The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice

The darkest day makes way for the return of light

Tarotcom Staff   Tarotcom Staff on the topics of winter solstice, capricorn, astrology
December 21, 2013 marks the Winter Solstice, which is the official beginning of winter, and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. But there’s a light at the end of this tunnel — literally! As the temperatures fall throughout the winter, the light grows, representing new hope during a time of darkness.

Ancient solstice festivals were the last big feasts before food became scarce during the harsh winter months. This magical day was celebrated from ancient Rome to China, and by the builders of Stonehenge to the Mayans. In fact, we all remember the Winter Solstice on December 21, 2012, which was the apparent end of the Mayan calendar, causing many to believe the end of the world is coming. Obviously, we’re still here!

Many modern holiday traditions, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s, have their roots in the Winter Solstice celebrations of yesterday. Winter festivals continue today, complete with lights, feasts, dancing and singing, and spending quality time with those we love.

Astrologically, the Winter Solstice marks the moment the Sun — the ruler of the zodiac — moves from adventurous Fire sign Sagittarius to the steady Earth sign of Capricorn. This is the dark night of the year, a day when the Sun appears to stand still. It’s a time for light and laughter, but also deep reflection.

The Sun’s move into steady Capricorn urges us to take some time to look back on 2013 before we make those New Year’s resolutions. What did we do right? What do we wish we’d done differently? Don’t fight the seriousness it brings to the festive holiday season — use it to start 2014 on the right foot! Just make sure to keep some of the Goat’s ambitious energy alive when the Sun makes its next move.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

Author:   Lori Dake   

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.

I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!

And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!

So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.

My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.

We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!

So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!

Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.

Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.

Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)

So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!

PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? 🙂 I’d really like to start a new quest!

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

Author:   Lori Dake  

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.

I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!

And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!

So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.

My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.

We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!

So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!

Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.

Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.

Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)

So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!

PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? 🙂 I’d really like to start a new quest!

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene

Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Oct. 10, Festival of Lights

magick89

October 10th

Festival of Lights

In Brazil, October 10th begins the two-week celebration of the Festival of Lights. Each town or village has its own unique practices, but, in general, the festival begins with a parade of penance. This is followed by the lighting of torches, candles, hearth fires and oil lamps to drive away the evil spirits of the darkness that creates confusion and bring bad luck.

Glorious Thursday Morning To All My Dear Friends & Family!

Yule Comments & Graphics Glorious Thursday Morning, my loves! I hope you are having a fairly good day today. Grab yourself a cup of hot cocoa, curl up on the couch, make yourself at home. Want to sing a few Yule carols with me? Don’t know any I can certain

White Solstice
(Tune: White Christmas)
by Lady Bridget

I used to dream of a white Solstice
Just like the ones I knew up North.
But in sunny south Florida
It ain’t gonna happen
Unless dreaming brings it forth.

Now I dream about a green Solstice
Ripe fruit is on my citrus trees.
May your Holidays be healthy and wealthy,
And may all your Solstices be green.

 
SHARE THE LIGHT
(The First Noel)

CHORUS:
Share the light, share the light!
Share the light, share the Light!
All paths are one on this holy night!

On this Winter holiday, let us stop and recall
That this season is holy to one and to all.
Unto some a Son is born, unto us comes a Sun,
And we know, if they don’t, that all paths are one.

Be it Chanukah or Yule,
Christmas time or Solstice night,
All celebrate the eternal light.
Lighted tree or burning log,
Or eight candle flames.
All gods are one god, whatever their names

.

OH HOLY NIGHT
filled by Lady Bridget

Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the Sun King’s rebirth.
Long lay the world in winter’s darkness pining
‘Till he appeared to bring warmth to the earth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!<
Call out your needs, Oh hear the Goddess singing
Oh night divine, oh night the sun’s reborn.
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh Holy Night

 

Dealing With Stress at Yule-How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday

Dealing With Stress at Yule

-How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday

By , About.com Guide

It should be the happiest time of year, right? After all, the Yule season is when we celebrate the return of the sun, and the days start to get a little brighter. The mundane world is observing Christmas and Hanukah, gifts are being given all over the place — it should be a season of great joy. Yet for many people, late fall and early winter are a time when frustrations begin to build, and anxiety (and often depression) set in. Between getting together with family, preparing big meals, shopping for gifts, decorating the house, and spending money on others, for many people Yule can be a time of overwhelming stress. Here are a few tips on reducing your stress levels during the Yule season.

