Saturday, December 13

my solstice

The solstice is around the corner and Amy, after her daughter's wonderful thoughts, asked me to elaborate on how I celebrate it. So I thought that I would share a little more about it. Although there are a gazillion websites out there about the day, I'll share a little from my pov and what the solstice means to me.

Firstly, the solstice is an actual event in nature. That is, it's not a day that is created by humans to celebrate something. It's the moment when the ancient peoples said that the sun 'stood still' (sol-sun, sistere-stand still), because at noon it appears that it doesn't move. Before calenders and clocks, people relied on the seasons, the sun and the moon, to mark the passage of time, and thereby also times for the garden, animals, and life events.

This naturalness and the association with a simple way of life that was connected to nature is important to me. Although there are cultures and groups who have attached religious significance to the day, including some ancients who often associated natural occurences with divine Beings, it is nevertheless a totally unreligious day.

This means two things. For the unreligious it's a day where one can 'celebrate' without any religious connotations. For a religious/spiritual person, it can be a day that is easily adapted to personal beliefs and philosophies.

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For me, it begins with a deep understanding of our connection to Nature and subsequently the interconnection between the whole web of life.

So the sun has been declining in the sky. At the solstice we experience the darkest days. Will the sun return? We will have the days of warmth once more? As the solstice moment passes, so the sun will begin its ascent. In other words, the darkest of winter is here and from now on the days will lengthen and the sun will return, a promise of the Spring and Summer to come.

You can see how we can take this natural occurence and attach to it a variety of meanings. The death and rebirth of deity. A philosophical time of ending the Darkness and heading towards new Light. It is also a moment of great Balance. It can be a time of what Was to what Will Be.

Also, it needn't all be about the sun either. Some people focus on the Winter aspect. I very much connect to the Winter energy. For some cultures its the beginning of Winter whilst for others it is midwinter. This will affect the significance of the days.

So for me, it's a time of balance. In that moment when the earth holds it breath, I breathe in the energy of Perfect and Fragile Balance. It is a moment of great power.
It is a time to do as Winter does - to let go of the old and to prepare for the new. Shed the old ways that have served their purpose, and prepare for what is to come, the new ways to better serve the future purpose.
It's also my new year. As the sun is reborn, so is the 'year'. Out of the Dark is born the Light.

In much the same way that a variety of meanings can be ascribed to the event, so can rituals and traditions.

I collect parts of nature to invite into my home. I collect the winter shedding (so I don't cut anything). I collect whatever is local and thereby significant to the land. I leave it in its natural state though I might string things together. This is a symbol of the connection to nature as well as the shedding of the old. I include a symbol of the sun/rebirth. This year, as the Autumn oranges have been recently harvested, I have included many oranges and mandarins. This collecting can be a lovely ritual of wrapping up warm, finding a quiet and beautiful location, and searching together.

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The night before I light a black or dark blue candle as a symbol of the dark, and then on the day I light a light-coloured one as a symbol of the new light. It's also a meditative action of stillness and contemplation. I'm considering perhaps starting a ritual of lighting it every night for a week or so before. In our first home with an open fire, I placed a large log in the fire that would burn for at least a whole day. I will do this again at the new homestead. As for the 'night before' and 'after', the solstice moment happens at a precie second in time, but as the ancients, without clocks and fancy equipment that went ping, I mark the few days around the solstice, and decide myself which will be the main day.

I'm very fluid in my ways, so I don't tend towards fixed rituals or things like altars. But altars are certainly a common way to display those bits of nature, along with pictures, photos, food items, etc.

I cook a lovely meal that includes colours symbolising the solstice. I have in the past invited a few friends. I leave foods for the wildlife as a way to 'thank' nature for its cycles of death and life. I think I might make it a practice to do something like the bird feeders Denise makes with her boys . I think this is a great idea to do with kids. I also take time to do some important spiritual work for myself.

