Tag Archives: Festival

Yule decorations on shelf

Your Pagan is Showing

Tomorrow is June 21st! Do you know what that means? It’s Yule. Yule is the pagan version of Christmas. It falls on the winter solstice, which in America is usually the 21st of December, but in Botswana, its the 21st of June this year. As a pagan, I usually celebrate Yule by lighting a candle a day for twelve days on a Yule log, celebrating the twelve days as the sun god grows a year older each day until he reaches adulthood at 12, decorating the Yule tree and house, having a Yule feast, listening to Christmas/Yule music, and watching Christmas/Yule movies (which include the Harry Potter movies, duh!). This year, I have my friend Ashley celebrating with me. I’ve had some family drama, so I haven’t been able to fully immerse myself in it until today, but it’s happening. I have a little Christmas tree and some other decorations a previous volunteer left behind, so we decorated the house last Thursday. I have over 1000+ Christmas songs on my computer, so we’ve been plugging through those. We’re going to watch Scrooge tonight and hopefully another movie tomorrow (probably Ashley’s Christmas tradition of Love Actually). I made spiced cider tonight and tomorrow we’re making the poor man’s Yule feast. We bought a small chicken for roasting, some broccoli, and potatoes for mashing. I don’t have a Yule log, but I’m making do without. It’s a beautiful time of year (albeit a chilly one) and my weather here is very similar to winter in Washington during the mornings and evenings.

Having been raised with some Pagan traditions, I really only have secondhand knowledge. Also, paganism is one of those things that people either have no ideas about or know everything about, there’s not much middle ground. So I have been trying to do more research on my own. I haven’t done much research surrounding Yule yet, but I have heard that many of the Christian traditions surrounding Christmas are borrowed from Yule traditions which is why they are so similar. What I’ve been mainly focusing my research on is the Full Moon.

I have loved the Full Moon and Full Moon ceremonies for as long as I can remember. I have very fond memories of sitting by candlelight, reading a ritual, putting cleansing water on my face, drinking milk and eating moon cookies (good old chocolate chip cookies), and doing Tarot. Unfortunately, my mom lost the book with the rituals (her book of shadows) when we moved to Startup, 14 years ago, so since then we have basically just done tarot every once in a while on the full moon when we remember. I wanted to change that when I got here though. I have been making a great effort to celebrate the Full Moon every month. My ritual hasn’t really changed much. I recite something, light the moon candle, write about something I want to release, burn that, cleanse myself, and recite the last part. I follow all of that up with some great tarot readings. I love it. I have felt more connected to myself and the earth. Each releasing ceremony has helped me stop obsessing about something and let that blocked energy flow. It also brings me some nostalgia of times when my mom could sit down and share a piece of herself with me.

My mom is not very open about her religion. She was raised Christian and instilled with Christian values, but didn’t feel like they fit her. She never pushed religion on us and I think that I am really the only one trying to maintain Pagan rituals, but I always felt like it brought my mom and I closer together. I have also always been fascinated by the flow of energy, the elements, and the earth. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with the pentagram symbol. I drew it everywhere, I had jewelry with it and even a purse. I decided that that would be my first tattoo when I turned 18. I got a pentagram with an illustration of each of the elements in each point with the word pagan in the center. Paganism is a large part of my being that I have not let myself be closed off by, but also not been very open about.

I have many religious friends and even more religious parents of friends. I had one of my friend’s moms say that I should get a tattoo of a rosary around the pentagram to save myself (as a joke) and another one say that she hopes God doesn’t know what I got tattooed on me. The pentagram is a risky symbol because people in America connect it with witchcraft and satanism. It’s a misunderstood symbol, but it simply represents the intersecting of the five elements: earth, wind, fire, water, and spirit. I don’t know why I was always drawn to this symbol above all others, but I was. Once I had it tattooed, I actually stopped wearing my ring, carrying my bag, and drawing it everywhere though; I didn’t need to, I finally had it expressed on my skin.

I don’t hide my tattoo, or that I’m pagan, but I also don’t sing it loud. I think of religion as very personal. I’m not looking to convert you, so I expect the same from you. It’s all just about how you need to reconcile those big philosophical concepts anyway. This is how I reconcile mine. So, happy Full Moon and Yule’s Eve tonight (June 20th), and Happy Yule tomorrow.

Dancers at Dithubaruba Cultural Festival

Dithubaruba Cultural Festival

This time each year I go to the Evergreen State Fair. I almost never miss it and usually end up going at least two times. Unfortunately, I can’t teleport myself back to Washington State from Africa (Scotty really wasn’t helping me out), but I did get to go to the Molepolole version of the state fair. The Dithubaruba cultural festival was a small event in a very rural part of Molepolole. There weren’t any landmarks to be seen. We were just in a very sandy, relatively open clearing where they had set up tents, bleachers, a stage, a Kgotla, and a traditional home. We arrived at 8:30 in the morning and the event didn’t actually start until the village chief (Kgosi) got there. So nothing happened until 10:30. However, they were playing music. So a big group of us crazy Americans and our native language and cultural teachers spent nearly two hours dancing and then sitting down when we thought the Kgosi had arrived; dancing, sitting down, dancing, sitting down, and so on. Even though we were being watched (and filmed) like we were crazy people, it was a ton of fun and kept us warm because it was a particularly chilly morning. When it was clear the various Kgosis (there’s one for each ward and tons of wards) had officially arrived, some of the men were asked to stand by the Kgotla (the Kgosi’s meeting area). The Kgosis then walked through the audience followed by a procession of ladies carrying baskets or in one case big clay urns filled with traditional beer. After the procession of the Kgosis, there were traditional dances. I wasn’t feeling great, so I ended up taking a walk and only got to see one of the dances. There were also booths around the event selling things like art, jewelry, bags, ceramic work, shoes, clothes, and other locally made items. I purchased a pair of earrings made from cow horns, and a leather bracelet with the word Joy for my late friend Sarah Joy. At 1:00 they fed us traditional food of Seswa (pounded beef), Semp (pounded corn), Nama dikoko (chicken), spicy coleslaw, rape (spinach), and ginger beer (ginger ale). After our meal, we just walked around some more and then left around 3:00. It was an extremely fun afternoon. After it threatened to rain, the sun came out and I got my first burn since getting here because it was actually the most sun I have gotten. Most of our days are spent inside during that very sunny time of the day. It wasn’t the normal crazy rides and junk food, but it was a good substitute for my yearly tradition.