I find the great to-do around the winter holidays annoying, really. I’ve lived in the Pagan calendar for the past 30 years, keeping the High Days (we used to call them ‘Sabbats’) with what has been an ever-growing community of Pagan and Pagan-friendly folk. At this point, for me, Lughnassadh is a much more important holy day than Yuletide, and actually requires at least as much effort when we hold our big Games and Rite. Bealtaine usually involves two or three parties, rites or sets of customs and of course we’ve just finished Samhain, often the biggest social holiday season of my Pagan year. I’m entirely aware that the Neopagan eightfold year is a modern construct, but I find it wholesome and holy, and it is too much a part of my custom to let mere scholasticism turn me from it at this late date.
So I turn through each year with a holy feast every six or seven weeks. I find the long observance of the Wheel to be one of the most effective bits of Theurgy available through Neopagan symbolism. Each time one works the full year one accomplishes a ‘magical retreat’ of eight rites spread across a year. The cycle brings a round of offerings to the Gods and to the other spirits, and to return with intention to Samhain and then to Yule each year is to complete a major magical work. Through it I feel blessed by all the Powers, standing firm in the wheel of sacred time.
Forgive my poetic turn… I know Yuletide’s important, and has hugely cross-cultural appeal. I do wish the Christians would reduce their insistence on doctrinal unity around the ‘Christ’ in the season, but that seems like too much to expect. Fortunately the natural power of the season shines through, and even the Christian symbol of the incarnate divine manifest in the humble circumstances of flesh speaks to the fresh spark of light and long growth of the Yuletide sun. So I try never to get too annoyed at the religious content of the cross-cultural season.
It just seems unbalanced to me, so much cultural weight given to one holy season out of eight. I suppose that when one is devout in a religion (Pagan Druidry, in my case) one finds reasons to prefer it. Still, I am pretty glad that Christmas is passing, and we can get on to the much more Pagan secular celebration of the Calends of the Year; then on to Imbolc, the feast of the Goddess of our house. See, there’s always a new blessing coming.
Still, to all Northern hemisphere dwellers, may the blessing of the newborn Light shine on us and grow in us, from spark to flame, from seed in the dark to shoot and bud and summer’s flower.