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Author Topic: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?  (Read 505 times)

PerditaPickle

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Once again this past year I've had great intentions of marking each of the equinoxes/solstices etc, but when he time has come other stuff has prevented me from managing anything - on the latest occasion, on the (autumn) equinox, there was a family birthday that same weekend but my family were really flaky about confirming on what day they wanted to get together and left it to the last moment to confirm, so the equinox ended up taking a back seat and then being neglected altogether.  (As an aside, that's not usually like my family and kind of gave me a taste of my own medicine, but at the same time if I'd done the same thing to them they'd have been really annoyed at me...!  Anyway, I digress.)

Are there other solitary practitioners who observe the equinoxes/solstices by themselves, and if so how do you schedule & plan for it?

If you're not solitary but there are times when you'll be observing an equinox/solstice by yourself, the same question.

Planning is definitely a pretty obvious element I should try for in the future - not having any specific activities in mind (just an intention to do something that'd be 'winging it' on/near the day) makes it even more likely that when the time comes I'll end up just saying to myself "ah well, maybe next time..." and then not really observing the occasion in any substantial way (only as a mental note).

Obviously the upcoming (winter) solstice will not be such an issue for me, as I can happily join in with UAN once again meaning I'll automatically be observing the occasion - and if I can manage any other, solitary activities on top then that will just be a bonus.

(Edited to correct a typo in the thread title.)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 09:05:45 am by Pickle »
"If I get on, Susan thought, it'll all start again.  I'll be out of the light and into the world beyond this one.  I'll fall off the tightrope.
But a voice inside her said, You want to, though...don't you...?
Ten seconds later, there was only the snow."
(Terry Pratchett's Hogfather)

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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2018, 10:57:53 am »
Are there other solitary practitioners who observe the equinoxes/solstices by themselves, and if so how do you schedule & plan for it?

If you're not solitary but there are times when you'll be observing an equinox/solstice by yourself, the same question.

...

Obviously the upcoming (winter) solstice will not be such an issue for me, as I can happily join in with UAN once again meaning I'll automatically be observing the occasion - and if I can manage any other, solitary activities on top then that will just be a bonus.

Hi, Pickle,

First off, I'm delighted to hear you'll be joining in with Up All Night (UAN) again this year! (For those not yet in-the-know, UAN is The Cauldron's annual all-night, around-the-globe celebration of the December solstice, a cyberspace gathering taking place right here in this forum and its offshoots: Discord chat and, for the first time last year, a live Zoom-meeting meditation session. Mark your calendars!)

My solstice celebrations are mirror images of each other: Staying up all night for the winter solstice, staying outdoors all day for the summer solstice (give or take a day; I'll shift the celebration a bit if optimizing the weather for being outside all day requires it).
 
As you note, planning helps; I take the summer solstice off from work, if it doesn't fall on a weekend, and I'll let co-workers know I'll be in late the day after the winter solstice (so I can catch at least a few hours of sleep after the sun rises but before faking my way through a day at the office).

But those are no-brainers; the longest night and longest day push you in a certain direction to mark them. Like you, I have yet to develop a satisfying way to celebrate the equinoxes, and I'll be curious to hear what others have to say esp. about that.
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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2018, 01:36:41 pm »
Are there other solitary practitioners who observe the equinoxes/solstices by themselves, and if so how do you schedule & plan for it?



So, I've been essentially solitary for my entire practice, with a few nuggets of group work along the way.  It's been over two decades now.  And most of the time, I'm horrible about actually working the Sabbats (I prefer to do all eight, though as I said, I have been pretty shoddy about it)

Out of all the things I do, Sabbats are the one thing I'll most likely do with a group.  When I first started, I did really elaborate rituals:  fully cast circle (thrice cast with candle, athame and salt water), had cakes and ale, called the corners, and then did a scripted ritual based on stuff I found online or in books.  Even my early group work was very similar, I think we were all kind of finding our way (mostly I worked with other solitary peoples of a wide variety of paths).

