Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Children and the Magickal World

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Children live much closer to the world of magick then we as adults typically do. But are they ready to actually work magick like we, as adults, do? Of course as always this will depend on the child. But any child can learn how to keep this connection to the magick in the world.

As Pagans we know that the Gods walk with us every day and are constantly by our side. This is the essence of a Pagan Household. And it is our job to teach this to our children. Take them places to see the sun set or if they are old enough to see it rise. Let them experience nature as much as you possibly can.

For if we are to raise up the next generation in faith then they must know all parts of our faith, right?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this?


Monday, December 27, 2010

Paganism and Minimalism

Monday, December 27, 2010
As many of you know, I often turn to nature for answers to problems and to how to live my life. Since we as humans tend to oh so often and oh so dramatically over-complicate things.

So to continue in my series on Spiritual Leaders of our houses, I wanted to talk on the subject of minimalism. As I said above, we as humans tend to complicate things to much. But if you look at nature, they find the simplest way to get things done. Now that isn't always me (finding the simplest way) but I do strive for that.

Many people when they get started in the idea of minimalism they buy more things to help them get organized but that sort of defeats the purpose. My recommendation is not to go all gung-ho either. Rather just pick one thing and focus on bringing simplicity to it.

There is a Zen saying that I am reminded of here; When eating, eat; When walking, walk. Basically this means to find a focus and to do only that thing. The true essence of minimalism. To do more with less and to stop trying to multi-task.

Blessed Be!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

We Are All Spiritual Leaders

Sunday, December 26, 2010
As many of you know I am currently training in a degree system within a Wiccan tradition. Originally this was going to lead to clergy status, but that must now come from another road. But this has not stopped me from stepping forward and becoming a leader in my community and my own household.

And it is that second part that today's article is about. Not many of us feel the urge to take on the role and responsibility that comes with being clergy. But we all are clergy of a sort. Or if you prefer we are all the spiritual leaders of our own house. Whether that house is a hotel room, an apartment or a house. We may share this responsibility with roommates or our partners but there will be many times that one looks to us to lead.

Over the next week I am going to talk about the different faces of this role that I am familiar with. In the meantime I would love to get your thoughts on this topic. Please comment below.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Night Before Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2010
by Clement Clarke Moore. This is a wonderful poem that in my multi-faith household is a great turn to for the holidays. I have to walk the fine line between Paganism and Christianity. So I take the time to sit down and read this story to both of my kids. Maybe you will want to do the same, so here it is. Merry Christmas!



Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Comment Love

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
While I am going to post my normal after Yule post tomorrow I wanted to share some of the comments over the past week, here on PaganDad. 

Scattered Owl on Children and Ritual Tools;

i have a 3 year old and she wanted an alter just like mine, so i wen and got her a small shelf that we have hanging on our wall, on that alter I put similar thing as to what was on mine she has a small glass challis, a set of her own runes(we are waiting until shes a little older to start teaching her how to use them) a crystal, and something to represent each element, along with anything that is to be taken home and put on your alter after our circle rituals, in pace of an athame we use oils and or wands, for the yule celebration one of the things i will be doing with my daughter is making a willow wand, we do a lot a fairy magick with her so willow which is loved by fairies because of the great amount of magical properties is the perfect wood to use! 


Ok, so this isn't really a dessert, but more of a side dish. My stepmother makes this around Fall/Winter, and being that it's a pineapple dish and we are celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, I find it rather fitting. Thought I'd share:
Pineapple Casserole (tho I consider it more of a bread pudding type)
1/4 lb. margarine
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
5 slices of bread - break into pieces)
20 oz. ( 2 1/2 cups) crushed pineapple

directions:
drain pineapple. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Blend in the well-drained pineapple and the broken up bread pieces. Bake in un-greased, uncovered 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish at 350 for one hour.

Hope you all enjoy this one! 


