Perspective: My Inner Heathen Awakens

Dec 18, 2018

As a rebellious teenager, I’d scheme up ways to push my dad’s buttons - like dating guys I knew he wouldn’t approve of, or saying I would vote for Hubert Humphrey (if I had been old enough), or deciding to quit our Southern Baptist church since I realized I was a pagan.

My introduction to paganism was through the transcendentalist writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and their evocations of the natural world.

With the winter solstice upon our doorsteps I’m feeling a reawakening of my inner heathen. This time of year is ripe with rituals, and although I’ve decorated for Christmas, and I’m playing my collection of blues and soul Santa Claus tunes, I feel drawn to ye old Yule legends - the basis of many of our contemporary traditions.

Yule comes from a Norse word meaning wheel, a symbol of the sun as a wheel of fire rolling away from and then toward the earth, solstice to solstice.

On December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ll begin to see the rebirth of our sun as daylight slowly begins to lengthen. And just a few days after that, many folks honor the birth of Jesus, another son.

“Sol-stice” translates to the sun stopping before it changes direction. Solstice celebrants take this moment to still themselves, and as Pagan author T. Thorn Coyle writes, “to take a breath with the Sacred” - wherever we may find it.

I’m Paula Garrett and that’s my perspective.