jars of medicine are popping.  The herbs move.  The fluid they are suspended in changes colors.  The medicine will be ready.  The medicines that go out into the full moon of June are always the most brilliantly colored and generally the strongest medicine I will make all year.  The full moon changes the frequency of the medicine (remember everything is energy) making it match our bodies unique energy level.  The moon cycles control the ocean, women’s cycles, and have a great influence on farming, and on medicine making.

All my medicines go through the sun as well.  This often surprises people since the little dark bottles at the health food store take such good care to not show their faces to the great sun.  Think sun tea.  It infuses the herbs.  The sun is our ally.  It detoxifies the skin, creates natural vitamin D, controls our moods, and sets our internal clocks.  The sun is as powerful as the moon for my medicines.  (I do not cut my medicines like common tinctures so I never worry about loss of energy or mold.)

So here today we have the longest day for the sun, the change of season is upon us, and the moon is there to greet the sun.  This will have a powerful influence not just on medicines and plants, but on us as well.

This is a time to become your strongest self.  The frequency is right, the season is new, it is time to be renewed.  Change is swirling all around us and it is time to really look inward and focus on our utmost important intentions.  Not your intentions for anyone else, just you.  Time to release all that is past.  Release anything not adding to your life.  Release any habits, jobs, relationships, old ideas, anything that may have been there for too long keeping you stagnant.

Focus intently on new ideas, jobs, relationships, place of living, creative ideas, and passions.  It is time to manifest the place we want to be.  To be the person we want to be.

I know I have allowed myself to become too busy.  The things I have done over the years were done with Doug but without his help I have taken on too much.  Too much time working in the shop, teaching others, volunteering for things, trying to do everything at home, at work, and for others.  I need to scale back a smidge.  My medicines and my peace of mind will suffer.  I will think today on how I can make changes to make my work and my personal life lead to the most balance.  What are my priorities?  What are yours?

I really need a bonfire to be dancing around in the moonlight tonight to bring it all to being but I guess my oil lamp and a journal will do.  Happy Solstice!  Summer is here!

Posted in Holidays, Uncategorized

What is Yule?

yule

What is Yule?  Is it the same thing as Christmas?  You know, the Yule log was from Yule.  Turns out it is not a dessert but rather a celebratory log that creates a symbolic fire.  Many of the colors and traditions of Christmas are actually from Yule.  Even the 12 days of Yule!  Yule was around a long, long time before Jesus was even a twinkling in his mama’s eye.

It was decided to place Christmas at the same time as the pagan holiday Yule to overshadow it.  So, was Yule a time where witches went singing about town creating havoc and devil worshipping?  Goodness, no.  Yule is the celebration of the solstice.  From the 21st on towards summer the sun shines for a bit longer each day.  If you were a farmer (remember pagan holidays are also called agricultural holidays) you can bet your Yule tree that you would be celebrating!  Woohoo!  Bonfire and dancing in the moonlight!  Get me my seed catalogue!  Or on the darkest night of the year perhaps we have a feast with family and friends and sit by the fireplace.  We revel in the rest winter brings in its quiet reverence and dream of the season to come, ever being grateful for all we have and all we are.