However, after I moved a few times, I ended up in small country towns in the Bible-belt, so really went solo with my stuff.  And, had a son, so young child around, and smallish houses meant not much space for all the bells and whistles.  I went very visualized for a while, doing whole rituals as visualizations.  On the one hand, this worked really well, because I could do them literally anywhere (most of the time I do visualized work at night, once I'm in bed, so no one can even comment on me 'just sitting around').  It's really great when I'm visiting family on vacation as I don't need to bring tools/supplies.

But I have a very bad relationship with time, and am very forgetful. It was pretty common for me to forget what month it was and only realize I missed a Sabbat after it had come and gone. 

Several years back, I got more serious about my daily planning.  I don't work outside the home, so I need a lot of structure to actually get things done.  Daily planning gives me this.  But I also include longer term planning, looking at the weeks/months/year to help me remember things (like birthdays and Sabbats)

Even with planning, I found it hard to plan on the Sabbats, I think because I wasn't specifically deciding to do so.  This year, actually observing each and every one was a big part of my yearly focus.  I actually specifically got a magical planner to help me (another part of my goal was daily magic, even if it was only a tiny thing). 

So...what works for me:

1:  Plan!  Write it down.  I schedule everything:  setting my altar, rereading my Sabbat notes, ritual.  Not only write it down, but get in the habit of checking in with wherever you are writing it.  I have a need to check off boxes in my to-do lists, so knowing I have something scheduled, makes me want to do it.  You can also do this digitally if you prefer, with an scheduling app that you can set up to send you reminders ahead of time!

2:  Be Flexible.  My rituals are no longer huge affairs, but at least this year I really wanted them to be actual, physical rituals (it's too easy for me to not give my proper attention to a visualized ritual).  Sometimes, I didn't feel up to it, but I did it anyways...just sitting on the bed instead of standing.  On Mabon, I actually tried to make excuses and skip it, but I caught myself and made myself actually go and do something.  For me, just going and sitting in ritual space and acknowledging what I am doing, what I am observing, works.

Also, I don't always need to do things on the exact day.  For me, sometimes I shift my rituals by a day or two, depending on what else is going on.  I would rather do my ritual a bit off on time than to either feel stressed while I'm doing it or not get to do something.

3:  Make a commitment.  I may not do a huge thing, but I made a promise to myself to do something.  And knowing I made that commitment makes it much easier to actually get started.  Once I get started, I often have no problem actually having a nice ritual.  This year I did rituals while son was home, in his room, both doors open (he's in college now, so he's older, but we really never talked about the stuff I do, and while I will do things like read tarot cards in front of him, I never did a full 'light candles and call corners' ritual where he could see).  I also did rituals with hubby home (he fully knows what I do and supports me, but doesn't share my beliefs), and I didn't tell him what I was doing or even that I needed some personal time...I just went and did what I needed to do.  For me, that is a HUGE thing (I have some serious co-dependent issues).

It might help to have a buddy to work with (not necessarily in ritual, but someone who you can check in with and remind each other about your rituals and what your plans are, and to encourage you to follow through with them).  I'm really big about not disappointing other people, so if someone else expects me to do something, even if it's something for me, I'm more likely to do it.  That might help you too.
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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2018, 06:29:27 pm »
Are there other solitary practitioners who observe the equinoxes/solstices by themselves, and if so how do you schedule & plan for it?

Badly.

Quips aside, I do try to figure something out. I have a physical planner which helps me immensely in keeping my life together...or at least a reasonable facsimile of "together". I put everything into the planner, including religious observances.

This doesn't mean I actually manage to get things done for my holidays, but it does considerably increase the chance it'll happen.

Another thing I've had to do is realize that I'm no longer Wonder Woman. My health has taken a severe downturn over the past 6.5 years, and now I'm a chronically ill, disabled person doing full-time classes. It's highly unlikely I'll be able to do observances ON the "actual date" and if I do, it might literally be me saying to my gods "Hey guys, sorry, uh here's some chocolate? I need to sleep now tho. Love you." (See: this year's Loafmass!)

So I've altered my perception of "the actual date". I see the days as markers of seasons. It's not Mabon the day, it's Mabontide: the season of harvest and gratitude. I might end up celebrating it closer to Thanksgiving, which works out perfectly. (Reminder to USians: Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, not November.) Or I might actually  make an apple crisp this weekend. (Also a thing I do for Samhain!)

