Crystal Blanton writes the monthly TWH column. She is an activist, writer, priestess, mother, wife and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the California. She has published two books "Bridging the Gap" and "Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World," and was the editor of the anthology "Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism." She also writes for the magazine Sage Woman.
[The following column was originally published in 2015. Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26]
The holidays in December are plentiful, and there are many different intersections of practice among Pagans today. Winter Solstice, Yule, and Saturnalia are three of the more commonly referenced in the modern Pagan community at this time. Yet there are other holidays that continue to find their way into the practices of Pagan homes.
“No matter what people tell you, words, and ideas can change the world.” ~Robin Williams
It is usually at this time of year that we see plenty of articles and blogs reflecting on the “best of” the year. We take a look back at the best movies, albums, fashions, and moments that wrap up our experience of the closing chapter. It is not unlike our own similar Pagan and Polytheist community traditions: best blogs pieces, best quotes, most popular sites. But this year has been unlike any other and many of us are grappling with our feelings of the past 300-plus days. 2017 has been plagued with what appears to be the warring of words among many factions of society.
The changing seasons are filled with symbolism, meaning, and traditions. It is a time that many people inside of western secular society are preparing for a variety of celebrations, gatherings, and feastings. Many within our intersecting religious communities of Paganism and Polytheism are transitioning away from ceremonies focused on death, harvest, and the new year. The wheel, as it turns from fall to winter, can also harness reflection on those who have passed through the veil, and various opportunities of working through the shadow self. To put it lightly, this time of year is complex for a multitude of reasons.
California was literally on fire this month, causing a ripple effect of destruction, devastation, and death. While there were multiple fires in Northern and Southern California, the fires in the Wine Country of Sonoma County are set to be the largest in the state’s history. Recent reports indicate that over 8,400 homes and buildings were destroyed, and an estimate of 42 lives were lost in the Northern California fires. News reports are currently stating that over 100,000 people have been displaced by the horror of the raging flames. The unimaginable fires started Oct.
This year the Pan-African Festival celebrated it’s 7th year of festivities September 3 in Oakland, California at historic Mosswood Park. The event was filled with people of all types enjoying the fresh air, shopping, and eating food from the many vendors. This was my first year at the Pan-African festival, and I decided to go since I am always looking for ways to immerse my children in celebration of their African heritage. With camp chairs and drinks in hand, we met our other family members under the shaded trees where we set up camp. According to the website, the Pan-African Festival is described as a day full of activities and family fun:
“Oakland’s 7th annual Pan-African Festival is a free family event carefully curated to cultivate pride, joy, self-determination and sovereignty for diasporic Africans.