Campbell's Kitchen just emailed me this recipe for holiday ham. I may try it next year as we are doing turkey this year.

Cherry & Port Glazed Ham
from Campbell's Kitchen

Prep Time: 20 min.
Bake Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 1/2 cups Swanson® Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup port or other sweet red wine
1 package (5 ounces) dried cherries (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 turkey size oven bag
1 unglazed fully-cooked bone-in spiral-sliced ham (about 9 pounds)

1. Stir the cornstarch and stock in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth.

2. Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the allspice and cook for 30 seconds.

3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir the wine, cherries and brown sugar in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir the cornstarch mixture in the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens.

5. Place the oven bag into a large roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Place the ham into the oven bag. Pour the cherry glaze over the ham. Close the oven bag with the nylon tie. Cut 6 (1/2-inch) slits in the top of the oven bag. Tuck the ends of the bag under to seal.

6. Bake at 250°F. for 1 1/2 hours or until the ham is heated through. Remove the ham from the oven bag to a serving platter. Spoon some of the cherry glaze over the ham. Serve the remaining cherry glaze with the ham.

Make-Ahead: The cherry glaze can made in advance. Prepare as directed above and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat the glaze in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve with the ham as directed above.
Makes: 24 servings.

Kitchen Clip
For the best flavor, look for dried tart cherries - sweet ones won't balance the richness of the ham quite as well. Dried cranberries can be substituted for the cherries if desired. 



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pagan Yule Carols

Thursday, December 16, 2010
One of the warmest memories I have of the Yule season, is of a public ritual, held in the dark and cold. We huddled together trying to keep warm, a woodland Santa told us tales of the holiday.

Then the high priest (dressed in a toga of all things), came to circle carrying a flaming torch that he cast into the central fire pit, lighting our circle and heralding the return of the light to the world.

After ritual we gathered as friends and shared hot cider and sang pagan carols. Here are some of the ones that we sang.

We Wish You a Merry Solstice

Tune: We Wish You A Merry Christmas
words adapted by Susan M. Shaw

We wish you a merry Solstice
We wish you a merry Solstice
We wish you a merry Solstice
And a happy New Year!

Chorus:

Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a merry Solstice!
And a happy New Year!

Our feasting is not so simple
Our feasting is not so simple
Our feasting is not so simple
On this Hollyday!

Chorus

We've eggnog and punch and wassail
We've eggnog and punch and wassail
We've eggnog and punch and wassail
And hot chocolate too

Chorus

We've breads, cakes and Solstice cookies
We've breads, cakes and Solstice cookies
We've breads, cakes and Solstice cookies
Plus crackers and buns

Chorus

Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
And bring it right now

Chorus

We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
So bring some right now

Chorus

Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland

Tune: Walking in a Winter Wonderland
words adapted by "Alexander & Aarcher"

Pagans sing, are you listenin',
Altar's set,candles glisten,
It's a Magickal night, we're having tonight,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Chorus:

In a Circle we can light a Yule Fire,
And await the rising of the Sun,
It's the Great Wheel turning for the new year,
Loaded with abundance and great fun.

Blades held high, censer smoking,
God and Goddess, we're invoking,
Through Elements Five, we celebrate life,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Queen of Heaven, is in Her place,
Triple Goddess, now the Crone Face,
Above and Below, She's the Goddess we know,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Chorus

Now the God, is the Provider,
Supplying game for our Fire,
Above and Below, He's the Horned One we Know,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Later on, by the fire,
Cone of Power, gettin' higher
It's a Magickal Night we're having tonight,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Now that I have shared some of these songs, make sure to gather with family and friends and make some warm memories of your own. Don't worry about whether you can sing or not. Just sing and be merry.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

13 Days of Yule by LuhnnaZita

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Thirteen days of Yule... Yup. That’s right – 13 days. I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, I’m not
crazy. Here’s how it works:

