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Author Topic: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season  (Read 1866 times)

Demophon

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Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« on: November 30, 2016, 07:36:23 pm »
This may be weird, but I find that I get the most nostalgic about my pagan practice around this time of year. Lord knows I'm not a big fan of pop culture Halloween, so I don't feel especially "witchy" around that time, but once the Christmas decorations come out and the carols start being played, I think about being a teenager and reading Scott Cunningham's, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner for the first time, and then subsequently asking for a bunch of pagan books for Christmas, much to the dismay of my family.

Yule/Winter Solstice was the first sabbat I celebrated before I really even knew what I was doing when it came to the whole pagan thing. Coming from a non-religious family, I never attached much meaning to Christmas, so when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, I lost interest in the holiday season. Neo-paganism kind of gave new meaning to the winter solstice as the time of the sun's birth, and since most Christmas traditions are blatant appropriation of ancient folk customs, I felt like I could better relate to the wider culture during the Christmas season. I ended up going in a Hellenic Recon direction, where there is no real equivalent winter solstice festival, so I often celebrated it as the birthday of Dionysos or Adonis. The Rural Dionysia was celebrated in Attica around the full moon in the month we think of December, and some sources say this was the time of his birth. The mysteries of Adonis's death were celebrated around the summer solstice, so I think it makes sense to put place his birth at the opposite pole in the year at the winter solstice, and his Orphic hymn seems to give him solar associations, so I think it's appropriate even if the ancient sources are silent on the subject.

Now as someone who follows Christian tradition in the Catholic Church, Christmas is a big deal, though I often miss the pagan understanding of it. Oh well, I'm not a very good Catholic anyway, and clearly not someone with an exclusivist understanding of religious truth.

SunflowerP

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2016, 11:32:27 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;199566
... since most Christmas traditions are blatant appropriation of ancient folk customs....

 
I'm gonna pick this nit, since IMO it is one of those nits that needs to be picked: no, they really are not 'blatantly appropriated'. In most cases in which the folk custom in question is in fact ancient enough to be pre-Christian (lots of them aren't, or can't be demonstrably traced back that far), they're continuations of that custom by the same folks post-conversion.

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Demophon

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2016, 08:15:01 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;199591
I'm gonna pick this nit, since IMO it is one of those nits that needs to be picked: no, they really are not 'blatantly appropriated'. In most cases in which the folk custom in question is in fact ancient enough to be pre-Christian (lots of them aren't, or can't be demonstrably traced back that far), they're continuations of that custom by the same folks post-conversion.

Sunflower

 
Well, anyway, my point was that this time of year is rich in symbolism and magical imagery, and I wondered if anyone found it inspiring. I've heard people talk about Halloween as the time where they feel the most "witchy" and feel nostalgic about the early days of walking their path, but for me, this happens around the winter solstice.

AsraiDouglas

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2016, 09:43:21 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;199834
Well, anyway, my point was that this time of year is rich in symbolism and magical imagery, and I wondered if anyone found it inspiring. I've heard people talk about Halloween as the time where they feel the most "witchy" and feel nostalgic about the early days of walking their path, but for me, this happens around the winter solstice.

 
Winter is my season.  I love it.  I love the cold, I love the extra hours of twilight, I love the rain (I live near Seattle), I love the smell of the wet ground and pine trees.  I love playing in the snow when I get a chance, and I still have my morning tea on my patio while bundled in all my layers (even though the sun isn't up until almost 8am at this point).  All those things make me feel grounded, connected, and cognizant of the time of year and its spiritual and traditional significance.

I have a hard time with the Christmas-y bits.  There's a lot of baggage there for me being a former Catholic, and I didn't part with the church on great terms.  Most Christmas songs and imagery feel like a part of a life I don't live anymore, which is pretty conflicting for me this time of year.  I'm also not part of any local pagan communities, so a lot of the imagery I get still feels closely tied to a weird part of my past and isn't particularly inspiring or inviting.

Halloween doesn't have any baggage for me, so I suppose I don't have to deal with the conflicting feelings during that time of year and yeah, it's a bit easier for me to feel spiritually "with it" then than during the winter solstice.

Naunau

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 09:32:24 am »
Winter is my season.  I love it.  I love the cold, I love the extra hours of twilight, I love the rain (I live near Seattle), I love the smell of the wet ground and pine trees.  I love playing in the snow when I get a chance, and I still have my morning tea on my patio while bundled in all my layers (even though the sun isn't up until almost 8am at this point).  All those things make me feel grounded, connected, and cognizant of the time of year and its spiritual and traditional significance.

