Monday, December 12, 2016
Things to Know When You Meet a Witch or Pagan at Yule/Christmas
Good Morning My Witchy Reader,
Witches, witches everywhere! Yes, more and more people are 'picking up the broomstick' as it is called and choosing to follow a more natural, magickal path. Even if they do not identify as a witch, they might be what is called a Pagan. This is simply someone who chooses not to follow a Judeo-Christian Western Religion.
But, this time of the year, with Yule almost upon us, there is a lot of confusion out there as Christians start celebrating the Christmas season, whether secular or religious and I see a lot of misinformation as to not only the actual history of Christmas but where and how the Pagan history and culture comes in. In addition, people seem confused as to how we celebrate, if we celebrate, and if we do, what we celebrate.
Firstly, this blog discussion, like all of my lectures and writings, in no way ever intends to insult or to denigrate any religion or religious belief. I do not write my own personal opinion, but rather I put down the archaeological, and anthropological history of the world's cultures and people. It is important to understand that many religious texts such as the Bible are compilations of stories and myths that are meant to tell a story and to teach lessons and were not written to be considered actual factual records of events as lived by the people at the time of the stories written.
Well, for those of you who are still with me, let us continue. This time of the year I see a lot of signs on church lawns and memes on social media which say "The reason for the season - Keep Christ in Christmas", and this is a lovely phrase, but it is inaccurate. The season that has been celebrated at the end of December, on or near the Winter Solstice, which falls between the 20th and the 24th of December each year and is the shortest day and longest night of the year, has been referred to as Yuletide for many centuries before Jesus of Nazareth was born.
Yule is a Sabbat found on the Pagan Wheel of the Year, and historical evidence shows an agricultural wheel of the year has been used by various ancient cultures for thousands of years. When the Catholic Church started to overtake the Pagan cultures throughout Europe and in turned made Catholicism the required and only accepted religion, they did many things to convert the Pagan population. One thing was to adopt the Wheel of the Year and Christianize the ancient Pagan celebrations such as Yule, which became Christmas. The early Catholics weren't all wrong though, as Pagans have always celebrated this Sabbat as the re-birth of the Sun God, the return of the Sun. The Christians simply personified it to (Son) and the ( birth of the Son of God)
We most easily say "Happy Holidays" as we as Pagans understand that not everyone is or should be a Christian. But when I run into someone who is adamant about saying "Merry Christmas" I say it back. Simply because it does not cost me anything and takes nothing from me. I certainly would not get all huffy and expect people to wish me a "Happy Yule"!! A nice, warm, considerate holiday greeting is always welcome to me.
Also, ask yourself, whether you are Christian or Pagan or if you fall somewhere in between, if you get so offended, all upset because someone gives you a pleasant holiday greeting that does not 'fit' your image of how it should be . . . what is it within you, that brings up these intense feelings? Truly, if someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah that doesn't threaten my beliefs or faith, nor so if someone wishes me a Happy Kwanzaa or any other holiday greeting. So, if such a greeting pushes your button it is something for you to look into, within yourself. It has nothing to do with another.
As pagans many of us have evergreens or symbols of them inside our homes as they represent everlasting life and the return of the spring and warm summer months after the snows melts away. Evergreens are an example of sympathetic magick as they are always green, alive, they never seem to die every year as deciduous trees seem to when they lose their leaves. So, the ancients would bring the evergreen boughs indoors, and eventually these became the Christmas tree which is always symbolized as a evergreen tree. And as sympathetic magick goes, it is the imagery, the visualization that is important. So a fake evergreen tree is just as effective as a real one. I personally do not cut down real trees for this holiday as it seems like a waste of a perfectly good tree life, when a artificial one will do just nicely.
But, I do not judge. It is up to you to use what works for you. As far as holiday foods are concerned, many Pagans started out in this life like so many others, in Christian/Jewish households or households with no religion but the ethnic culture of their ancestors. So I know many witches and Pagans that enjoy the foods of their childhoods, For me, those foods consisted of kielbasa, pierogies, pickled herrings, babka breads, ham for Christmas dinner and stuffed shrimp for Christmas Eve. Cheese danish and bagels for Christmas breakfast, and always plenty of fancy nuts, olives, cheeses, relish plates and egg nog.
Some mistakenly think that witches and Pagans have dietary restrictions but we typically do not. Such things are specific to the person themselves. Some are vegetarian, some are vegan, some eat meat, just like people found in any demographic. Some religions have dietary restrictions for anyone that follows their religion, but not Pagans. You get to choose what works for you.
One additional thing I want to mention, is the misconception some people seem to have that if you are not Christian that somehow we are Godless. That is so far from the truth, that I feel compelled to mention it every now and then. Whether a Pagan or witch believes in a Goddess an a God/ just a Goddess, just a God/ Mother Earth as Gaia, being Pagan in many ways brings you loser to your higher power than some Christians. As pagans/witches, we do not need to go to a church or a Cathedral to find our God. He/She is with us always, always attainable, always in touch. Many of us feel closer by being in a natural place, in the woods, out of doors, in a field or inside of a cast ritual circle. Many of us feel the Divine is not outside of us, separate from us, with us trying to re-connect. No, many pagans and witches feel the Divine is within us, each of us. We understand that no matter what we do, we cannot separate from it, it is always within us.
That concept is probably, by my understanding today, the biggest difference between Pagans and Christians. We do not have the rules that Christians are required to follow. We do not have to confess sins to be forgiven, we need no forgiveness from our concept of God. Perhaps if we hurt those in our lives, forgiving and being forgiven can put things behind us and we can move forward with no resentment or bitterness. But our God/Goddess is complete love and acceptance, no matter what we choose to do here on Earth. We are not required to do penance, or expected to act the martyr and fast, or relinquish a luxury or something we enjoy. The Goddess has given us everything on this Earth, to use and enjoy as we choose.
Many pagans make their own rules as far as relationships, sex and intimacy are concerned. But we do not engage in wild, sex crazed orgies as some seem to want to believe, and are so disappointed when they find out it is not true. Hahahaha, You are on your own for sex crazed orgies! As far as rituals are concerned we conduct rituals with clothes on. Some choose to wear ritual garb, like cloaks and robes, others pretty, decorative clothes that make them feel special. This is also a personal choice. There are some groups I have heard of that perform their rituals 'sky clad' which means without clothing, but most of these are in Great Britain. I suppose there might be some in the United States but in 30 years all of the groups I have participated in or been a guest at, we have worn clothing.
I am writing this article after a terse short conversation with a customer who came into my shop last week and made some misunderstood assumptions about witches and Pagans. He was not happy to be corrected and seemed to want confirmation that the more outrageous and colorful legends and lore were true.
We may be magickal, but we are human. but are we typical, ordinary and just like everyone else, absolutely NOT !!! Hahaha As anyone who has ever really known a witch can tell you. We look at the world differently, we interact with the energy around us and try to send it out so that it returns to make our world better and happier. Some of us are fierce environmentalists, some strong political watch dogs, while others of us stay close to home, stirring our cauldrons and try to make the word a better place in our own small, but significant ways. Like I try to with this discussion I have with you every week, If one person can read my words and come away with a better understanding of others they share this Earth with, have more acceptance and knowledge about what we do . . . then I have made a difference. That is all I can ask for.
I hope you go out today, and make a difference, even if it is a small one. They all matter.
Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith
© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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at Monday, December 12, 2016