Winter Solstice Blessings

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Today is Yule, commonly referred to as the Winter Solstice, which is the longest night of the year. After this night the nights will start to get shorter and days longer. It is the rebirth of the Sun.
Every 6 months there is a Solstice. On the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, the Waning Sun takes control of the skies and the days get shorter and nights get longer, the cold starts to set in and vegetation begins to die. On the Winter Solstice the Waxing Sun takes over and the nights start to get shorter and the days longer, it is a sign that Spring is only a few months away, where life will begin anew and the earth will start to blossom and bloom.

On Yule we celebrate the return of the Waxing Sun. In Wicca it is the birth of the Sun God who has many names; Cernunnos, The Oak King, Apollo, Sol, Freyr, Horus, Mithras, and more. The Goddess gives birth to him on this night, she sacrifices herself to give life to the Lord Of Light to ensure the earths’ survival.

In ancient tradition, Yule was celebrated with a large fire where townsfolk and villagers would dedicate it to the Sun God. They would fill their home with evergreens and an evergreen tree to show that even though the land is barren and dead, life is still flourishing, They would decorate the tree and their home with shiny objects to encourage The Sun God to shine.

We use Holly and Mistletoe on Yule as symbols of the fertility of the God and Goddess as they grow in the Winter. The red berries of the Holly represent the blood of the Goddess and the white berries of Mistletoe represent the God to ensure a healthy Spring and harvest to come.

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated by many ancient cultures, one of the most famous being Saturnalia and more modernly, Christmas.

Yule is a celebration of light, and of the Sun and its life-giving properties upon the earth. It is a time to rejoice and to be thankful for all we have and to gather strength for the new year. It is a time to contemplate on the year that has gone and look to the future.

Tonight, build a fire of Oak in honor of the Sun God and speak your wishes into its flames for the coming new year. Eat drink and be merry.

Yule Blessings to all. 🙂

100% written credit goes to Wicca Teachings. 
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Full Cold Moon in Gemini

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Tonight is The Full Cold Moon it is called the Cold Moon because after tonight the temperature will start to drop rapidly. It is also known as The Oak Moon and Yule Moon, This is an especially special Full Moon because it is the last one of this year. It is a time to use the Moonlight to charge our energies ready for coming Yule and the New Year.

We are amidst some strong planetary alignments that are heralding a need for profound change and revolution within and without. Our attitude is of foremost importance during this time and can empower us and see us through whatever we are facing. Gratitude for what we have and a willingness to move with the energy that is calling is required.

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This particular Full Moon will not be boring and will have an unpredictable vibe along with it. What was stuck may suddenly begin to move or shift. If emotions are clogged, they may surface and flow. Allow this. Be with it as loving as possible with yourself and others. The potential of the Full Moon in Gemini is to become aware of where you are engaging in thought, emotions and behaviors may be on auto-pilot. This may be generating a lot of mental stress and tension plus sending out mixed signals to others and the Universe.

Some people may be irritable and cranky. Emotions can be raw and urgent. Breathe deeply. Ground yourself. Keep a sense of humor. Be of good cheer. Be the calm in the storm. Get in the driver seat and empower yourself. Be honest with yourself. Stop arguing over small silly things and try more acceptance. Take responsibility for your life. In this way, you can change what is not working. You are the master of your destiny. Take your power back from society and/or other people. Learn from your mistakes. Vow to do better next year. Make a commitment to your success. Be adaptable. Make friends with change. It is not the enemy. Change is your friend. Change sheds the old and gives birth to the new.

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The Gemini Full Moon is a party Moon. This Full Moon is a brief break from the intense growth and striving you have done. The Gemini Full Moon says that it is time to celebrate your life. Celebrate your victories. Even the smallest of accomplishments should be celebrated, look back on the past year and all the lessons you have learned, the people we have met and the people we have lost.

With Yule and New year approaching look deep into yourself and ask what you want to happen in the coming year, ask yourself how you will bring it about. Make this the year that you make all your dreams come true. The energy from this Full Moon wants you to succeed. Tell the Moon your hopes and dreams write them down on paper and burn them by a white candle. As the smoke drifts to the heavens the universe will receive your message.

Have a blessed Full Moon. May the Goddess watch over you.

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Full written credit goes to Wicca Teachings. Photos credited to Various.

