We still have more than a month to go, but before you know it Yule will be upon us again. While we sit at home sipping hot cocoa around the fire, shoveling the snow or snuggling into a down comforter, remember on this Veteran’s Day that many of our troops will be stationed in much hotter and much more dangerous places during the Yuletide. Instead of a quiet, dark time for reflection, they are faced with challenges many of us couldn’t imagine.

There are plenty of civilian and religious organizations that support American troops by sending them care packages and cards, or donating food for their struggling families, throughout the year. Today I’m going to highlight one such group that specifically cares for Pagan troops by sending them Yule care packages – Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin.

Each year for the past three, Circle Sanctuary’s Operation Circle Care has been sending care packages to Pagan and Wiccan troops containing easy to ship items such as CDs, incense and altar cloths. This year they are extending their reach beyond deployed troops and sending packages to more than 150 Pagan and Wiccan troops and their families who serve at Fort Hood, the site of the recent atrocious killings. Perhaps receiving these gifts will remind them that they have the support of the entire nation of Pagans and Wiccans as they work through the aftermath of this trauma. Here is more info from Circle Sanctuary outlining their needs:

We need donations of gift items that are small and easy to mail. Pagan music CDs are in big demand. We receive frequent requests for incense as well.  Pentacles are always welcome. Witches’ Calendars would be great. Altar cloths for the Sabbats and Moons are easy to mail and appreciated.

 One of the MOST important things Pagans can do to support Operation Circle Care is to sponsor the postage needed to send care packages. Postage is our largest expense. One care package (APO/FPO large flat rate box by US mail) costs $11.95 to ship. We need the community to sponsor soldiers by paying the mailing expense to send a care package.

Anyone who would like to donate money for postage can do so on-line or by telephone.

Yule packages from Operation Circle Care last year - aren't they pretty?

Yule packages from Operation Circle Care last year - aren't they pretty?

Currently, Llewellyn does not have the resources to manage, process, and maintain a donations program, so in the past I have donated shipping expenses out of my own pocket (as I intend to this year, as well). That said, I think it would be grand if some of you reading this today could buy a couple extra Witches’ Cals or Witches’ Datebooks, or even some of our other 2010 annuals and donate them to our troops. These are among our most inexpensive products and currently on sale at around $8 a pop (except the wall calendar, which is closer to $11).

Or, here is a way to make a donation that will help two military families at once. Buy a copy of the book Faith and Magick in the Armed Forces: A Handbook for Pagans in the Military as your donation for Circle Sanctuary’s program; it explains Pagans’ rights and challenges in the military, and as Publishers Weekly wrote in their starred review, “The book is rounded out with several excellent spells and ceremonies for such things as deployment, going into battle and returning to the home front.”

So who is the other military family you’ll be helping out by buying this book? The author’s family. Stefani Barner’s nine year old son has been on dialysis for a year and a half and has just been entered onto the waiting list to receive a kidney transplant. Her husband is a career Air National Guardsman who has seen two tours of duty in Iraq, has used up nearly all his leave because of their son’s illness, and Stefani will have to stay at home with her son for up to three months after the transplant. So besides losing income that is already stretched thin, there will be high medical bills to pay as well. Faith and Magick in the Armed Forces is an excellent choice, not just because of the military-geared content, but because of its discreteness as well; as one Amazon reviewer says, “It is also without pictures or symbols so if you have already joined the military and have to travel to countries that frown on this religion, this book won’t offend.” The best thing about buying this book right now is that it’s currently on sale for just $8 on our website.

Or, here’s another way to help yet another family in need. As many of you may have already heard, esteemed author Isaac Bonewits has recently started cancer treatment. This means he is less able to earn a living by traveling and giving lectures and readings, his wife Phaedra’s energy is stretched thin, and they, too, have mounting medical bills. As Isaac and Phaedra wrote on their Facebook page,

Someone asked what we’d like for Yule this year. We’d like every one of our fans and friends to buy *one* copy of one of our books and give it as a gift to a friend, family member, or local library. We are deeply grateful for all of the magical and mundane help we have received, it is really making a major difference.

Llewellyn has on offer from Isaac Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work, which was formerly published by a small press and entitled Rites of Worship. Basically it’s a handbook of everything you need to know about designing public ritual, whether big or small. A servicemember could definitely use this book when creating rituals on base or during deployment. And yes, it’s on sale for $8 right now, too!

So, why not make it a happy Yule season for everyone, and buy some gifts with genuinely positive intentions like these in mind. You can help these families in a concrete way at a time when they need the most help. We would also highly encourage you to buy books from your local metaphysical store, even if they have to special order it and you have to pay a little more for it – because then you are also supporting your community, the people who work there, and independent business owners. See, the giving just keeps getting better!

Finally, some additional information from Circle Sanctuary if you’d like to make sure that a care package is sent to a specific person:

You can request care packages by writing to program coordinator, Paula Johnson at paula “at” circlesanctuary “dot” org. Family members can also request packages for a loved one or friend deployed in a war zone or at Fort Hood as well but they must include an accurate APO address.

[I broke up Paula’s email address so that the evil internet-bots couldn’t steal her email address and spam her mercilessly. Please put together the email address as you’d expect to see it when emailing her, or go to Operation Circle Care’s website for more contact information.]

If you know of any other food drives or charitable organizations that you’d like to share with Pagans and Wiccans this season, please feel free to add them in the comments section. After all, every little bit helps.

Happy Veteran’s Day, Happy Yule, and remember, although “the solstice is the reason for the season,” the spirit of giving is one of the nicest side effects of all!


(P.S. If you’re reading this on Facebook, please visit our blog by clicking on “view original post,” just underneath this post. If you’re reading this on the Llewellyn website blog, why not visit us on Facebook and become a fan? Go to http://www.facebook.com/LlewellynBooks. Please feel free to join the discussion in either place. Thanks! – Elysia)

Written by Elysia
Elysia is the Senior Acquisitions Editor for Witchcraft, Wicca, Pagan, and magickal books at Llewellyn. She has been with Llewellyn since 2005 and a fan for much longer. ...