If you are new, or newish, to the solstice, and wish to add to your celebrations, I recommend looking into your ancestral line. There's a good chance you will find that your ancestor's culture marked the solstice. These traditions are inherited in your spiritual blood. It can then become a way to mark the event but also to connect to your heritage.

15 comments:

  1. Oh gorgeous...so so lovely. Thank you for sharing.
    I am so inspired by this. I want more rituals in our little home. We are not at al religious but are nature and life lovers and want to celebrate what this world has. I will be doing more now and forever.
    xxxx

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  2. I really like your post. You know, it's not often that I've read, "These traditions are inherited in your spiritual blood." I know this to be true. But, I actually don't think I've read this anywhere else.

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  3. Mon, that is a wonderful view of the solstice. I wish that more people recognized and deeply felt our connection to nature.

    I like your comment about "tending to be more fluid". That's a nice, positive way to put it! I often chastise myself for not holding traditions and rituals better. I'm going to stop disliking that about myself and just consider myself "fluid" like you do! And flexible. Like the water of a river.

    I tend to take traditions from my recent ancestors, mostly the Scandinavian Lutheran traditions, but also have gotten into more ancient traditions from both my English-Celtic and Scandinavian ancestors. And things learned from Waldorf schools. And I love some of my husband's Irish Catholic traditions, and things that speak to me from my plant knowledge being an herbalist, and all kinds of things. I guess that is one benefit of being a global world--we can learn from and respect so many cultures.

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  4. I can feel you're connected to nature just by reading this ... well written. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Thank you so much, Mon. I have to say that by the time I read "These traditions are inherited in your spiritual blood" I was quite emotional (maybe because I was up a lot with the baby) but mostly because these are the traditions that I hope to finally bring to my family. You put it in such wonderful words! I greatly appreciate your honesty and sharing ... it gives me guidance to start our new traditions. A peaceful day to you!

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  6. Amber - It really is a wonderful time for nature lovers.

    Candy Cook - This is a philosophy very integral to my own 'beliefs'.

    LisaZ - It's funny how we can stuck in certain ways sometimes isn't it? Fixed rituals can be very powerful as well as providing feelings of ecurity and strength. But that's just one way to be.
    perfect analogy. Not all of nature is a stone, there is water too.

    Electronic Goose - I sure am! Nice to see you again.

    Amy - Glad it helped in some small way. And yes, sleep does that to a person, I should know, lol.
    Thanks for prompting me to write it.

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  7. I love your perspective on this and the way you honour the day.

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  8. I just found your blog thanks to LisaZ. Not sure how I had missed it before this.

    This is a thought-provoking post. I've been wanting to incorporate more tradition into our lives and was considering the solstice. It's all been difficult for me to feel the connection to nature that I wish to feel. We live in a fairly uninspiring town with little to no nature. Hopefully as we build our garden they way we wish, I'll be able to create a haven of our own. But in the meantime, I'm at a loss for ideas.

    Thanks for sharing your traditions! :]

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  9. What a wonderful description and traditions. There's so much peace and joy in nature's cycle. I know I forget about it often. Thanks for the lovely reminder.

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  10. Lovely! We celebrate solstice, but have been working together to incorporate more ritual and tradition into each year so that it is meaningful and inspiring to all of us.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  11. This was beautiful. It calmed me just reading it!

    But, one question. If I live in Ohio and don't see the sun from October to May, it's kind of like one, big, seasonal solstice...right?

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  12. Thank you for sharing Mon. It means so much.

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  13. Thanks sarah p.

    Welcome organicsister and anymommy. Good to have you here.

    Hey Denise, good to see it worked this time.

    Momo Fali - LOL, um, why not.

    Sara - you're welcome. :)

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  14. I am a Roman Catholic and to me this time of year represents a new birth, perhaps much like the dark and light of the solstice (I had to scroll up and check the spelling..ha!). It's nice to read and be enlightened on a "tradition" so different from one's own. Though I think yours may very well be where it all started...Thank you for sharing.

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  15. wow! thanks for sharing that. it all sounds amazing.

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