Inspirations from Hestia's Hearth
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Zine for Goddess Women Near & Far
The Season of Celebrations
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I often think of this time as the season of air - such wonderful smells are all around! The falling leaves, the smell of rain, apple cider, pumpkin pie, wood burning, cinnamon sticks and orange slices simmering on the stove..... The cooler air allows me the joy and comfort of re-lighting my hearthfire after the warm summer months. As the scent of burning wood fills my home, I want to 'nest' - to spend time cooking, sewing, reading by the fire, socializing, and otherwise enjoying my home.
Throughout the year, friends and family gather, and now they are in the kitchen for a warming soup . . . in front of the fire for a long talk .. . . around the tv for football games. It is a time when women come together. We may not even know why, but we feel pulled to reconnect with our sisters.
For me, November is a ramp-up time of holiday preparation. I have made some lists, and now I look at them more closely and carefully; gift ideas, holiday cards, dates for cookie making. A few years ago I found that I was able to get more made and had more fun if I invited friends over to help, so now it has become a tradition. I look forward to making holiday cookies again!
Whether or not we celebrate Thanksgiving, November is a time to focus on gratitude, and perhaps more so than any other time of year, to count our blessings. To me this seems an ancient practice. The harvest has come in - food and animal meat prepared for a long winter . . . . . canning, drying, preserving, drying. Everyone has worked together to ensure that all that needed to would be. We have shelter over us, hopefully abundant food on our table (if the harvest was plentiful), and we are moving from a time of action into a time of introspection.
As the temperatures continue to drop, so November turns into December. The light continues to decrease until the Winter Solstice, December 21st, the longest, darkest night of the year. But tomorrow the daytime will already be growing longer and stronger, and the light is returning!
Our ancestors worried that the light would not regain her strength, and did rituals to bring her back to them. Every culture has a festival of lights and a myth to explain it. The Quickening time is coming, but not before gestation. In the darkness, the time of composting and mulching, the quiet time of introspection. Mother Earth rests, and She does, She turns all the abundance of autumn and the mulch of winter into new life.
It doesn't seem that way for us, though, does it?
December can seem so chaotic!! So many things to do, parties to attend, and lots of family fun time. We may or may not have snow to play in, but the air is cold as we bring in or set up our Yule trees, and prepare to wrap gifts. We often don't have time to take care of ourselves, with so much going on and so much to do. We resist the earth's cycle of quietness, and we make ourselves busy. It is what we have been taught to do from birth.
So how do we do it all and still take time to follow the earth's cycles?
As you send out your holiday greetings and make plans to see friends and family, think about our connections - how we weave our webs and reinforce threads this time of year, at this place in the cycle. It is a time set aside - a sacred time - of telling people how and why they are important to us. Take the time to write a few short lines (or more) to tell someone how she inspires you, comforts you, brings you laughter.
After Yule/Winter Solstice and other holiday celebrations with friends and family, you may choose to celebrate New Year's Eve and Day. Some do this by keeping an all night vigil, watching the darkness shorten and the light increase. Sit by the fire where it's cozy or have candles lit around your home. Make a nice dinner or go out on the town dancing.
And then the rush is over. It's time to take down the Yule tree, put away the gifts and cards. These are acts of grounding, reminding us that it's time to refocus our attention. The rush is over. The predictable-ness of our everyday lives has returned.
Many of us experience a 'letdown' after the holidays. We have been so busy that we didn't notice ourselves, our divine Selves, and now we can reconnect. January is a time to focus on ourselves. What a lovely ritual to look forward to and to enjoy! Do what you love. Spend time alone. Get reacquainted with your Self. Perhaps you enjoy long hot baths, or sitting in front of the fire with a journal. Go for a walk in the snow, or sit with some soft music. Maybe there's a project you've been meaning to work on and doing so will bring you peace. This time is for you, and you can do whatever you want.
Thou art goddess!