Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Winter Solstice Is Nigh...

(This is an Advent Spiral. If you would like to know more about it, this link has some background.  The Spiral has a wide reaching foundation of many different spiritual beliefs.)
It is quite grey outside. The weather radar on television shows a large patch of green heading our way.  The forecasts said that we would be getting some intermittent showers during the day.  I am hoping for more.  It is the time of the Winter Solstice, and if I can't get snow for the occasion, rain would do just fine.

This Solstice marks the exact moment when the North Pole is the farthest from the Sun.  The exact moment that signifies the shift from lengthening days to shortening days.  It is the shortest day and longest night of the year.  I love the night.  Too bad that all days can't contain more dark than light.  (The Sun and I have never had a very good relationship.)  The North Pole has been in complete darkness for months now.  The inhabitants of the Pole won't see their next dawn until March.  I would love to experience months of darkness.  I have always been my most creative at night, so a night many months long would probably have my creative juices flowing in a torrent.

(Winter Solstice at Stonehenge)
The actual moment of the shift will be at 12:30 AM/EST.  People the world over have various celebrations to honor the Solstice.  Saturnalia, Midwinter, Yule...just some of the celebrations held.  The ancient Celts had massive bonfires. The ancient Japanese honored Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun Goddess.  The Vikings had Yule.  Most, if not all, of those celebrations are still held today.  One of the better known celebrations honoring the Solstice is the gathering at Stonehenge.  (That has a high place on my list of things I have always wanted to do.)
(Left: Celtic Bonfire;  Right: Japanese Sun Goddess, Amaterasu)
One of my favorite stories of the Winter Solstice is the Celtic/pagan story of the Oak King and the Holly King.  The two kings represent the two halves of the Celtic year.  They meet to do battle twice a year on the Solstices. On the Summer Solstice, the Oak King defeats the Holly King, taking reign of the seasons until the Winter Solstice when the Holly King wins.  The cycle continues each year.  (This is my Reader's Digest condensed version.)

(Artist: Anne Stokes)
The Holly King is the dark half.  His image is said to be what Santa's appearance is based on.  (Think a woodsier version of Mr. Claus.)  Holly represents Wisdom and completion.  The learning of life lessons, and the time for rest and withdrawal.

(I'm not sure who made the Oak mask on the left,
but the artist who created the Holly mask on the right is Lauren Raine.)
The Oak King is the light half.  His image is also presented as the Green Man.  Oak represents rebirth, Life, and growth.

It amazes me that the year 2011 is almost over.  Where did the time go?  It doesn't seem possible.  2012 is just around the corner, and I feel it is going to be a good year.  There is a lot being said about a day that falls exactly one year from today...huh...just noticed that.  Exactly one year.  I think we are going to experience some shifts.  Some changes.  All for the better.  No doom and gloom in my future...

Happy Winter Solstice, Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, _________________ (enter your holiday in space provided) to all.

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