Celebrating, or simple paying attention?

I have a lot of Pagan friends who celebrate the sun’s birthday with much ritual, metaphors of light and dark, enactments of the struggle between Holly and Oak, winter and summer. I’ve been part of a coven (briefly) and loved our Yule ritual, but for me, more and more, simplicity is key.

Normally, we would bring the green into the house on the solstice – a small, self-seeded spruce tree from the next-door forest, and whatever holly and mistletoe can be found – and I would leave out gifts of food and drink (mead or whisky) for the local sidhe, and pour libations around and on the house. Then would come the gifts and food and family on the feast of the Invincible Sun (aka Christmas Day), and twelve days and nights of quiet and contemplation, noticing the weather, the birds, my dreams; the twelve-night pause between one year and the next, with its clues to the year ahead for those who care to pay attention.

This year we didn’t do any celebrating at all on the solstice (unless you count getting my laptop back from the Apple Store and having dinner at Garfunkel’s), and Christmas Day is notable for us today for being decidedly low key. But there’s still the twelve days and nights of paying attention to come, the pause between one year and the next which we’re entering into. For that, I am, as every year, profoundly grateful.

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