Approaching Yule, a time for radical rest

If you’re looking for ideas for how to celebrate Yule, particularly as a solitary practitioner, you may be interested to know that I wrote a ritual and an essay on the holiday in Llewellyn’s 2024 Sabbats Almanac, which you can buy now. The ritual focuses on reconnecting your body to the rhythms of the earth and honoring your body’s need for rest and peace during this season. The essay focuses on Yule as a time for radical rest, and how to achieve that amid the frantic pace of the holidays.

The Sabbats Almanac is basically a guidebook for solo practitioners and people leading rituals for various groups. Each of the holidays features some historical information, a craft project, a recipe, some thoughts about the holiday, and a ritual. I’m not ashamed to say that I have definitely made use of the Sabbats Almanac when I brainstormed ritual ideas for my coven. It’s such a handy resource!

Here is a sneak peek at the first chunk of the essay I wrote for it:

Every year, I project-manage my Yule. I’m not bragging. I learned early on that I have to do this for the sake of my own mental and physical health.

I have a list of giftees, and I track where they are in the process: gifts not purchased yet, gifts purchased but not wrapped, gifts wrapped but not shipped or given, and gifts complete. I have a little card for each person that I move between these states on a board so I can see at a glance how close I am to finishing the annual gift-making-buying-giving extravaganza. I will often purchase or make gifts early in the year and stow them away until December.

If this sounds over the top, trust me, I know. I am organized to a fault. I made extensive use of a wall calendar when I was a kid to track my obligations, count days until my birthday, and note homework due dates. My dad bought me a very fancy, professional planner when I was fifteen, and I carried it everywhere and used it religiously. And now everything I need to know or remember lives in my smartphone. (Why yes, I do have a lot of Virgo in my chart, why do you ask?)

I learned early in my life that I have to do this because—confession—I am a complete scatterbrain. I have to externalize everything into a list or I’ll crumble into a pile of anxiety about what I could possibly be forgetting, because my brain is very good at forgetting, and I hate disappointing people. I take my promises, social obligations, and gift giving very seriously, so I thoroughly plan out all of those things. Which means that my already-very-busy life—one that involves regularly rehearsing and performing with my comedy band, leading a coven, writing professionally, and running a blog, with a full-time day job on top of all of that—gets even busier leading up to Yule.

And I’m not alone in that. Everyone I know is stretched thin, overbusy, and exhausted no matter the time of year. But Yuletide seems to push people absolutely beyond their limits. It’s a season of heightened expectations, so there are a lot of responsibilities we place on ourselves and others to get everything just right for Yule. We must celebrate all the things. We must attend all the things. We must buy all the things. We must bake all the things. We must make cherished memories. And we must be happy, darn it. If we fail to do any of these things, we have failed the holiday season, our families will be upset, and we will feel terrible. I don’t see many magickal people putting the same high expectations on Beltane, Imbolc, or any of the other sabbats. The majority-Christian, capitalist culture that surrounds me and many other Pagans and polytheists puts a huge amount of importance on the things we do—or fail to do— specifically during the Yuletide season.

Ironically, this mindset runs counter to the actual vibe of Yule. Yule, which we celebrate as the shortest and darkest day of the year, is a time of peace, a time of reflection, a time of rest, a time of gratitude and hope, a time to exhale and release before we inhale and take on everything the new year brings. Filling the season with the proverbial hustle and bustle makes that rest harder to achieve or, worse, makes rest feel like yet another project to manage. While there’s a lot of joy in giving and receiving gifts, baking, and socializing, by living a go-go-go life in the Yule season, we start our new year already burned out and exhausted.

Why is it so hard for us to rest during what should be the quietest and most restful season of the year, when the land is dark, quiet, and cold?

Keep reading in: “Yule: A Time for Radical Rest” in the 2024 Sabbats Almanac

Other updates from Major Arqueerna

This blog and my podcast, 4 Quick Q’s, have been quiet for awhile, as I’ve been focusing on finishing the manuscript for my next book, which is due at the end of the year. I plan to start the podcast back up in January, so watch for some new content then.

In the meantime, I’m running a small sale on my online shop. If you’d like to buy an autographed copy of Queer Qabala for yourself or for a gift, you can do so at a discount until Nov. 27.

I will also remind you that my next book, Sagittarius Witch, on which I was second author to Ivo Dominguez, Jr., comes out in April and is available for pre-order. Six other books in the series are available for purchase now, and the others are available for pre-order. Learn more about the series here.

I’ve been busy lining up speaking events for next year, as well. I’ll be presenting workshops at the following conferences:

🌈 Guess what? I wrote a book on Queer Qabala, and you can buy it now! 🌈

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