Set your limits.

Are you in charge of the community coat drive, the local toy roundup, and getting your entire PTO’s fundraiser up and running? Step back! Be willing to say “No” when someone asks you to commit more time and energy than you have to give. We all want to help others at this time of year, but if you take on more than you really are capable of, you’ll become resentful and angry – and that’s no way to spend the Yule season. Learning to say “No” might be the best gift you can give yourself this year.

Enlist help.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the eighteen boxes of Yule décor in your basement? Fine — put the kids to work. If you don’t have kids — or if yours are too young to decorate — put on a pot of wassail and invite a few friends over for a decorating party. It will take the stress out of the situation if you’re surrounded by people whose company you enjoy. Likewise, if you’re hosting a holiday dinner, ask others to show up early to set the table or to bring part of the meal as a side dish. I’ve learned that if I plan ahead, and just ask, I can usually get someone else to commit to taking care of cleanup afterwards!

Don’t overspend.

One of the biggest holiday stress-outs is the knowledge that you’ll be paying off Yule until June. Don’t let this happen. Make a budget, and stick to it. For more on how to do this, read about How to Have a Budget Friendly Yule. Also remember, you don’t have to go crazy with the gifts. Do you want to teach your children about the value of the holiday season, or that whoever gets more stuff wins? In many families, parents have learned to limit the number of gifts each person gets — in mine, each kid gets one really big gift, and then three smaller gifts such as a DVD, a pair of cute winter pajamas, and a game to play or a book to read.

Set boundaries.

A lot of people stress out over family relationships during the holidays. If you’re one of those people, you need to decide ahead of time how you’re going to deal with family members who aggravate you. Got a non-Pagan family member who just won’t leave you alone? Brush up on coping strategies at Surivivng the Holidays with Your Non-Pagan Family.

Decompress.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed in the middle of the season, and you know you still have things that need to get done, take a break. Turn off the phone, shut the door, and go have some Me Time. Take a one-hour power nap, enjoy a bubble bath with some nice scented candles, invite a friend out for a quick coffee date. Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate and get yourself grounded. You’ll appreciate it in the long run.

Recognize burnout.

A big problem many people seem to have is they just fail to realize they’re burning themselves out. Stress creeps up on us, and then we tend to justify it by saying, “Well, it’s the holidays.” Learn to recognize the signs of burnout, and react accordingly. Some signs include:

  • Depleted levels of physical energy
  • Lowered immune system, feeling run-down or ill
  • Lack of interest in things that you normally enjoy
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Negative, pessimistic outlook
  • Anger directed at people who don’t deserve it, like kids and sales clerks

If you start seeing these behaviors in yourself, it’s time to take a step back and recognize that you’re stressing out. Now that you’ve discovered the problem, take time to fix it, so that you and the people around you can have a happy and healthy Yule season.

Dec 26 Kwanzaa

This new winter festival was created in 1966 by Dr Maulana Karenga to give African Americans a focus during the holiday season. He synthesized various African harvest rituals to create new customs for this holiday; the name Kwanzaa means the first or the first fruits of the harvest in Swahili.

One of the main Kwanzaa practices, which aligns it with the other festivals of light like Hanukkah and Christmas at this time period, is the lighting of the seven candles of the Kinara (kee-NAH-rah), a candleabra with 7 candles, three red, one black and three green. Each candles symbolizes seven qualities of African culture to be emulated: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility); Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imana (faith).

Creating Healing Traditions

Creating Healing Traditions

  • Wendy Strgar

“Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing – peace is the measure.” ~George Melton

As a child I dreaded the holidays. Weeks of uninterrupted solid family dysfunction were made unbearable by what seemed like everyone else having the best time of the year. I remember one year buying a tiny plastic tree and decorating it with cheap lights and tinsel so I could have some holiday spirit, too. I got sick a lot during those vacations and, sitting feverish in front of the holiday film reruns and advertising, only made me feel worse. I know from being married to a doctor for the last three decades that the holidays are a peak time for illness and emotional breakdowns.