BEFORE YULE

You’ll have somewhere in the neighborhood of about 3 weeks to prepare - from Black Friday until Yule’s Eve. You’ll need to manage decorating your home (inside and out, should you choose to do so), setting- up and decorating your family altar, finishing your holiday shopping, and sending out your holiday cards. If you are a true glutton for punishment, as I am, you’ll also want to bust out your favorite advent calendar and countdown the days until Solstice. If you are going with a traditional Solstice Tree, you will need to get your tree, set it up and string the lights. We generally hunt down our Solstice tree on Black Friday, but the truth is, as long as you have the tree at home and set-up by Yule’s Eve, you’re good to go. You may want to save the actual tree decorating until Yule begins.


THE FUN BEGINS

Yule’s Eve is when the fun really begins. On Yule’s Eve in our home, we will share our version of the traditional Yule Story and light the first of our 13 solstice candles to symbolize the growing light with the return of the sun. We will also light 3 oil lamps and set them outside our door to burn through the night and welcome the God home. We will each open a gift and make thank you cards for the gifters; and I will turn the first card of my Sacred Days of Yule Tarot Spread (courtesy of a post by June Kaminsky on BellaOnline.com – http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art26918.asp) onto the Wheel of the Year located at our family altar. Finally, we will stay up all night long, listening to holiday music and making
homemade ornaments, pine cone fairies, and popcorn-cranberry garland to decorate our tree, while
excitedly awaiting the rising sun.


THE CANDLES

Yule is a festival of lights. As such, the main element to our 13 days of Yule celebration is the candle- lighting ritual. Each night you will light ritual candles and observe the symbolic return of the sun. As I mentioned before, the first candle is lit on Yule’s Eve. On Yule you will light two candles, on the third day – three, on the fourth day – four, and so on until New Year’s Day when all 13 (or 12 depending on the year), have been lit signifying the sun’s full return from the womb of the earth. Some traditions suggest that the lighting of the Yule candle should be done by the youngest member of the family, however I see no reason why this can’t be done as a combined effort from the entire family – each lighting candles in turn (obviously adult assistance and supervision is necessary for younger children). We will perform the candle ritual late in the evening, after the stories, but before the kids go to bed.


THE STORIES

Storytime each night before bed is another critical part of our Yule-Days ritual. As I mentioned before, on Yule’s Eve, we will share our family’s version of the Yule Story. In our home, we still incorporate the concept of Santa into our holiday as well, so from Yule until Oak’s Day (Christmas Day), we will read or share Santa Stories from around the world – there are so many to choose from, and I have found that the more my children understand about the history and stories behind what we know of Santa today, the more they appreciate and excite in the stories and the traditions. Some of my favorite “Santa” stories are of Odin and his eight-legged horse, St. Nick and the demon Krampus leaving gifts or coal in children’s stockings, the departure of the Holly King, and Italy’s holiday witch, Bephany, who dropped gifts down the chimney for children at Twelfth Night.

In the final days of Yule, from Oak’s Day until Hag’s Day (New Year’s Day) our stories focus on the more traditional Deity stories about rebirth and renewal, focusing on the rebirth of the sun and the beginning of a new year. I am particularly fond of the story of Freya & Loki from  Complete Book of Witchcraft, Revised and Expanded (2003) by Raymond Buckland.


THE GIFTS and CARDS

Traditionally, when celebrating the 13 Days of Yule, each member of the household would open one gift, each night for each of the 13 nights. In our family, we’ve had to make some modifications to this one. For instance, Grandma sends multiple gifts for each child. Instead of choosing just one gift and opening the rest on consecutive nights, we have our kids open all of the gifts from Grandma all at once. This way, when we have them make out their thank you cards, which we have them do within a few hours of opening their gifts, they can thank them for everything. On Oak’s Day, we open the gifts left by Santa, and any gifts brought to the Oak’s Day festivities in person.

We like spreading out the gifts and handcrafting thank you cards because we feel it teaches children about patience and respect for others, two values far too often lacking in so many today.


