"Only now can we see with clarity that we live not so much in a cosmos (a place) as in a cosmogenesis (a process) -- scientific in its data, mythic in its form."
~ The Universe Story by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry
The Winter Solstice was perhaps the earliest universal holy day, celebrated in different ways throughout the world from the earliest days of human culture. When language was young, when even the gods and goddesses had not yet taken human forms in the human imagination, but ran instead with deer in the forest, flew with the wings of crows, or were glimpsed nameless from the awed depths of every numinous pool........ even then, this was a holy day, a day of celebration.
This is an extraordinary Solstice, with a full lunar eclipse.
Long ago ancestors lit fires to welcome the "shining god" who was the sun returning from mysterious underworld depths. They built stones or made circles or created doorways to be aligned with the sun's pathway. They lit fires as sympathetic magic, fires to light and imitate the Sun's passage (which is why we still light candles, and Christmas lights, today).
Photo by Lewis Meyer (2010)
Welcoming the Sun, they left offerings of food to show their gratitude, and invented songs or danced throughout the longest cold night, encouraging, helping the Sun on its difficult journey to the promise of new life.
I remember today that holy days begin among our most ancient, instinctual roots, taproots that reach down, deeply entwined within the visible and invisible web of Gaia's life. Planet Earth turns her face toward her star again, circling in brilliant orbit, bearing every evolving, responsive, living, infinitely intertwined be-ing within her fragile, exquisite azure skin on her long journey.
Perhaps we sense, as the sun rises, that pre-verbal, instinctual knowing, found hidden beneath the pages of any book written with five fingered hands, beneath each inscribed layer of words, signs, hieroglyphs, pictures in jet or ochre or sepia, luminous beneath the oldest pages. A veneer peels away, revealing a pentimento, an ancient heartbeat, shared again with all beings that keep vigil on the long night of the winter Solstice.
The light is returning again.
The light is returning again.
Here's from a recent entry from Macha's Blog about what her community does at the Solstice:
"In my tradition, we gather on the beach at sunset on the longest night of the year, and as the Sun goes down over the waves, we all plunge into the ocean as a ritual purification; then return to warm up at the big waiting bonfire in the sand.
Later we return to homes, often lots of us in one home, where we sing Yule carols, light candles, drink hot brews. We feast and eat Sun cookies the children have baked. We gather near the fireplace telling and listening to stories, playing games, perhaps doing divination.
As dawn approaches, we go outside and gather in the high places around the Bay Area and sing and sing and sing up the Sun – often in the rain, but always we can see the lightening skies.
When we perform these acts – when we sing the carols, trim our trees, light candles – we reenact the things our ancestors did, we reconnect with them, and we honor our heritage. Celebrating Midwinter together allows us to reaffirm the continuance of life."
I pledge allegiance
to the soil of Turtle Island,
and to the beings
who thereon dwell
one ecosystem in diversity
under the sun
interpenetration for all.