“I’m feeling low,” Matilda said.
“I hear you,” I replied. “Something in particular?”
“We’re squeezed from all sides. All the Christmas music, the shopping, the happy couples, the family time. Hey, it was Yule!—before the Christians hijacked our season,” Matilda continued.
Ever feel, as a pagan, that you’re on a small island in the middle of “Christmas-focused people”?
The holidays often create depression and anxiety in Pagans. Seeing all the decorations and good cheer may be nice. Still, we Pagans know that one of our sacred Sabbats was perverted into a consumer holiday.
One holiday season, I was sitting in a knitting group at a yarn shop, when an older woman exclaimed, “What’s all this ‘happy holidays’ crap? It’s Christmas, damn it! It’s always going to be Christmas.”
I felt my hackles rise because I knew full well that in the group were a Jew, me and an Asian with parents from China. Through our diversity, we were already demonstrating that “happy holidays” was a respectful greeting at this time of year.
Why? Because in the USA, we have people of various cultures and traditions.
Long time readers of this blog know that I deal with depression symptoms. It’s true that outside things like all of this tinsel and tyranny of some people pushing their religion on others can exacerbate my depression symptoms.
Getting Past Feeling Depressed
I have learned to focus on the beauty around me and what it means to me. By this I mean, I focus on this present moment. If I see a Yule tree and I enjoy its beauty, then my depression symptoms “quiet down.” Who cares what others call the tree.
Pagans Feeling Anxiety during the Holidays
I have a number of Pagan friends who have to hide their faith from their Christian family and friends. Talk about anxiety! What if the pagan lets something slip like: “Oh, yeah. I had so much fun a Pantheacon”?
Here are some of things I do to lower my anxiety levels.
I have a particular family member who works with some people who are not open to hearing about the pagan path. So I make sure to guard my own energy before an event with that particular group. I prepare to listen and talk about things that this group is comfortable talking about.
Most importantly, I make sure to devote time with like-minded pagans so I feel safe and nurtured—and renewed in energy.
About dealing with the consumerism of the season:
I didn’t participate in Black Friday. I did not run around and attempt to get big bargains. That activity has nothing to do with the true meaning of the holiday Yule, which is about honoring the birth of the God, and the return of the sun.
Pagans and Wiccans know what Yule really means.
I practice being gentle with myself about gift-giving. Sure, you can give close ones gifts. Just go easy about it.
The way to deal with depression and anxiety is to nurture yourself.
Focus on being in the present moment. Find the beauty you cherish and create your own meaning.
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