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Five things you can do for winter preparations

Five things you can do for winter preparations

Every year in November and December, I go through typical winter preparations. This year has been no different. While I realize that my preparations for winter it’s probably vastly different from yours, given the fact that I live in a rural area, there are still some things you can do right now to prepare for the oncoming season.

1. Prepare your winter food

At this point, I tried to get as much food stocked up for the winter. Most of this entails drying fruits and vegetables that I get either from the Farmers Market or from the local food bank. Quite often in my area, they give you far more produce then you could possibly eat, so it behooves oneself to take advantage of the extra food. I have a dehydrator that I run a lot during this time.

A lot of people can and freeze — and I do this too — but I’ve found that I have a lot more room when it comes to dehydrating. You can store a lot more dehydrated food than canning or freezing — any you have the bonus of it staying good for a long time if stored in airtight containers.

I usually find that I have more peppers, carrots, and celery then I can possibly use in a few days. While root vegetables tend to stay pretty well for a while, I really find dehydrating them makes a lot more sense. When I make a stew or pot roast, all I have to do is grab my dehydrated vegetables from the cupboard instead of wondering what that nasty black stuff is at the bottom of my vegetable tray.

You can easily purchase a dehydrator for about $60, give or take, and save a boatload of money on produce you would have normally thrown away. You can dehydrate lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots, celery, pineapple, cranberries, peaches, apples, oranges, lemons… just about anything you care to imagine.

2. Hunting

Fall means fall hunting. Hunting means excellent venison, turkey, and grouse, so I look forward to it. Unlike many people, my family relies on hunting for most of our meat. That means I make offerings to Skadi, Tyr, and Ullr, as well as the local wights for success.

Even if you’re a city dweller, chances are there are ways to hunt in your area. In the United States, you’d be surprised at the urban hunting opportunities available. Never hunted or shot a firearm? There are classes for hunter safety and for firearm safety. Prefer something more akin to our ancestors? Bowhunting is big.

Don’t think hunting means deer only. Small game such as rabbit, squirrel, and raccoon can provide decent meals (although I look at squirrel and trash pandas as a last resort for my food). Some people really love small game meat, so give it a try.

Also grouse, quail, chukar, duck, goose, and turkey are all excellent foods, and I find grouse better than chicken and goose remarkably yummy. Wild turkey (the bird, not the alcohol) is amazing if brined properly. I prefer it over store-bought turkey.

3. Gathering Food

Fall is usually the time I gather wild rosehips, elderberries, and any chokecherries I’ve missed. This year, we had a really bad cold snap early in Fall that pretty much killed off the berries. So, luckily I had gathered chokecherries and made syrup this summer, and I have a lot of dried rosehips and elderberries from the previous year.

I honestly stay within my comfort zone when it comes to foraging. I have a lot of book knowledge when it comes to certain plants, but I stay within the plants I know for certain. If I came across some morels, I’d go for them, but I don’t recognize other mushrooms and stay away from them. If this is something you’re interested in, I’d recommend finding a mentor or looking for a class on the subject. Get it wrong, and you could poison yourself.

4. Plan Your Yule

It’s not too late to plan Yule for yourself and your family. Even if you live in a Christian (or other faith) household, you can still plan on certain days/celebrate the Heathen holiday. There’s no reason why you can’t celebrate Mother’s Night and Solstice as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas. Sure, your family may look at you oddly when you suggest spending December 20th or 21st reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer with you. Or, they may appreciate it. I’ll try to create another post on things to do for Mother’s Night—hopefully before December 20th!

Don’t forget to plan Christmas Eve and Christmas as well. Yes, you may not believe in the whole mythos, but honestly, where’s the fun of being a spoilsport for your family? Kids love Santa Claus, and you can certainly enjoy a secular Christmas. Plus, the Tomte are looking for oatmeal with a pad of butter on Christmas morning.

5. Spend Some Time in Nature

Now, more than ever—especially with the pandemic—you need to go into nature and enjoy its beauty. (Bring a mask with you, in case you run into people.) If you live in the north where we have snow, enjoy the amazing beauty of a snowy forest. No snow? That’s okay. Even the stark beauty of barren branches and the shortening of days will remind you that on the winter solstice, the days will grow longer again. And warmer days will soon be here.

