Sunday, December 21, 2014, I attended my first group pagan/witch ritual in 10 years — 10 years exactly, in fact! The last group ritual I attended I actually hosted in my home for Yule 2004. It was a group of eclectic solitaries then, and now, I’ve had the pleasure and honor to participate in an equally eclectic, non-hierarchical, non-ego-driven ritual with a bunch of great people. I AM SO HAPPY to have met them! I will definitely be attending more rituals with these awesome pagan peeps.
Yule, a.k.a. Winter Solstice, is a time to be thankful and reflective. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “Yule” comes from the Old Norse word jol and Old Anglo-Saxon jiuli (or giuli), which referred to a two-month season of celebrations during the wintertime. The Old French word “solstice” comes from two Latin words: sol, which means “sun”, and sistere, which means “to stand still”. The implication is that people once thought the sun stood still on the solstice(s) and/or that the spiritual advisors thought this was a time for the people to be still, to be reflective on such an auspicious heavenly event. As I observe Christians running around crazy and stressed out during this highly commercialized time of year, I sit back and laugh. I choose stillness and calm.
From the European pagan traditions, Yule/Winter Solstice is the time when the goddess (the earth) gives birth to the son (sun) — sound familiar? And with this return of the light to the world, the days become longer. As the sun god grows, he warms the earth goddess, who will birth the harvest and nourish the animals that will in turn nourish us. In the Spring, the son/sun god will be sacrificed and resurrected for the earth and the people. (Still sounding familiar?)
Also mixed in the traditions is the legend of the Holly King and the Oak King as they duke it out to see who will rule the next six months. The Oak King and the Holly King are male earth deities and represent a duality that governs the light half and the dark half of the year, respectively. For the Winter Solstice, the Oak King wins the battle as the days get longer because it will be the sacred oak trees (and other plants) coming back to life in the Spring. At Summer Solstice, the Holly King wins and reigns as the days get shorter through the harvest time of Autumn and into the cold months of winter.
Still other traditions have a fatherly winter spirit (adult male earth spirit) who helps the poor and gives gifts to children. Remember, back in the day, there was no grocery store or mall — whatever you had, you grew it or made it. Winter in northwestern Europe was difficult; both animals and people would die from the cold or lack of food, if not enough supplies had been prepared before the extreme cold set it.
This wintertime fatherly earth spirit of northwestern European paganism is rooted in pre-Christian British lore of the Holly King as well as the Norse god Odin/Wotan, who rode an eight-legged horse, and the Norse god Thor, who is associated with oak trees and flies through the sky on a chariot pulled by two goats (not eight reindeer … sorry, Rudolf). Other festivus influencers may be the Greek god Cronos, and even the pre-Christian Russian folkloric do-gooder Grandfather Frost. The church took the good deeds of the real St. Nicholas and combined them with the iconic Holly King/Odin/Grandfather Frost to create the “St. Nick” we now know as Santa Claus.
But Yuletide wasn’t all about men or kids. Pagans LOVE women and respect women. The Anglo-Saxon/Germanic celebration of Mōdraniht, “Mothers’ Night”, specifically honors mothers as well as any female ancestors who have crossed over. This takes place on what is now December 24th, according to the 8th-century historian Bede. After all, without woman, there is no human life. Without caring for the earth, there is no food, no clean water, no clean air. We must honor and take care of earth/goddess. It is all connected. We are all connected.
The photo above is the Yule fire from Sunday’s ritual. The log in the center is the official Yule log that was blessed on the altar, beautifully decorated and holding 3 candles. The warmth of the fire and the camaraderie of the fellow goddess/god-oriented pagan friends was simply perfect. I just wish I’d brought the fixin’s for s’mores.
I LOVE meeting with others and building our community, each sharing what we do and respecting that we’re different. I can’t wait for the next sun ritual — and maybe some Full Moon work, as well.
All hail the real reason for the season: nature-based pagan heathenry! :-)
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In this latest interview, I talk with Polly Superstar, author of the new book, Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary, which details her journey of discovering herself and helping others along the way. Polly is the founder of the famed Kinky Salon in San Francisco, CA, and a sex positive activist.
in the interview, we discussed anorgasmia, the problem with traditional porn, the evils of patriarchy on women’s sexuality, and of course, Polly’s book, which is out now.
LISTEN: ArousedWoman Radio
To experience more of this interview, get the premiere issue of ArousedWoman Magazine (out January 2015) by visiting the AW website: ArousedWoman.com.