ALL THE OTHER STUFF

I do not work during the last two weeks of December, so I get to be home with my little ones, and because I am blessed with all this extra time, I have found ways to use it. Some additional Yule festivities my children and I share include daily baking and holiday crafts, including homemade wrapping paper and cinnamon-dough ornaments. We also make it a point to get out and get involved – we patronize local light displays, attend holiday festivals and parades, and we make it a point to give back, by volunteering to serve food or pass out blankets at a local shelter, or visiting senior citizens in a local home who aren’t fortunate enough to have friends and family to share the holidays with.


Holly’s Eve and Oak’s Day

We set out offerings of milk and cookies for Santa, carrots for Rudolf and Bailey’s Irish Cream for the fairies on Holly’s Eve (Christmas Eve). We feast with family and friends on Oak’s Day and travel to see family and friends we missed on Oak’s Day on December 26th.

Hogmaney and Hag’s Day

On Hogmaney (New Year’s Eve), we share the story of the Crone Goddess preparing to depart and of her transformation at midnight into the beautiful sleeping Maiden as the old year ends and the New Year begins. We put together a time capsule, make resolutions and burn habits we want to rid ourselves of in the Ritual Fire. And of course, we stay up with our children until after midnight to count down the seconds to greet the New Year.

Hag’s day (New Year’s Day) marks the final day of Yule, when we honor the transforming Goddess and delight in the youth and potential of the New Year. For our family that has traditionally meant spending the day sledding at the mountain and playing in the snow, but the point here is to spend the day together, doing something fun and youthfully uninhibited, as a fresh start to the New Year. Do whatever feels right for you.

WRAPPING IT UP

After the last candle has been lit and the festival is over, we like to cut a few small logs from our Solstice Tree to use as Yule Logs for the upcoming years Solstice rituals. Another option is to use a log from the Solstice Tree to make a handcrafted Yule Log candle holder for the 13 candles ritual.

As for cleaning up is concerned – the jury is still out. Some choose to pack up their winter decor immediately after Yule on January 2nd; and I’ve heard of witches who keep up their lights and decorations until Imbolc arrives – but we tend to pull things in the weekend following Twelfth Night. It’s really up to you.

I have found that just as every other aspect of the craft demands individualization so do the rites of the Sabbats and festivals of the Old Religion. The blending of cultural stories is what the craft we know today is made of – so be flexible, trust your intuition and do what works for you and your family. What I have outlined above, is nothing more than what works for us – when it doesn’t, we’ll change it.

For more details on how my children and I will celebrate the holiday season, please visit my blog –

Magick Mirror: http://magickalmirror.blogspot.com I look forward to meeting you there.

Blessed Be –

Luhnna


Monday, December 6, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments for Yule

Monday, December 6, 2010
Salt dough ornaments are an easy project to make with children. They need to be supervised when
using the oven, of course, but they can really let their creativity come out. Adults and children alike can
also add herbs for specific purposes.

Basic recipe:

*2 cups of flour
*1 cup of salt
*1 cup of water

Mix the salt and flour. Add half the water, mix it in, and add the other half. Knead the dough until
smooth. This will take 5-10 minutes. If you’re making these ornaments for a specific purpose to hang on
your Yule tree, now would be a good time to do a chant or two.

Roll the dough out to no more than ½”. Use cookies cutters to cut out shapes – people, stars, moons,
hearts, Yule shapes, Samhain shapes, whatever you fancy. Use a skewer to make a hole large enough
for string so you can hang your ornaments.

Bake the ornaments in a 325-degree oven until dry. This can take up to 90 minutes. Be careful not to let
them brown or burn.

If you wish, you can add some dried herbs to the dough. Divide the dough into pieces or make a double
batch.

*Cinnamon – love
*Cloves – love, money, protection
*Basil – love
*Rosemary – Remembrance , protection
*Allspice – money
*Nutmeg- psychic awareness
*Dried mint – purification

Charge the herbs with their intent either before or during the kneading process.

