Celebrating the Winter Solstice

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So, I’m three hours away from having stayed up all night; from sundown to sunup on the winter solstice. And I have to admit, I’m terribly, terribly tired.

This post is not going to be the most articulate thing that I’ve ever published.

So. Why stay up all night? Well, there’s a very good reason for that. The Cauldron (an amazing pagan site that I strongly recommend) hosted a “Up All Night: Technopagan Solstice Celebration” thing in which several pagans decided that it was their goal to stay up all night to celebrate it being dark for a really long time. (Okay, sarcasm aside, it’s kind of amazing, and I strongly recommend it. Anyhow.)

This is actually a bit of an annual thing. I did it last year too. It was truly exhausting (much like this years) but it was completely worth it.

And it’s kind of nice, honestly. I’ve been lighting candles as the night’s gone on; one candle before midnight, one at midnight, and one after midnight. I’ve been talking with Saule a lot (quite a lot) and while I feel exhausted, I feel like I have a better handle on my life than I did before tonight. Which is funny, because literally nothing’s changed… I just feel like I can deal with things.

I really can’t wait for the night to be over, however. I mean, I do love Saule (ah, my Goddess), but my devotion to her has its limits. For instance, tonight, the limit is eight of clock in the morning, when I’m going to pull myself together, put everything away, and go right to bed.

It’s kind of funny. Right now, as I complete this, I feel like I actually have a ritual calendar. See, in the Summer I celebrate Wep Ronpet, at Halloween I honor Giltine, and at the winter solstice I honor Saule (and then Sekhmet a few days later). And then at the spring equinox, I celebrate Saule again.

I also have a spring thing that I do for Perkunas (ideally, at least) but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is.

And then beyond the Big Yearly Things, I also have my daily rites for Saule, my monthly ones for Menuo, and whatever I’m doing for Sobek, Ubaste, Apollo, and Marsava.

Hah. I’m going to be honest. The Big Yearly Things are the only things that are ever likely to get done. The daily, monthly, and weekly ritual stuff? I flake.  A lot. But that’s okay, because I keep getting back on my ritual feet and working it.

Anyway. Basically, the whole point of this post is that I’m proud of my ritual calendar, and I think I did a great job tonight in not falling apart and going to bed. And now that I’ve written this post, I only have to survive two and a half more hours.

Happy Solstice, everyone!


Devotional Work

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I’m considering what devotion means for me.

Devotion, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means something along the lines of love, piety, and loyalty. There’s a more exact meaning, but I’m far to lazy to go and write it down today.

What catches me, though, is how well the words “devotional work” fit my practice with Saule.

Every day- or, six days a week- I start the day with light exercise. I shower. I brush my teeth, shave, and get dressed in clean clothes. Then I go to the altar and leave water for Saule.

I’ve been doing this for… a little bit over a year total, and generally worshiping her for perhaps three to four years longer than that. (That’s really up for debate, though, due to things that I don’t feel like sharing here.)

I did take a period of six months or so in which I stopped leaving her water so I could flirt with Kemetism. However, that ended when I realized that She’d never left, and I’d never stopped believing that She was watching over me.

So, while I sort of still consider myself at least somewhat Kemetic, it takes a back seat to my work with Saule.

Sometimes, I wonder if I would have chosen to honor Saule the way I have. It’s not to say that I don’t love Her- I do- but I’ve always had a deep fascination for Egypt, and I sometimes wonder how it could have been if I hadn’t started out where I did. If I’d chosen to work with a deity at all, I’d probably have gone to a Kemetic god, not a Baltic one.

On the other hand, I realize that I did, do, and always will have a choice when it comes to worshiping Her. She’s not a deity that would force Herself on anyone.

Which makes me wonder… why do I continue leaving water for Her every day? Is it just habit? Is it just something that I do? Why do I choose to keep going to her?

It’s not something that I know the answer to. However… on the other hand…

Well, without wanting to sound cheesy or corny, I think She loves me.

I don’t think it’s because I give Her water, either. Or, I hope it’s not just because I give her water. I honestly don’t know why She does, and I don’t know that it’s important.

She fills a lot of my life. She’s like a mother, a friend, a confidant, and a mentor and guide all at once. She’s the cool aunt that you want to hang around all the time, and she’s the gentle woman who literally wouldn’t hurt a fly.

I think I leave water for Her every day because I enjoy connecting with her on a daily basis. I do take days off, so to speak- days in which I don’t do any prayers, libations, or otherwise- but only because I need time for myself  to recharge. (I mean, there’s devotion, and then there’s fanaticism, and it’s important not to cross from the former to the latter.)

So, I guess that I’m currently quite devoted to Saule. She’s not my patron- honestly, I’ve yet to find a word that describes my relationship with Her well- but She’s my Goddess, and that warms me up inside.

Saule, Goddess of the Dead

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Okay, so here’s something that I’ve been thinking about involving Saule.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about this myth of her that I found (you can see it here) that involves her taking the souls of the dead to the afterlife.

Now, if you don’t know Saule (and unless you’ve read my other posts, there’s no reason that you would or should), she’s a Lithuanian and Latvian goddess of the sun, who drives across the sky mountain on her chariot, pouring sunlight from a jug. And apparently, as she goes driving around, she picks up souls as she goes.

I sort of like this myth, honestly. It’s peaceful to think of the sunlight being responsible for taking away the souls of the dead. It’s also a new angle for me on her, as I’m used to thinking about her as a goddess of living and life. However, in a way this makes complete sense- she watches over the unlucky and over orphans, so it only goes to follow that she’d take care of the people that need her the most- the dead.

(Okay, I don’t actually know that the dead need her more than the living. In fact, most of the time, I’d argue the opposite. However, for the purposes of this post, let’s just assume that they need help getting places too, mmkay?)

There are parallels in her myth itself, too. See, in the morning when she wakes up, she takes her jug of light and goes riding across the earth in her cart, pouring it across the earth. When she reaches the ends of the earth, she stops, bathes her horses, and then takes a boat underneath the earth. While she’s on the boat,  she sleeps. There’s another goddess, Perkunatele, who guides her safely to the other side, where she wakes up and begins again.

If one equates Saule’s sleeping with the concept of death (which I am for this post), that means that her myth involves a constant cycle of dying and being reborn. And consider this: in the myths, the sun itself is remade every morning by Kalvis, the god of the smith.

Birth. Travel. Death. I can see parallels within human life, too. Honestly, sometimes, I think of her less as a sun goddess and more as a goddess that takes care of people and who happens to be in charge of the sun. I suspect that interpretation has more to do with the role she plays in my life, though.

(Note: While I certainly think that she’s a goddess of the dead, she’s not *the* goddess of death. That would be Giltine, who we will definitely discuss, but on a different day.)