Dealing With Stress at Yule-How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday

Dealing With Stress at Yule

-How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday

By , About.com Guide

It should be the happiest time of year, right? After all, the Yule season is when we celebrate the return of the sun, and the days start to get a little brighter. The mundane world is observing Christmas and Hanukah, gifts are being given all over the place — it should be a season of great joy. Yet for many people, late fall and early winter are a time when frustrations begin to build, and anxiety (and often depression) set in. Between getting together with family, preparing big meals, shopping for gifts, decorating the house, and spending money on others, for many people Yule can be a time of overwhelming stress. Here are a few tips on reducing your stress levels during the Yule season.

Set your limits.

Are you in charge of the community coat drive, the local toy roundup, and getting your entire PTO’s fundraiser up and running? Step back! Be willing to say “No” when someone asks you to commit more time and energy than you have to give. We all want to help others at this time of year, but if you take on more than you really are capable of, you’ll become resentful and angry – and that’s no way to spend the Yule season. Learning to say “No” might be the best gift you can give yourself this year.

Enlist help.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the eighteen boxes of Yule décor in your basement? Fine — put the kids to work. If you don’t have kids — or if yours are too young to decorate — put on a pot of wassail and invite a few friends over for a decorating party. It will take the stress out of the situation if you’re surrounded by people whose company you enjoy. Likewise, if you’re hosting a holiday dinner, ask others to show up early to set the table or to bring part of the meal as a side dish. I’ve learned that if I plan ahead, and just ask, I can usually get someone else to commit to taking care of cleanup afterwards!

Don’t overspend.

One of the biggest holiday stress-outs is the knowledge that you’ll be paying off Yule until June. Don’t let this happen. Make a budget, and stick to it. For more on how to do this, read about How to Have a Budget Friendly Yule. Also remember, you don’t have to go crazy with the gifts. Do you want to teach your children about the value of the holiday season, or that whoever gets more stuff wins? In many families, parents have learned to limit the number of gifts each person gets — in mine, each kid gets one really big gift, and then three smaller gifts such as a DVD, a pair of cute winter pajamas, and a game to play or a book to read.

Set boundaries.

A lot of people stress out over family relationships during the holidays. If you’re one of those people, you need to decide ahead of time how you’re going to deal with family members who aggravate you. Got a non-Pagan family member who just won’t leave you alone? Brush up on coping strategies at Surivivng the Holidays with Your Non-Pagan Family.

Decompress.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed in the middle of the season, and you know you still have things that need to get done, take a break. Turn off the phone, shut the door, and go have some Me Time. Take a one-hour power nap, enjoy a bubble bath with some nice scented candles, invite a friend out for a quick coffee date. Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate and get yourself grounded. You’ll appreciate it in the long run.

Recognize burnout.

A big problem many people seem to have is they just fail to realize they’re burning themselves out. Stress creeps up on us, and then we tend to justify it by saying, “Well, it’s the holidays.” Learn to recognize the signs of burnout, and react accordingly. Some signs include:

  • Depleted levels of physical energy
  • Lowered immune system, feeling run-down or ill
  • Lack of interest in things that you normally enjoy
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Negative, pessimistic outlook
  • Anger directed at people who don’t deserve it, like kids and sales clerks

If you start seeing these behaviors in yourself, it’s time to take a step back and recognize that you’re stressing out. Now that you’ve discovered the problem, take time to fix it, so that you and the people around you can have a happy and healthy Yule season.

A Smattering of Solistice Spells

by Melanie Fire Salamander

As a pagan, you may well light a  bonfire Midsummer night and jump it,  for Litha is a fire festival. Likewise, you  may stay up to greet the Midsummer  dawn.

If you do, keep a pair of garden  shears handy. Midsummer’s Eve at midnight, Midsummer’s Day at dawn and Midsummer noon are prime times to collect plants sacred to the sun or special  to the fey. In fact, any magickal herb  plucked at Midsummer is said to prove  doubly effective and keep better. Divining rods cut on Midsummer’s Eve are  said to be more infallible, too. You can  charge your charms, depending on their  purpose, at midnight, noon or in dawn’s  first light.

Charms traditional at Litha include those for courage, dream divination, fertility, invisibility, love, luck, protection, wealth, the restoration of sight and the ability to see the fey. Midsummer is a fey time, both by tradition and observation. The scent of the air is thick, green and juicy; it’s lost its spring astringency and is simply lush. The whole world is stretching its limbs and frolicking. The fey are big on that.

