The winter solstice has come at last. The dark time of the year has come to an end and the sun is reborn. The days start getting longer but we are also in the coldest time of the year. On the one had light is returning but we must endure six more weeks of winter chill before spring arrives on February first.
I celebrated this solstice with my coven. We had a feast dedicated to Freyr and had a blot to the Norse gods, spirits of the land, and our ancestors. We made a sacrifice of red wine on the outdoor altar. After that, we sat around the outdoor sacred fire pit in our winter cloths for a journey to our sacred thirteen oaks to seek wisdom for the new year. It was minus 17 degrees celcius out there but there was something peaceful about listening to the fire cracks while the wind blew at our backs. Each of us received a vision from the flames that was meant just for us.
My vision was reflective of my inner conflict. Lately, I have been struggling with what it means to be a pagan priestess. Even the words themselves don’t feel right. I am not a leader but I do have special knowledge and experience in my pagan path to share. I am forced to walk the path of a spiritual leader, teacher, and practitioner. Since I am in such a small community of pagans, we have very few pagan leaders and teachers, which means that any of us who have even just a few years experience are forced onto a path that we might not be best suited for.
Taking control of your own spiritual path is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have. When I say you are your best teacher, I mean it. You don’t need someone to show you the way, you know the way, you have always known it. Having someone feed you directions will likely only get you lost. As the old saying goes, there’s more than one path up the mountain. That is to say that just because one person found a “safe path” up, does not mean that your path will be just as safe. In the same way that all snowflakes look exactly the same before they fall to Earth, they change as they fall until each one is completely different from the others.
I have been contemplating the title of “priestess” as is stands right now. I have been feeling that the term I have been using is too akin to that of the Wiccan system. I am not a High Priestess nor will I ever be. I do not practice Wiccan ritual magic and I do not fully follow the Wiccan belief system.. My own practice is more akin to that of shaman or in the Norse tradition, a Seiðr or a Völva. I have some ideas for how I want to grow my pagan path next year and I have been given some ideas on how to do that.
This past summer, I spent a full moon cycle working with Goddess energy. This year, I want to grow on that experience and bring in my work with the Gods. I won’t be dividing my time though, I will walk with both types of energies. I will likely be spending more time on research for the Norse traditions. I have been feeling more and more drawn to Norse energies over the last few years. Some of the ways in which I plan on bringing better understanding to the ways of my ancestors is to revive some of their domestic practices, including clothing, food, and fishing and hunting. I don’t want to just become a reenactor but more of a revivalist. In our modern age of industrialization and mechanization, it’s easy to lose touch with our roots.
I look to cultures like the Sami who have managed to keep their roots and participate in our modern world. While much of their culture has been forced to change to other spiritual beliefs in recent centuries, they too are finding revival in their spiritual connection to the gods of old. I would argue that since our culture is so caught up in consumerism, it’s very difficult for us to break away from it. It’s so much more easy to buy food, clothes, and other possessions than it is to make them ourselves. The only this is costs us is hours of our lives to fill someone else’s consumer need. We are literally trading our lives for stuff.
This holiday season, my family and I agreed to go on a trip instead of doing gifts. My brother and I are at the point in our lives where we don’t need any gifts. So instead of getting more stuff, our family is investing in time and an experience together. We are going to Hawaii for sixteen days. This will be the longest family vacation we have taken in years and the first non-Californian vacation since our Grand Canyon trip in 1992. Needless to say, we are long overdue for taking a trip together like this. I have been looking forward to this trip since we first decided on it in June. It will be nice to have a change of setting for a while and not worry about everyday life for a bit.
Hawaii has always been a place that holds a special magic, in particular the Goddess Pele. I am fortunate that we have chosen to go to the Big Island, Hawaii herself where the volcano Goddess Pele lives. I cannot wait to see the act of island creation at its source and see where lava spill into the ocean giving way to new life. Part of me thinks that it will be hard to get me away from this island once I get there. The only other place that holds this same kind of magic for me is Iceland.
I have been waiting for the Asatru temple in Iceland to be finished before I go there. I don’t expect it to be a long trip, maybe a week but I don’t want to go until that temple is finished. I wish that we had something like that here in Canada or even in British Columbia. We don’t have any dedicated pagan temples where I live. It’s not that we don’t have a vibrant community that could sustain it if one was built, it’s the work that it takes to get said temple off the ground. What will likely have to happen is an elderly pagan will have to give an endowment in order to get the process started. Kind of like how someone in my hometown had to give the land to the Catholic hall in order for it to have been built in the 1980s. Not there there aren’t enough empty churches in Kelowna, we just don’t have the capital to get them off of the ground. Talk about a lifetime goal. I hope that one day, I will have land to build some sort of covenstead on it. Of course, that’s getting way ahead of myself. For now, I will just focus on my personal pagan path and growing my own tradition.