Posts tagged ‘consumerism’

More Solstice Shopping Ideas, and a Rant

My fellow bloggers have come out with some of their own shopping guides here’s a list-

Of Thespiae- Solstice/Boeotian New Year Shopping Guide

Serpent’s Labyrinth- Independent Store Recs

Raise the Horns- Pagan Things Made by Pagans for Pagans

In addition to Ruadhan’s Boeotian calendar- here’s an Anglo-Saxon one

Wild Hunt- Winter Solstice Gift Guide

Several people have given Cara Schulz crap for writing this on Black Friday or criticized it having too much mainstream stuff on it. Still I thought it was a pretty good list, even if I’m not spending much myself this year or any year- how many Pagans do I need to buy gifts for? Not very many! Mainly what I will be probably doing this year is making copies of family photos to distribute. Not sure what to get the in-laws- they have 2 of everything they could possibly need.

I don’t need any more freaking lectures about the Evils of Consumerism & Capitalism. I was raised by hippies- I knew about Buy Nothing Day before Black Friday. My UU church even has a Black Friday service protesting consumerism. I’ve worked retail in the past, hoping I won’t have to in the future, and am definitely on board with the movements to unionize/raise wages and just generally treat the peasants of Walmart, McDonald’s et al. like real human beings. I am trying to get over depression, which I’ve been struggling with for the past year, and get my butt in gear to look for job, and finish learning to drive so I can get my license. My fiance bought a second car, thereby freeing up the old one for me. Those are our Yule presents this year. Before you call us wicked planet destroyers, remember I’ve been a non-driver all this time (age 32)  and while the public transit system is pretty good in the Twin Cities, it does create major barriers to employment. It’s my stubborn streak of left-wing idealism & counterculturalism that holds me back from achieving my goals, and this is continually reinforced by hanging around Pagans. Doesn’t mean I’ll give up on hanging with Pagans but I am trying to fend off the toxic messages. The ghetto mentality. The stick it to the Man mentality. I don’t judge other Pagans who live in poverty, esp. due to disability etc. While I disagree about Sam Webster about many things, I do agree that yes, we need more folks in our community who can support themselves financially and their community– but to do so we need a community has its act together enough to be worth supporting. We should not be making people feel bad for working a job that might not be for a company that meets your political/ethical approval, or for having kids (which capitalism actually *discourages* contrary to what the militant childfree types claim) or for owning a car, when you cannot get by in 90% of this country without a car. Doing those sorts of things does not automatically make you an evil sell-out, claiming that it does not build community.

November 30, 2014 at 8:07 am Leave a comment

Chalica & Charity

I found a different approach to Chalica that I liked. It’s the newly invented UU holiday, consisting of lighting a chalice (or 7 chalices) for 7 nights in the first week of December in honor of each of the 7 Principles of UUism– in case you just “tuned in” to my blog. This Mom shares many different holiday traditions with her kids, and often will acknowledge the first day of a multi-day observance (Chalica, Hannukah, Las Posadas) and discuss it with them over a special meal. I’ve seen various suggestions of simple things to do that tie in with the 7 principles, but if you are trying to do actual volunteer work that would be tricky to schedule all in one week! So instead she suggests spreading Chalica out– doing four different acts of charity that relate to the First Principle- “We light our chalice for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” in December, and then continuing to do that for the other principles in the following months from January thru June.

Since I have a lot more free time than money, I was already thinking of trying to do some volunteer work during December as gifts to my communities. Many charities and non-profits also get frustrated that the Thanksgiving & Yuletide generosity burst peters out, meaning very lean times in summer for many families. After you go thru the 7 principles in whatever manner you choose, you can do more stuff and relate to other values you find meaningful- the Kwanzaa principles, the Beatitudes, the Quaker Testimonies, polytheist virtues and so forth. It’s important to clarify that while the 7 principles are guide us, but they are not a creed or an entire system of ethics. Maybe this isn’t really Chalica so much as a plan for how live out your Unitarian Universalist values!

While poking around old Pagan/polytheist posts about Yule vs. Consumermas- I found this very insightful comment from PSVL (Lupus for short) “One of the things that is really starting to rankle on me in terms of the overculture’s overconsumption at this time of year is the entire phenomenon of “Toys for Tots.” While the people doing it have good intentions, if someone’s family is so poor that they can’t afford toys for their children at Christmas, then there’s something wrong that is much worse than that their children have no toys, and that therefore because they have no toys they will have “no joy” at this time of year. The thousands of dollars spent on toys in these efforts–toys that will often be broken, forgotten, or lost in a year–could be better spent on money for basic food for the needy throughout December. Occasionally, in the “wish list” things that needy families put out, with children and teenagers asking for something, one finds “I’d like a bed” or “I’d like some sheets and blankets.” That is something that I think should be encouraged, not “I want an MP3 player or a Nintendo Wii.”

