He leads us up to the foot of the hill,
but there we stop: not yet for us
to take those final steps.
Where the sun stands still
on earth’s high curve, a woman rises:
bright black splayed on red.
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Happy tiding and many blessings!
Our Samhain/Halloween post went over great last October so we though we'd try a repeat performance by gathering all of our posts for Yule and the Winter Solstice from over the last month or so. As before, we've also included some extra bits from around the web that we thought you might find interesting.
We hope you have a very merry Yule and a happy New Year's! Cheers!
As I mentioned in a recent post, the winter season prompts within me a desire to withdraw and reflect, mirroring the natural rhythm of the earth which so clearly says: let things go, it is time to hibernate.
This year I cocoon with my new baby. Though I have three other children, this new baby was the first child whose development and arrival perfectly mirrored the wheel of the year. Conceived during the first month of the new year, taking root in the darkness of winter’s end, beginning to bud during the springtime and coming into full bloom during the summer. And, then, with the season’s spiral turn into fall, when many beautiful things are harvested, his birth: October 30, into my welcoming hands in the sunlight bright morning in my living room. Now, with the steady progress of winter, we curl together in a small, new world. We cocoon in the cave of our own home, the size of the world re-sized to the size of my bed, kitchen table, and rocking chair. This is the fourth trimester, the time in which the baby continues to develop his nervous system and continues to live within the context of the mother’s body. I am his habitat. His place. His home is in my arms.
Usually I post my own stuff here, but an old friend, and very long time Pagan who wishes to be known to the outside as Priestess Aurora Borealis Medicine Turkey, has written a wonderful poem celebrating Mid-Winter Eve and I want to share it...
The Eve of Midwinter...
Actually it comes twice, once in midsummer, the longest day of the year, and once in midwinter, the longest night. Winter Solstice is also known as the first day of winter.
For those of us attuned to the cycles of Mother Earth, Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the dark and the transformations that come in the dark. Many of the customs associated with Christmas and Hannukah, including candles, Yule logs, and trees decorated with lights were originally associated with Winter Solstice. The extra pounds put on during winter feasting were insulation against the cold winter nights.
Those who fear that many of the customs of the Christmas season might be pagan are right. As we learn again to honor our place within the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration, we return these customs to their roots in the circle of life.
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....