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It’s beginning to look a lot like…

…that time of the year with so many festivities. There’s Christmas, Yule, Alban Arthan, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, Koliada, Yalda, and so many others.

I am a Druid, so I celebrate Alban Arthan. But my family is Christian, so I celebrate Christmas with them. How come? Christmas, to me, is about family, is about of those I am from. My siblings and siblings-in-law, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my fiancée and my in-laws and, of course, my ancestors. So I celebrate my family and friends, I celebrate our tiny community, I celebrate that I have a family and I am not alone.

Although I am a Pagan, I will always continue my family’s tradition, and any other tradition we might create. My family accepts me for who I am, and I accept them as they are.

To me it’s beginning to look even more like family, love and acceptance, comfort and warmth.

Our Christmas/Yule/Family tree
Our Family (Christmas/Yule) tree
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Imbolc

If you have ever read one of my posts, you will notice I am very aware of the wheel of the year. I am aware tiny details that most people (perhaps with the exception of those in a Pagan path or those working with agriculture) fail to notice.

It is remarkable how much the wheel of the year has changed since I was a kid going to grammar school during the 80’s (yes, I am that old!). The seasons no longer match the dates I was taught back then.

Imbolc is no expection. Although I still celebrate the Earth starting to stirr after a long Winter sleep, the truth is that I first started noticing it back in the middle of December.

The Oxalis pes-caprae (which, in Portugal, we call Azedas) started flourishing around December 20th in my backyard.

Meet our
Meet our “Azedas”. Photo taken by yours truly 😉

Also, the birds started humming their melodies near my place.

At that time, the weather was not as cold as it usually is during Winter (although it is somewhat colder now).

For those who might not know, I live in Cascais municipality, in sunny Portugal.

A little warning: I am not a conventional person when it comes to spirituality. I study several sources, I follow what makes sense to me, and I tend to discard what does not. My path is a melting pot of my experiences and that which makes sense to me spiritually.

I don’t celebrate the wheel of the year in the same way most Pagans (and Druids) I know do. And I know a few, online and offline.

Take, for example, Imbolc. I am absolutely useless when it comes to creating Brighid’s crosses. When it comes to arts, I can manage with singing, writing, drawing, taking photographs (not to humans, though; I suck at that for the most part). And, even so, practice is always needed.

I am a solitary. Public transportation sucks where I live. If I want to go to Sintra, I need to go to Lisbon so I can go to Sintra, besides the fact that it is rather expensive (I would have to take a bus, a train, at least one subway, and yet another train, and the need for another bus might arise).

I love to walk in Nature. I am very partial to forests.

I am still getting used to the idea of rituals (far too many years in the Catholic church kind of provoked a certain aversion to very structured, rigid rituals).

Thus, most times, my rituals consist of a mindful walk in Nature (did I mention I love trees?) is my go-to ritual for these special occasions.

This year, I am planning on going for a mindful walk, with honey, dandelion seeds and water, to celebrate the return of the light, the awakening of life and the return of Spring’s warmth to Earth. Opening the circle, invite Brighid, say my wishes (for my family and I) for 2018, do my offerings, and close the circle. Simple and effective.

For me, if Alban Arthan is a time for introspection and communion, Imbolc is a time for hope and preparation.

Did I mention I love trees?
Did I mention I love trees? Photo by moi.

Hope for a better world. Hope of becoming a better person, a person that can stand up not only for others but also for myself. Hope of deepening my spirituality and of opening myself up for new spiritual experiences.

Hope for more positive times for my family (which includes my blood family, my closest friends and my spiritual family) and for myself in the year ahead.

And time to prepare the future ahead, to create the path that will lead us to the realization of our goals.

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‘Tis the season…again

The wheel has turned again (I seem to say that a lot), life challenges us time and again and, suddenly, we’re back to Yule/Alban Arthan/Winter Solstice season.

For some odd reason, 2017 flew by. I hardly had time to adapt to so many challenges that have been thrown at my family. To be honest, since July last year.

Life has basically been a rollercoaster with everything happening at one and my family and I having to adapt to everything on the fly. Such as our impending move to a new house and serious health issues that are not to be taken lightly.

My parents and I have decided that I am moving in with them. Easier to keep and I on them and support them in any way I can.

But I haven’t been inclined to decorate my current house this year, with being on the verge of moving and being preoccupied with my parents.

This is how I cope with the challenges life throws at me: I become more introspective, I withdraw from my emotional side to some extent so I can take care of those in a more fragile state, while I keep my light and shadow sides balanced.
This can be unsettling for people around me.

Mom hadn’t been handling well the fact that I hadn’t decorated my house. So, last night after dinner, mom asked me to go with her upstairs (my apartment is in the floor above my parents’) and we decorated my house together.

And now you ask: You are a Pagan. How do you handle Christmas.

Well, my family is Christian. I am a Pagan following the Druid path (member of both ADF and OBOD). For us, this season is to be with the family. So I do what I do best: I find balance.

I have angels in my tree (an artificial tree because I hate the idea of killing a tree, especially for decoration purposes) to honour my ancestors. I have photos of my family (similar to a family tree) featuring my grandparents (now part of my ancestors), my parents, my siblings and their life partners, and soon I will be adding photos of my in-laws as well as of my beloved and I.
My tree has pine cones, balls, bells, stars, deer and snowflakes, lights and ribbons.

img 20171215 2020021308076901 - 'Tis the season...again

My table’s centerpiece (made by my cousin – she knows me too well) has pears and apples, greenery and an owl made with a pine cone.

img 20171214 220823413342673 - 'Tis the season...again

I included my family’s beliefs because I respect them. They also respect my chosen path, even if they don’t understand it.

It is, once again, time to look back, to analyse what life has given us, to look ahead and prepare to what is coming.
It is time to find balance in darkness and in light, to nurture both our shadows and our light side.
It is time to take care of ourselves and each of our loved ones as whole beings, to cherish and respect them.

It is time to look forward to brighter days while being prepared to the darker ones.
And we can only do so if we, as John Beckett wrote in one of his posts on Under the Oaks (on Patheos) blog, ask ourselves the big questions of life.

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Winter Solstice/Yule and Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

I see this as a season for letting go of the past, and to looking forward to a new cycle.

A season for introspection, for releasing the old, and embracing the new. If this was a tarot card, it’d be the death card. 😉

A season to be spend with my loved ones, the ones that have been on my side through thick and thin, and love me unconditionally.

I have already said my goodbyes to past cycles I needed to close, I learnt from the experiences I lived, and I am looking forward to new experiences (I would prefer them to be pleasant ones, please).

I spent time with my Family, helped Mom with the preparation of our traditional foods.

I spent time with my Deities and offered them good wine.

Yes, I am a Pagan on the Druidry Path and I celebrate the Winter Solstice (Alban Arthan), the return of the light, the balance between light and dark.

But my Family is Catholic and I see no inconvenience in celebrating this Family season with my own Family.

Before I return to my Family, my Goddesses (yes, almost forgot to tell you! Besides the Great Queen, Epona also chose to be part of my life, and I am delighted to get to know her better) and Gods, I wish you peaceful times. May you always find balance in dark and light. And may this season be an enlightened one.

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Detail from my Yule Tree