The Difficulties of Following a Nature Based Faith in Winter and Some Ideas
A big part of being Pagan (and Druid) is connecting to Nature. Therefore, the winter time can be problematic for those who have a nature based faith. (Of course for those of you living in a tropical climate, you can ignore this post and come back if I ever decide to talk about hurricane/monsoon season).
Yes there are the winter festivals, such as Yule and Imbolc, but you must admit that it’s hard communing with the spirits of the Earth when you have ice falling on your head, slush in your boots, your toes losing feeling, and a scarf wrapped tightly around your face in an effort to keep out the elements. Now nature can definitely be very beautiful in the winter. The phrase “winter wonderland” doesn’t exist by accident. Sure, the landscape looks like it has been blanketed with a bed of white velvet and the naked trees appear to be glistening with fairy dust. Yet the moment you step outside to appreciate this beauty, you might have second thoughts upon feeling the minus zero gusts of wind burning in your face. You may decide that such beauty is better appreciated inside, from behind a window, where you can wear your your pajamas, drink hot chocolate and crank up the heat.
The other problem with the winter is that the days are short, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately named SAD) is rife.
So what to do? Here are some thoughts:
- Focus on your human relationships: Have you noticed how some of the best holidays take place near the winter time? Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, or Alban Arthan, much of these holidays have a focus on connecting with family and friends. In the ancient times, when it was important to huddle together near the fire for warmth, winter was the ideal time to literally get closer to those you care about, enjoy good mead, and try to generate as much inner warmth as possible in order to negate the outer cold surrounding you.
- Bring some Hygge into your life: Who knows how to deal with the winter cold and darkness better than our Scandinavian buddies up north? They’ve invented a cultural concept called “Hygge.” While we don’t have a direct translation of the word in English, it is a general concept that connotes “coziness,” particularly when relaxing with good friends or loved ones and while enjoying good food. When loved ones sit close together on a cold rainy night, that is a true moment of hygge.
- Reach out to the needy: Not everyone gets to have food, shelter and warmth in the cold winter months. This is a good time to donate jackets, gloves and scarves to the needy, or volunteer to feed the homeless at a hypothermia shelter. Winter is a good time to show your love for your fellow man.
- Grow indoor plants: Need some suggestions? Click here. If you can’t go outdoors and enjoy nature, than perhaps it is time to bring nature to you.
- Build upon your altar: Many pagans and those of other Earth based spiritualities have an altar, or some kind of totem that reminds them of their connection to the Divine. When you feel like this connection is fracturing because of time trapped indoors, then maybe it’s time to add onto your altar. You don’t have to spend a million dollars or break the bank. You can put some plants around it, maybe draw some pictures, get some candles at the dollar store, bust out the arts and crafts, or even some place some fake flowers around if you don’t want to deal with dead plants. (I’ll admit that I’ve done this)
- Reflect upon death: Okay, this sounds morbid. You don’t need to hang a bunch of goat skulls around your living room and drink blood out of a goblet (although that would make for a cool Watain video). What I’m saying is that the Pagan faith is one that is inclusive of all cycles in life – including death. If the seasons represent the cycle of life, they represent the following: spring (birth and newness), summer (marriage, lust, the peak of health), autumn (old age, harvest, bringing something to completion) and winter (death). Therefore, this may be a good time to reflect upon your ancestors, those who have died, what they brought to your life when they were alive, and what kind of legacy you’ll leave behind to your kin when you die.
- Finally, enjoy hibernation: Hibernating is natural. Other animals do it. So if you are really concerned about living a natural life, perhaps you should take a cue from our distant cousins in the animal kingdom. Staying indoors, keeping cozy, and fattening up a little (don’t over do it) might not be such a bad thing. Drink some warm mead (or hot chocolate for the sober), enjoy good company, and most important, stay warm!
Wait wait wait… excellent taste in music AND eminently practical paganism? I knew I liked you 😉
January 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm
Thanks! I like you too! 😀
January 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm
Reblogged this on Lady Imbrium's Holocron.
January 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm
This is all brilliant advice! 🙂 Thank you!
January 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm
January 23, 2015 at 11:33 pm
Winter is also a good time to study, and reflect on different aspects that have been supressed. When I read about “reflect upon Death” I interpret this as the Death of feminine qualities, which is a common core flow (among men as well as women) in society.
A tendency about to alter from introvert expression to extrovert expression. Feminism in the form channeled into society today can only be taken so far.
January 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm
I think America in general is a very masculine society. We value action, dominance, pride, violence and success. We underestimate humility, passive strength, empathy and emotion. Not saying that men are all the former traits and women are all the latter. Just mentioning traits that are typically associated with each gender.
January 23, 2015 at 11:35 pm
Your are correct in your evaluation, and this is by design. To remove Care from human mind. See Cremation of care.
January 24, 2015 at 5:05 am
Some interesting podcasts, #182 and 183 on gender and dynamics:
January 25, 2015 at 1:04 pm
Vitamin D is useful during the dark seasons, and there is no harm in using all year around. Helps the body/mind in many ways.
January 25, 2015 at 6:56 pm
What a wonderful post ! I think i must write a follow up one on my own winter pagan experiences..
January 31, 2015 at 5:40 pm
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