We are here on the Wheel. Again and yet again, it is pointed out that Yule is a lesser “holiday” for pagans and not such a huge deal as the Christian Christmas has become. There are many websites which will explain all the ways in which pagan traditions were taken to make up the traditions that manifest at Christmas, the tree, the Holly King, the sweets, the mistletoe and more. I’m not one to repeat all that here.
Yule is important because it marks the longest night of the year. The days have gradually become shorter until winter arrives and while Winter is nowhere near done, Yule marks the promise that Light will reign again. From this day forward, each day will become a bit longer, the light will last longer. It’s a promise of Spring and Summer that seem so far away.
These days, it’s easy to forget that. We have electricity and furnaces and food in plenty. At this time of year, I am always amazed that in older times, people would have such faith in the turning of the seasons that they would feast on the darkest of days. Think about it.
Their homes were drafty and cold. Even when the harvests were good, they didn’t have the means to store food like we do. Their lives depended on what they had stored from the harvest and what the men could hunt. On December 21st, they still had the coldest months of January and February to depend upon their food stores then March before they saw a hint of fresh herbs growing wild. Game was scarce. Animals stuck close to their dens and men close to their fires. Yet, every year, from the humblest of towns
to the high halls of the lords
the lady of the house would take stock of her stores and lay out a feast for Yule. What faith that must have taken! To use the best of what you had to celebrate the coming of Light when you could not know if you would have enough to last through the coldest months!
That is the magic of Yule for me, that incredibly enduring Faith. I am always mindful of it as this season comes. I wonder that it does not get “lost” in our mad scramble for gifts and decorations. I try to take time to reflect on what really matters, not what gifts I can buy but what gifts I can give, of my time, my love, stories, food and just sharing good energy. Call old friends, forgive someone, laugh with children, share joy and light, the riches you have and have faith that these are things you will not run out of.
Send a card: If you are looking for pagan cards, I know the perfect place to find them. Moondragon Cards is based in the UK and has some gorgeous cards for all seasons AND calandars! Find them on Facebook
Celebrate the birth of the child of Light
October’s brilliant foliage is but a memory, the bright leaves of autumn lie brown and damp on the ground. The view from my window is bare tree and grey sky most days, the earth damp and brown.
Days are long (and mostly wet here in Ohio) and nights come early. The chill outside makes the nights perfect for curling up with a great book or snuggling with your furry friends. Nosey loves to perch on the arm of my chair and as soon as I start petting him, Vato puts his head on my lap and wants attention given to his ears. It’s also perfect weather for a warm fire if you are lucky enough to have a fireplace and for twinkling candles. It’s the quiet time between wiccan festivals, a time of turning within. It’s also perfect for fire magic. Whether warm fireplace embers or candle burning, flames have always been powerfully magical. Fire enhances visualizations, meditations, divination and spellwork.
I like to get my candles ready after Samhain. They need to be “dressed” (with the appropriate oil) and stored wrapped in white linen cloth until I want to use them. I like to make house blessing candles and healing candles for winter “blahs” and negativity and maybe a money or prosperity candle just for that extra increase I need for the season. A great gift for a friend is a tranquility candle to help with the stresses of the holiday season. Use a light blue candle and put it on a white dish surrounded by blue chalcedony stones.
Even if you are not pagan, you can empower candles with magical energy. Magic, after all, is simply enhancing the possibilities. Choose the right color candle for what you want.
White = purity, truth, spirituality
Red = strength, love, energy, courage, passion
Blue = peace, tranquility, understanding, patience, health
Natural = all purpose, purification
Green = prosperity, fertility, luck
Yellow/Gold = mental clarity, success, concentration
Brown = grounding, centering, neutrality
Pink = affection, romance, friendship
Black = protection, ward off negativity
Purple = meditation, clairvoyance, power
Silver/Gray = cancellation, neutrality, stalemate
Orange = encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction
To “dress” a candle, take olive oil between your thumb and forefinger and rub it on the candle from the middle to the tip, then from the middle to the bottom, visualizing the energy that you want to happen. Pagans will certainly have natural oils or herbs to add to the olive oil to increase the energy.
When you burn it, be alone, have soft music playing if you want, visualize what you want to happen. If you want a tranquility candle, for instance, visualize peaceful scenes, a harmonious home, serene scenes. If you want, you can make up your own little rhyme or mantra, it does not have to be elaborate. When you have done this once, the candle is “charged” and each time you burn it, the energy radiates outward. Oh, and don’t toss away your candle stubs into the trash. You can reuse them to make new candles.
