I have come to discover as I write these blog posts about the different holidays in my belief system, that I am finding myself almost torn between two different worlds of tradition. At this particular time of year, it becomes very apparent that I haven’t precisely figured out how to deal with this dichotomy of holidays.
I was raised in a Christian family. I remember going to Sunday school when I was a little girl, I memorized the bible verses and sang the songs they taught. As with most Christian or Catholic-leaning Americans, we celebrated Christmas. In classic “A Christmas Story” style, the years rolled through as predictably as you can imagine. My step-grandfather made sure that some of the gifts under the tree were labeled “From: Santa Claus”. I don’t know that there was that much of the religion in our “Christmas” celebrations. Actually, I’m fairly positive there wasn’t any, save for what was taught at church – which pretty much stayed at church.
When I began thinking more critically on my own, I realized that church didn’t “do it” for me anymore. I was bored with the story, the way it was told, the ideals and the actions of Christians I knew didn’t line up. I began seeing more and more of that. I began seeing the whole institution of church as corrupt in some way, shape or form. One of my best friends since third grade (who’d been fairly regularly attending service since he was a child) was kicked out of his church in high school because he was gay. His family even rejected him for a time. This didn’t jive with my idea of what the religion should have been. And yet, I still happily celebrated Christmas with my family every year. We got together, ate good food and exchanged gifts. Jesus was never mentioned. Belief in something bigger than those presents never even graced our minds.
I realize now that we were just one of probably many, many families that celebrated Christmas as a purely secular holiday. It doesn’t necessarily bother me – it was a good excuse to get the family together, which, in my family happens very rarely.
I found Wicca when I was in about eighth grade. At that point church had become a thing of the past for me, and I’d already begun to believe that there just might be something out there. Something that had to do with the Earth and nature. Something that didn’t require people to interpret for you how you should behave from an old book. I began calling myself a witch because I’d found a few books in the school library with very limited (and out-dated) information about witchcraft. Some of them even had a few spells in them. A few of my friends and I began practicing some of those spells in the woods behind our houses. We had no idea then what we were doing, we were just middle-schoolers fooling around with no clue of the consequences of our actions.
That was when a “new-age” shop opened in town. My friends and I were fascinated. We visited there frequently, after school, on the weekends. We asked questions of the shop owner, and bought a few legitimate books. I learned that those things I already had begun to believe aligned themselves with the things I was discovering about this new religion we’d found in that little shop. I decided that was what I wanted to believe, and so I began studying, and learning, and absorbing information. I found out that the mom of one of my friends was a witch, and I was more than excited. She became my mentor, and has since become one of my very good friends.
I have since learned a lot about Wicca, and a lot about religion and philosophy in my studies in college. I have more studying to do, more learning and soul-searching. I don’t know if the knowledge I’ve accumulated to this point allow me to officially label myself ‘Wiccan’ anymore. But it’s still the closest thing I’ve found to what I have consistently believed in for the last almost twelve years. So I define myself as ‘Pagan’ and follow the Witches Creed. I know the wheel of the year in my heart and soul. But I have yet to really celebrate a whole year within that belief. I keep making excuses – life is getting in the way. Spirituality is always one of the first things to be sacrificed in these days, and I am no exception to the rule.
My goal is to change that. Through writing these posts with information about the holidays, I am not only trying to help you, my readers, learn about what it is I believe, but I am trying to help myself learn, and define where I am and how I fit into this puzzle. And how my sons and my husband fit with me.
So if you ask me if we celebrated Christmas this year, or how our Christmas was, and I hesitate before answering, or say “Sort of…”, this is why. I’m stuck somewhere in between Christmas and Yule, and I’m not yet sure how to move from one to the other.
This was a much longer post than I think I thought I was going to write. I apologize for that, but if you’ve stuck with me to this point, I thank you.
If you have any suggestions or insight on making this transition work, please let me know. I’m all ears!