Especially for charms of love, gardening and magickal abilities, the fey are  a great help in herb collecting. In exchange, they like gifts of milk and honey,  cookies, sweet liqueurs, or any sweet  food, drink or liquor. They also like  baubles, particularly pretty or shiny. Or  cold hard cash — but in coin, not paper,  and it’s best if shiny.

To stay in good with the fey and the  herbs you collect from, leave enough of  the plant or other plants of the type that  the herb survives in the spot collected  from. Remember too to always ask the  plant before taking a cutting, and to wait  for an answer. A quid pro quo usually  works: a shiny dime, some fertilizer, or  a bit of your hair or clothing — whatever  you think the plant most wants.

Courage: Tuscans use erba della  paura (stachys)collected on  Midsummer’s Day as a wash against fear.  Steep the herb in hot but not boiling  water, then rinse the limbs with long  strokes moving outward from the torso.  You might substitute wood betony, a  relative more common in North America.

Dream divination: Litha is a good time for foretelling things in dreams. Specifically, to induce dreams of love and ensure them coming true, lay a bunch of flowers under your pillow on Midsummer Eve. That’s what the girls of old Scandinavia did.

For effective dream divination, remember to keep a notebook beside  your bed. At bedtime, relax, ground and  center, then clearly define your question.  Meditate on that question until it’s firm  in your mind, and assure yourself you  will remember your dream on waking.  Then go to sleep.

As soon as you wake, record your dream. One trick is to set an alarm clock so you’re wakened artificially, which can help dream recollection. Dreams dreamed on Midsummer’s Eve are said to be more likely to come true.

Fertility for your garden: For a lush garden, mix ashes from the Midsummer bonfire with any seeds yet to  plant. (You still have time to plant cosmos and a handful of fall-blooming flowers.) Likewise, for fertility sprinkle bonfire ashes on any flowers or vegetables  you have growing.

Fey charms: To see the fey, pick  flowers from a patch of wild thyme where  the little folk live and place the flowers  on your eyes. A four-leafed clover not  only grants you a wish but also, carried  in your pocket or a charm, gives you the  power to see fairies dancing in rings. A  good place to look is by oaks, said in  Germany to be a favorite place for fey  dances. To penetrate fey glamour, make  and wear an ointment including fourleaved clovers.

St. John’s wort, also known as ragwort, has a strong connection to the fey  and transportation. You might add it to  charms to travel quickly. The Irish call  the plant the fairy’s horse, and the fey  are said to ride it through the air. But  beware: The Manx say if you step on a  ragwort plant on Midsummer’s Eve after sunset, a fairy horse springs out of  the earth and carries you off till sunrise,  leaving you wherever you happen to be  when the sun comes up.

Invisibility: Collect fern seed on  Midsummer Eve for use in charms of  invisibility. To become invisible, wear or  swallow the seed (that is, the spores)  you have collected. Such spores also  put you under the protection of spirits.

The fern is said to bloom at midnight on Midsummer Eve, either a sapphire blue or golden yellow depending  on your source.

Love: Plant two orpine starts (Sedum telephium) together on Midsummer  Eve, one to represent yourself, one to  represent your lover. If one withers, the  person represented will die. But if both  flourish and grow leaning together, you  and your lover will marry.

Luck and human fertility: As at  Beltaine, leap the Midsummer bonfire for  fertility and luck.

Protection: Herbs traditional to  Litha (also know as St. John’s Day) in  England include St. John’s wort, hawkweed, orpine, vervain, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe. Plucked either at  Midsummer’s Eve on midnight or noon  Midsummer Day and hung in the house,  they protect it from fire and lightning.  Worn in a charm on your body, they protect you from disease, disaster and the  workings of your enemies.

Sight: Dew gathered Midsummer  Eve is said to restore sight.

Wealth: The fern also has a connection with wealth. Sprinkle fern seed  in your savings to keep them from decreasing. The alleged golden-yellow fern  flower, plucked on Midsummer Eve at  midnight, can be used as a dowsing tool  to lead to golden treasure. Alternatively  (the Russian version), you throw the  flower in the air, and it lands on buried  treasure. Or, if you’re Bohemian, you pluck  the flower and on the same Midsummer  Night climb a mountain with blossom in  hand. On the mountain, you’ll find gold  or have it revealed in a vision.

