How Pagans Can Move Beyond Depression and Anxiety during the Holiday Season

Lights

“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.

Blessings,

Moonwater SilverClaw

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Looking for gifts this Yule season?

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For more of Moonwater SilverClaw, consider some of her books:

Goddess Has Your Back

Goddess Has Your Back: How Wicca Can Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem and Make Your Life Magickal

 

 

The Hidden Children of the Goddess Book

The Hidden Children of the Goddess Embrace Wicca, Become Strong, Be at Peace with Yourself and the World Around You

 

 

Real Magick

Beyond the Law of Attraction to Real Magic: How You Can Remove Blocks to Prosperity, Happiness and Inner Peace

 

 

Goddess Walks Beside You: How You Can Listen, Learn and Enjoy the Wiccan Path

 

Keep The Connection

PinecrestTrail

Keep The Connection

My muscles ache and I’m wobbly on my feet. My Dad and I walk on a wooded trail in Pinecrest, California. My only thought is: Can I make it to the car?

On the drive back to our campsite, I think, I really need to go hiking more often. My muscles are just not in the condition I’d like them to be in.

Without enough hiking I lose valuable muscle mass and tone. And, without enough vigorous exercise, I’ll lose bone mass or even get a “flabby” heart, a cause of other health problems.

How does this connect with Wicca? We see something similar: without enough practice, you can lose your competency in the Wiccan path. Just as muscles become weaker due to lack of use, so does your proficiency in Wicca.

Out of practice in Wicca, your spells will not be as effective. They can even go bad because you’re failing to channel your energy to your desired goal. Such errors can cause undesired effects.

Fail to practice your faith and you may separate from nature which Wiccans hold so sacred. If you don’t pay attention to the cycles of nature (the cycles of life and the seasons), you may lose compassion for others who are going through personal cycles of growth and sometimes personal pain. Human beings live in a cycle of puberty, aging and other personal challenges.

Separating from nature, you may even lose compassion for yourself.

On the other hand, you can be diligent in your practice. You can exercise your Wiccan muscle just as you would support your body through physical exercise.

When your “Wiccan muscles” are in tune, you’ll take good care of yourself and stay aware of the Three Times Law.

Be good to your spirit like you’re good to your body through exercise.

Keep a diligent practice. Then you can avoid many situations of unintentionally hurting someone else. Through diligent practice, you are stronger and calmer. You have more patience.

So let’s flex all of our muscles to be both spiritually and physically healthy.

Blessings,

Moonwater SilverClaw

 

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Litha/Midsummer

Bee
Bee

Litha/Midsummer

The Summer Solstice Litha, also known as Midsummer, represents when the God is at his height in power and fertility. The sun now takes its longest path across the sky and we experience the longest day of the year. This completes the sun’s waxing cycle and begins the waning part of the solar year. The days become increasingly shorter until the Wheel of the Year returns to Yule when the days once again wax with the sun. The days grow longer.

Wiccans enjoy collecting and drying of herbs during Litha. Many of them take nice walks out in nature to harvest herbs. Herbs harvested during this period have greater magickal powers than herbs gathered at other times of the year. Herbs reach their peak of strength and potency during Litha.

Once again, the bonfire holds a prominent place. The God rises to his peak as his power and strength expands at Litha.

Along the line of a bonfire, when my coven meets for Litha, we do a barbeque. Meat and fire form a good combo for this Sabbat! Yum!

Blessings,

Moonwater SilverClaw

Sabbats – Beltane

Sunflowers
Sunflowers

 

Beltane

To our ancestors, Beltane celebrates the beginning of summer. Bale or “bon” fires are an important part of the Beltane Sabbat. All fires at home or in shops were extinguished and then re-lit from the sacred bonfires that blazed on the tops of the surrounding hills. This was also the time when the herds were blessed. The people marched their cattle around and between the bonfires to bring good luck and fertility and to protect them during the year.

The Sabbat Beltane, coincides with when the God actually impregnates the Goddess. This sacred act ensures the continued fertility for crops and animals throughout the light half of the year (between the Spring and Fall Equinoxes.)  A popular symbol for this sacred act, the May Pole represents the impregnation of the goddess. A May Pole is a pole set erect in the ground with ribbons attached on the top. People then each take a ribbon and dance in a weaving pattern around the pole. The pole represents God’s phallus and the colorful ribbons that the dancers wind around the May Pole represent the goddess with her flowers a-blooming. And so the impregnation of the Goddess is fulfilled.

