Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!

One of my favorite books in the whole world is The Mists of Avalon.  It's basically the retelling of the King Arthur story but from the point of views of his mother, sister, and wife.  I love the main character Morgaine, whom history counts as a witch, but who this dear book details as a powerful priestess in the Celtic religion.

Throughout Mists, you hear of the Celtic holidays: Samhain, Beltain, the solstices.  And just in case you are wondering what all these holidays meant (because honestly, I just learned a little bit about some that I wasn't really familiar with), you can check them out here.  The definition for Yule is this:

Winter Solstice or Yule, occurs about December 21. This is the time of death and rebirth of the Sun God. The days are shortest, the Sun at its lowest point. The Full Moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of the whole year. This ritual is a light festival, with as many candles as possible on or near the altar in welcome of the Sun Child.
It is amazing to me how we have incorporated these rituals into our own Christian holidays.  We hang lights just like the pagans did, but call it in celebration of the Christ Child instead of the Sun Child.  We hold our sacred day just 4 days after this pagan holiday.  That Constantine sure knew what he was doing when he Christianized Rome.

Ever since I read this book, way back in my early 20's, I've loved the solstices. I get a little excited for today, knowing that while it's going to be cold, the sun will come back. And I get a little sad during the summer solstice, knowing despite its brightness, it carries with it the beginning slant toward darkness.

So, at the risk of being sacrilegious and in tribute to the fine religions on which our traditions are built (and, honestly,  because I'm a little bit pagan at heart, minus the idol worship), I want to wish you all a Happy Solstice.  Light a candle, enjoy the night, look forward to the return of the sun.  Or Son.  However you would like to mark it.


Fluent Brittish said...

And a Happy Solstice to YOU!

Amy Sorensen said...

A friend and I were talking at work today. On the winter solstice, she and her kids make little bird feeders (the balls of seeds) and hang them up in their trees. I love this idea!