December 24th, Part 2: Modraniht

[This continues the thoughts from “December 24th, Part 1: Christmas]

At Christmas, the figure I latch onto — the one who means the most to me, and who even through my conversion process has never felt far from me — is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The little babe, lying in the manger? He’s the centerpiece, certainly, but her sacrifice is far more compelling: to bear a god, to brave the opprobrium of her community as an unwed mother, to watch her son grow to manhood only to suffer and die as a common criminal, and to steadfastly care for and support him throughout his increasingly strange behavior and eventual death? That, I contend, is true strength and power. That is divinity. Continue reading “December 24th, Part 2: Modraniht”


December 24th, Part 1: Christmas

This past week my husband and I were out of town visiting his family. It was a great trip, full of beautiful locations, plenty of good food and drink, and lots of family fun. The only thing making it difficult for me was the holiday of Christmas, around which the whole holiday season revolves in both my husband’s family and my own. It’s not that I have anything against Christmas as such. I retain deep respect for the religious tradition in which I was raised, and from an entirely irreligious standpoint the civic celebration of yuletide is definitely festive and heartwarming — as the Andy Williams tune has it, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  But when it comes to the feast of Christmas itself, I have such a welter of emotions and associations around the whole thing that I have a hard time with it.

Continue reading “December 24th, Part 1: Christmas”

Anointing with oil and song

A week and a half ago, my uncle Robert sent out a message to the whole family: my aunt Suzanne had suffered a seizure, and was in the hospital. Over the next few days more details unfolded: there was a mass, but doctors weren’t calling it a tumor. Suzanne was doing well, and was back at home and still planning on hosting Thanksgiving (a major undertaking in my large extended family, 50 or so people). Surgery and biopsy wouldn’t be till after the holiday weekend. She appreciated all our prayers. Continue reading “Anointing with oil and song”

Greeting the Cailleach

And suddenly, winter. I’d seen the forecast (lows in the 20s, 3-5 inches of snow), but I was still not quite prepared to open the curtains Monday morning and see a field of white glowing dimly in the dawn light. I’m excited to greet the coming winter season, but I didn’t think I’d be doing it just yet. Continue reading “Greeting the Cailleach”