How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”…

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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”

In the very near future, I will be spending a huge chunk of my time in Israel. It will be nice not having to explain holidays to anyone or explaining why Christmas is just another day to me. For now, in the suburbs of a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood with a good 20 churches in pretty much every direction I turn (I wish I was exaggerating), I am still explaining myself. I have no idea why people still think their religion is the only one that exists on this planet. I’ll never understand it!

I am completely respectful of other people’s religious beliefs and their holidays, so long as I am not subjected to them in a means to try and convert me, but my spiritual beliefs and holidays are often met with some extremely disturbing questions, as opposed to the few I have received recently that were honest, curious, and filled with excitement for knowledge. They were by no means offensive. When a person is open and honest, and interested, it makes it so much easier for me to be me, as opposed to feeling like I have to repress my thoughts.

A few weeks ago someone wished me a “Merry Christmas” and received my usual response, which is that I do not celebrate Christmas. This is someone whose establishment I frequent once or twice a month, and not only did she look like I’d just kicked her, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me. I had to explain that I celebrate Chanukah and Yule, and that I am not Catholic or Christian. She was incredibly confused, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me with a wish for a good holiday. Me, I simply like to be clear with people. I am not trying to offend anyone, but if you’re going to wish me well, wish me properly. Don’t make assumptions and please, don’t tell me I “don’t look Jewish”. I don’t even know how to answer that one without telling you off, and because I come from a rich ancestral well of knowledge and an incredibly deep DNA pool, I can assure you that we come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We are all distinctly unique, some more than others.

Growing up, Christmas was not a word used much in our home. Not for any other reason than the simple fact that we’re Jewish. We had many Christian and Catholic friends, some who understood and some who did not, that we ourselves did not celebrate the same holiday, nor did we share the same spiritual or religious beliefs that they did. It is extremely disturbing to me that in 2013, any Jew still has to explain themselves.

People like to quote the Bible at me, and they are generally New Testament folk. They’re the kinds of people that don’t realize exactly how “new” the New Testament really is. I, myself, do not adhere to anything outside of the Old Testament. Even that kind of loses me at times. Prayer is an amazing thing, but I like to stick to my own path when it pertains to anything of a spiritual nature. I am not trying to change or convert anyone.

Today is simply December 25th to me. It’s not a holiday, but it IS my Great-Uncle’s birthday. He passed away 15 years ago, but I still remember him very clearly. I remember the last things he ever said to me, and I remember how silent this time of year became after he passed away. For several years prior to his passing, myself and two other family members would try to spend the day with him. Even though he had long since stopped acknowledging his own birthday, he still loved going out to a nice restaurant and enjoying good food, good company, and he told stories like nobodies business. They’re the kinds of stories you want to hear from someone over the age of 80, because you know that no matter how much time passes, you will never hear such stories again.

After he passed away, the tradition maintained in my home on Christmas Day was movies and good food. Either we went to the movies and came home to a really great meal, or we stayed home with a pile of movies and made a meal together. Almost always, it was homemade Italian food from scratch, or Chinese food from the best place in the area.

To know me is to know that I make killer Italian food. It’s something I love doing, but I am just as comfortable making Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and pretty much anything else that I have mastered in all my years of cooking. Nothing is impossible, but I am an epic lasagna failure. It’s the only thing I make that falls apart, so I’ve stopped doing it. It is never inedible, it just never does what it’s supposed to do. Despite a family recipe for veggie lasagna that has been passed down for four generations, I completely and utterly suck at it. It’ll probably be another ten years before I attempt it again. It takes time and patience, and we all know I have no patience.

Over time I have found that people really seem to be offended whenever I clarify that I do not celebrate Christmas. They look at me like I kick puppies, torture kittens, steal winning lottery tickets, and am just, on a whole, not a good person. I look at them with the knowledge that, for over 5000 years, my people have not celebrated Christmas. It’s not on our calender and it’s not in our religious texts. It’s perfectly ok to not share the same religious beliefs. If we did, we’d be living in some kind of bizarre utopia. That’s not a world I can imagine functioning in. Differences make the world go ‘round. We can either choose to come together and learn from one another or we can continue fighting in the name of religion. The choice, however, is generally not ours to make because those that govern our respective countries are a huge part of why organized religion is failing. I could go on, but I won’t, or I assure you, I will offend you.

One year a family friend (one of my brother’s best friends at the time), on leave from the Army, wanted me to convince my brother to come to midnight mass with him. I, personally, do not spend time in churches. It has never been my thing. My brother politely declined, but as his friend became more insistent he finally said “Look, there’s a Jew hanging from a cross in no less than 7 places in there. With that track record, I don’t care to be the sacrifice sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.” We ALL laughed, and no one was offended.

