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Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Hunting season has drawn to a close, which means Yule is around the corner.  Suddenly, I’m going from Hunting to Yule once we celebrate Thanksgiving next week.  (Yeah, Thanksgiving gets preempted by hunting season.)  So, we celebrate Thanksgiving the week after.  After that, we’re in the few weeks before Yule, which means a busy time.

This year I told my non-Heathen, agnostic, mostly atheist, husband I wanted to celebrate Yule, too.  We were both raised in Catholic families (yeah, crazy) and we were both raised in the Christian tradition of Christmas. So, Yule will be somewhat new to him, and the prayers and offerings will be private.

Why I’m Keeping the Prayer and Offerings Private

Prayer and offerings are part of our beliefs, and yet, it can look strange to those outside of our religion. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my beliefs, it’s just that my husband doesn’t understand or believe in them.  Looking at it from an atheist perspective, I get it. It looks like a bunch of woo-woo to him and it can look like I’ve lost my marbles.  (Maybe I have?)  But I do get it.   Not everyone is going to look on our religion positively, which is why I’m presenting a more secular Yule to my family and not pushing my religion on those who aren’t interested in it.

Having grown up Catholic, the whole religious thing comes off as a way to either guilt someone or as a way to try to recruit them.  I don’t push my beliefs on someone who does not have them.

How I’m Planning to Celebrate Yule

One book I’ve found helpful in celebrating Yule is A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule.  It’s worth the four bucks on Amazon to buy the eBook, if you’re really looking for ideas.  It offered some good ideas for me, so it might come in handy to you too.  I’m also blending other celebrations we’ve had in the past.

December 20th — Mother’s Night

I’ve never really celebrated Mother’s Night, except perhaps by baking stuff.  Yes, I’ll be baking cookies and desserts to prepare for the upcoming Yule. I’ll also be offering my female ancestors gifts on my altar.  When cooking, I often go into meditation and focus on my ancestors.  Sometimes, I’ll hear the ones who were closest to me in my mind.  It is a day to honor them, so I do things that they would appreciate.  Usually involves holiday preparations.

The Christmas/Yule Tree will already be up because I think it’s too much to try to get it put up during this time.  Apparently people who put up their Yule trees during Yule don’t have time issues.

December 21st — Solstice/Yule

This is a big day for me.  I will designate a Yule log to burn in my woodstove.  If I can find good twine, I may make it prettier with pine boughs and pine cones. I will put together a venison roast for dinner and we will crack open a mead to celebrate.  I may try my hand at making a yule log cake.  In the late evening, I will hold a blot outside for the gods.  I will also leave gifts to Sunna, Mani, Baldr, Loki, Tyr, and Skadi on my altar.  I may gather the ashes from the Yule log later to smudge the corners of the house for protection.  I will read the runes for the Solstice to get a feel as to what is to come for the new year.

December 24th — Christmas Eve

My family celebrates Christmas Eve and Christmas as a secular holiday rather than a religious one.  Given that we’ll already have the Christmas Tree up, we have another big meal (usually a venison or antelope roast) and more mead.  We exchange presents and open them up.  Again, another blot for the gods and the wights.

I like the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve for reading.  This is something I’d love to incorporate in my Yule plans.

December 25th — Christmas

We visit relatives in town and deliver presents.  We then come home and have a feast (again).  This time, it will be roast goose.  Usually, I plan on a pork roast in honor of Freyr, but this year, we have a couple of geese in the freezer, so we’ll have a traditional Dickens type of dinner.

December 31st — New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve has never been a big thing with me.  Even so, I’ll probably wait for the New Year and offer a blot to the gods as a thank you for the good things that happened this year and a prayer for a better upcoming year.  I will then read the runes for the upcoming year again.  Often the runes’ message coincides with what I learned earlier.

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day may see me perform a salt ritual to protect the home and farmstead.

My Yule is Low Key (but not Loki)

Yule will be low key, and I prefer it that way.  It’s 12 days of festivities and of those 12 days, I celebrate at least three with special meals. The blots I choose to do in private.  The offerings will go on my altar and will be either left there, if not perishable, or left outside, if perishable, once I am done with them.  Plenty of critters outside will partake of the scraps.

My prayers are more spontaneous, than anything.  They come from the heart, and I do not write them down.  The salt ritual too isn’t written down, but I call upon the wights to protect the dwelling and barn, and to discourage those wights intent on harm.  It does seem to make a difference.

Celebrating with Non-Heathen Family Members

Obviously all my family members are non-Heathen, so I adjust my Yule celebrations toward the secular as well. The offerings and prayers are done when they are asleep (easy for me to do), and with those family members whom I visit at Christmastime, I focus more on seeing them and making them happy, not the religious side.  After all, Yule is a family holiday, whether celebrating the ancestors, like on Mother’s Night, or simply getting together with family and friends on Christmas. I’ve learned to take everything in stride on holidays because getting worked up about them is too much stress for me.

Let me know what you do for Yule in the comments and let me know if there are any traditions you do that are special.

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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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