This. I love it.

When it comes to Christmas it kinds or weirds me out, or I feel sad and left out because I don't celebrate it. So I don't know what I'll do next time because last time was bad. They make me sit with family and eat and I'm just there sulking and feeling weird. At least there's food.

Halloween as usually understood is relatively new around here, and I have no antagonizing thoughts, although it does leave me wondering about history and stuff. In some areas of the Iberian peninsula, it falls more or less close to traditional festivals revolving around chestnuts. The Northwestern area retained some tradition about house spirits the same time of the year. All of this is non-existent where I grew up, where you essentially have a Christian date that used to be important, and a form of Halloween seemingly imported from the USA through media.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 09:36:08 am by Naunau »

Morbid

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2017, 02:29:37 am »
This. I love it.

When it comes to Christmas it kinds or weirds me out, or I feel sad and left out because I don't celebrate it. So I don't know what I'll do next time because last time was bad. They make me sit with family and eat and I'm just there sulking and feeling weird. At least there's food.

Halloween as usually understood is relatively new around here, and I have no antagonizing thoughts, although it does leave me wondering about history and stuff. In some areas of the Iberian peninsula, it falls more or less close to traditional festivals revolving around chestnuts. The Northwestern area retained some tradition about house spirits the same time of the year. All of this is non-existent where I grew up, where you essentially have a Christian date that used to be important, and a form of Halloween seemingly imported from the USA through media.

I absolutely love the winter, in fact, I usually take my vacation time in Jan/Feb and I go up to Boston for a week and stay with a friend of mine from h.s. 

I kinda celebrate Christmas, but kinda not?  I mean I participate in the gift giving (and receiving!) and I hang out with my family and stuff, they're really good about not shoving too much crap down my throat.  But at the same time, I stay at home with whoever usually when they go to mass, and stuff like that.  I usually give hand-made gifts, I've always found that that tends to feel better to me. 

And you may come to visit me and my wacky family when it's Christmas time!  I won't make you eat random foods you don't like but I will throw bundled up socks at you if you don't at least try my spiced apples.
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Naunau

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2017, 06:48:17 am »
I kinda celebrate Christmas, but kinda not?  I mean I participate in the gift giving (and receiving!) and I hang out with my family and stuff, they're really good about not shoving too much crap down my throat.  But at the same time, I stay at home with whoever usually when they go to mass, and stuff like that.  I usually give hand-made gifts, I've always found that that tends to feel better to me. 
I've felt weird about the gift giving for years. I ended up giving gifts in completely random dates to the two closest to me instead. If I managed to work more on my art I'd feel better about the whole thing because I could do that.

I'm gonna pick this nit, since IMO it is one of those nits that needs to be picked: no, they really are not 'blatantly appropriated'. In most cases in which the folk custom in question is in fact ancient enough to be pre-Christian (lots of them aren't, or can't be demonstrably traced back that far), they're continuations of that custom by the same folks post-conversion.
Maybe I'm ignorant but I can't actually think of any element of the local Christmas that's pre-Christian. You could say "the date", but that's kinda cheating xD And also approximate. Maybe the gift giving out of something from Saturnalia?
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 06:51:24 am by Naunau »

Morbid

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2017, 02:35:18 am »
I've felt weird about the gift giving for years. I ended up giving gifts in completely random dates to the two closest to me instead. If I managed to work more on my art I'd feel better about the whole thing because I could do that.
Maybe I'm ignorant but I can't actually think of any element of the local Christmas that's pre-Christian. You could say "the date", but that's kinda cheating xD And also approximate. Maybe the gift giving out of something from Saturnalia?

I usually try to do hand-made crafts.  Like last year, I made basically goodie-bags with some homemade cookies, rum balls, sausage balls, some candles, cinnamon sticks, some candies I had made, and a few others things and stuffed it all in a stocking for people.  I tied them off with twine and it had a really nice rustic feel to it.
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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2017, 12:09:43 am »
Maybe I'm ignorant but I can't actually think of any element of the local Christmas that's pre-Christian. You could say "the date", but that's kinda cheating xD And also approximate. Maybe the gift giving out of something from Saturnalia?