After the ornaments are dry, you can decorate them with acrylic paints. Spray them with an acrylic
sealer to help them last longer. After everything is completely dry, loop a string through the ornaments,
hang them on the Yule tree, and admire your work.

This was a guest post by Zedral Z over on Witchin' in the Kitchen



Sunday, December 5, 2010

YuleTide Crafts

Sunday, December 5, 2010

There are many decorations for Yule, that you as a family can make. Take a nature walk with your kids and collect pine cones. We buy spray paint, the colors do not matter too much, but I would stay away from oranges and pinks. Reds, greens and silver and gold are all great colors for Yule.
Take gold foil paper and cut out sun and star symbols to use as ornaments and for decorations in the rest of your house.
Another great addition to your holiday planning is the wreath. There are different kinds of wreaths that you can make. Here is a link to one kind:
http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a--Christmas-Wreath.


You can also use a grapevine wreath and decorate it for the holidays with either real or fake greenery and other symbols of the holiday. In fact this is a great addition to your house, because as one holiday goes you can then remove the decorations and replace them for the next holiday.


Here is a link to a tutorial on making a wonderful 3d snowflake.

Blessed Be!



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wanted to Share Some Comments

Saturday, December 4, 2010
For a long time on this blog we have been kind of sparse on comments. But that has recently changed so I wanted to draw your attention to some of the comments that have been left here in the past week. I have only did the larger of the comments, because to repost them all would make for a very long post. So please don't feel slighted, because I do appreciate them all very much.

Over on the article; Time to Decorate for the Season Sharon left some wonderful tips on how she decorates her house for the season.

Oh, I love making Yule decorations! I'm drying slices of oranges on a low heat at the moment to hang up as well as whole scored oranges, I've tied cinnamon sticks in ribbons, the kids and I are going to go out hunting for more pine cones today now the news is through that my son's school is closed due to the snow, I've got a lovely apple branch that I pruned from my lovely tree this autumn that will be used to hold the hanging decorations on the altar.... oooh, it's exciting! I'm also recycling my autumn equinox decorations of poppy seed heads - covering them with glue and sprinkling with glitter (another fun one for the kids to do!)

Then over on the article; Only Three Weeks Away . . . Bridget left a comment about her family's traditions for Yule;

We light a candle during the 13 mights of Yule. My family also celebrates over those 13 nights. We do not celebrate Santa though. We tell lots of different stories, make a chain from construction paper to count down the days to Yule beginning then all the way through until the last day of Yule (my kids love this - it carried over from when I was a kid in school and the teachers had us count down the days to Christmas). Since we celebrate over so many days, the children only open 1 present each day. That present may be from us, or it may come from grandparents that have dropped by for a holiday visit. All in all, we make the holiday about our family, blood and otherwise. I also have the kids write thank you notes to whatever relative may have brought them something (aunt, gramps, grandma, etc). We sing, dance and have a great time the whole holiday. Since our 13 days ends with the New Year, we are usually making treats of some sort to ring in the year and end our celebration.
The kids truly do enjoy the way we celebrate and we have all found it to be less stressful for everyone.
Oh, and sometime during the first 2 weeks of December we get the tree and decorate.

In response LuhnaZita left a comment on her traditions for Yule as well. She also has a guest post coming up this week, so make sure to check out her blog in the meantime.


What I like most about the 13 days idea is the one gift per day. We have 4 kids and a large extended family. Our kids rip through their presents so fast I can't keep up - even for photographs. The other problem is the thank you notes. 2 of my kids are just now 4 years old, the others are 9 and 11. Getting any of them (especially the little ones) to hold still long enough to make thank you cards for each gift giver is REALLY trying. I like that if they only open one gift per day (or the gifts from one person that day), then they can really take the time to express their thanks and love for that person. I REALLY like this idea. 

