Longest Night; Shortest Day
Very soon, we will be welcoming back the Sun! It will soon be the longest night and shortest day of the year, known as the Winter Solstice. There is some good stuff here about traditions and history with regard to the Solstice:
The Winter Solstice is another stop on the Wheel of the Year as it turns, celebration of which, assists me in my own endurance of this dark time, because I know that it leads me to Imbolc-Candlemas-Brigit’s Day at about the same time as Groundhog Day in February, further leading to the Vernal or Spring Equinox-Ostara in March, when the hours of light are pretty much equal to the hours of darkness. Though it’s still wintry and often is the snowiest time hereabouts, I value that day of equal light and dark (equinox) as a harbinger of things to come. In other words, these celebrations along the way help me remember that the wheel continues to turn onward, time moves forward, just as it has since humans have been observing its’ progress season to season.
Another thing that I value about the Solstice is that it has helped me to embrace darkness too. Most folks only want to associate with Light. We tend to celebrate the Light a lot at this time of year in all the holidays. But I have come to value Winter’s darkness as a time of rest, a time of gestation, of gathering potential, making plans, and of pulling the covers up and cozying up underneath, just as the land and all its’ life is under the blanket of snow. Bears and others have denned up. All the power and energy of plants and trees goes dormant and down into the roots. All appears silent, and even dead.
The pines, spruces and firs remain dressed in green, the color of the Undeniable Life that continues its’ relentless heartbeat even though it’s dark; even though it’s freezing. Even though the rhythm of that heartbeat is muffled under the snow- life continues.
I love to walk out on the land on a full Moonlit night, and see the beauty of that cold, and darkened world. With full Moon shining, the trees cast magical shadows upon the snow. I imagine the night critters going about their business by the light of the Moon. I often see the tiny mole and mouse tracks and hope they got where they were going without becoming a tasty morsel.
At this upcoming Solstice I invite you to enjoy a celebration you can hear on the radio. Paul Winter, a wonderful musician and his fellows, The Paul Winter Consort, has for the last 24 years been giving a Solstice Celebration at NYC’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. NPR has been carrying this celebration for the last 15 years.
You can find the NPR station to tune into to hear the Solstice Celebration here:
The various stations carrying it, are broadcasting it at different times between December 17th and 21st, so be sure to make note of the time for your neck of the woods.
Here’s another link so you can listen:
And I will be tuning in also, so it’ll be all of us together! Light some candles, pour yourself some “wassail”, follow the above links and enjoy! (I got turned on to Paul Winter’s music back over a decade ago, when I was browsing in a now-defunct junk shop, and the lady who ran it was playing a tape of Paul Winter’s music and I fell in love with it. I offered her money for the tape and she sold it to me and I wore it out!)
And finally, here is my Solstice Song that I wrote in 2002…I wish I could sing it for you. It has a very lilting Irish tune and I think it comes from my past…from an Irish-themed melody of a hymn from the United Methodist Hymnal, lo, those many years ago when I was a child.
Make in me a River of Love through my soul:
Dear Holy Mother Earth make me more whole.
Then let me remember to open my mind to
Give away Lovingness; Let my thoughts be kind.
Oh make in me a River of Light through my mind:
Banishing ignorance; Poverty bind.
Be Generosity work through my hands.
Let all who falter find their second chance.
Oh make in me a River of Peace through my Voice:
Mother Of All Things let Peace be my choice.
Send me your Vision. Make every word Wise.
Let me see Everything with Compassionate eyes.
Make in me a River of Silence that flows
Help me forgive and release all my woes
Help me to clear all angers, all sadness and strife.
Let me walk grateful steps all the days of my Life.