In the Cold Midwinter

Today, the Wheel turns again: a new year is born and the sun begins its long swing back to warm the northern hemisphere.

It has been a challenging year for me. I have been unemployed the entire time, and survival has been a severe struggle. But one bright spot in my life has been Atheopaganism and the growth of our community.

I wrote over a hundred posts to the website this year, on topics ranging from sigils and candle rituals to rites of passage to sexual ethics in the Pagan community. We had guest posts on various Atheopagans’ practices, and we selected a beautiful symbol for our tradition: the suntree.

On Facebook, our community has swelled to more than 1,200 members, always with active, interesting conversations and exchanges, and a shared tradition of the Friday Night Virtual Fire most weeks. It’s a warm group, supporting each other in various ways, and we have celebrated births and other announcements happily.

We’ve held gatherings for rituals and socializing, and presentations at Pantheacon. I’ve made new friends. And my personal practices have evolved and deepened.

In all, it’s been deeply satisfying, the Atheopaganism of 2018. I’m grateful to each of you who has been a part of it.

These dark nights are rich for contemplation. We see so much of the worst of humanity displayed to us these days, and perhaps it’s my contrary nature, but that leads me to think about the very best of us: freedom, and courage, and kindness, and wildness, and creativity, and care.

My effort in this world is for these things. For liberation in the societies of humanity, and humble devotion to the green glories of the living Earth. For pleasure and joy, and responsibility and dedication. For courage and integrity and service.

And speaking from the standpoint of one who has been unacknowledged recently by those we see as credentialing us—jobs, capitalism, enterprise—I say we have value beyond what we are paid for. I say that what we stand for things that are important, economics notwithstanding.

Who you are is a jewel, a treasure. What you bring to the human table is needed and of value.

It is the longest night, but not the last. We will pass on into the next cycle of being.

May your Longest Night be passed in warmth and comfort and surrounded by love. And may the coming year be your best yet!

Yuletide: A Compendium

Over the years, I’ve posted quite a bit about my Atheopagan Yule traditions. I thought I’d pull links to them together here for easy reference.

Yule, overlapping so heavily with the Christian/secular holiday of Christmas, is a time when many of our Pagan traditions are widespread, and with many old threads of lore and practice layered over one another. Whether your household goes all out, with a tree and gifts and parties and the Holly King in his guise as Saint Nicholas, or simply lights candles to call back the light into the world, it is a time of both hope and fear, a time for reflection on what has gone before, a time for thinking about new projects and initiatives.

Personally, I like to do All The Things except buying and receiving gifts. The commercial consumption frenzy at this time of year really offends me (except for children, where I feel it is simply cruel to deny them what they see their peers experiencing every year), and I have enough stuff, so we dispense with that piece. But I like to drink the nog and mulled wine and seasonal ales, and erect and decorate a tree, and burn a Yule log with wishes for the new year, and eat too much and too well, and watch Hogfather, and sing carols (including the Atheopagan filks I’ve included in the hymnal) and listen to Renaissance Christmas music (This is my favorite album)…or jazz Christmas music…and visit with dear friends. And to tell ghost stories on Solstice night–an old tradition I hope will come back into fashion.

Plus, of course, a Yule ritual and feast thereafter.

So here are the various posts I’ve made on Yule practices, rituals and traditions over the years, with some Yuletide poetry as well. I hope they serve you in good stead and that yours is a warm, comfortable, joyous and love-filled Yuletide season.

An Atheopagan Life: November and December

What Shall We Give for Yule?

The Yule Log: a Winter Solstice Ritual

Mulled Wine: A Poem for the Yuletide Season

It Starts With Just One Thing

A Winter Spell

Atheopagan “Advent” Calendar: a fun project for the holidays

Yule Offering #2: Courage

My second hope for you at Yule is that you engage the season with bravery.

This is the time when we stand up to darkness and cold and the prospect of much more of it, and we do so with a combination of brazen silliness and real strength: the kind of strength it takes to deal with difficult family members and multiple obligations and inclement weather and looming deadlines and planned projects and lists and unsnarling the bloody lights and figuring out where we put the tree stand last year and deciphering Grandma’s 40-year-old spider-scrawl on that recipe that simply MUST be made.

The many demands of life multiply at Yule. For some, this is reason enough for the whole affair to become oppressive and miserable…and often, lonely as a result, when they are the very ones who most need company and cheer.

So for you at this time, and continuing forward into the new year, I wish strength and perseverance. Even in these darkest of days, may you find it within you to rise to the many occasions, and embrace the flurries of tasks and obligations. May the terrible news that dominates the world’s discourse not demoralize you. May short days and cold not dampen your spirits, and may interactions and engagements steel you for the days ahead.

Courage to you, my friends. May the spirit of Yule warm you right through, and strengthen you against the freezing winds. May the sure knowledge of the light’s return hold fast in your hearts.

Warmer, brighter—and less complicated!—days are coming.

Persist.