tip header

Tip o' the Week # 38  

Winter Solstice is a Cummin’ In

Dear [firstname]

Within a week, those of us who live North of the Equator will experience the longest night of the year - the Winter Solstice.  Our prehistoric Mothers and fathers were well aware of this major turning point.  For example, Calendar II, an underground stone chamber in Central Vermont is oriented directly towards the sun rise on this day:


Calendar II

Winter Solstice Sunrise at Calendar II

When archaeologists first had to address the reality that “primative peoples” oriented their sacred sites towards significant horizonal events like the Solstices and Equinoxes, and needed to come up with a reason why they did that, they proposed that they did this as an agricultural calendar - so they would know when to do what in the yearly planting and harvesting cycle.

But as far as both Solstices are concerned, this holds no water at all.  What farmer needs to know when the Winter Solstice happens?  It’s too cold to do anything but huddle inside to keep warm.  (And of course, if you haven’t planted your seeds or tended your crops by the Sunner Solstice, you’re way too late - and harvest season has not yet come.  The Celtic Cross Quarter Days make better sense agriculturally.)

So what was the reason for the Neolithic people’s interest in the Winter Solstice?  The rising Sun is standing still along the south-easter horizon,  (“Solstice” means “Sun stands still”.)  

While many suffer from depression (perhaps due to SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder) at this time of year, the Winter Solstice offers hope in that, after that, the days will begin (at first imperceptibly) begin to grow longer.  If you are paying very close attention to the horizon, it is Christmas, the 25th of the month, when you can see that the Sun has risen just a smidgeon to the north, the swing of the pendulum has reversed itself.

But, what is the Winter Solstice really about?  Of course, there are many possible answers to this question, but just as the early farmers took this time to go inside and get warm, this is still a good time to go inside.  Just as the Sun pauses, if we can be conscious of this time, so can we.  Why not consider taking some time on this Winter Solstice to go inside and see what is sleeping, what has worked well in the last year, and what not worked so well.  It is at that moment between the out-breath of the old and the in-breath of the new that changes of intent can be made.

I leave you with a “Christmas” Carol that might be better called a Fractured Christmas Carol.

God Rest Ye Merry Pagan Folk

God Rest Ye Merry Pagan Folk
Let nothing you dismay
Remember that the Sun returns
Upon this Solstice Day!
The growing dark is ended now
And Spring is on its way

O, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
O, tidings of comfort and joy!

The Winter’s worst still lies ahead
Fierce tempest, snow and rain!
Beneath the blanket on the ground
The spark of life remains!
The Sun’s warm rays caress the seeds
To raise Life’s songs again!

O, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
O, tidings of comfort and joy!

Within the blessed apple lies
The promise of the Queen
For from this pentacle shall rise
The orchards fresh and green
The Earth shall blossom once again
The air be sweet and clean!

O, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
O, tidings of comfort and joy!

(Thanks to the Greenwood Singers)

Have a wonderful Winter Solstice!

Sigs Sig 

Sig Lonegren
SunnyBank Centre
9, Bove Town
Glastonbury, Somerset  BA6 8JE
+44 (0)1458 835 818