Happy Mother’s Night + Solstice! Mother’s Night, which comes from Heathen reconstruction (and I’ve seen celebrated generally between Dec 19-21st, but also as late as Dec 25), is all about honoring the womxn who have come before, those who have made us what we are (for better or worse, physically or spiritually) and help us walk our present path. It is about honoring ancestors, the disir, the norns, and even the goddesses, but also, especially for me as a queer person, it is also about honoring those who have walked this earth before and who have fought the same shitty wars. It’s about honoring femmes. It’s about honoring the folk-craft and arts that are looked at as traditional “women’s work” that are intrinsically imperative in my own craft(s). It’s about honoring the complicated labyrinth we navigate made up of blood ancestors, chosen family and friends who have past, and influential movers + shakers.
It’s also about honoring the liminal, the veil between the dead and the living, and the ability to sit and befriend our own shadows. But it’s also about honoring the time when Sunna’s daily journey on her chariot becomes longer and the nights shorter in the northern hemisphere. It’s about honoring the daily work we do to make the house tick (libations to Frigga!), about the power we have as fierce independent womxn (libations to Freyja!), and all the rest. These days, especially as a multi-trad polytheist, I think any number of goddesses and non-binary deities can be honored along with the Norse goddesses and beings that come with Heathen Mothers Night (libations to Brigid!).
My own Mother’s Night altar, which I will leave up through December 31, is likely my rotating altar with the most depth that appears all year. I am lucky enough to have a massive mantle over our fire place, which generally houses pictures and nick-knacks, but gets cleared off in mid December for my temporary take-over. I am also extremely fortunate enough to have photo albums that belonged to my grand-mother, my great-grandmother, and my great-great-grandmother. Some of the family photos date back as far as the 1870s. So I drag the photo albums out of their slumber and for a few weeks they are the center of the Mother’s Night altar, allowed to breath and shine. The altar is then decorated with fallen cedar boughs from the trees right outside our door, a few candles (this years selection to honor Yule, femmes, fierce homo love, and Frida Kahlo). Carrying the intention of honoring not just familial ancestors, I also have collages of Martha P. Johnson, Leslie Feinberg, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Gertrude Stein + Alice B. Toklas. Also included are a few choice cards from the Awakened Soul Oracle deck, such as “labyrinth,” “gratitude,” and “guidance” to honor and acknowledge the complicated relationships we traverse.
On Mother’s Night libations are offered, stories shared, and thanks given. The altar will stay up for the rest of this liminal season as we enter into the new year. and as the Wild Hunt rages outside, inside we’ll be gathered, perhaps with Patti Smiths “Mother Rose” piped through the speakers, looking inward, to reflect on the year that has passed, and the years and lives of those who have come before, listening for their guidance as we step through the rest of Yule.