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Yule and other questions

Yule and other questions

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pagan
Do you tie Yule and Christmas together? If you do, which parts? If you have children, what parts of Yule do you share/teach them? Do you do any rituals personally?

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This is my first year observing the Wheel of the Year. I'm a solitary practitioner so I have only been doing research and reading on my own. I'm sure you've probably seen me around this past year asking questions about integrating my husband's eclectic Christian beliefs with my own earth pagan beliefs. I don't believe in a god or goddess (yet), so that kind of simplifies things. I believe in the energies of the earth and the energies around us. I wonder though, if I had someone who taught me about the gods and goddesses, if I would believe then. Being so isolated in my learning, I suppose it's hard to find that connection and easy to become overwhelmed by it all.

I guess I feel lost and alone in this. I have only one other friend in real life who's beliefs are even close to mine and she's only begun searching for her path with no definite wisdom to share yet. I wish that I didn't have to spend hours and hours researching and finding something that fits with one holiday. I feel so behind in so many ways. My soul and heart want to celebrate these festivals, but my head doesn't know how. I try to celebrate them in my own way but I want to dig deeper, find more. How? I don't know.

When I was little, I heard a CD called Sons of Somerled. It made my heart race and my body buzz with this elated feeling of passion for a land I'd never really learned about or heard much about. I didn't grow up with any kind of music like that, any kind of history lessons. I grew up with 70's and 80's music. Never was anything like that ever introduced to me before. After that I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the Celts, Celtic traditions, Gaelic, Scotland, music, history, everything. I read about the Scottish highlands and I found that I had to make myself breathe. My soul was alive and I couldn't understand why. All I knew is that I had to find out more! more! more! To this day I feel this connection that is so strong. And I don't understand it. I keep thinking reincarnation, connection to past lives, something. All I know is that when I practice and celebrate and participate in these beliefs and traditions, I feel complete. But to finish that feeling of completeness, I need to find what exactly I believe and how to practice it.

My husband is very supportive of me and my choice of path, wanting to share in it even though he doesn't believe. His point is that I celebrate his holidays with the kids and him so it should be vice versa and I shouldn't be celebrating them alone. This Samhain I intended to celebrate with the kids, but they're only 4 and 3 and my husband wasn't comfortable with that holiday, so I simply did some things by myself. I don't want to be by myself in this. I wish I had a mentor, someone who could teach me, could help me learn and understand.

I suppose what I'm asking for here is advice. Are any of you, or have any of you, been in this position before? Or any part of this situation? Am I truly alone? What did you do if you have been here?




x-posted for more answers
  • I don't know of how much help I'll be but...

    I wanted to respond to many of the questions in your post and I’m afraid I might have been a little long winded since it won’t let me put it all it one comment. So I’ll post all of my thoughts regarding Yule in this comment and then my other thoughts regarding Samhain and the Wheel of the year in the second comment.

    I'll say upfront though that I don't have any children. But I have had discussions like this with friends of mine who are pagan and who have children and I work with children in preschools. So hopefully I'll have some "wisdom" to share and you'll find my words helpful. Take from them what you will.

    The transition from cultural Christianity to Pagan holidays has been a struggle for me also and I don't have children to complicate the matter. Lucky for me that my only conflicts are Christmas/Yule and Easter/Ostara. I have decided that Yule and Christmas are 2 different holidays and I go into each with a different mindset and for a different purpose. Yule is a day of worship that I now spend with my coven mates (I don't mean we’re in ritual all day, I just mean that we are aware of the importance and meaning of the day). We do things that are considered "Christmas" activities but we all know and remember that it is Yule and the rebirth of the Sun God that we are celebrating. Then, when I go to Christmas with my family, I have a different mindset. I know that my parents are celebrating the birth of their God but for me it is more of a celebration of spending time with my family and of being together. I go, not because of a sense of devotion to a Christian God, but out of a sense of devotion to my family.

    Children understand a lot but they are more concrete and self-centered than we are. If you can show them examples and how it relates to them and their experiences in the world, any holiday can be made child appropriate. For teaching Yule to your children, my advice would be to focus on the rebirth of the Sun God. This is something that your children can understand as you can point out that the days will start getting longer again. And by telling them that we rejoice in the Sun's return (even if you don't worship "God" or "Goddess" you can still celebrate the return of the physical sun) because it means that new life will begin. Tell your children about how important the sun is to melting the snow and warming the earth and all its inhabitants and in helping plants to grow and how without it, there would be no food.

    If you're looking for specific ways of celebrating Yule, my coven does a ritual in which we start in all darkness and then light candles to represent the return of the light and the sun and to help remind us that even though it is very cold at this point of the year, the warmth of the sun is returning and will be with us soon. (Young children can be near candles with supervision. Teach them that the fire can be painful by having them hold their hands close to it (but don't let them burn themselves) and feel it's heat. Just like most things in this world, fire is only dangerous when people don't understand it and its power and they misuse it or take it for granted.) I have also made Yule cut out cookies before that were in the shape of suns. You could also make treats with peanut butter and seeds and leave them outside for some extra food for the animals.

    This site has some other good ideas for things you can do with your children to celebrate Yule:
    http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/wintersolsticecraftsideasactivitieskids.html
    • Re: I don't know of how much help I'll be but...

      Your comment is FULL of AWESOME advice. You have no idea how much I appreciate it :) :) :)

      Thank you. :)
  • Part II

    I think it's wonderful that your husband wants to celebrate your holidays with you and that you have that reciprocity in your relationship. But I believe that it is important for him and for you to understand that if you believe in and you're celebrating all 8 of the holidays on the wheel, then you shouldn't pick and choose which ones your children are exposed to. Each holiday is important and represents an important part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Even young children can begin to understand the meaning and importance of these rituals and holidays. Your husband's discomfort with Samhain and with sharing it with your children most likely comes from his own discomfort with death and with spirit. But death is also a part of life and a part of our cycle. And a piece that, in my opinion, cannot be ignored.

    If your husband is uncomfortable with teaching your children about death at such a young age, then I would probably try to teach my children that it is more about going to rest and the beginning of rejuvenation. Just like your children must rest every night so they wake up with energy, so too must the earth and nature. Use the change in seasons to help illustrate this by explaining that the trees "rest" by losing their leaves (they do not die though). That animals start to hibernate. The sun even "rests" more by giving us shorter days. I would focus on those things and then make sure to connect the idea that this rest is important for the plants and animals so that, in the spring, they can wake up full of energy and life again.

    I hope some of this will be of use to you and I didn't ramble on too much. Please, if you wish to talk more or have any other questions, email me at aurora7948@yahoo.com. I'd be happy to talk with you more. Many Blessings to you and your family!
    • Re: Part II

      "Your husband's discomfort with Samhain and with sharing it with your children most likely comes from his own discomfort with death and with spirit. But death is also a part of life and a part of our cycle. And a piece that, in my opinion, cannot be ignored."
      I was nodding my head with this. You hit the nail right on the head and bring up an excellent point.

      You didn't ramble on too much. I really appreciate the advice. I love the idea of how to explain death the children. I've always been partial to the book "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf" by Leo Buscaglia. It is about a leaf who sees the other leaves fall and learns about death and how it effects the earth's cycle and accepts it for himself. It's a great way to explain it to children.

      I might take you up on the offer to talk more. At the moment, I received a lot of information from the various groups, but I'm sure I'll have more questions or want to talk about some of it. Thank you :) :)
      • Re: Part II

        I'm glad you found some of it useful and I'd love to talk with you more, anytime. Just email me like I said before and I very much look forward to hearing from you. :-)
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