Everyone is carrying around a sack full of something, and for many, it is an emptiness that only seems to get heavier through the years. It is easy to believe that with all the media messages around that we can purchase the fullness we all want to feel. It only took a couple of years of gorging on stuff to realize that stuff never satisfied anyone. Instead, over the years I created our holiday traditions around healing rituals that not only helped me to heal my own past, but have also given my kids a chance to make their own meaning in this time.

We had a lot to work with as our mixed religious backgrounds gave us many holiday choices to reinvent. The Hanukkah ritual is a favorite and it can be adapted to any other holiday or even just used at winter solstice. A celebration of light, for us it became a celebration of recognizing the light of gratitude and wonder in our own lives. Each night we take turns lighting candles and sharing the light of all the many things we have to be grateful for. My children have been profound teachers in this ritual, each with remarkable insights into the beauty and wonder of the world.

Training one’s mind in gratitude is perhaps one’s most worthy pursuit and guaranteed to heal one’s holiday emptiness. In fact, there is no other single human emotional quality that has the power to completely reinvent how you perceive your life and open a door to contentment and abundance. Many of the oldest secret societies in the world have gratitude built into their foundational belief systems. It takes practice if you are not accustomed, but gratitude is how happiness feels when it is imbued with wonder.

The most meaningful gifts at this time of year can’t be bought or even given; they are the transformation that happens in us when we are open to receiving. As a chronic giver, this ability to receive is a fledgling chick just learning to fly in me, but I now understand that letting go of how I think things should be and listening deeply to what is right in front of me is almost always a gift that I would have entirely missed in the past. When we get stuck on how life’s offerings (and you can expand that to include people and stuff) don’t match our expectations, we literally turn away from the love and pleasure that is ours. I see it happen every day; we refuse to be loved when it doesn’t look the way we want it to. Celebrate life this holiday season by allowing and receiving life’s gifts in front of you. Practice releasing your thoughts and preconceived ideas when you open a gift and listen for what might be deeply hidden in the gift in front of you.

All of this healing might make you bold enough to attempt the deepest giving of all- Forgiving. This is when we accept that we won’t get a better past and when we finally understand that the only one being harmed by the grudges we hold are ourselves. Forgiveness, in many ways, is the ultimate act of receiving. You finally free yourself from carrying around the baggage of emptiness filled with justifiable injury and disrespect that might never get proper acknowledgement. Forgiveness is a chance to see beyond what we have always known and create room to get a glimpse of a universe still unknown to us. In these moments, we can drop the stories that have defined our holiday memories for so long.

It is a bold step, creating rituals to heal the holidays; you will be astonished at how it transforms the New Year.

Goddess Of The Day: SEPHIRA

Goddess Of The Day: SEPHIRA
Hanukkah (Jewish)
 
Themes: Miracles; Victory, Success; Overcoming
Symbol: Light
 
About Sephira: This ancient Cabalistic goddess embodies divine light – the active, energetic power that flows
through the Universe in all directions. Thus, it is no coincidence that the ten spheres on the Tree of Life are
called Sephirah, for this goddess guides our way and path with her radiance.
 
To Do Today: This festival commemorates the rebellion of the Jews against the Syrians, in which a miracle took
place. A small bottle of oil stayed lit for eight days, keeping the temple consecrated until more oil could be brought.
Since Sephira is the light of miracles, today’s a good time to focus on seemingly impossible goals or situations that
you may have set aside or left behind in discouragement. Revisit those dreams; reconsider the logistics of those
circumstances. If there is a better way to approach things, Sephira will illuminate that path or options for you in
your meditations. Make sure to turn on light sources today, and open curtains to let natural light into your home.
Symbolically, this welcomes Sephira’s active power into your spiritual life and quest. Also consider following with
Jewish tradition and giving coins to friends or family. These tokens draw financial security. Or, eat potato pancakes
for providence.
 
 
By Patricia Telesco