Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ten Easy Ways To Celebrate Yule

by Aimee

Finding time to make this time of year meaningful is a challenge no matter what you believe in. For those of us with young children, the constraints on our time and energy are even greater. Whenever I’ve consulted websites or books, I would get a little overwhelmed with some of the complexities that can go with the activities. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few easy ways to weave a little magic and fun into the holidays without overtaxing my already limited resources.

1. Hello, Sun!
It’s a romantic idea to get up with the sun rising in the East to meditate quietly and welcome the return of the Sun, maybe with a perfectly timed Sun Salutation in front of a beautiful altar alight with candles. Yeah, that doesn’t happen at my house either.

I’ve read so many manuals that say you should get up at dawn to herald the return of the Light. If you have young kids, or you know, work for a living, sleep is precious. Welcome the sun whenever you get up, trust me S/He doesn’t mind waiting. Throw your winter-wear right over your PJs and run outside to say hello to the Sun. Have noise makers ready at the door to take out with you if you want, or just clap and sing. Or just take a calming breath of fresh air. Kids love silly stuff like this and what a fun memory they will have of running outside Winter morning to greet the Sun. 

2.  Take A Walk
Change out of your jammies first, of course, you silly Heathen. After you’re fed and dressed proper take a walk in the woods or your local park. Use this as a time to reflect on where you’ve been over the last year and where you’re headed. If you have children, talk to them about the seasonal changes and how the days will be getting longer. Even my 4-year-old has noticed the afternoons are dark and he’s looking forward to the light returning. If they're old enough, have them imagine significant this would have been to our ancestors and it was such a cause for celebration. 

3.  Ribbon Magic
Hang any combination of red, silver, gold, yellow, or green ribbons on the trees outside. Let the Sun and the cleansing cool air charge them up for a day with energy that you can use later for spellwork or add a little luck to items you adore them with.    

4. Feed The Birds

If you’re super crafty and have the time, there are all sorts of creative bird feeders you can make out of oranges, apples, cereal; you name it. If that’s not your bag you can fill a store-bought feeder or just throw some seeds on the ground.

You can make this as involved as you want or have time for. Google homemade bird feeders, and you can find ideas for apple, orange, and pinecone feeders. You can make your own suet or string up popcorn, cranberries, cherries, chunks of apple, cereal, etc. to hang like garlands outside for the birds to pick at. Fill a store bought feeder or throw some seeds on the ground if time is limited. It may not seem like much but the birds and squirrels will appreciate it, and it’s a nice way to reconnect with nature when we spend so much time indoors to stay out of the cold.

5.  Easy Pine Charms
Most places that sell trees will let you take the cuttings of the lower branches that get left behind without charge. Cut them to size, tie them with ribbons, and add bells or other little ornaments to use as a centerpiece for your table, decorate an altar if you have one, or place them around the house. It’s an easy way to bring protective, cleansing energy into your life when they give off that great fresh-pine scent. 

6. Spread Some Yuletide Cheer
Bake (or buy - let’s be real here) cookies to share with your neighbors. Add a tag that says “Happy Winter” (and/or a decorate them with a sun, star, or whatever). My neighbors love it, and they don’t even realize I’m doing it to celebrate my holiday. Spreading good vibes can only make the world a tiny bit better, and maybe they won’t judge you as much for shouting at the sun in your jammies.  

7. Yule Log
I like to make a Yule Log cake around this time of year. They’re a real pain and pretty tricky to do, but I enjoy it. You certainly don’t have to if that’s not your bag. Throw some cake mix in a loaf pan, frost it when it’s cool and call it good. Use Hostess Ho Hos if you want and add some green and red frosting for leaves and berries. The Goddess certainly won’t judge you. If you have dietary restrictions or just not that into sweets, decorate toilet paper rolls and thread yarn or ribbons through them to hang on your tree.

8. Make Pomanders
There are some very pretty examples of these online that take a bit of work, but honestly, you can just take a few oranges, poke holes randomly with a skewer stick then fill them with whole cloves. They smell amazing and make a great centerpiece or altar decoration to represent the Sun.

9. Decorate With Paper Garlands
Cut a bunch of colorful strips with construction paper and staple them together in interlocking loops to make paper chain garlands. I know this sounds too simple, but it’s very satisfying to see them grow with each new link. This one is great for little kids because it’s not hard and they get a thrill out of making them. You can write wishes or intentions on some of the strips to make them more meaningful. 

10. Light The Way
Simply lighting a candle and sharing a meal with family and friends can bring warmth and ritual to your Winter Holiday. Invite friends over and have a potluck. Or just enjoy a cozy meal with your family by candlelight. Talk about intentions you wish to sow for the coming Spring. You can add a prayer in whatever fashion makes you comfortable to help nourish your loved one's body and soul, even if you have to do it silently


Anything you do for Yule whether it’s a grand ritual or a laid-back activity will enrich the day. Calling the Quarters and holding a full ritual is fun but not always practical when this time of year is already so busy. Be kind to yourself and honest with what you have to spare to help guide you in designing a day you can enjoy. Have fun making memories to share with your family and friends.  And may this Winter Season be bright and merry for us all.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Episode 35: Meditate On This

Meditation is an oft-used tool in the spiriutal toolbox, buy why? What are the purposes of meditation? What forms can it take? Who should venture to meditate? How does it fit into Pagan practice?

In this contemplative episode, Amanda and Jacob attune to the vibrational hum of the universe for an insightful and varied discussion about their experiences with meditative practice and how those fit into the Paganosphere. Along the way, there's talk about meditational goals, methods, types of meditation, journeying, the role of our senses, focus, attention, connection, altering consciousness, the use of mind-altering substances, self-knowledge, awareness, effort, using caution, expectations, and more...

Mailbag:
- Thanks to Sarah, Dylan, and Matthew!
- The Last Keepers (2013): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1716767/
- Love Magic, by Lilith Dorsey: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Magic-Potions-Getting-Keeping/dp/1578635926/

Sharing Space:
- Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (anime): http://www.crunchyroll.com/elegant-yokai-apartment-life
- Spirit Circle (manga): http://www.crunchyroll.com/comics/manga/spirit-circle/volumes

Some Meditation Links:
- Meditation: In Depth (NIH): https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm
- Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain, by Brigid Schulte (The Washington Post): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/?utm_term=.501d2b657b31

Links:
Website: http://www.thepriestesses.com
Email: thepriestesses@gmail.com
Twitter: @ThePriestesses
Facebook: The Priestesses
Music: Rebecca E. Tripp (www.crystalechosound.com)



Friday, December 8, 2017

Pagan Research Links

Pagan Research! This was mentioned in an episode many months ago and I forgot to post the links to the two panels I went to at Paganicon about researching.

The first is the blog of a pagan who is passionate about historical researcher and shares the resources they find (http://gleewood.org/seeking/learning/remembering/). This page is literally a summary of the panel presentation.

The second is a list of resources from Soli's Virtual Library (https://syncreticmystic.wordpress.com/solis-virtual-library/) which offers a lot of good starting places and suggestions for resources.

~ Amanda