The winter holidays are upon us, and I must admit, I’m not quite ready. I still have a few more gifts to buy, a few gifts to ship, and time is running short!
I have been perusing Dorothy Morrison’s Yule book for ideas, but have decided to get creative and make my own special gifts. Yule is the holiday I celebrate at this time of year, at the Winter Solstice, the return of the S-U-N. I do not celebrate Christmas, as I am not a Christian, and therefore do not adhere to the teachings of the Bible and the usual Christian messages that are forced on us all at this time of year. I do, however, participate in other seasonal traditions. In truth, most of the traditions associated with Christmas, such as gift-giving, a tree, mistletoe and holly, even Santa Claus, all have pagan origins that pre-date Christianity. The popular carol, “The Holly and The Ivy” was a pagan winter song long before it was Christianized. It is historical fact that Christmas was deliberately placed on December 25th so that it would be near the Winter Solstice, and would coincide with other pagan Winter celebrations that were already occurring at this time, all as an effort to convert pagans to Christianity.
Our tree is up and decorated, a Fraser Fir, and it looks great. The past six years we’ve gotten our trees from a local tree farm, cut it down ourselves, loaded it into the car and dragged it up the stairs into our humble abode. The past few years we’ve decorated our tree in a Harry Potter style, with many ornaments that we made ourselves, along with a few other Potter-themed trinkets we found at the Wizarding World and other places. It is lit only with twinkling white lights, and is covered with flying keys, divination teacups (with Grim inside), chocolate frogs, cornish pixies, owls, feather quills, white stag “patronuses”, dragons, cauldrons, proclamation signs, and other fun things, even small wanted posters of Sirius Black! A Sorting Hat sits at the top. My partner suggested that we send photos of our tree to J. K. Rowling, and I heartily agree.
Last weekend we went to New York City to visit Harry Potter: The Exhibition. This was our 2nd visit to the exhibit, and this time we took our good friend Chip along with us, whom we don‘t get to see often and we were very glad he could come along. Such an amazing exhibit, with many props and costumes that were used in the films, close enough to examine in all their fine detail. I was especially interested in the maroon curtains around Harry’s 4-poster bed. They are covered with astrological and zodiac symbols, which I love!! I am now on the hunt for something similar. They would not allow us to take photos in the exhibit, which was kind of a bummer, I would have loved to post them here.
On a more somber note, I’m sure everyone has heard of the terrible shootings in Connecticut. So many children killed, and it’s a horrible thing. The holidays this year will be very hard for the families of those kids. I can’t even imagine. Light a candle for them, send healing and peaceful energies to all those affected by this tragedy. The very next day, a similar incident happened at a school in China. Now is the time for us all to do some collective magick for the protection of children. When things like this happen, there are no easy answers. It may seem like there is a lot of evil in the world, and certainly there are things that must be addressed. There is much discussion going on about gun control, and how easy it is here in America for the wrong people to get their hands on a gun. America has the highest number of gun related deaths than any other country in the world. Again, no easy answers. As Witches and magickal practitioners, we should be concerned. It is our duty not to do magick only for ourselves, but also for the good of the world and those around us.
These may seem like dark times, but as we approach the longest night of the year, let us take heart in the knowledge that the light is coming, and there is a lot of good in the world too.
Now, here’s one more pic of our decorations…