The next 24 hours brings the Winter Solstice. Earth is in its deepest winter sleep in my part of the world. If I venture out into the woods (which I’m not going to do as it will be dark by the time I get there) I will not hear the familiar universal hum of life. All is dormant. It is the last and deepest breath before the Great Turning and tomorrow the line will again be pointing upwards in the direction of renewal.
No wonder our ancestors paused at this time for their light ceremonies and rituals designed to encourage the sun to once more shine on their endeavors.
I love this time of the year taking my own deep breath before the rush towards Christmas. The tree is glistening. The box of decorations has been taken down from the top shelf and with Elvis singing 20 Christmas songs I have spent a happy hour decorating it -reviewing as I do so a happy life of ornament collecting. The angel my first boy friend gave me with a silver/onyx ring in its arms, the Father Christmas bought in Amsterdam on one of my honeymoons, the glass angel from a happy weekend in venice with my daughters Mimi and Lala and granddaughter Laverne, all take their place on the tree.
And this year there is a new decoration;a little wooden train engine in recognition that we are all shifting up to let a new soul into our family circle. Mimi is pregnant with a boy who is now 30 weeks on his way.We are all excited about the advent of ‘our baby’, only the second boy in three generations and a gift beyond expression. So this year I am contemplating the Christian nativity(unusually because I am not a churchgoer) and its roots in an older tradition of welcoming the baby sun to save us from the darkness of wavering faith.
So instead of being out hunting and gathering in the shopping malls or writing Christmas cards to people whose faces I can barely remember I am in fact sitting contemplating the words of Hildegard of Bingen:
Glance at the sun
See the moon and the stars
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings
In the past the women would gather at Solstice and prepare feasts. The men would light huge bonfires in whose light both would dance and make music. Honouring the festivals connects us with the power greater than humanity. It is a primordial need that connects us with the earth. Today I recognise this and spend the day in reflection and renewal. The rest can wait. Solstice blessings to you all!