Starhawk’s Helpful Hints for Happy Holidays in the End Times!

Winter Solstice: The Light Begins to Return 

It’s also the holiday season—a time to enjoy friends, family, and feasting. And yet this year it’s also the time of intense political stress. The Democrats are finally holding the occupant of the White House accountable, more and more corruption is coming to light, and the Republicans are almost certain to acquit him. Meanwhile, the Arctic is melting down, and our window for addressing the devastation of climate change is rapidly closing.

How do we get through these times and stay sane, and energized enough to actually do something about the situation? Below are my helpful hints, drawn from the perspective of magical activism. 

What’s Magical Activism? It’s activism that takes into account the forces working below the surface, those that encourages self-awareness and self-reflection.  It’s not ‘magical thinking’—the term psychologists use for the delusion that just by thinking or saying something is so, I make it so. Instead, it is a much more sophisticated understanding of how mind affects matter.

How To Enjoy the Season When the World Outside Is Frightful

1.  Just Because Things Are Bad, You Don’t Have to Feel Bad All the Time 

We need to be aware of the uncomfortable realities around us, and we need to get angry about corruption, injustice, and cruelty. We should truly be alarmed at the state of the world. But we don’t need to stay mad and afraid every moment of the day and night. Anger and fear are life-force emotions, designed to mobilize us to fight or flight. When we acknowledge them and let them move through us, they can energize us. But when we constantly stay in that aroused state, we burn out.  

So when you find yourself suffused with low-level rage or nail-biting worry, let the emotion flow. Release it by breathing it out, singing it out, whacking pillows, chopping wood—or by doing something about the situation, getting out in the streets, organizing others to get out in the streets, calling up your Representatives and giving them a piece of your mind, whatever works for you.  

And then—it’s okay to feel better, at least for a while. It’s good to enjoy a walk in nature, a dinner with your loved ones, a cuddle with your children.  It’s okay to love those family members whose politics are widely divergent from your own. We need to enjoy the warmth, the comfort and the pleasures of life—they are what will feed and nourish us and keep us capable of making change. And they will give us more energy and ability to respond to those things that scare and anger us.

2.  You Must Sleep! 

No matter how bad the situation is out there, losing sleep over it will only make you sick and less effective. So, if you find yourself tossing and turning in the night, ruminating about what’s happening to the world, think of it as an opportunity to develop the magical ability to direct your own thoughts. 

So That Means…

  • No thinking about politics after 11 pm!  (Unless it really relaxes you to watch those late-night comedians tear the hypocrites apart!)  
  • Provide yourself with soothing bedside reading.  NOT the latest expose of Russian interference in the election, but a nice travelogue, a book on spirituality, a British cozy mystery, whatever gently broadens the mind and relaxes you.
  • Provide yourself with other things to think about. A nice, distracting fantasy (not sexual, as that will generally keep you awake!), preferably about something you don’t actually want to do. If I start planning the menu for the holiday dinner, I’ll rapidly start making a mental to-do list and worrying about it. If I start planning the show-stopper I would bake for the Great British Bake-Off (which I will never be on because a. I’m not British and b. I’m not that great a baker!) I can drift happily off on a scented cloud of cinnamon and sugar.
  • Say a bedtime prayer.  This could be from your childhood religious tradition, or one you create yourself.  But if you always say the same thing before you go to sleep, it entrains your mind and body to feel sleepy when you say the prayer.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and start obsessing on something stressful, try this:  Sit or stand up.  Raise your arms above your head in the posture of invocation (physically, holding them up for 90 seconds will lower the rate of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body.)  Pray to the great forces of love and compassion in the universe, however you conceive of them, to release the negativity that plagues you and bring in forces of healing, compassion and love.  Then think of five things you are grateful for.  (I always end with Ruth Bader Ginsburg—may she live long in radiant health and enjoy a happy retirement, leaving a worthy successor!)

3. Practice Gratitude and Generosity. 

Every day the news treats us to the spectacle of an extremely privileged, powerful man who nonetheless complains constantly about being a victim—and somehow persuades others to go along with it. Don’t be like that! 

Even if you truly are being targeted or attacked, reinforce your sense of strength and resilience by acknowledging the gifts and blessings in your life—and we all have some. Doing so will make you stronger, more able to withstand adversity and more capable of challenging injustice. 

Out of that sense of fullness, you can give to others, whether that’s an act of kindness to a friend, or an act of solidarity and support for someone else who is under attack. Gratitude and generosity help us move out of cycles of resentment and self-pity and restore a sense of our own power and agency.  

So there you have it—Starhawk’s Helpful Hints for Happy Holidays in the End Times! May we all stay sane, sleep well, and emerge from the dark active, engaged and committed to create a world of balance, compassion and justice!

Merry Solstice and Happy Holidays! 


P.s. It’s easy to feel hopeless right now, but there is hope, on many fronts. Climate change represents massive ecosystem degradation—and the cure is regeneration of natural and human systems. We know how to do that, and my non-profit permaculture education organization, Earth Activist Training is doing that right now: we teach the skills and tools of permaculture design with a grounding in spirit and a focus on organizing and activism.

We have a long-term commitment to share the knowledge with the folks
on the front lines of struggle. Our new Regenerative Land Management program is training the Mother Earth’s regeneration team, and working with communities to restore damaged land. Our students are planting trees with schoolchildren, working in inner city school gardens, directing ecological education centers, working to restore native habitat in the countryside and to restore hope, vision and opportunity for impacted youth in our cities.

If you’re looking to give to an organization that will have a big ripple effect, consider a donation to EAT so we can continue providing these tools to those on the front lines!

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