Blessed be,

Moonwater SilverClaw

The Sabbat Ostara

Spring Arrives with Ostara
Spring Arrives with Ostara

Ostara

Ostara happens at the Spring (Vernal) Equinox. The days becomes equal to the night, and the light finally overcomes the darkness of winter. Ostara’s theme is fertility. The God courts the Goddess and their sexual energies of desire flow over the Earth, leading to a burst of new life and growth upon the land by the plants and the animals. Here the courting God and Goddess’s desire to mate drive the Earth and its inhabitants to mate and bring new life to the land.

The Teutonic goddess of spring, Easter brings her symbol of the egg and her patron animal, the rabbit. Wiccans celebrate Easter during the Ostara Sabbat. The ChristainChurch tried to stamp out celebrations of Easter and her symbols of fertility (the egg and the rabbit), but they had become too deeply embedded in the people’s hearts. Christians got their Easter eggs and rabbits from this Goddess. How many Christians know that when they celebrate Easter, they’re using a term originated by Pagans?

Generally, eggs are a popular representation of fertility and new life. Early Wiccans revered the “cosmic egg,” as many refer to it, for the secrets it held; it contained and produced life. It looked like a stone but held life within.

Wiccan activities on Ostara include coloring eggs and decorating them with fertility symbols, and then hiding them for children to find.

 

Blessed be,

Moonwater SilverClaw

Imbolc

Sunrise
The Light Grows

Imbolc

 The Sabbat Imbolc is midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox when the light is beginning to return to the world and it is celebrated on February 2nd. Wiccans associate the Imbolc Sabbat with fire as they do at the Yule Sabbat. Can you see a theme here? This is for a reason: Fire honors the god and gives him strength. And who doesn’t like a nice warm fire on a chilly night during the cold part of the year?

At Imbolc the goddess has finally recovered from the strains of giving birth to the god. She is now back and ready to start the growing season of the year. Now purified, the goddess becomes the young maiden once more. Because of this, the act purification is a large part of this Sabbat.

At Imbolc we honor the goddess Bridget, the goddess of fertility and birth. She is the Celtic goddess of fire and rules the art of forge craft or metalsmithing. Bridget provides  inspiration and represents domestic arts like healing and cooking. We often use fires in the home as a nice way to honor Bridget, the goddess of the Earth.

Wiccans memorialize Imbolc, the time of purification, with the tradition of lighting candles. Candles provide inspiration and symbolize the growing light and strength from the sun god. Candles help coax the light into the year to come and bring on the bounty of nature. Imbolc is translated as “in the belly.” This refers to the coming of new life to the land.

At this time of the year, the ewes give birth to their lambs. Since the ewes’ lactation period has peaked at Imbolc, Wiccans view milk as an appropriate drink for this Sabbat. They enjoy lamb’s meat cooked on a sacred fire, paying homage to the goddess.

As the time of beginnings (births and the starting of new life), Imbolc is a good time for initiations and rededications for us. With the waxing year our intentions grow along with the light. And so our dedications to the gods grow in strength at this time.

Blessed Be,

Moonwater SilverClaw

Happy Samhain

Jack-O-lantern
Jack-O-lantern

Samhain

Samhain is the final harvest Sabbat of the year. At this time the last crops are gathered and put into storage for the cold winter’s months. The god makes his ultimate sacrifice at this time. But fear not his sacrifice is a willing one, for he does this for his children. The god is symbolized by the last of the harvest. He (the god of the harvest) is cut down (sacrificed) at this time so that we may have food to last us through the winter. The “Johan Barleycorn” songs came from this.

At this time of the year, the cattle and pigs are culled keeping only the ones strong enough to weather the harsh winter months. The meat is then salted and cured so that the people would be able to survive the long winter.

Samhain is also known as the witches’ New Year. The Celts felt that this was the beginning of the year. The reason for this is they believed a new life started at death. You needed to die to be reborn into a new life. That is just what the god has done with his sacrifice. He now resides in the underworld awaiting birth at Yule.

Samhain is also the time to communicate with the dead, The Veil between the worlds is the thinnest at this time. The Veil is the doorway or curtain that separates the land of the living with the land of the dead. Contact between the two worlds is now easily accomplished. So contacting past loved ones is common on this Sabbat. The dead are honored at this time. An example of this in today’s modern society is Mexico’s day of the dead.

The Wheel turns to represent death at this Sabbat, only to continue turning at Yule, to the beginning, representing life and rebirth. The eternal cycle of reincarnation is celebrated during Samhain. The old god dies to be reborn at Yule.

Blessed be,

Moonwater Silverclaw