(I am pretty tired folks. Photo by Bob Watson)
Hello again folks,
It is well into the holidays already, and we are looking towards the Winter Solstice. I have been really busy this year with all sorts of different projects, this one included. I am going to admit to you straight off that I am kind of just blundering my way through for this post. I am pretty tired after this year. There is a lot going on, and sometimes it is really hard to just type out the “world shaking TM” blog. Yes, even writer’s have trouble making the words go sometimes.
I am looking forward to some R & R the next couple of weeks.
As such, this blog might jump around a bit, as it’s as much as a stream of conscious as anything. There has been a lot on my mind recently, and here at the end of the year is a great time to really reflect on the year past, and the year(s) to come. What have we sown, what have we reaped? What seeds will we plant in the new year, and what do we hope to achieve?
Let’s start with the Winter Solstice, and heck more of the pagany holidays in general. I don’t know about you, but this has really been a year of revaluation for me. I happen to think that both matter and meaning (material-semiotics) are both parts of our reality, and I have really been asking myself “what does this mean to me” a lot this year.
I’m just not feeling the solstice this time around.
It’s true for the other major pagan holidays, Beltaine, Litha, Ostara… and all the rest.
I have asked as each passed, “What does this holiday mean to me?” It is a really interesting question to ask, and one I think it is important to ask ourselves from time to time. Speaking for myself only, I was quite disappointed to realize that the answer was “not very much” for the vast majority of common pagan holidays. I felt disconnected from many of them, and felt a little empty because of this. Part of this is my patterns of observation, and I am sure some of it has been the general chaos of this year. It’s been rough, I’m not going to lie to you. There is a probably a lot of truth in chalking up my personal disconnect to stress.
There have also been shifts in my cosmology and how I think of my place in the world. That has shaken a lot of old ideas loose, and now I just feel like I am starting to pick up the pieces. That’s hard, and I empathize with anyone that is in the same place right now.
But let’s start with what doesn’t work for me anymore. I don’t have any relationships with Celtic gods, even though it is a part of my ancestry. That means holidays named after Celtic deities; Mabon and Lughnasadh. I just don’t feel any connection at all with these holidays.
This does not mean I don’t recognize the solstices or equinoxes. Those are a big part of my year, because they are part of the astronomical year. Especially where I live in Michigan, each in strongly connected to the start of the four seasons. Vernal Equinox starts spring, Summer solstice is the start of summer, and so on. But calling the autumn equinox Mabon, just doesn’t work for me. For that matter, Ostara really doesn’t do it for me for the Spring Equinox either.
Also, don’t get me started on referencing the Summer Solstice as “Midsummer” or Winter Solstice as “Midwinter”. Those mark the start of those seasons for me, and are Mid-nothing really. And even then, those astronomical markers are more like guidelines than hard rules. They mark transitions along a continuum, not hard points of linear time.
I realize this is coming across kind of ranting, and please don’t take this as me poo-pooing anyone that does find meaning in these names or the stories they evoke. All I’m saying is that your mileage may vary, and that many of these thing do not work for me. Not anymore anyways.
I do like to think of time as cyclical, but there is no meaning for me in Maiden, Mother, Crone, or some kind of God that dies and is reborn. As there is no meaning for me in Holly and Oak kings…
So where does that leave me? It leave me honestly between a rock and a hard place, because I still want to mark and honor the seasons, but I have no real idea of how to do that anymore. Many of the foundations have been pulled out from under me, and I am not sure what I should be connecting with anymore.
Well, in some way it leaves me with a blank slate. When the foundations have moved and the constructs have crumbled, you really don’t have any choice but to start over. It it hasn’t been obvious, I have been thinking about stories a lot lately. Those narratives structure our experiences and create meaning in our lives.
Maybe the Winter Solstice is about sleep and reflection. I’d be alright with that.
But I feel that many of those stories, gathered from my earlier days of paganhood, have started to fall away from me. Instead of a reliable structure of holidays, they are a bunch of lights free floating in the void. I am without form, and meaning, or at very least it feels that way.
The funny thing is, animism is all about making connections and building relationships. With a blank slate, it gives me the chance to start over and build new meanings and relationships. It is something I have already started to work on, but I’m not going to share that publicly just yet. If I do at all.
With the old stories falling apart all around us, we don’t have any choice but to pick up the pieces and start putting them back together. When the old doesn’t work anymore, it becomes the raw material for what is to follow. As what I once knew turns to sand in my hands, I consider that sand is needed to make glass.
I wonder what I can make with glass? I do hope it sparkles in the light. Hey, maybe there is a little death and rebirth in there after all.
I guess it is time to come up with some new stories. I have will have to work on that in the new year too.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Solstice!