This very same friend asked us about Christmas trees, genuinely wanting to know “If we put up Christmas trees, what do Jewish people do?” Never one to miss an opportunity, I turned around and said “We put up a Chanukah Bush, John.” He nodded and said “Oh, ok.” I said absolutely nothing for a few minutes, everyone was in on it because they’d heard me do this little bit before. Finally, after suppressing serious laughter to the point where I almost hurt myself, I admitted to him that I was just fucking around with him, that there was no such thing as a Chanukah Bush (though I admit, I know some people that put one up because they love Christmas trees, but don’t celebrate Christmas). Again, laughter ensued. You have to really know me to know that I will joke like that with the people that know me best, and that, while inappropriate to some, I am careful what I say in mixed company because I don’t go out of my way to be hurtful to others. I do like to be very clear though, that’s just my way. Humor and clarity.

Approximately 11 ½ years ago, Wicca was introduced to me. It is the perfect blend of a nature based religion steeped in Kabbalistic teachings. Kabbalah is Jewish Mysticism. If you don’t know what that is, use a search engine. That will explain it more clearly for you.

For me, Wicca was like coming home. It was pretty much everything I had been raised around, especially a love for animals and nature, and the elements. Part of the Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as ye will”. There is no governing body, you govern yourself, and the Wiccan Rede tells you “So long as you are not harming anyone, do as you will. Live your life.” It is laid back and calm, and it brings an extra level of peace to my life. Even my Rabbi is comfortable with my spiritual beliefs. He’s one of the most open people I have ever met, so I feel supremely comfortable being myself and speaking my mind around him. Until I met him, I had NEVER been in the presence of a man of God and not felt judged. However, my Rabbi is unique. He too, is from a foundation of “You’re not harming anyone by being you. Live your life.” In this, I always feel incredibly blessed.

Almost all of my friends are religiously different than I am, and that is beyond ok. I am not sitting in judgement of them or their beliefs. I want them to be their authentic selves, and I can only hope they want the same for me. I have friends that are Jewish and friends that are Wiccan, so I don’t feel spiritually deprived in any sense of the word. We should all celebrate what we believe in and do so with those we love. We should wish the people in our lives well EVERY DAY, not just during the month of December.

So Lisa, exactly how does a Jewish American Wiccan “celebrate Christmas”? Simply put, I don’t. I ignore the insanity of my neighbors, all of whom DO celebrate Christmas, and I go about my day. I will bake Cranberry Orange scones for breakfast, I will do laundry and maybe enjoy a movie. I will play with my fuzzy little Princess. Later on, I will be making a nice meal for the family I am spending my day with. I might even get some writing finished, if I’m feeling up to it. Basically, anything goes. It’s just another quiet day for me. After years and years spent taking care of others, quiet days are something I really treasure.

Wishing you & yours a beautiful holiday season.

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Happy Yule!

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What is Yule?

Yule is celebrated on the 21st of December and falls on the Winter Solstice.

In Wicca we celebrate 8 Sabbats throughout the year, these are Solar festivals which mark the changing of the 4 seasons and the 2 Equinox (Spring and Autumn) and 2 Solstices (Summer and Winter).

On the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year, there is a great battle between the two Sun Gods,  the Lord Of Darkness (the Waning Sun) and the Lord Of Light (The waxing Sun). On the Summer Solstice, the Lord Of Darkness wins the battle and becomes ruler of the skies. The days will then begin to get shorter and the nights longer, it becomes cold, the earth begins to die and become barren of any growth or vegetation.

The Goddess goes through 3 stages throughout the year. In spring she is a young maiden, young and fertile.  The Lord of Light is also young and wild. In late Spring/beginning of Summer, the Goddess and the Lord Of Light marry and mate for the first time, and the earth starts to blossom and bloom at their union. The Sun Gods’ light is very powerful and takes a lot of energy, but by late summer The Sun God is weak and the Goddess is heavily pregnant with the abundance of the harvest to come. The Dark Lord lies in wait in the underworld for the Sun God to become weakened and on the Summer Solstice he rises from the underworld to fight the Lord of Light, and he wins. It takes until Samhain for The Lord of Light to descend into the underworld (Which is the Goddesses womb).

