Daily Archives: December 3, 2013

X is for Xmas – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Yes, I know, I’m more than a year late. But I’m doing it.
“X is for Xmas”. Why would I choose “xmas” for a Pagan blog project.
Well, you can blame the CBC for this one.
A couple of days ago (possibly on a slow news day), they ran a spot on the radio about “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays”. Now, on the one hand, I understand why people who do celebrate Christmas in the “Jesus is Born” sense of the word would perhaps appreciate it if their holy day wasn’t so overwhelmingly coopted by consumerist crap. I can totally get behind that[1]. On the other hand, I’m a member of a religious community (or “umbrella-termed group”, more accurately) made up of numerous different small-population faiths, all of whom get lumped together under the heading of “Pagan” (there’s just over a quarter-million of us in Canada, as of the 2011 Census). For some of us, the month of December is no big deal but, for many of us (and many of you reading this, I’m sure), December means celebrating Winter Solstice with longest night vigils and returning light parties. The trappings of our temperate climate midwinter festivals – and for good reason – look a lot like the trappings that people outside of our faiths probably think of as “Xmas Stuff”.
Winter Solstice falls between the 20th and 22nd (or so) of December. Unlike the lunar-cyclic feasts (like Diwali[2] and Hanukkah), it doesn’t move around. It’s always right next to Christmas. Combine this with a population that, even now, is still largely comprised of converts and, frankly, most of those converts grew up with feasting, presents, music, and candle-light around this time of year, even if our parents called it something different.
For those reasons, I really apreciate “Happy Holidays”. If I answer someone’s friendly “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Solstice”, I really do get looked at like I’ve grown a second, rather ugly, head. “Happy Holidays” lets me wish people a wonderful season of light, regardless of which one they’re celelbrating, without either (A) guessing them wrong, (B) pretending I’m something I’m not, or (C) having to do a lot of explaining to get rid of those Weird Looks.
Works for me.
But that still doesn’t explain “Xmas”.
If you look at the tags, I have one for “secular holidays”. Primarily, the secular holiday in question is “xmas”. Well, let’s break it down:
On Solstice, I kiss my wife (it’s our aniversary on December 21st), feast my nearest and dearest, hand out presents to people I care about, fill my house with people, lit candles, and food, and light up my altars in thanks for abundance and good people in my life.
On xmas, I kiss my wife (’cause why ever not?), feast with my family of origin, or hers, or potentially both, hand out presents to people I care about, and help fill someone else’s house with people (and potentially lit candles, if I happen to bring some over). My relatives sometimes go to church (for Christmas), but I join them after.
Xmas is a place where I can meet my relatives in the middle, take part in my family’s “special day” without having to pretend to be something I’m not or have to do a lot of explaining.
So, there you go. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] And there are lots of ways for individuals who celebrate Christmas to shut out that consumerist crap – like staying out of the malls and turning off the TV. Focus on the people who are important to you, and on spending time with (rather than money on?) them. You know how that goes. 🙂
If you’re into the socially-acceptable-excuse-to-give-presents stuff (you would not be alone if you were), try doing DIY or all-second-hand goodies for everyone on your list, or opting to give entertaining-educational gifts like classes (belly-dancing, glass-blowing, cooking, sword-fighting…).
[2] Which falls on November’s New Moon.

New Moon – Long Nights Moon Begins

Well, we have well and truly flipped into Winter, by the looks of things. I’ve switched the wreath on my door (last Friday) from “autumn leaves” to “spruce boughs” (and poinsettias and ice crystals… sort of), and will be doing The Decorating at some point this week.
I’ve spent the last two weeks doing transcription contracts (with more to come – YAY!) and dealing with this year’s Rainbow Youth Forum (which went quite well, last Thursday – hurrah!), but now I’ve got a bit of a lull, and I’m trying to put it to good use – both by playing catch-up on things I’ve neglected (a couple of emails to respond to, and invoice to send out, that kind of thing) and by getting a bit of a jump on (a) the DIY Secular Xmas stuff and (b) the Midwinter party that I host every year. Oh, and that whole anniversary thing.
Once again, I’m looking at how to make my Solstice goodies more local than before by incorporating the fruit butters and salsas I made over the summer into my midwinter feast.
Once again, I’m trying to plan out how best to use the resources I’ve got, and how to most inexpensively get ahold of the ones I don’t got (case in point: the ruined suede coat I picked up for $12.99 which, I hope will contain enough useable suede to make multilple purses, purse linings, caps, and other goodies for various recipients), for making Goodies for everybody.
Once again, I’m re-purposing second-hand goods, re-cycling old materials from candle wax to shirt sleeves, re-visiting the skills my ancestors practiced regularly (canning, weaving, spinning, sewing…) and re-imagining how This Time of Year can look as a Pagan chicky with culturally-christian roots (and practicing-Christian ancestors, for that matter, who are still a part of my life).
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised – what with this Moon having been called “The Great Recycle” by my wee date book – that I’m going the upcycling route for Secular Xmas presents this year. But this isn’t a post about Solstice. Not really. Even though that’s kind of what I’m concentrating on right now. It’s a post about the New Moon. So let’s get on with that, shall we?
Long Nights Moon covers most of December and the first couple of Days of January, as well. In addition to being “The Big Recycle”, Long Nights Moon touches on radical honesty, partying (go figure), and many different levels of exploration.
Maybe now is the time for you to go winter-camping and explore some wilderness (dress warm, and learn how to dig a snow cave before you go). Use that radical honesty to explore your relationships and map out where you and yours want them to go. Explore your inner landscapes through trance work or pathwalking, and see what new knowledge you’re able to bring back. Explore family herritage through hunting up old recipes or combining traditional ingredients in new and innovative ways, then share them with your family, community, or tribe.
Long Nights Moon is also Crone Time, inward-spiraling time, and Root Time. A time to pour a glass of whisky to the Hag of Winter, light candles in your windows to bring warmth and light to your home, and take stock of the past year with the help of journals and tarot cards, dreams and reminiscing friends. What has been memorable? What have you learned? What have you taught? Where do you want to go next?
Me? I learned how to spin and weave, and got (a little bit) better at facilitating discussions. I taught someone how to knit (not sure if it stuck, but it took me a few tries, so…) and got people thinking about relationships at the intersections of polyamoury and power-exchange. Getting married (just shy of a year ago as of this writing), attending the Feminist Porn Awards, and watching my wife make a major and very joyful career change have all been pretty memorable.
Where do I want to go next?
I want to go inwards (fearful as I am) and take another gander at my Internal Landscape
I want to go forwards with ordering pastured, ethically raised pork from a local farmer.
And I want to go outwards, editing an anthology of queer women writing about polyamoury and power exchange, and making more contacts in leather and sexpositivity cultures (I’m particularly interested in attending Playground next November), especially if they have another panel or three looking at the intersections of sexuality and spirituality. That would be awesome. 🙂
What about you?
Meliad the Birch Maiden.