After a short break over the Winter Holidays, the “Weekly Druid” is back with a new issue. But before I get into the weeds, let me first and foremost shout out a big
to all you readers of my blog, visiting my ramblings 12,363 times in 2018! It surely was as rewarding writing them as it was seeing that what I had to say was relevant to basically a little town.
Now that not only the dark half of the year has commenced with Samhain in last year – for some the start of a new year – and the light has returned after it stood still at the Solstice – a beginning of a new solar year for others – even those following the Gregorian (most folk, but hey) have now caught up and entered a new year, 2019.
Whatever your preference, this seems to be a time of change for all of us, of new beginnings, and of resolutions. But, as physicists will tell us, there cannot be a body where another one already occupies space. And for that reason it is advisable, and not surprisingly tradition in many a region, that folks cleanse their homes and other matters before embarking on a new journey. I have written about what one can use and how to go about cleansing the house with incense in my article “Smoking the House Clean” a couple of years ago. Since this is my most visited blog article, I just leave it at that.
I would like to add one ingredient to the incense mix suggested there, though: parts of the besom or broom you have used to sweep out your home on the last day of the Solstice, as described in this blog post: “Practical Magic“. Even if you haven’t had a chance to do that then, or even get or build your own besom as described in the article as of yet, there is still time to do all that until January 6.
Why all this is done in the Alps at precisely this time of year, I explain in another post, “Having a rough time? Try Alpine Raunächte… . This period is basically a very sacred and auspicious set of nights. They start with the actual lowest, i.e. most southwards point of sun rise (usually around December 21). The Solstice, from Latin sol sistere — i.e. “Sun standing still” — lasts another three days, and only on the fourth, after the night from December 24 to December 25, the Sun embarks on its path towards to north, where it reaches the farthest northern point at the Summer Solstice.
It is not surprising, that the Catholic Church, well aware of the important role this time of year was for the Europeans following the Old Faiths, claimed that their most prominent figure, which they sometimes simply called “The Light”, was born in the night following December 24.
Equally unsurprising, the date Catholics celebrate the day dedicated to Jesus’ second in command, John, on June 24, is the last day of the Summer Solstice. Obviously, these are all Old World dates reflecting the stellar happenings there.
However, I would like to offer the recommendation to not use the phrase “the Christian stole the holiday(s) from the pagan Europeans”, simply because the term appropriated is more precisely describing what took place. After all, when something is stolen, it is no longer available to the one from whom it was purloined, which is not the case here: the Winter Solstice, the Wild Hunt, the Raunächte, and everything else that is connected with this amazing time is still accessible to us pagans.
Anyway, one tradition that lends itself nicely to these dark and long nights is doing some divination. Surely, family and friends, with all their New Year’s resolutions, must have questions about what helps and what hinders them from following through with them. Or some might just hope that a particular, life changing event will present itself in the new year. And what’s better than preparing oneself with the insights from the line-up of the planets, from a deck of cards, a handful of sticks with Ogham markings, stones with runes engraved on them, or bones with special, personal meanings for whatever comes your way?
So, in the next few days, I will keep sweeping the house with my little besom; step outside before I go to bed and listen to the sounds of the night; ask my Tarot cards and Ogham fews all kinds of questions; and finally walk through the house on the last night of the Raunächte (the one from the January five to January 6) and fumigate, make noise, and cleans our home for the next season to come.
At home in Austria, the fellows in the picture you saw on top, the Perchten, would help me with my cleansing efforts, scaring away any left-over, no longer needed spirits of the old year
And with or without their help, only when all this is done will I feel as though I have created the space for new things to enter my life in 2019.