And be sure to get Polly’s book: Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary.
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A Florida court won’t allow the state’s Supreme Court to hear Chase Ryan Nebus-Hironimus’ case in which the father wants the 4-year-old boy circumcised, while the mother has fought valiantly against the unnecessary mutilation of her son. The mother has been put on a gag order, which is a violation of her First Amendment rights as well as a violation of her right to speak up for her son’s right to choose what happens to his body when he is 18+. She cannot even tell her son that she opposes the heinous surgery.
The father wants the circumcision on his son because that’s the “normal thing to do”. Actually, it’s NOT normal. Having foreskin to protect the penis glans is what is normal — that’s why boys are BORN THAT WAY.
Circumcision is unnecessary, and it’s sick. Circumcision on a non-consenting person is a violation of his basic human rights to body autonomy and self-determination. This case is a prime example of no justice for a child who cannot speak for himself and whose wishes would be railroaded by his ignorant father. Circumcision is sexual abuse, and the Florida judge just condoned it.
The only person who should decide what happens to the anatomy of the male’s penis is the man himself. No parent, no social custom, no religion is more important than what the male wants for his own body.
With the launch of ArousedWoman Magazine happening in the next few weeks, I noticed a theme emerging as I was doing my interviews…. Breasts and Body Image. I’m not sure how it happened, but I’m going with it! I want to do a pictorial feature of natural breasts — small breasts, large breasts, medium breasts, standing up, laying down, on your side, any color, size, or shape (yes, real breasts come in different shapes). Pregnant moms-to-be, breastfeeding moms (no baby in the pic), breast cancer survivors. Uneven, different-size cups breasts. The purpose of this feature is to show real breasts in all their glory, to help stamp out prejudice against women whose natural bodies do not meet a ridiculous standard of beauty (or defy the law of gravity). The feature will be a collage of the submitted photos, so rest assured, your face will NOT be seen in the feature. By entering your submission, you are agreeing to the following rules. RULES:
- MUST be aged 21 or older.
- No bra — just your breasts.
- Aim wide, so I can crop it down.
- Must be high-resolution, at least 1500 pixels wide, at 300 dpi.
- Submitting your photo does not guarantee it will be used.
- If your photo is used, you must sign a photo release.
- There is no pay for using your photo, but you will receive a complimentary copy of the magazine issue.
- Submit your photo and your contact info via my ArousedWoman tumblr.
Thank you, and I look forward to all your awesome naturalness!
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The other day I wrote a piece on Madonna and her new beau, Jonas Kaufmann, that was in response to another site’s drivel about the relationship in which the writer specifically mocked Madonna’s age and dating habits.
Apparently, I was not the only annoyed with how the media treats women, as this twitter convo from yesterday that I stumpled up on clearly illustrates. Notice the very specific points these three erudite men bring up:
- “Every” news piece about female artists mention their age — because women are judged on our looks, our bodies, and what we should be doing with our lives. How we should behave is centered around a number.
- Women over 35 are judged if we don’t act … all proper-like and momsy.
Women are judged if haven’t given up everything that matters to us because we’ve had kids or settled down. Heaven forbid a woman maintain her own dreams and her own identity rather than sacrificing her soul and her persona for someone else (i.e., husband, kids, menial job).
And sex?! Grab the fainting couch if you’re not ready to deal with the fact that women over the age of 35 have as much right to a fulfilling, raucous sex life as the 20-somethings. In fact, Mother Nature blesses middle-aged women with a libidinous power surge right around the age of 35 that can be maintained for decades if the woman stays healthy. In one of my past AskTrish posts, a man had asked if menopause is a time when women’s sex drive automatically winds down. NO!
I have experienced this age discrimination and society’s-expectations-criticism too many times to enumerate. Once a woman hits a certain age (or a certain dress size), she is supposed to act a certain way. Give her whole life over to being the caregiver for other people’s needs and whims. Her own wants and needs be damned.
Not if I have anything to say about it!
We have tripled our life expectancy — women outlive men anyway. Why should we do what is expected of us by a patriarchal society that constantly belittles us, mocks our individual journeys that stray from the path followed by the sheeple, and continues to retrofit ancient, suffocating patriarchal religious mores onto 21st century liberated, independent, rebellious women?
I’m 42, and I personally plan on doing my thing until I’m at least 95. I have 40+ years to keep speaking out for women and our issues, and I’ll be as fabulous then as I am now.
Age? Fuck it.
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