We do celebrate the "Santa" concept still, however we try to take a different cultural approach each year - and the family traditions of Yule/Christmas dinner, presents under the tree and so forth, will have to stay. I don't see why we can't do a combination of both though. 


Then Chantal made a cogent point on the same article about my family's tradition of lighting candles;

I love that you've brought the candle lighting tradition into your home for this Yuletide. Of course I say with a bias because it is the one tradition I have kept from celebrating Advent with my family during my childhood. It's a beautiful and simple weekly ritual than reminds us of light in the darkest season, but also the people and events that bring light to our lives. It's hope for things to come, and gratitude for things that are. The weekly lighting of a candle can symbolize so many things, it doesn't not have to be specific to one Faith!
If you want an activity for your kids (or yourself!), one thing I've always done on the first week of December, is gone out in the woods and pick up sticks and bows and things and made up my own candle wreath. I could then use it to place a candle in every week until Yule. Blessed Be!



Friday, December 3, 2010

Reconnect With Your Partner

Friday, December 3, 2010
Here is the last post in my series on reconnecting with your family this Yule season.

As parents we are tasked with several important jobs. First we work to keep a clean and ordered house. One that our kids can feel safe and continue to be healthy in. Second many of us work at a job, to bring home money to pay the expenses of running a household. We are also charged with the task of raising our children and correcting them when they misbehave. On top of all of this we are tasked with keeping a strong and straight face and keeping the stress and problems of raising a family from our children. What I mean by this is that we may, at times, have problems paying the bills or paying for the miscellaneous expenses that arise, and while we do not need to lie to our kids, they do not need to feel or be exposed to those stresses at a young age.

These things, as we all know, can be tedious at best and world-ending at worst. If we just focus on all of this and our family then we face a sundry of assorted stress-related disorders. In fact constant exposure to stress is one of the leading causes of disease in our modern and western world. We need to make and take the time for ourselves and for our partner(s). A chance to decompress and unwind. Just remember to do this without guilt. Tell yourself that "you are a worthy individual, deserving of good things and the chance to spend time on yourself." Because isn't that a true statement?

Now I know that this is and will not be an easy thing to do, especially for new parents or parents of very small children, and even more difficult for the single parents among us. But it is something that we should work very hard towards doing and take the opportunity when we have the chance. Whether we take thirty minutes between work and picking up the kids at the daycare/school; Or we wait until the kids go to bed and turn down the lights and have a small candle-lit late-night-snack with our partner or ourselves., any time we spend will be time well-spent.

Remember though that this is not about just finding time for the adults together, it is also about finding personal, quiet and alone time. Because with the duties of being a parent we also have the responsibilities of being a husband, wife or partner as well. And we all know that sometimes our patience can be stretched in those situations, often times to or near our limit.

No one that I have ever met and talked to has a perfect relationship with their partner(s). We all face trials and tribulations and it is important that we take to "find ourselves". If we do not truly know who we are then how do we know how to respond in a relationship and as a parent?

So as we go forward from today, remember that you deserve time with your partner(s) and deserve time to yourself. Don't let the daily minutiae bog you down with the specifics. What can you cut and still provide the happy and content family life that we are seeking? Remember that family should be our first priority. This being said how can we give it our full and best attention if we are stressed out and nearing the end of our patience?


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Children's Yule Story

Thursday, December 2, 2010
“Grandfather can you tell us a story?” the children asked in unison as they ran up to the old man reclining peacefully by the fire.

The old man sat up straighter in the chair, took a puff from his pipe and asked with a grin, “What story should I tell? What story do you want to know? You there,” he said pointing to one of the children, the smallest, “you haven't had a turn to ask for a story in quite a while. So you pick, tell me what you want to hear.”

In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”

With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.

