Oh, Holy Night

Winter Solstice, 2011.

It’s snowing right now – thought the high of 0C means that there’s a heavy possibility that this will turn to freezing rain[1] before the day’s done. I hope now. Do me a favour, weather-front, and stay around minus-seven today! O.O
This afternoon will be a flurry (ahaha) of activity – putting together the Midwinter Meal[2], making chocolates (I hope), and doing some ritual cleansing (and actual tidying) of the house, plus a couple of bottle spells[3] for good measure.

What is Winter Solstice – the celebration/festive-occasion, as opposed to the celestial event – for me? What kinds of magical things do I do in association with, or through, the Fun Stuff I do every year?

Divination (tarot – generally “year ahead” kind of stuff)

Warmth and light in the dark: Recognition that central heating wasn’t always an option by turning off the electric heat and lights and using candles for heat and light

Serving both The Traditional Foods of My People AND some Pagan-relevant goodies, plus sticking with the local-seasonal (to a point – this is a time of year when I bring in Clementine oranges and pomegranates, neither of which grow anywhere near here). A mix of stuff that’s less about symbolism and more about my connections to both the land I live on and the people through-whom I came.

Decorating with winter-themed stuff – icicles, snow-flakes, pine cones, sun, moon, and star imagery. Poinsettias, pine and cedar boughs, and the like. (I’m currently using a holly garland, but I could see switching things up to include spruce garland and maybe jars/vials of dried hawthorn (or rowan – maybe) berries as well. Or something…) It’s a way of making my house look “festive” in the manner in-which I was raised, while also letting me give a nod to the long nights, the cold, and the means by-which we survive it. (I’m so utterly tickled — I have a garland ornament that’s basically a pin-up girl with antlers: Olive, Goddess of the Woods. YAY! :-D)

Ritually cleansing my house with incense (cedar, dragon’s blood, white sage…), shooing the murky-crap out the balcony door to be whisked away by the wind, and re-strengthening the wards (it’s a very “shields up” maneuver, where I am – kind of Star Trek. ;-)) on the doors, windows, mirrors, taps, and drains.

What it’s for, though, what the point of it all is, is… joy. Joy and pleasure and being with the people I’m crazy about.

What about you?

Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Snow doesn’t typically scare me. You have to slog through it and, when it’s really heavy and wet, it can lead to everybody sliding everywhere and low visibility, and the walk home can be down-right dangerous. But by and large, snow is big fluffy flakes and thick on the ground, and if you have to, you can dig a cave into it and not die. Ice, on the other hand, scares the fuck out of me. Ice offers no quarter and no shelter, and leads to bruises and big accidents, both. Be careful out there!

[2] Not to be confused with the Solstice Shindig. My Ghost asked me why I’m doing a Fancy Dinner for just her and me when there’s all this Other Stuff on my plate to get done and I’m feeling a little bit in over my head. My answer was that I like to do Something on the Solstice-proper to mark it. But I also like that the midwinter meal (a) was developed to accommodate the kinds of food that I can – for the most part (and currently entirely In Theory) – grow myself, and (b) is a much calmer, more introspective affair.

[3] In part done to take advantage of the soon-to-be-growing light levels.

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