Hecate, of course, gets to the heart of what I was fumbling towards a few days ago:
It wasn’t until I finally began to realize that this time of year is about the Dark, about going into the cold cave without enough food, about surviving — by hook or crook or sheer, cussed refusal to die — long enough for the sun to begin to linger longer in the Spring, that I became a fan of the last weeks of December. And, as Sia so beautifully puts it, I’ve also worked to take back this holiday, back from the xians who want so terribly to completely OWN this time of year and back from the corporatists who want so terribly to make me need to BUY THINGS in the vain hope that they will fill the dark hole of Winter.
Sia: I began to take back the things of the past many seasons ago. That tree for one thing, that World Tree, that’s mine. And those bright, hopeful candles are mine again, as well. This is a festival of light, after all. That circle called a wreath is mine, so too, the holly bush. Before I became Pagan, I was always drawn to pictures of a stag standing alone in snow. I’d see this design in different forms over the years and it always spoke to me. Now I know why. And look at that old Shaman dressed in furs. He’s mine now, too. He was lost for a time, selling sodas if you can believe it, but he’s back again where he belongs. He still brings gifts, but the gifts he offers are very different than the ones I’d known before.
One of the things that age has taught me is: things change. The Wheel of the Year turns. What seems terrible beyond belief and insurmountable now will seem ok and manageable later. The frozen lake will thaw. The leafless forsythia bush will bud. The evil ruler will die and the good leader will emerge. A clueless people will wake up and live up to their potential. Peace will break out and nameless forces for the good will appear at the needed moment. Women will be happy and busy and children and gardens will flourish.
Whatever this time of year is like for you, right now, I wish for you: time for reflection, a willingness to dance in the dark and drink from glasses chipped from ice, a face-to-face sudden encounter with your Fear, time to hibernate, dream, and plan, and great, bracing draughts of crystal cold fresh air to breathe. And I hope that you can see the Sun rise on Sunday morning. I’ll be out in the freezing cold with the witches, beating on pots and pans, blowing whistles, yelling, whooping, and shaking tambourines to wake her up from her sleep, to make sure that, one more time, as she has for all of my great, great, many-times-great grandmothers, she decides to linger longer and turn the Winter into Spring. A witch’s job, after all, is to turn the Wheel, and round and round the Wheel does turn. If you yell loud enough, I just might hear you. If you listen carefully, you just may hear me beating on my soup pot with my wooden spoon.
4 thoughts on “Take Your Holiday Back”
As one who gardens, the capturing of the season past helps to bring the anticipation of the season to come. The stored energy of the waning sun arrayed in rich, red rows of tomatoes in quart jars. Vegetables picked at the peak of ripeness subjected to an early winter, and awaiting an abrupt thaw from the freezer to the soup pot. The sparkling brilliance of summer berries held captive by cork as this year’s vintage is parcelled into bottles of wine.
Winter food is comfort food for me, soups and stews cooked long and slow. The heat of the stove and the brightness of the fireplace pushing back the long, dark winter nights.
And as one is nourished by the abundance of the garden past, you are reminded that it will soon be time to start anew, as the circle turns again.
…and the painted ponies go up and down…
if only i had a fireplace or stove. i never was a santa kinda kid. never believed in him. now i hate the american santa. i read a iceland chilren’s book. i like their version. mean little trolls.
Wishing you the best during the Dark, A. I’ve followed the Path of the Forest for nigh on 35 years now and every year it gets more interesting.
The mundane are a queer bunch. They stab and scratch at us with every pious word, every plastic Jesus. They close their eyes and cover their ears as they sing ‘Fa-la-la’. I hear them say “It’s the reason for the season!” but ignore us when we tell them that the season is Winter.
This is the Dark of the Year, a time for reflection, of gathering loved ones close, of taking stock in the things you need to hold on until the greens of Spring return. We look around, see what needs to be done within our homes, make repairs both physical and spiritual, take time to tell stories of brave men and women who survived the Dark in previous years and what lessons their actions teach. The Holly King has passed, the Oak King takes his place until Midsummer.
Athenae, may the Dark hold you safe and keep you warm. Best to you and yours in the coming months.
To the rest of the First Drafters from who I have learned so much, I also give thanks and good tidings, and hope for safekeeping in the months ahead.
an old hippie gnome
The novelReindeer Moon by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
is set in Wurm-glaciation Europe, and vividly depicts
what the Dark Time must have been for our ancestors.
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