“We all know that Yule is at the end of December. When the night and the day are equal to each other. But the story really starts much earlier. In fact over a month earlier. For you remember that in August the Harvest Lord laid down his sword of power and went away to Summerland to rest. Well the Goddess missed her husband so much that she began to grow old just with the grief alone and that is why we have Winter. The time when the Earth grows barren and cold.

“Well the Goddess because of her sadness after a time, left us also and went on a journey to Summerland to try and find him. Now she doesn't die now, she only goes on a vision quest. But she is gone so long that at Samhain her body passes on and when she is found frozen in the forest two weeks later a wake is held for her in the Holly King's drinking hall.

“It took over a week for all the faeries and other mourners to come.For they came from all corners of Creation. But there was one unexpected guest, an old woman. She was so old that she almost looked like a walking skeleton. So of course everyone there was mean to her out of fright and disgust.

“Yet when she greeted the Holly King, calling him her Son, everyone realized with much fright that this was the Goddess returned to them. The very Goddess whose death, they were there to mourn.

“So angry was she, that she was treated so poorly, the Goddess passed a prophecy to the Holly King. That she had within her the Oak King, soon to be reborn. And for rebuking her the Holly King would pass to Summerland upon the birth of that child.

“Now this scared the Holly King that he decided to lock the old Crone away in the top room of the tallest tower in all the world. Then he walled up the doors and all but one of the windows so that she is trapped within the room at the top of this tower. The window he left open so that he could have the birds fly food to her.

“Now he did this hoping that he could escape the doom that was foretold to him. But the Crone knew that the birth of her child was her only hope of escape. The Crone then wove magick and took the light and warmth from the Sun, and passed it to her son. So that in just four weeks, she gave birth to the Oak King. Who ever after was also given the name of the Sun King. For he was born fully grown and glowing with a golden light so bright that it caused the dying of the Sun to be reversed.

“Those four weeks of magick are why we light the candles for the four weeks before Yule. One candle for the first week and two for the second and so on until we have four candles lit on the night of Yule. This represents the growing light inside her as outside the Sun grew weaker.

“But the birth was hard on the old Crone, so hard that she slipped into a sleep very near to Death. So the Sun King in his anger thinking that his mother was dead, flew out the lone window as a large golden eagle. All across the Earth he hunted the Holly King, Lord of the Wintertime. Finally cornering him at the shores of a great ocean.

“And when he found him he threw his magickal spear at him and destroyed him. The spear hit the Holly King so hard that his body just vanished. But don't worry, for the Holly King simply reappeared in Summerland. When he got there he found the Crone in one of her other aspects, the Young Maiden.

“She spoke to him of prophecy and the Wheel of the Year. She spoke of the new cycle that had been made in the last year. That the events of the last year would repeat themselves forever and ever.

“And although the Holly King had passed away now, he now knew that he would return just past the height of Summer to take the Sun King's place again.

This is why the Holly King, as Santa Claus, brings us gifts every year to make up for the Winter that he brings with him. But he only brings presents to good little boys and girls because he wants us to learn to not be mean like he was to the Crone on that first night that he met her so long ago.

“Now back to the Sun King, when he returned to the Crone he saw that she wasn't really dead but only asleep. So he went out and found a large log, the first Yule Log, cut from the largest Oak he could find. In hopes that this would revive the Goddess. And for their lifegiving properties he decorated her room with evergreens. Even bringing in a tree and decorating it with his light.

“But all this magick did was to make her youthful again, so that now she was a beautiful youthful Maiden. Yet she still slept a deep sleep almost near death.

“So you see my grandchildren there are good reasons why we do the things that we do at Yule. They served a purpose long ago and it is good to recognize and honor that. “
“But Grandfather,” spoke up the eldest, “What happened next? I know the Goddess didn't stay asleep forever. Please tell us more.”
Shaking his head, the old man said, “Lunch is overdue and I'm hungry so let us go to eat and then I will tell you all another tale. I will tell you of what happened next to the Goddess and to the Sun King. I will tell you the story of the first Imbolc.”