It's not Samhain the day, it's Samhaintide: the season of ancestors. That one is especially easy for me because November 11th is Remembrance Day, and December 5th is Sinterklaas, which is currently an ancestor celebration for me. Actually a few years ago I only was able to celebrate Samhain on Dec. 5th.

So this means when a holiday sneaks up on me (as Mabon did, and I was super ill this past week), I can go, "Oh, right, that thing. Ok, what do I need to do for that...I could do an apple crisp? Right, I'll pick up apples this weekend and make one next weekend."

I don't panic, I just go, Ok, it's that season now, and try to figure out something to do within a somewhat reasonable time period.

I used to panic. I used to panic and beat myself about the head for being a "Bad Witch," because I'm a Type A Personality and that's just what I do. "WHY AM I NOT INSTANTLY PERFECT AT THIS NEW THING? I AM A TERRIBLE BEING."

I've gotten past that. Somewhat.

In the past few years I've also tried to do advents for the 4 big holidays in my calendar (Imbolc, Beltane, Loafmass, Samhain), where for the 3 weeks leading up to them I spend a day each week in contemplation, meditation, etc, on different aspects of the holiday and the god/s to whom it is sacred.

I have not been super successful in this, but so far I've managed to do a couple of Imbolc advents and sort of accomplished a Samhain advent. I think I'm going to attempt again, but try to tone down the amount of stuff I do for it. I think the problem was I just had TOO MUCH to attempt.

But I feel the advent is a nice way of approaching it, because you can do multiple small things over a period of time for the holiday, instead of feeling pressured to go all out on one particular day.

Anyway, those are my rambling, disjointed thoughts on how I schedule and plan for my holidays. Not sure if it was useful or not.
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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 02:29:40 pm »
Are there other solitary practitioners who observe the equinoxes/solstices by themselves, and if so how do you schedule & plan for it?

Not solitary at the moment, but have been in the past, and I do some things in my personal practice distinct from group practice (which is a pretty common thing for people with group practices, and which can complicate the scheduling even more, because obviously if you're doing a group ritual about whatever Sabbat / solstice / equinox on a given day, you may not want to do a ritual thing on your own about that same thing the same day, or may not have time/energy/spoons to.)

The big one for me is planning ahead, which comes in three pieces:

1) Figure out when I'm doing the planning (and put it on my calendar/to do list).
I am more prone to 'put a thing on my todo list to pop up on a given day) rather than blocking time on my calendar, because I like to give myself a couple of days leeway in case of migraine/exhaustion/needing to do something that has higher priority.

How much in advance I do the planning depends a bit on 'do I need to order things to do the thing I want to do' (in which case, I need to plan far enough ahead to allow for shipping time and/or plan on time to go buy the thing.)

2) Actually do the planning.
I've found that a lot of the magic of my ritual work actually happens by starting to think about what I'm going to be doing. I usually aim for having an idea what I'm going to do and when a week or two out allows me to prepare (order stuff, buy stuff at the grocery store, figure out when I'm cleaning enough to do ritual, etc.) but also lets my mind start ticking over toward the thing. It makes doing the ritual work a lot easier.

Also, this is the point at which I narrow down when I'm going to do the thing (I may have two or three options in mind, depending on my schedule, what I'm planning to do, how much exertion or time it will take, etc.) I've had days where I wake up and go "Nope, can't ritual the way I wanted" and it helps to go "Ok, so I can try tomorrow, or I can try plan B, which is simpler." Or more usually, I'm on about Plan M. So these days, I try to have a "This is what I'd prefer to do, if possible." and a "This is the really essential part."

I also try to have at least one piece I can do on the day of, which is easy and straightforward to do - a seasonal meal, plans for a particular kind of tea or tisane, ten minutes of meditation or a particular playlist to listen to while I'm driving/working/doing stuff I have to do anyway. I've found that even when I've had to put off more involved ritual celebrations (because of other commitments, or health, or not enough spoons)

3) Do the thing.
Including cleaning up from the thing. Part of my planning these days is thinking about how much time/energy it's going to take me to clean up, which is biasing me toward things that don't need a lot of cleanup and/or produce ritual artifacts that I use slowly over time.