That was pretty much my point, that when pagans start getting into a froth about 'the Christians stole our holidays/holiday customs!', they're usually wrong about it.

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Naunau

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2017, 08:32:10 am »
That was pretty much my point, that when pagans start getting into a froth about 'the Christians stole our holidays/holiday customs!', they're usually wrong about it.

Sunflower

Maybe there are more interesting forms of Christmas elsewhere that do contain something, but the sterotypical Christmas seems entirely divorced.

In the Basque country, gifts are brough by a being known as the Olentzero. I've seen this explained as an adaptation of an unrelated deity or post-Christian folklore figure to make him more Christmas-friendly, but also as simply an older name for a specific time of the year.

I've wanted for a while something to celebrate but then I realized that such a specific need is pretty much a Christian influence and that people don't technically need it. It sounds a bit silly when I put it like this. My girlfriend cheered me up saying we could do Saturnalia but doing something like that specifically and nothing else analogous to it in the Roman tradition calendar is a bit weird.

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2017, 09:17:42 am »
I've wanted for a while something to celebrate but then I realized that such a specific need is pretty much a Christian influence and that people don't technically need it. It sounds a bit silly when I put it like this. My girlfriend cheered me up saying we could do Saturnalia but doing something like that specifically and nothing else analogous to it in the Roman tradition calendar is a bit weird.

I mean, it's completely normal for people to take cultural festivals, including religious ones, and repurpose them to suit their new religion.  (For the big obvious one in Western culture, consider Easter, which is a blatantly repurposed Passover.)

Personally, I don't worry about the religious aspects of Christmas, as not my religion, but various of the cultural aspects as done in my family are perfectly suited to a new festival within my current theology, so I treat them accordingly.
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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2017, 09:25:23 am »
I mean, it's completely normal for people to take cultural festivals, including religious ones, and repurpose them to suit their new religion.  (For the big obvious one in Western culture, consider Easter, which is a blatantly repurposed Passover.)

Personally, I don't worry about the religious aspects of Christmas, as not my religion, but various of the cultural aspects as done in my family are perfectly suited to a new festival within my current theology, so I treat them accordingly.
I think I'd repurpose the aproximate time of the year (it doesn't have to specifically be late December), because of taste, but I don't know about anything else. The eating food with people thing is hardly unique, so I'd end up repurposing barely anything. But I see where you're coming from here.

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Re: Pagan Nostalgia Around the Yuletide Season
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2017, 02:56:43 am »
This may be weird, but I find that I get the most nostalgic about my pagan practice around this time of year. Lord knows I'm not a big fan of pop culture Halloween, so I don't feel especially "witchy" around that time, but once the Christmas decorations come out and the carols start being played, I think about being a teenager and reading Scott Cunningham's, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner for the first time, and then subsequently asking for a bunch of pagan books for Christmas, much to the dismay of my family.

Yule/Winter Solstice was the first sabbat I celebrated before I really even knew what I was doing when it came to the whole pagan thing. Coming from a non-religious family, I never attached much meaning to Christmas, so when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, I lost interest in the holiday season. Neo-paganism kind of gave new meaning to the winter solstice as the time of the sun's birth, and since most Christmas traditions are blatant appropriation of ancient folk customs, I felt like I could better relate to the wider culture during the Christmas season. I ended up going in a Hellenic Recon direction, where there is no real equivalent winter solstice festival, so I often celebrated it as the birthday of Dionysos or Adonis. The Rural Dionysia was celebrated in Attica around the full moon in the month we think of December, and some sources say this was the time of his birth. The mysteries of Adonis's death were celebrated around the summer solstice, so I think it makes sense to put place his birth at the opposite pole in the year at the winter solstice, and his Orphic hymn seems to give him solar associations, so I think it's appropriate even if the ancient sources are silent on the subject.

Now as someone who follows Christian tradition in the Catholic Church, Christmas is a big deal, though I often miss the pagan understanding of it. Oh well, I'm not a very good Catholic anyway, and clearly not someone with an exclusivist understanding of religious truth.

Well, I don't ever feel particularly "witchy" since I am not a witch, but I definitely feel the most spiritual in the Winter, especially around Christmas. I don't celebrate it anymore, but my friends and family do, and it brings back happy memories from my childhood. The winter is a season that evokes feelings of nostalgia for me, and I often find myself reminiscing about people who are no longer here, in this life, and that always makes me feel closer to my Gods and to my ancestors.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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