A wonderful 1st of December to everybody,
I was just thinking about what a magic month just started: For many Pagan tribes December is the time of precognition, of oracles and planning the year to come. Some say it’s because the veil that seperates our “normal” world from the Otherworld – the realms of magic – is tiny during that time but I especially love the Celtic Pagan story I was told a couple of years ago: That during the cold, snowy days of December Mother Earth was sleeping beneath her snow-coverings and doing so she vividly dreamed of the year to come and everything that would happen. And this would be how people could find out and change the year; by connecting to Mother Earth and her dreams.
Traditionally just like in Christianity (guess why there’s Advent in December in modern Christian myticism …) Pagans would make quite an eford to prepare themselves for Yule, the festival of the rebirth of the sun-god-child and beginning of the Pagan new year on December 21st. Not only would they decorate their homes in a way that probably wouldn’t strike the eye of a Christian, with branches of evergreens like fir, lots and lots of lights, symbols of enduring life like the juniper berry that continues to ripe in the next year or the apple that not only is important as a very healthy fruit easily to be stored during winter but also as bearing the magic symbol of the pentacle – the five-pointed star – in its midst. Also they would bake all kind of cakes – like gingerbread that’s called “Lebkuchen” in German, which means as much as “life cake” because all herbs that symbolize life where used for baking this very storeable cake – and preserve what is left from the harvest. I always especially loved the very sweet, dark red mouse that can be made of the elder’s berry and we ate with homemade cookies decorated with symbols of what we hoped for in the next year.
And then they would plan their own next year; consider what they wished it to be and send their wishes off to the universe and the gods in whatever was was practiced by their tradition. And they would do oracles to find out what the year to come would bring for them. There are so many ways of doing oracles in so many different traditions, from conservative tarot sessions by the most experienced of the group via the all-famouse Ouija- or “witchboards” and shamanic spirit travels down to free-minded “sit down and write down whatever comes to your mind”. Doing an oracle can be the most seriouse hence most boring thing you ever did or the most fun stuff you had in quite a time. It always depends on the people you are with.
I have to confess I always loved December. It’s freezing cold in Austria – though Jannuary tends to be even colder – but it often snows huge flakes and then the whole countryside is just magic. Sometimes even the city is. I like the simplicity of the white snow coverings with tree’s black shapes inbetween and then villages, even if only seldomly steam is comming out of chimneys anymore as I remember it from my childhood days. I love doing long walks when the landscape is nothing but blue, white and black-brown and the sun is making the cold bearable. And of course I fancy for roasted chestnuts and sugarroasted almonds that can be bought at every corner in Austrian cities in winter. And those christmas marktes “Christkindlmärkte” where you can drink different kinds of punch and hot spiced wine, eat sugary sweets and of course buy christmas gifts – handemade stuff on most of Austrian Christkindlmärkte – for your loved ones.
Many people I know say they don’t like giving gifts at christmas/yule because it ‘d be all about money these days. Yet I love the custom for wanting to give your beloved ones that one thing special forces you to actually feel yourself into them: What do they fancy for? What is dear to them and what could you really surprise them with? I love having my brain work on that one or just walk through town looking for inspiration as for what to give my family and friends. It’s not about how much it costs but rather about whether you made an effort comming up with something. I’ve gotten terrible expensive gifts in my life that I just wanted to throw at the person that bought it and I’ve gotten tiny little things, when it comes to material value – like hand-designed stationary – that were so full of love that I could still embrace people for it whenever I see the thing.
And then what better could you feed Mother Earth’s dreams with then with caring and love for your dear ones? Perhaps the world was a better place if everybody did that, I sometimes think …
… have a magic december
P.S.: Did I mention this is my 100th post? Astonishing how fast time went by …