"It's funny how family can bring you back to yourself because they know you so well and for so long, they treat you as if you were always just the same. Which is exactly what can drive you out of yourself, too, after a while. Because of course, you're not."
They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but that's only half the truth. In the face of our assembly-line obsession with efficiency and expendability, keystone species like mistletoe serve as powerful reminders of why individuality is so essential to abundance. True prosperity lies in the diversity of our communities and the ways that we support that diversity with our own unique gifts. It can be lonely, even a little frightening, to be different. But nature is messy. Nature is wild...
As Christmas approaches once again, I find myself wondering, wandering in a liminal space. Asking myself how to teach children that realizing their own inner Santa Claus is infinitely more challenging than believing in some unlikely literal jolly-old-elf, and infinitely more rewarding. Asking myself where I belong, where we all belong, and how we belong to each other. Asking myself how I can tell the stories of my ancestors, pagan and Christian alike, to the children of my partner. What can I say that will be meaningful and relevant for them, that will share with them the "spirit of the season" that I have come to know and love and value? What will I say when they come singing, a penny for my thoughts?
Sunny Solstice blessings to you all! Exactly ten years ago today, I celebrated my first Pagan ritual. The sun was high, the wind was lazy, the earth was warm beneath our feet, and the bugs were out in swarms after a wet spring! We shared bread, poured libations of water and made offerings of lavender and foxglove. This year, I gathered lavender and foxglove from the garden in front of my apartment building, on the other side of the continent from that first solstice celebration. Traditions continue, memory endures. I'm looking forward to the next ten years!
Just in time for the summer solstice, I've designed a new t-shirt for the Hipster Pagan store. (Wait — you didn't know there was a Hipster Pagan store? That's okay. It's pretty obscure. Nobody shops there anymore since it sold out and went mainstream. After all, hipster jokes are so over.) You can get the tee here. Or browse the store. I'll be uploading the Hipster Greenman design onto several other non-wearable items (including posters and, of course, coffee mugs — every Hipster Pagan needs their coffee mug when they're making their daily morning libations to the Goddess Caffeinia).
Christmas eve night, about nine o'clock. Basket slung over one arm and bumping into my hip with every step, I trudge through the snow. The ribbon wound around the basket's slim handle glistens in a hint of milky moonlight, gold thread woven in elaborate patterns through the deep red cloth. In the basket, a red pillar candle and two tapers — scented "seasonal berry" — jostle in a nest of intertwined greens, bits of douglas fir and blue spruce smelling sweetly of bent needles and dried sap; wedged among them, the frankincense sticks, the crystal bowl full of dark sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, the small jar of spring water decorated with silvery snowflake designs and curled bits of blue string. The snow crunches as I feel my way along the un-shoveled path through the park, some of it falling onto the tops of my moccasin-like shoes and slipping down inside to melt against bare skin.
Going into the future is like going into the dark. That was the theme of our family's solstice ritual this year, as the nine of us (grandparents, parents, four kids and one cool step-uncle) settled down into a circle in the darkness of the living room. It was several hours after sunset on the longest night of the year, and the kids were antsy with excitement over unopened presents. I struck a single match, and began to weave our sacred space.
In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I share some of the kid-friendly craft recipes I use for making ornaments and animal-safe ritual offerings for our winter solstice celebrations: "It’s become a winter solstice tradition at our house to wake before sunrise on the morning after the longest night and head down to the local park where we climb the highest hill and greet the new sun with songs and offerings. ..."