Sisterhood of Avalon 2009 Calendar: Journey to the Motherland
An incredible photographic journey through the mythological landscape of Wales. A publication of the Sisterhood of Avalon, featuring the breathtaking photographs of Robin Wallace. This 12 month calendar features Avalonian Holy Days, Celtic Festivals, Welsh month names, and detailed Moon Phase information. This deluxe edition is larger than the standard calendar we also offer, and is printed with a high quality linen finish. A stunning visual companion for your journey!
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A Message From the Council of Nine
With the New Year comes resolutions. We decide to reinvent ourselves by adding something meaningful to our lives, getting rid of something detrimental, or just making sure we appreciate what we have. It is similar to the process of re-birthing ourselves; as the saying goes, “‘a new year, a new you.” In the Avalonian Cycle, we plant the seeds of change within ourselves and re-birth ourselves as whole, healed, sovereign beings.
When we make our New Year’s resolutions, it is at the darkest part of the year – the hour before midnight. Again, there is a parallel with the Avalonian Cycle. At Gwyl Mair, we come to the darkest, deepest part of the yearly cycle. We have confronted our shadow issues, and we take this energy and use it to emerge out into the light.
As you consider your New Year’s resolutions, look at them through the lens of Avalonian energy. Do your resolutions help to birth your sovereign self?
The True Gift of Yule
By Lisa R. Papez
While growing up in my parents’ home, I could count on our annual traditions. It would begin with Dad extending long strings of lights all over the living room floor and down the hallways as he tried to find the pesky bulb darkening each strand with not so patient diligence. Mom would break out the giant box of decorations and my sisters and I would spend hours hanging them on the tree until it was just right. We’d look at our creation of multi-colored, twinkling lights and hodge-podge ornaments collected over generations and feel the first magic of the holiday season. But almost as abruptly as it started, the magic would stop and it would become something else. The energy in our home would turn stressful as my Mom, Dad, Sisters, and I would focus on pleasing everyone during a season full of expectation as the whole family scrambled to buy last minute, thoughtless gifts and attend as many gatherings as possible so nobody would feel let down.
As an adult, I found myself blindly followed my parents’ example of obligatory shopping and just as obligatory attendance at holiday gatherings. Just like my parents, I put everything on hold and hustled and bustled and spent my way through the holidays – all in the struggle to prove to those around me how much I cared about them. And even when I first began really delving into my spirituality, discovering the Goddess and celebrating Yule, I just couldn’t break away from a lifetime of consumerist holiday habits disguised as ‘tradition’.
But this year, something changed. To be fair, I didn’t exactly volunteer to step outside my personal Christmas/Yule paradigm. This year found my family with a distinct lack of resources. For the first time in my adult life, I have no means by which to continue my lifelong tradition of consumerist holiday celebrations. I can’t afford to buy gifts for friends or extended family members. I can’t afford to travel to all of those social engagements. I don’t have the resources to plan and cook potluck contributions. My family of four has a very meager budget with which to buy food and gifts for each other, let alone anyone else.
At first I was really uncomfortable, feeling the stress and perceived pressure closing in on me. But then, a couple of weeks ago, my office was having a drive to collect donations from a local food bank that had been recently robbed. I was stressed because my coworkers were contributing around $20 each. I didn’t have $20 in my budget to give, and I was feeling guilty, wondering how to rework my budget to make room. And then I remembered the change purse in my wallet. I counted out all of the change and found $12.52 and donated every last penny. Donating that $12.52 felt better than donating a hundred dollars because instead of handing over money carefully budgeted for, I was giving something up. In the grand scheme of the world, it could hardly be called a sacrifice, and yet the lessons learned were the same.
After that, I opened my eyes and really looked around. The disillusionment shattering all around me was simultaneously unnerving and uplifting. Without the strain of conformism and social obligation, I am suddenly in a position to see the season, to experience it, and to share the joy of the holidays with those I love.
With eyes opened wide, I’m having an amazing time coming up with creative ways to show my loved ones I care. I am still hopeful to have some interesting things under the tree, but with a strict budget, I’ve found myself looking where I might not have before. Instead of trying to save every cent of my budget to get one shiny brand new present for my wife and stepsons, they may find used, but serviceable, gifts of items they will truly enjoy and put to good use. I’m creating handmade gifts with more energy and love contained in them than the most expensive bought gift could ever hold. I’m focusing on spending my energy on the things that matter: my family, and not on the things that don’t: things.
I’ve learned to experience the trust that the people in my life love me and know I love them – not because of gifts we can give each other but because we give each other our friendship and love all year long.
And the most amazing part of this experience is that suddenly everything is a gift. Watching the snow fall outside my office window and an unexpected call from a family member I was unable to visit elicited a greater, more sincere sense of gratitude than a new purse or kitchen appliance ever could.
But my biggest lesson this winter is that the true gift of Yule isn’t a gift at all. The true gift of Yule is gratitude.
Toys From Nature
SOA Sister Rebecca offers toys and decor in her shop, Toys From Nature. Inspired by the Waldorf educational philosophy, Rebecca creates using only natural materials (wool, cotton, silk, soy, and other natural fibers). From dolls for children (and those of us who never grew up) to altar and spiritual items, Rebecca’s shop captures the whimsy of childhood with a healthy grounding in spirit. Barge readers, enter the code BARGE at checkout to receive a 10% discount. SOA Sisters, enter BARGE plus your SEP number to also enjoy free shipping.
SOA Hearths and Learning Circles
The Sisterhood of Avalon fosters a growing number of Hearths, Novice Hearths and Learning Circles. These groups of sisters gather to celebrate the Divine, to support each other in their growth and transformation, to learn the ways of the Avalonian Tradition, and to serve their greater communities in many ways. If you would like to find out more about joining or starting an SOA Hearth, Novice Hearth or Learning Circle, please contact our Hearth Matron for more information. Most groups sponsor Informational Teas locally to connect with women interested in making the journey to Avalon in safe sister space. Watch this list for periodic announcements for the dates and locations of these Open Teas.
Northern California’s Novice Hearth, Aelwyd yr Arfordir Gorllewin (Western Shore Hearth) welcomes Sisters and other interested women to join us at a labyrinth walk on Sunday, January 18. We will meet and walk an indoor labyrinth then head out to a nearby restaurant or coffee shop for food and chatting. For details and to join us, please contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cainc Arian would like to welcome its newest learning circle member, Jen, to the group! Cainc Arian Novice Hearth is located in Cincinnati, OH. We meet once a week for hearth meetings and once a month for full moon ritual. Cainc Arian is a hearth committed to the Sacred Center of Avalon. Our meetings are focused on working with the tools of our path. We gather for community and pathwork. If you live in the Cincinnati area and are interested in joining our learning circle, please do not hesitate to email our Hearth Mother, Kim at email@example.com.