Candle flames flickering, incense smoke curling in the twilight, standing in a circle of firelight, chanting sacred words. Deep in the woods where everything is transformed by the moonlight. Where the warm summer rain falls softly on the leaves.
The atmosphere of ritual is like no other: electrifying, life-enhancing, comforting. It can jolt you out of your complacency and reconnect you with your deepest desires, your authentic self, sometimes both at the same time.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! I didn’t know anything about this festival so I looked it up, and apparently it’s a minor holiday in México celebrating the defeat of an invading French army by a small Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla (1862).
But it’s celebrated in the USA by the Mexican diaspora. Originally this was because their defeat at the battle of Puebla prevented the French from giving upgraded weapons to the Confederate army in the Civil War, and Latin American countries had abolished slavery once they got their independence and so the Latin American diaspora was opposed to slavery and the Confederacy which would threaten their rights if it won the Civil War. Now it has become a general celebration of Mexican culture. Both of these are great reasons to celebrate.
Some years ago, I started the festival of Borrowed. It’s on February 28th or 29th, and is a reminder that the Earth is precious and ecosystems are fragile. It seems even more relevant in the face of the climate emergency.
Back in the day, people would send bouquets fraught with meaning. You could buy little handbooks with lists of the language of flowers, so you could anxiously decipher the bouquet sent to you. You’d better hope that you and the sender were using the same system, because some of these meanings are different than the ones on other lists… Thank goodness we have emojis nowadays!
It’s the time of year for Wassailing in the apple-growing regions of England (Herefordshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, etc), and places where the weather is warm enough that fruit trees can blossom. (In Ontario, Canada, we wait until February to do the Wassailing.)
A rainbow of candles, each one representing an aspect of consciousness, kindled in the liminal time between the end of the one year and the beginning of the next. A space for the celebration of queer spirituality, queer lives, and queer joy. That is the celebration known as Bridge of Light.
Yule is a distinct festival, often overshadowed by its younger sibling, Christmas. If you’re a Pagan or have Pagan leanings, the chances are that everything you love about Christmas is actually because it’s a Yule thing. If you love the tree, the holly, the greenery being brought into the house, the feasting, and the reciprocity of thoughtful gift giving (as opposed to obligatory gift giving dictated by social norms), then you love Yule. Yule is not “Christmas with the serial numbers filed off”, and Christmas isn’t “Yule with added Baby Jesus”, Yule is far more exciting and wild and numinous than that.