In honor of Ostara this week, I’m going back and revisiting my first two Sabbats. And the absolute best so far was definitely Yule.
Leading up, I’d not yet mentioned anything pagan to my kids. But I had way more excitement about putting up the “Christmas” decorations this year, because I knew what I was really decorating for. As I pulled out the stuff for my tree, I discovered that one of the stars I’d bought years back for the top was actually a pentacle. Never noticed that before.. but it was a very happy discovery!
Interestingly enough, when I first got married I went several years with no Christmas tree at all. My husband wouldn’t have one because he said they were pagan. (Oh the irony!) The first Christmas together I cried all day because it just didn’t seem like Christmas to me. (Besides no tree, it was 80 degrees outside that day. Gotta love that fickle southern weather.) Even with my tears it took several more years to convince him. Now here I was with a REALLY pagan tree. A pentacle on top, dedicated to the Goddess, and named Lugh for the heck of it.
By the time I was finished my house looked like a Christmas factory had exploded in it. I couldn’t wait for the night of the Solstice.
I had invited a friend over who is also pagan, but unfortunately one of her kids got real sick so she had to cancel. I had made a ton of food and – since I didn’t want the kids to know what I was doing and both were spending the night elsewhere – I was all alone. I built a bonfire in the back yard, made a circle out of incense sticks and candles, and made an altar out of an old fold-up camping table.
Wrapped up in my blanket by the fire, I cast my circle and meditated on what I wanted to leave behind in the old year and what I wanted to manifest in the new. Most importantly, I left behind fear – especially the fear of being anything less than my perfectly authentic self. I read the words to a ceremony I’d found online, and sat outside for quite a while before closing my circle and going inside. So far really cool, but the best was definitely yet to come.
I had wanted to stay out all night, but it rained. So I set my alarm for a while before sunrise and got a little sleep. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
I slept an hour or two. It rained all night, but cleared up just long enough for my fire and the dawn. At the moment of sunrise the rain came back.
All is new. I FEEL changed. This night has shifted something inside me.
I felt a connection to something REAL. The Earth… Nature itself. My feet were like roots connecting me with the energy of the Universe. Not some imaginary personality, but the real living breathing energy of the Earth herself. This is so much better than living to please some outside force. THIS is my path!
Three months later, I still have not topped the moment of first light, standing wrapped in a blanket before my blazing fire, ringing a bell to welcome the dawn. The moment when light begins to grow again, when it first starts to take back the time it’s lost to darkness during the winter months. It was so profound and powerful.