So, how are you planning on preparing for winter? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Happy Yule and Winter Solstice!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice! Yeah, it’s that time of year when I tend to not do much on the blog. So, in keeping with that tradition, I’m going to provide links of all the posts I’ve made about Yule in the past, including at least one from this year, in case you missed it.  Anyway, have a good Yule and if the Yule Goat comes by to deliver presents, don’t roast him, okay?

What You Need to Know About Yule

Because I should be talking more about the history of Yule and how it relates to the modern Heathen.

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Yeah, everyone’s got them. And if they’re Christian, they may have a tough time with your Heathen ways (pun intended!). Here’s a way to make everyone happy.

When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

Bah humbug! Are you the Scrooge around Yule? So am I. So, here are some ways to cope.

The Yule Goat Sneaks Heathen Tradition into Christmas

Heard of the Yule Goat or Yulebok? Well, if you haven’t, here’s your chance to add a little paganism to your relatives’ Christmas under the guise of Christmas.

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

Yule can be a bit lonely for the solitary Heathen, so here are some cool ways to celebrate it by yourself.

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Is Santa Claus Christian or Heathen? Should you teach your kids about him?

Yule as a Non-Event

When life intrudes and you can’t properly celebrate Yule.

 


 

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Have a great Winter Solstice and a good Yule!

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When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

I have a confession to make: I am not in the Yule spirit.  Or the Christmas spirit.  Or any other fucking spirit.  I know the holidays are around the corner, but I can’t really feel the part yet.  Hels bells, I don’t even have the tree up.

When She’s Not in the Mood

This time of year reminds me how lonely being the lone Heathen of the Apocalypse can be.  What’s more, life has a way of shoving you back into reality.  If you’re going through difficult times, you probably understand what I’m talking about. Life doesn’t always hand you roses, so as the saying goes, when handed lemons, you make lemonade.

I think part of the reason has to do with the end of general season hunting.  Sure, we can still hunt for grouse and turkey, but both are being wily and frustrating.  Recently I lost my two goat kids to weird shit that happened two days apart.  And work has hit a slow down, and I need to figure out ways to fill in the ample gaps.  I’m concerned over the shit that I have to deal with every winter, which means I should expect this, but sometimes I just don’t.

It’s enough to piss off Spiderman.

It’s Times Like These…

It’s times like these where the gods and goddesses get an earful from me, but surprisingly, all I’ve been asking for is strength to put myself back on track. Okay, that’s bullshit.  I don’t lie well.  I do ask for help, but honestly, I know better than to expect handouts.  So, I look at what I can do to make things happen more positively this season.

Remember, Tyra, the gods aren’t your bitches. <deep breath>

So, how do you handle the holidays when your life isn’t making you jolly?

Center Yourself and Take Care of Yourself First

Thanks to Magickal Graphics

As a Heathen, it’s important to understand that you are responsible for your life, despite all the curve balls the Wyrd throws at you. You cannot fix things if you’re sick, exhausted, or emotionally spent. You’ll spend your time digging a deeper hole rather than filling it.  Even if you don’t want to be honest with everyone else (which you should be), you need to be honest to yourself.  You have to take care of yourself first.  I learned this lesson when Tyr — and then, Loki — showed up in my life.  Even now, I remind myself (often in Loki’s nagging voice) to self-care. I remember to exercise, eat right, and yeah, try to get enough sleep.  And I try to meditate, even if only for minutes at a time.

Consider New Options

A huge failure I see with people is refusing to step out of their current situation.  I’m as guilty as the next party with that.  Sometimes we don’t take the next step because it will shake up the status quo, which may not be comfortable, but is often more comfortable than dealing with change and the unknown.  Eons ago when I was younger, but not wiser, I went from job to job when I really hated the corporate culture or the people I worked for.   As one gets older, the change gets to be a hassle, but sometimes you’ve got to do it.  I would look at people who worked at a company for 10 to 15 years, even though they hated it.  Some actually died at their desks from heart attacks.  Don’t be like them.

Remember: there are always options.  Understanding this will help you make your decisions.

Thanks to Magickal Graphics

Lastly, Force Yourself to Enjoy the Season

I insisted that my husband help me take out the Yule/Christmas tree now.  With much fussing and fuming, we got the tree and the ornaments out tonight.  Tomorrow, we’ll be so fed up with the damn box, we’ll put up the tree.  Which will make both of us feel better.

Yeah, it sounds weird, but by doing things that should make you happy, they make you happy.  Even now, as I write this, I feel better that I got that done.  I should probably bottle that cherry mead that has been waiting for me patiently…

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