If you wait patiently till midnight on  Midsummer Eve and see no such golden  fern flower, perhaps invisibility will have  to do.

Dragon Magick

Dragon Magick

 
 
Western and Eastern European and Scandinavian dragons are the true fire dragons. They are primarily guardians of gold, described as the life blood of the earth, and live in caves. The Oriental dragons are mainly air and water dragons, associated with life-giving rain, with winds and storms and with gems and pearls, through there are the fiery kinds as well, as seen in processions.
 
Dragon magick uses the spiritual power associated with fire-breathing dragons to protect your own particular treasures. These treasures might be tangible ones like your home or your family. Less tangibly, treasure to you might represent speaking the truth or receiving honesty from others, the power to develop your career or heaing powers, or the ability to love or gain knowledge. Dragon magick is also good way of manifesting prosperity in your life, not for its own sake but in order to have the resources to do all the things you want to – and so that you don’t need to worry and can bring happiness to others.
 
For despite their bad press in Christian times as symbols of the earth mother, dragons are essentially wise and noble. Of course, physical dragons don’t exist. By means of visualization however, you can build up a connection the huge energy field of the dragon that exist spiritually, the same way the love and altruism are real.
 
Fire dragons are variously described as possessing all or some of the following: eagles’ feet, bat-like wings, the front legs of a lion, a reptile or dinosaur’s head with a huge mouth and teeth from which smoke and fire pours, huge scales, the horns of an antelope, a soft underbelly and a spade-like snake or lizard-like tail that may being close to the head.
 
Smaller fire drakes, found in the myths of France and Germany, don’t have wings, but are red and have fiery breath. They live in caves with their great hoards, the riches of the earth.
 
According to Bulgarian dragon lore, the male dragon is the fiery one and is a benign protector of humans and the crops, in contrast to his watery and less well-disposed sister. In this tradition, dragons have three heads and wings.
 
The ruler of the fire dragons is called Fafnir, whose name comes from the Norse and German culture. He was once a dwarf but was transformed into a dragon because of his love of the treasures he created and the metals he forged. He was killed by Sigrid Volsungr or Siegfried who burned himself, licked his fingers and so absorbed the dragon’s power to commune with the birds.
 
This isn’t a straightforward legend and has a lot to do with the overcoming of the earlier earth goddess power as typified by the dragons. Therefore, Fafnir shouldn’t be thought of as a greedy dwarf who became a dragon to be slain, as in the patriarchal, monk-recorded legends. Rather, Fafnir is lord of the dragons, who guards from the greedy and insensitive the power of the hidden treasures, whether these be of the goddess or your own potential. So if you do include Fafnir in your dragon chants recall his wonderful craftsmanship and how he conserves the minerals of the earth – not a bad lesson for modern times.

An Ancient Spell to Invoke The Protective Guardians of Your Home After Dark

In Iceland and part of Scandinavia it is still accepted that land and homes are protected at night by land wights, tall shadowy guardians who watch over boundaries and stand where roads or path meet, keeping away ill wishers, both earthly and paranormal. This belief was once upheld throughout northern and eastern Europe and Russia. In Iceland offerings are left for these spirits in field sacred to them. No one will build on this land. If you live in a place that is lonely or where vandalism often occurs after dark, try this spell. The spell will also protect against evening phone calls or visits from anyone who make you unhappy and perhaps pressurised you.

Items You Will Need

3 tall white candles; 3 candle-holders or a three candle holder in which the candles are at different heights, the tallest in the middle; a mirror (optional)

Timing

After dark whenever you feel your home needs protection.

The Spell

  • Place the candles in a row in a darkened room, facing an uncurtained window that does not have a street light directly  outside so that when you light the candles, you can see the flames reflected in the window. If you have no such windows place the candles before a mirror.

  • Light the candles one by one, for each candle saying: Be those the guardian  of my( or name the Person to whose house you are sending the protection) home. turn back the phantoms of the night, So all is till day remains as light.

  • Each candle now represents a guardian. Give each one a secret name. These may be for example, the names of angels or deities, or they may be names of your own making.

  • Blow out each candle in turn as you do so, naming the guardian and saying; Go peacefully (name) and in peace return.

  • Replace the candle regularly but keep the same names.