Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4537
Age Group: Adult
Posted: November 26th. 2001
The Household of Priests and Priestesses
Twack! Twack! Thwack! Dad was outside chopping wood to feed the big cast iron stove that was the centerpiece of our country kitchen. Looking through the pantry window, I watched the balloon-puffs from his heated breathing rise up until they disappeared into the gray overcast winter sky. It was a very cold day even for early December in this part of New England. Eight inches of snow were already on the ground and more was forecast. As Dad headed back to the house, arms cradling the remains of the last of the elderly elm trees which had succumbed to disease a few years back, his boots made crunchy squeaking sounds that sounded strangely sharp in the gathering twilight. Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! went those boots as they shook off the clinging snow onto the porch and then with a burst of cold air and swirling white flakes, the door flew open and the Priest of the house entered the circle. Not that he looked very much like a Priest right then. Old red wool trousers were tucked into two pair of unmatched hunting socks that were still trimmed with clods of packed snow. His black and red plaid coat was zipped up to his chin- or rather where his chin would have been if it had not been buried under two scarves- and his old Navy days cap was pulled down to his eyebrows. Only his bright blue eyes shown in the small gap between wool and wool but they twinkled as he dropped the frozen wood into the box by the stove. And as he straightened back up to his full six-foot height, Dad was every inch what I have always considered to be a genuine Priest.
December is generally a busy month for most of us. Yule and Christmas are fast approaching here in the Northern Hemispheres and even as Nature's veins are slowing down, our own human activities are being revved up to an almost fevered pitch. There are menus to plan, mantels and trees to be adorned, cards to mail out, gifts to buy or make, packages to be wrapped, wish-lists to be scrutinized and bank accounts to be closely monitored. The malls are crowded with serious temptations and the kitchens are hot with cooling cookies and baking pies. There is the stress of finding just the right gift for all the special someone's on the list, coordinating plane schedules with visits to the post office and a sense of secrecy hangs over all as mysterious packages are nestled under beds or into closets. It is easy to get caught up in the glitz and the glamour of the season. Everywhere one sees fancy clothes in velvet and satin, crystal bowls for the golden eggnog and string upon string of twinkling lights to light every path.
Every home has its own seasonal traditions. Some families set up the tree on Thanksgiving while others wait until Yule or Christmas Eve. Some homes are crammed full of presents for weeks while others have their packages magically appear overnight as if delivered by some big red elf. However your family celebrates the holidays and whatever your family tradition might be, one thing remains the same: In your home, you are the Priest or the Priestess.
Do you think that a strange concept? Have you never thought of yourself as such before? But it is true. For what is a Priest or Priestess but one who brings the tidings of the Old Ones to the people? They are those who have the well being of the 'family' in minds always and they are the ones who offer up the spiritual substance by which the soul is fed and nurtured. It is the Priest and Priestess who sees clearly what needs to be done and how to do it. And it is they who both preserve and then ultimately pass on the sustaining traditions and rituals of the tribe, clan or family. No matter if you live in a one-room apartment, a college dorm or a twenty-room mansion, you are Priest or the Priestess of your home.
Have you ever entered a home and felt completely at ease and welcome right away? This is the domain of a Priest or Priestess who understands that it is more than chintz curtains or brocade draperies that make a home a sacred space. You might look around and try to determine just what it is that feels so good. Is it the comfiness of the plush couch or the soft background music? Perhaps it is in the subtle pine scent coming from the tree or reflected in the flickering glow from the candelabra on the table? Is it in the beautifully framed artwork or does it come from the hodgepodge collage of paper snowflakes hanging by the magnets on the refrigerator door? Maybe it is in these things. But it is only in these things if the Priest and/or Priestess of the house have so empowered them with their magick that these mere things have been drawn into their circle with such intention. A house, apartment or room can only become sacred space and a home when its Priest or Priestess gives it a heart.
I have known many such homes. Some are of family and some are of friends and some have even been of strangers. Some were small and crowded, some were huge and spacious but they have all had that one thing in common: a Priest and/or a Priestess lived there. Not all of these people thought of themselves that way. Some are Christian, some Native American and many are Pagan. And despite those often seemingly contradictory differences of belief, I feel at home in each and every one of these homes because they all have a good heart.
It doesn't matter how much money you have to spend on decorations or on gifts this year. The most simple of garlands and most practical of presents can be magickal if it comes from your heart. Priests and Priestesses know what the people want, but more importantly than that, they know what the people need. They don't just look at the obligatory lists of requests; they look into the spirit to find the perfect gift. And they do what they do, give what they give not from a sense of obligation. Certainly they have made a spiritual commitment to honor their Gods and their traditions for this and future generations. But the Priest and/or Priestess of a home do not merely go through the motions or follow an instruction manual from the past; they fulfill each task with so much spiritual energy and so many good intentions that even the simplest gift becomes a treasure and the most time-worn tradition becomes a new revelation.
This year as the Priest or Priestess of your home, wrap each gift with magickal intention. Think of the person for whom the gift is destined and add your good wishes for them into the box. Place a kiss within each knot that you tie. Put a smile into every bow and a gentle touch of comfort into every piece of tissue paper. Enclose a special memento of your good times together whether it is a small vial of beach sand from your last trip to the Keys or a sprig off of your own Yule/Christmas tree for a loved one who cannot be there to share it with you in person. Give your loved ones what they may be hesitant to ask for, but what they really need: yourself.
On that long-ago December twilight eve, my mother and grandmother were busy in the kitchen making the pies, capping the tops of the crabapple jelly in bright gingham circles and packaging up the homemade mittens for my cousins. If they had been asked what it was that they wanted right then, they probably would have said that they would like more time, more scotch tape and certainly in that particularly lean year, more money. And I wanted just about everything in the toy section of Sears' Wish Book. But what we got was none of those of things. What we got was more wood to keep the fires in the big old cast iron stove in the kitchen glowing a bright and cheery orange. What we got was the heat to bake the pies to a crusty golden brown and the warmth to melt the last of the stubborn clods of snow from the wool socks that now hung over the oven door. What we received was what the Priest of the house saw that we needed. When Dad returned to the kitchen, already tired from full day's work at the mill and with aching arms now heavy with freshly chopped wood, he gave us his heart.
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Nov. 26th, 2001
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