I do think children need toys- but frankly throughout history, most of the time non-aristocratic children just made their own toys. Toymaking as a craft or industry is pretty recent. Heck, so is the concept of childhood! What is important though, is that children have safe items to play with that stimulate their imagination, creativity and help them learn about and explore our world in a developmentally appropriate way (based on individual child, not the age of the child). Often-times low-tech *and durable* is better. Building toys. Dolls & action figures (for all genders) that don’t need batteries, the kid gets to imagine what they can do *without* batteries.  One of the funnest “toys” when I was a kid was a big refrigerator box! This makes me sound like a mean grown-up, but buying kids what they say they want isn’t necessarily the greatest idea. Is it really what they will spend a lot of time enjoying and get a lot out of? Or is it just the most advertised toy that all their peers seemingly have, so they have to have it!

Unity Unitarian Church has a “Mitten Tree” each year, that people can add articles of warm clothing to (including our Uknitarian club!) We also collect- not just in winter but throughout the year, personal care items (small shampoo bottles) clothing, money for bus passes and other things to help people who are coming out of prison and returning to society to help them out as part of the Amicus Reconnect program. Many other places of worship, schools, non-profits (both religious & secular) have similar programs.

November 22, 2014 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

The Culture of Halloween

In the past 20 years so there have some changes in the culture of Halloween in the United States. Likewise celebration of the holiday has spread to parts of the world where it was previously unknown. I am interested in exploring this and wondering how this may affect its older cousin, Samhain. I do observe both holidays- celebrating Halloween with my community, decorating my house and handing our treats, sometimes attending events related to it. Then after the trick-or-treaters dwindle, I turn off the porchlight, and ritually honor my ancestors- remember the sacrifices they made so I could be here, and others I know or admire who have died in the past year.

First, the trends that began emerging in the 1980’s, when I was a young child and first starting to trick-or-treat. There has been a “culture war” against Halloween by some evangelical Christians who view it as “the Devil’s holiday”. I always found this quite ridiculous, as it was obvious to me it’s a secular holiday. The problem is that the essence of Halloween just doesn’t fit into their worldview- not to mention their lack of sense of humor! They have managed to stop it from being celebrated in some public schools, ruining the fun for the majority of kids. Still public celebration of Halloween persists, very strongly in fact.

Concerns about safety arose- parents were advised not to let their kids trick-or-treat alone, or eat unpackaged treats. This is all common sense. Still it’s too bad that neighbors can’t hand out homemade treats like cookies or apples, which would be healthier than candy. (at least cookies aren’t pure sugar!) I think handing out those things actually would be possible if arranged previously by neighbors who know & trust each other. I may mention that to folks in my block club for next year.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve seen Halloween get more commercialized each year. The advantage is this gives a wider range of costumes and other products than used to be available. But it’s really getting as ostentatious and wasteful as Christmas.  Remember most of these costumes & decorations are made of petroleum products. Even with the economy’s current state, Americans are still spending record amounts on their “hauntings”.

I have noticed that concepts for some of these new Halloween decs are inspired by Christmas ones- Halloween trees with ornaments, orange lights hung outside, miniature spooky villages. While I enjoy decorating for holidays there’s a point where it goes too far. I do have fun looking at how some of my neighbors adorn their houses & yards- I was doing this just a few days ago while doorknocking for Obama. At times I chuckle about the lengths to which they go.

Another trend that disturbs me is some of the skimpy costumes I have seen designed for young girls. It goes along with the regular clothes being marketed towards them. I’d think most parents wouldn’t fall for this, but some have poor judgement, or go along with little Ashley’s pleads to dress like Lindsay Lohan and that “all the other girls wear that”. Sheesh, are these people trying to encourage pedophilia?

I also hadn’t realized until I got into college that Halloween was used an excuse to get drunk at parties. Then again to college students and others anything is an excuse to drink. It also seems like the tricks people pull are more destructive than they once were.

I realize that these changes reflect trends in the overall American culture- everything becomes successively more commercialized- literally nothing is sacred. Likewise, sexuality is reaching a saturation point- where even prepubescent kids are getting sexualized.

I also wonder if as some non-Pagans (other than the anti-Halloween evangelicals)  become disgusted with these Halloween trends, they might turn to a revival of All Soul’s/Saints Day, or Samhain as a cultural celebration, and honor their own Dead. My Christian fiance enjoyed observing Samhain with me, remembering his grandparents and others that have passed on. It was nice to share that with him.

November 2, 2008 at 8:36 am Leave a comment


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