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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Winter Solstice

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Longest Night

I have always loved the colour of the night sky in winter.  It almost never seems entirely black; instead, it blue with refracted gloaming, even at the dark of the moon, even at midnight.  And yet, the stars are never so clear as they are in the midst of winter, as Orion charges out from the horizon to chase Taurus with Canis Major barking at his heels.  The jewel in the Great Dog’s collar, Sirius, sparkles like a radiant prism diamond as it cycles through white, red, green and blue (though of course this is only atmospheric refraction) just over the Southern Horizon; Castor and Pollux wink out of the sky’s zenity; and the Pleiades sparkle like a celestial diamond ring.  Meanwhile, in the Northern Horizon the Dragon rears his head, and the Big and Little Bears point the way.

It’s dark for a long time here above the 49th Parallel at this time of year.  The sun sets at around 3:30 pm and it doesn’t rise again until almost 8:30 in the morning.  That’s seventeen hours worth of night.  I find it challenging to deal with.  But it gives you a long time to contemplate the stars and the celestial mysteries.  Maybe that long night is part of the reason why the stars are so clear; there’s so much less sunlight leaking into the sky by the time one considers the stars in winter.  Or maybe it’s because high-pressure fronts coming down from the Arctic Circle chase the clouds away and the sky opens up to reveal the vastness of the celestial firmament.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Walk the Winter Solstice

Here’s a cool yule idea for you: get outside! Winter Solstice hikes are all the rage, and there are many to choose from; sponsored by area state parks, conservatories, and small businesses. Have your troop meet you at your destination site for the scheduled walk. Revel in the crisp winter air, and observe the magical changes Mother Nature has woven around you. I cannot stress this enough – layers, layers, layers. You can never have too many, and you can always wrap something around your waist, shoulders, or neck if you need to make a temperature adjustment. Don’t worry about hat hair. This really isn’t a time of year for the overly fashion-conscious. By partaking in this healthy ritual, you are embracing the colder season, not fighting it. Chances are good that you will also work up a deserved thirst and appetite.

If your band of merry travelers wish to continue celebrating with an after-party, invite them over to your place for hot cocoa, cider, and mulled wine. Keep it easy and informal. Have a cookie exchange, where people can bring over some of their excess baked treats to share. (There are always an excess of goodies in folks’ homes this time of year!) Be sure to supply plenty of candles on hand, so that everyone has one to light. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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“Only in the deepest silence of night
the stars smile and whisper among themselves.”
–Rabindranath Tagore

(quoted in Dear Heart, Come Home page 52)

As I prepare our family's winter solstice ritual for this Sunday evening, I feel moved to share our family's tradition and ritual process. I'd love to hear from readers in the comments with their own family traditions! We have celebrated the winter solstice together as our primary family ritual for the last eleven years. There are several elements that remain constant from year to year and other elements that vary based on new ideas or projects that we decide to incorporate for that year.

The following is a brief explanation of three of our core traditions, which is then followed by a full ritual outline for this year's ceremony! Make sure to read through to the end of my ritual outline for links to even more posts with further ideas and information.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The insanity of the holidays can drive anyone crazy.  Getting gifts, arranging to visit with family, work parties, and more.  It is a time of the year when you can lose track of the importance of the phase of the year we are in. 

You can find any posting on what to do on Yule, how to decorate your house with all the associations, what food to cook and so on.  I don’t do any of it.  I find the holidays stressful and unbearable in most years. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Holidays Die Hard

Old holidays die hard.

Throughout the Persian-speaking world—Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan—the Winter Solstice is a widely-celebrated, if secular, holiday. (For Zoroastrians, of course, it retains its religious character.) In Farsi, it's called Yalda, a word which may or may not be related to the Semitic root YLD, “to give birth.”

It's customary to stay up all night, to see the year's longest night through from beginning to end. People pass the long candle-lit hours, as one would expect, telling stories, singing songs, and eating. In Iran, the tradition is to serve 13 different fresh fruits—pomegranates, melons, cucumbers—one for each moon of the coming year.

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Avatar, Yuletide Goddesses & Pagan Roots of Christmas and Resolutions

Just thinking of digging out the old AVATAR DVD.  That's part of my year end tradition, starting the new year out with a great movie that shows the under dogs beating the odds and claiming victory! What's yours?

I get teary-eyed every time I watch Avatar.  I love seeing the hero kneeling before that great tree, a long-time symbol of Goddess.  And he's praying to Her.  He's telling Her the Sky People, otherwise known as us, the Earthlings, are coming for them, for Her and they're hell-bent on stealing the natural resources of the planet at any cost.  Sound familiar?  Sound like something ripped from the headlines as some multi-national corporation comes for the water or minerals on sacred land, never mind they'll devastate the local economy and the lives of people living there. Or maybe it reminds you of the United States going after the oil in Iraq.  

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
As Solstice Dawns in Knossos

Travel with me, across the world and back in time, to a Winter Solstice morning in ancient Crete. We are among the special guests, the important members of the community who have been invited to join the priests and priestesses of Knossos to witness a most sacred event. The gathering begins in the darkness before dawn.

The air is crisp and cold as we join the others waiting in silence in the great plaza at the center of the temple. We stand in the dark, pressed close together, listening for that special sound – the blast of the conch shell that announces the first glimmer of the Winter Solstice sunrise over the land to the east. Our breathing generates tiny clouds of steam that are barely visible as the sky begins to lighten from deep black to dark blue. Then, as the first rosy fingers of light stretch up from the horizon, the triton sounds, its call echoing around the stone-paved plaza. Though we are still surrounded by dimness and cannot see the Sun over the tall temple walls, we feel its presence as the process of dawning begins.

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