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Thread: Holiday Survival Guide

  1. #1
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Holiday Survival Guide

    I was thinking that for many of us, the holidays can be tricky to navigate. Many Pagans have family or friends or coworkers whose reactions to their Paganism range from scorn to outright hostility... How do you navigate the minefield of being Pagan around the holidays? Do people know you are Pagan? Do you keep quiet? Do you do Yule AND Christmas, one or the other, one as the other? What works (or doesn't work) for you?
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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  2. #2
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Survival Guide

    I'll be honest with you - to me, it isn't necessary to have my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. accepted, validated, approved, etc. by others.

    I just don't say things to people who will have trouble with them.

    Maybe this seems like hiding, but to me it seems more like being polite - polite in the sense that it is rude to try to force people to understand something they are not intellectually or emotionally ready to deal with.

    If, though, it ever happened that a person is being actually being oppressed for being non-Christian (or whatever - like, for being Christian, for example) I'd speak up. But usually I don't see much of a problem at my local level.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

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  3. #3
    Bronze Member iris's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Survival Guide

    I don't make a big deal of it really. I go to the forest on my own at solstice to have a small celebration of my own. I'd like to be able to do Yule without all the Christ stuff, but right now that's not possible.
    A few of my friends know I'm pagan and actually make an effort to support that, that's nice. One did wish me happy Yule this year
    My husband knows and supports, his mother doesn't know and we're pretty sure she'd have a cow if she found out. She started suspecting I'm not Christian a while back and she's been trying to save my soul ever since... she's very religious.
    Anyway. My husband goes to church with her on Christmas eve, I stay home and hang out with one of our friends. Then we celebrate Christmas with her. I don't enjoy it for a number of reasons (some religious, some childhood trauma), but it means a lot to her so i smile and bear it. Just because it's not my favourite day doesn't mean i wanna ruin it for others. I wear my thor's hammer under my clothes, that's all the defiance I need . And like Corbin, I don't tell anyone that would make a problem of it, but I would defend anyone else in a heartbeat.
    You remind me of the babe
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    Remind me of the babe!

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  4. #4
    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Survival Guide

    Since I am medically retired work is not an issue. Familial wise I do what I want but I do not wear my spirituality on my sleeve as it were and ritual / ceremony is not a major component of my practice so that doesn't really play into things. When I do get together with family and they do prayer or such they pray to their beliefs and I pray to mine.

    Some aspects get sort of interesting, for instance my grandchildren know of Krampus and he is part of their season. The rest of the family not really known to them.
    I'm Only Responsible For What I Say Not For What Or How You Understand!

  5. #5
    PF God-Empress Juniper's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Survival Guide

    Eh, I don't share my beliefs with people outside of here. It's just not worth the trouble and I don't really follow any specific path anymore, so I don't really identify with any particular holiday. I don't do presents (except for birthdays and anniversaries) and I hate getting gifts for holidays because I feel obligated to reciprocate.

    I don't exactly hide my beliefs either, but they are rather easy to conceal. I do frequently tell folks that I don't celebrate the mainstream holidays, when prompted. I think it's becoming more common these days because people don't really seem surprised or shocked by that admission. Or people just don't give a shit anymore.
    “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
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  6. #6
    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Survival Guide

    My coworkers know about my religious beliefs. It may just be the team that I work with, but for the most part, I haven't felt any real hostility over it. If religion comes up (which it does since I work in a Catholic hospital) I share my personal beliefs. I tend to ease into it, with the fact that I'm UU and CUUPs affiliated. If people ask questions I explain, if they don't I generally drop it. I do explain that I don't celebrate Christmas specifically, but still participate in the spirit of joy of the season and the secular events associated with the holiday such as gift giving. I don't bow my head or close my eyes if they do a prayer, and I'm not required to. So, that's been easy enough for me.

    Family is a bit different. Most of them are on my Facebook, so they're bound to know. I don't hide it, and I do share pagan related posts (including many that I get off your Musings page, Thal). But we don't really talk about it. There were a few Jesus comments a year or two ago around Christmas, but it was a bit chaotic with all the kids running around so I just took Nova elsewhere and played with the children for awhile.

    It has been extremely difficult getting folks to understand that we don't value some of the same Christmas ideas, but it's actually been more of a struggle with the things I consider more secular than religious. "Santa" doesn't visit our house and leave gifts for our daughter. And even if all the other kids get a gift from "Santa" at grandma and grandpa's, I would rather our daughter know who actually got it for her. And that she doesn't need more toys. I value activities for her more. Pay for her swim lessons, visits to the trampoline park, gas money for backpacking trips. But just this last year she probably got $300 worth of toys. Those are the biggest points of contention, and maybe I shouldn't let it bother me, but I've made it extremely clear for the last two and a half years, and people just ignore it. So, yeah, that's the hardest thing I face with the holidays.
    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

  7. #7
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Survival Guide

    It's not really a problem for me. I celebrate the solstices and equinoxes when there is time to, but most often, they pass without much more than a silent acknowledgement from me.

    I don't share my spirituality with my friends, family, or even my spouse, though I don't hide it from anyone, either. I just don't do anything anymore these days. I still have an altar - it collects dust. I still have a book collection and an interest in the natural world, but that's something I feel every human should be interested in.

    At the solstices, I try to throw large bonfires, and the winter solstice in particular is popular with friends up here in the north, but this year I came home from work on the same day as the solstice, and tried to wrangle people last minute, but nobody was available, and instead of celebrating on my own, I did nothing. The solstices are group affairs for me - I'd rather celebrate them with others than celebrate them solo.

    I don't practice the other sabbats anymore - living where I do, they don't make any sense. The first harvest is often the last for me, and the south is celebrating spring long before I'm even out of the clutches of winter.

    I celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday - I like mulled wine, and baked goods, and presents as much as the next person.
    We are all these things [...]. Pride, desire, compassion, cleverness, belligerence, fruitfulness, loyalty...and guilt. But above it all stands love. And if we desire to be more than human, that is the star by which we must set our sights.

    Questions of science, science and progress, do not speak as loud as my heart.

    Hot Pickle!

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    “Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are papier mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

    Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell

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