Every so often I feel I need to do a little housekeeping to tidy things up and tie up what feels like loose ends to me. This is one of those posts. At the end of it are a few simple rituals I use personally to feel grounded during this time of year.
To begin: there have been some really good seasonal posts on Yule customs recently out in the Pagan blogsphere, and I don't feel I can add anything to that conversation. I don't like rehashing things because I think it's a waste of time, energy and bandwidth-so I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to recommend you go to Pathos Pagan or The Agora and read Jason Mankey's blog Raise the Horns, or take a moment to do a web search for current posts on the subject. There's plenty of well researched material out there just for the effort of a few key strokes.
There are some marvelous 'think pieces' out there right now. I'm all for civil discussion, otherwise I don't feel that life has to be a roiling debate. I'm definitely over hearing about the "War on Christmas". Every time I come across a heated, hateful argument on the subject, I have to remind myself that we live in a diverse world of joy and wonder and we have a lot to celebrate. All I'm asking is that we try to be considerate and respect how others enjoy their holiday-whatever holiday that may be, whatever is meaningful to them. You can just nod or smile in acknowledgement (even if you are a non-believer). It's not necessary to fire off an expansive missive or start a flame war about how others have appropriated this or that, or how you were emotionally wounded by______ ( fill in the blank) religion as a small child. Really, none of us need to add to the drama right now. We've all seen that meme in our Facebook feeds of the manger scene with the caption, " They're trying to keep this from being shared on Facebook." or the Green Man with the wording," This Christmas tradition was stolen from Pagans." Hide the post, delete it, or unfollow the person passing it around-or totally ignore it. That's what I do, because I don't feel everything others post need my personal input. I don't have the time, energy or desire to reply to everything that other people post.
And absolutely, positively, I am sick to death of reading about the claimed superiority of certain individuals' spiritual practice. I am tired of witnessing the unbridled attacks of others on fellow bloggers-petty, nit-picking,trivial quibbling and nasty name-calling- because someone doesn't happen to share your flavor of Paganism, worship your gods, or dance to the same drum. And while I'm having a little rant here, I hate the term 'fluffy bunny' because it's not only disingenuous...it's downright stupid. We need to stop bullying each other. Are we in junior high school? Feeling threatened? Is it really necessary to join in or hide behind mob mentality to make ourselves feel better about the doubts we have concerning our own spirituality? The truth- if we are to be honest- is that at some point in the formation of our path, each of us have felt inadequate. We need to find other ways of dealing with those feelings other than poking at the next person or picking at scabs.
A few years back, fellow blogger Fire Lyte at Inciting a Riot came up with Project Pagan Enough, which I still feel is an excellent answer to the hubris. In a nutshell individuals are encouraged to do whatever feeds their souls-do what feels right to you, and don't worry about what someone else thinks about what you do, who you revere, or how you go about it. I have kept the logo for Project Pagan Enough on this blog for the last five years because I wholeheartedly agree with its mission statement-that you are Pagan Enough for your own needs and I am Pagan Enough for mine...http://www.incitingariot.com/p/project-pagan-enough.html And if something still bothers you, there is always the delete button-use it. I'm not shy about using mine, and I'm happier for it.
The Winter Solstice is looming large on the horizon of our common life in the Northern Hemisphere, and beyond the Longest Night of the Year, there is the merriment of the various holidays-Saturnalia, Winter Skoal, Yuletide, Christmas or however you choose to celebrate and ring out the old. Even though Samhain began the new cycle of the Celtic Calendar, we still have New Year's Eve and New Year's Day :the time when Janus looks back into the old and forward into the future. ( An aside: If you want to read an excellent book about the season, I recommend John Matthew's Yule, which is well researched and an indispensable resource.) As much as I love the festivity-because I am all about decorating and celebrating any holiday-I also feel an urgency as the year ends. The Wild Hunt has come and now is returning to that place it resides for the rest of the year. I watch it go farther into the distance with a bit of sadness. There was so much I wanted to do and did not get done and as I get older, the year is filled with priorities that push the things I wanted to do to the side...and that urgency is fueled by frustration. The Buddhists have a saying that the regrets of men are as many as the birds in the air, and I certainly have my own flock of birds. They circle and honk at me to bring my attention to what I have left undone-intentionally or unintentionally. No matter how much I wave my arms above my head, they're still following me, joining the birds/regrets of past years, pecking at my resolve when I let them. I think each of us have that feeling to some extent.
The way I often deal with this is to take those regrets to the Place of Deep Indwelling, down where it is quiet and peaceful in my spirit, to see what I can salvage or make sense of. At times those things have become the new seeds of renewal, their planting recycled into a new beginning to be realized when they have reached the point of fruition. I have manifested many beneficial things this way,by examining things a bit closer or changing my attitude about them. There are also things that must be firmly and finally cast away when they are worn out and no longer serve. It's difficult because I am a hoarder of projects. I need to remind myself that I can only juggle so many balls in the air at a time. It's true that the Universe has unlimited energy, but that energy is only available if it is used wisely.
Every so often-usually at the full moon-after I end the ritual and close the circle I create a space around myself and invite the Goddess in to continue the conversation.I don't do this every time, only when I feel the need. I sit comfortably, sip a cup of tea or wine, and tell Her everything that is on my mind. Burning a little sage followed by sweetgrass aids me. It make it into an offering to carry my words. If I am anxious about something in particular, I let go of it by having this quiet conversation and then listening. Sometimes the answers come right away, sometimes they come in incubated dreams. Sometimes I don't "get" an answer until much later or when I least expect it, or through the actions of others. Near the end of the year, usually between Christmas and New Year's Eve, I make time for this little ritual and retire whatever is still bothering me- and it works for me, every time, without fail. It allows me to go into the New Year much more focused and knowing what my immediate priorities are on mundane and spiritual levels. It is a gift to myself. The other ritual I have for this time of year is that I go around the house anointing the doorways,windows and other portals asking Janus to open them to future possibilities. It is a simple ritual, and I change the script to fit the situation. The invitation to Janus need only be a few simple words; a bit of incense, consecrated oil or a bell to beckon Janus in are a nice touch. I have done this ritual alone and with a group in a call and response format. If you would rather, you can substitute inviting Spirit into the portals and spaces.
Speaking of tying up loose ends, the next post will include the final week of reflections and meditations I began a few years back when I was seriously thinking of writing a book of Pagan devotions entitled Seeking Light In the Darkest of Days. I posted the first two parts elsewhere in this blog, but didn't finish writing because, as I often do, I put it away to do something else.(Please
excuse any misspelling or bad formatting in those copies because I have
a bad habit of hitting the publish button without checking my copy!) >You can find parts I and II by searching this blog, or going to AmethJera's Broom With A View Facebook page and finding the links there.<