Friday, December 11, 2015

Thoughts About Winter and Solstice

What is it about this time of the year that makes us want to pull together and celebrate? The harvest is already in, the winter snows are falling - at least in the northern climes - but why does the world hold its breath and then celebrate in a miasma of green, red and gold, blue and silver, and other sparkling colors? One possibility is Solstice, which is approaching quickly. The Winter Solstice is a time of renewal and just a bit of fear. Will the light come again? Or will the darkness of the longest night take over and remain forever more?

Sunrise on the morning of the Winter Solstice is a
celebration of the return of light. This lovely grove of
trees in a snow-filled field captures the welcoming
sunlight perfectly. 

There are many ways our predecessors honored the Winter Solstice, but in most of them all individual fires were doused and flame was reignited from one central location with a never-ending flame alight. This spark would be taken back to each home and the central hearth would be relighted, signifying the return of the sun and longer sunlit days ahead. The universal rhythms had not deserted us, the Gods still watched over us, and if we could survive the upcoming starving times, we would enter another year of plenty.

Of course, in the Southern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice is in June, not
December. Here it is celebrated in Bolivia with a traditional sacred fire. 

We prepared for this day and longest night all year. We harvested and put aside enough food to last us for the winter and spring if we were careful. We set snares to be revisited over the snowy months and we gathered near places of water and fuel to allow drinking and heat over the colder times. But winter was harsh and there always would be some who would not see the sunlight of the equinox to come.

Many groups of people spent the winter in communal long-houses instead of
individual smaller residences. This saved on heat because more bodies equaled
more basal heat. It was safes to have others around in cases of accident or
childbirth, and chores could be shared with others. Winter was the quiet time,
a time for indoor activities. 

Today, as I cull through addresses to begin the final stages of my Solstice cards, think about your ancestors and how difficult the long months of darkness were for them. Their courage and perseverance allowed you to be here in the now, and I'm very happy you've joined me in this walk on earth's surface in this year of 2015. I'm off to the pool - a Guppy Day today. Happy Friday to all!

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