The Goddess, now in her mother phase, gives birth to the harvest, and at the end of Autumn the Goddess is in her Crone phase, as the wise old woman who watches over earth and mankind.

On the Winter Solstice (Yule), The Goddess, with her last ounce of energy, gives birth to the Lord Of Light, his power and strength are so strong that he knocks the Dark Lord from the sky. By giving birth to the Lord Of Light, the Goddess sacrifices herself and dies, going into the underworld to rest until she is reborn as a young maiden once more in the Spring.

On Yule we celebrate the return of the Lord Of Light. We look forward to the days getting longer and warmer in the months to come. To encourage the Lord Of Light to shine we remind him of times when we had plenty, we have big feasts, decorate our homes with evergreens to show that life still grows, even when the earth is barren. We put shiny things around the home, and light fires and candles to represent the God of Light and encourage him to grow.

Yule is a time to have a great feast and give gifts to friends and family to show our gratitude for them, but if all your friends and family celebrate Christmas, then it is fine to have your feast and gift-giving then, if you choose.

You should decorate your altar with seasonal fare, wrap up well and go for a long walk to a park or woodland, and pick up any seasonal twigs, acorns, nuts, feathers, stones, and rocks that you find, and put them on your altar. Adorn your altar with fruits, mistletoe, holly, evergreen shrubs, and branches. Give offerings of mulled wine and spices to the Goddess and give offerings of Light to the Baby God.

Mainly on this day we give thanks to the Lord of Darkness, for keeping us well through winter and say goodbye to his rule. We give thanks to the Goddess for her sacrifice to ensure ours and the earth’s survival, and we celebrate the return of the young Lord of Light, still growing and becoming stronger day by day.

Use this time to meditate and set plans and goals for the coming year, show gratitude for all you have, and all the people in your life. Light a fire using a Bloc na Nollaig (Yule Log) made from Oak wood and make wishes into the flames for the coming year.

Tonight is the Winter Solstice and will be the longest night of the year, it is a magical time of transition. After this day, the nights will start to get shorter and the days will become longer. As the waxing Sun grows in strength in the coming months, the earth will start to blossom once more.

I hope you have a fantastic Solstice and that it will be filled with magic, merriment, and light. Blessed be.

 100% Credit goes to Wicca Teachings
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Full Cold Moon

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The full moon on December 17th is called Cold Moon, Open Moon, or Big Winter Moon. As the sun sign is Sagittarius (November 23rd–December 21st), this produces a full air moon in the opposite sign of Gemini. Wiccan spells and rituals for this full moon relate to renewing contacts and communication with others by writing letters, placing phone calls, or face-to-face meetings.

This full moon is an ideal opportunity to cleanse and charge your tools for the Winter Solstice/Yule on December 21st, 2013.

Correspondence

December Flowers: Narcissus, Poinsettia, Holly

December Stones: Blue Zircon and Turquoise.

Credit goes to: Everything Under The Moon

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This is an especially special Full Moon because it is the last one of this year. It is a time to use the Moon’s light to charge our energies, and ready ourselves for Yule and the coming New Year. This particular full moon will not be boring and will have an unpredictable vibe along with it. What was stuck may suddenly begin to move or shift. If emotions are clogged, they may surface and flow. Allow this. Be as loving as possible with yourself, and others. The potential of the Full Moon in Gemini is to become aware of where you are engaging in dualistic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors on auto-pilot. This may be generating a lot of mental stress and tension plus sending out mixed signals to others and the Universe. Some people may be irritable and cranky. Emotions can be raw and urgent. Breathe deeply. Ground yourself. Keep a sense of humor. Be of good cheer. Be the calm in the storm. Get in the driver seat and empower yourself. Be honest with yourself. Stop arguing for your limitations. Take responsibility for your life. In this way, you can change what is not working. You are the master of your destiny. Take your power back from society and/or other people. Learn from your mistakes. Vow to do better next year. Make a commitment to your success. Be adaptable. Make friends with change. It is not the enemy. Change is your friend. Change sheds the old and gives birth to the new. With Yule and New year approaching look deep into yourself and ask what you want to happen in the coming year, ask yourself how you will bring it about. Make this the year that you make all your dreams come true. The energy from this Full Moon wants you to succeed. Tell the Moon your hopes and dreams write them down on paper and burn them by a white candle. As the smoke drifts to the heavens, the universe will receive your message.

Full Credit to the above goes to: Wicca Teachings