For the solstices and equinoxes, some of it is driven by other things for me

Fall: September 22nd is my birthday, so I make a point of good food (excellent harvest celebration), good conversation (yay, friends) and ideally something creative. (This year, I went to see Hamilton the night before, which was great for this.) They're often not explicitly birthday celebrations, but they work pretty well.

Winter: I do Up All Night and have for a number of years: I've taken to taking the week of the solstice off work as my winter vacation, which is handy because it's not time other people want to be out (and it's usually pretty quiet) and it means often get a 10 or 11 day break at once (like this year!), a short week, and then another really long weekend, so it's fantastic for resting and doing a lot of home project work without feeling rushed. But I mostly do it because I absolutely can't do up all night (or even a significant chunk of it) and then go to work that day, or probably the next.

Spring: There's a tradition-specific ritual I do right at spring equinox (within a couple of days of it, because it is definitely 'need a weekend' thing), and that gets priority for my complex ritual scheduling and it is sort of finicky, so anything else tends to be lower-key. (That said, I really do love dyeing eggs, and I love doing protection eggs, so there's usually some 'let me do things with eggs' in there.)

Summer: In the group I trained with, it was a time of checking in on group visioning (rather than the personal cycle, which began with thinking about stuff at Samhain and took form at winter solstice), so that also has some stuff attached to it that isn't purely my personal practice.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2018, 02:09:18 pm »
My solstice celebrations are mirror images of each other: Staying up all night for the winter solstice, staying outdoors all day for the summer solstice

I really like the idea of staying outdoors all day on the summer solstice, and I rather wish it was something I'd heard of in my younger, healthier days.
"If I get on, Susan thought, it'll all start again.  I'll be out of the light and into the world beyond this one.  I'll fall off the tightrope.
But a voice inside her said, You want to, though...don't you...?
Ten seconds later, there was only the snow."
(Terry Pratchett's Hogfather)

PerditaPickle

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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2018, 02:20:58 pm »
It might help to have a buddy to work with (not necessarily in ritual, but someone who you can check in with and remind each other about your rituals and what your plans are, and to encourage you to follow through with them).  I'm really big about not disappointing other people, so if someone else expects me to do something, even if it's something for me, I'm more likely to do it.  That might help you too.

That's not a bad idea at all.  I've a Pagan friend who lives really nearby but historically I relied on her to come up with the ideas, but she often didn't come up with anything, either, and (we both talk a lot) so we'd end up just having tea & chatting then run out of time to come up with anything.  Which was alright at the time.  But latterly she's started working really long hours, anyway, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind being the type of buddy you suggest!
"If I get on, Susan thought, it'll all start again.  I'll be out of the light and into the world beyond this one.  I'll fall off the tightrope.
But a voice inside her said, You want to, though...don't you...?
Ten seconds later, there was only the snow."
(Terry Pratchett's Hogfather)

PerditaPickle

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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2018, 03:13:57 pm »
I've altered my perception of "the actual date". I see the days as markers of seasons. It's not Mabon the day, it's Mabontide: the season of harvest and gratitude.

That's absolutely ideal!
"If I get on, Susan thought, it'll all start again.  I'll be out of the light and into the world beyond this one.  I'll fall off the tightrope.
But a voice inside her said, You want to, though...don't you...?
Ten seconds later, there was only the snow."
(Terry Pratchett's Hogfather)

PerditaPickle

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Re: When you're solitary, how do you schedule observances/celebrations?
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2018, 03:21:28 pm »
I also try to have at least one piece I can do on the day of, which is easy and straightforward to do - a seasonal meal, plans for a particular kind of tea or tisane, ten minutes of meditation or a particular playlist to listen to while I'm driving/working/doing stuff I have to do anyway.

That's actually brilliant, especially the tea - something I could easily do as an absolute minimum, even if I don't get as far as doing anything more complex!  And if I do manage anything more complex as well then it's a bonus.
"If I get on, Susan thought, it'll all start again.  I'll be out of the light and into the world beyond this one.  I'll fall off the tightrope.
But a voice inside her said, You want to, though...don't you...?
Ten seconds later, there was only the snow."
(Terry Pratchett's Hogfather)

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