The end of November brings the Thanksgiving celebration. No matter what your religion, you can take one day to gather with friends and family to celebrate the blessings in your life. For some, this is the start of their shopping season, the mad search for gifts. For me, it is the end of the gift search. Mine have been set aside and are ready to be wrapped.
With luck, we may get a soft dusting of snow on Thanksgiving Day. Where I grew up, in New York, Thanksgiving Day was considered especially blessed if we got an inch of snow. Hunting season had started and the men would hunt until noon while the women cooked. The snow made it easier to track. For those of you who think hunting is but a cruel sport, you have never spent a long winter with very little food except what was brought in from the woods, the gardens and the streams we fished in summer. There were plenty of times when that venison in the freezer made the difference between something and nothing on our plates. Winter is sometimes the time of layoffs for people. Back then, Food Stamps were not an option. People made do with what they had, what they could hunt and fish and grow.
November is a good time for counting blessings, relaxing and rejuvenating as the Wheel of the Year turns. Enjoy!
Circle: no beginning, no end, or is there?
Our lives are a circle and follow a cycle. Everything in our lives comes full circle, following a cycle.
All things begin with a new idea, inspiration, a new project, a new idea, relationship, a birth, the new moon…..from the element of Air in the East of the circle, the gateway. Spring is the season associated with Air.
The south of the circle is Fire, the energy that implements new ideas, projects and inspiration. One cannot move forward on the Wheel without this energy pushing behind ideas. Summer is the season associated with Fire.
The West, the Water sign of the circle, the creativity flowing and moving your energy ever forward. Fall is the season associated with the West of the Circle.
The North, the Earth of the circle, the bounty and abundance, reaping the harvest of your efforts. Winter is the season associated with the Earth of the Circle.
If we follow the Circle of Life like the Circle of the Year, we will see that we cannot advance around the circle until all is completed with the cycle we are in at present.
In the spring (East/Air), you are planning your garden, or in life, you have an idea or are starting a new relationship and making plans. You cannot plant seeds on ground that is not prepared. The ground must be clear of weeds, they must be plowed under or burned off in the previous turn of the circle. If it is a new project, you must get rid of the remnants of old projects or ideas that did not work out. They will clutter your work area and your mind and the way will not be clear. If it is a relationship/partnership and you still have ties to an old relationship, baggage, these ties and bonds will interfere with the growth of your new relationship. Do a ceremony/ritual to celebrate the end of one thing before you begin another.
When you move on to the South (Fire/Action/Energy) of the Circle, your work is steady. Your planting of the crops can be finished, the weeds must be kept down, the ground kept fertile. If you are starting a new job or a new relationship, this is the learning phase, you are working hard to learn all you can, to build new ties, to insure that good roots are put down. In your leisure time, you can relax and look at how well your work is progressing and anticipate the time ahead when you will reap the rewards of your efforts. You can enjoy watching your garden grow, your job performance improve, your skills improve and your relationship grow.
The West of the Circle, (the Fall, the emotional/Water aspect). Seeing the first fruits of your work in the garden. Enjoying the kudos of a job well done. Rewards for your learning experience. The joys of a working relationship that has strong roots. Creativity flourishes and the bounty is forthcoming.
And in the North of the Circle (the Earth/Abundance) phase, you will enjoy the whole fruits of your labor, take satisfaction in well stocked larders from your garden and fields. On the job, you will relax a bit with your position secure (ideally) In your education, take pride in your knowledge and skills. In a relationship, you will enjoy the emotional satisfaction and comfort of a partner with whom you are comfortable and loved. At the same time, though you are relaxing, not working in the fields, you will be preparing for the next turn of the circle. In the garden, there will be days of burning off old weeds and stalks, clearing the fields for the next crop. On a job, you’ll be preparing ground for the next phase or promotion. In education, you’ll be exploring the next skill sets you might want to acquire. In a relationship, you’ll be preparing for the next phase of that relationship, maybe children or a move to another place.
And the Circle will begin again. You cannot move from one spot on the circle without following the Cycle. You can’t go from planning/planting seeds (East) to abundance (North) without passing through the other phases, doing the work. And, if a project/relationship/idea fails, you cannot immediately begin a new project without going through the steps of the cycle and understanding why it failed, expending the energy to find solutions to the problem and sitting back and contemplating what you learned by the failure. Only then can you move to the East of the Circle and begin again. Well, you actually CAN begin a new project or relationship but you will most likely get stuck at the same spot you failed beforehand and you’ll not move forward around the Circle but stay in the same spot even though you seem to be starting over.