Affairs of the Pagan Heart

December 1st, 2017

Protecting Your Heart at Yule and New Year’s Eve

Ah, the holidays. It’s crazy and stressful and prime time for something to happen. What is that something? Your weirdo Aunt Betty goes on and on about how she can’t wait to teach you how to play Bridge, but falls asleep after dinner. Grandpa John wants to tell you stories about how he lost his big toe in the war, again, and at the dinner table. Your stepmum makes a lovely turkey and still asks you every time if you want some “as a special treat”, even though you’ve been vegetarian for over 10 years. Your little sister just found out that you’re pagan and has tried to blackmail you or she’ll tell everyone at dinner, but you’re not ready to tell your family. And you suspect that guy you’ve been dating – who your mother insisted comes over for Christmas Eve dinner with the family – will ask you to marry him while you’re out for New Year’s Eve together, but you’re not feeling the same about him as you think he is about you, and you cringe every time he is alone with your father, in fear that he’s asking your dad for your hand in marriage.

Something in that first paragraph rang true for a few of you. Maybe the names are different, or it’s a slightly different scenario, but you know what I’m talking about. So what can you do about it?

Well, for starters, don’t eat the turkey if you’ve vegetarian, even if your stepmum looks disappointed. Enjoy the sides or bring something suitable just for you. That’s the easy one on the list.

Stories from grandpa are important. We should honour those who fought for our freedom, and listen to their stories, even if they are graphic and misplaced while everyone is eating. But pagans are no stranger to war. Do a Google search for “pagans and war” and you’ll find everything from stories about Charlemagne converting pagans by sword, to Julian, Rome’s last pagan emperor, who went to war with the Christians, to the Morrighan, the Goddess of War, who soldiers don’t want to see while in battle, to modern pagans in the military. War happens, and we can do our part to remember history so that it doesn’t repeat itself. Your grandpa is giving you crumbs of knowledge every time he tells his stories. Honour that with thanks and acknowledgement.

Aunt Betty will just fall asleep from the tryptophan in the turkey and wine, and don’t worry about your little sister. She’s seeking attention and you’ve always known how to deal with her. And don’t worry about that boyfriend who you fear might propose to you on New Year’s Eve. I mean, make sure he knows you’re not ready, but if it happens and you ruin the countdown by saying no while he’s down on one knee, well, that’s a heartbreak that he’ll have to live with into 2018, which is better than saying yes when you don’t mean it just to save face.

What you do need to worry about is how to protect your heart during all of this. Yule and New Year’s Eve can do a number on us. There are energies at work from so many people and societal expectations that you’ll need to shield, cleanse, and protect.

Start with imagining a white light is surrounding you. This shield is your force field against anything that might be coming your way, but it’s also trapping in your unwanted stress and anxiety about the season – and that’s okay, because you’ll deal with it in a moment once you block any other stressors and energies.

Next you can cleanse your surroundings and yourself. Many pagans burn a sage smudge stick to banish negative energy from an area, something pagans picked up from indigenous peoples long ago. Incense works too. Get into all of the corners of your room or home. Then sit comfortably and work on cleansing that trapped stress and anxiety. In your mind, see yourself pushing it out away from you. Take deep cleansing breaths. Breathe in the energy of the divine through your nose, and exhale that stress out through your mouth.

And finally, to protect yourself, light a white candle and focus on the light within you. You are your source of power and strength. You will get through this. Call upon Venus to help you understand the love you have for yourself first. Consider calling upon Isis to help you keep existing relationships sacred. If you have native roots, call upon the White Buffalo Calf Woman to aide you in creating peace and a safe space for community. And Janus and Juno can help to protect your physical space, home, or land.

Allow these practices and deities to guide you and protect your heart, and you’ll get through Yule and New Year’s Eve with a little more ease and be ready for what 2018 brings your way. 

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About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licensed Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories. She is also the Chair of Toronto Pagan Pride Day.


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