In four days, the winter solstice will be upon us. The Long Dark will reach its zenith, and for the briefest of moments it will seem as if the Holly King’s reign will be eternal. On that night of the longest dark, we light a gifted log aflame, remember the ancestors, and tell stories that bind us together as a people.
Many different faith traditions mark the winter solstice as a holy day. From the Germanic tribes, we have the Yule traditions honouring the past. From the Syrians, we have Sol Invictus – The Unconquered Sun. The Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, and the Hindus begin a five day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha. The solstice is a very special, very holy time, regardless of how we approach it.
The solstice is also a time of hope. Winter has never been a good season for me mentally, and the solstice celebrates a time of reassurance that even the deepest of my depressive cycles will end. It is a holy day of renewal that comforts me as I look to the Wheel’s turning.
There was a place, near my old home in Louisville, where the lines in the layers of limestone were visible everywhere you looked. Some winter solstices, when I was at my lowest, I would go out into the wildest places near the river before sunrise. I would spend those moments before light returned waiting quietly in the darkness.
As sunrise broke across the limestone, the lines between those layers would darken and deepen. As the limestone changed colours in the sunlight, those lines reminded me that all things change. All darkness has a light behind it – and all light has a darkness that fuels it.
That is what the solstice means to me. The solstice is a time to look back upon my ancestors, gather my family and friends close, and rejoice. It is a time of renewed hope and resurrection – for just as Arianrhod’s Wheel turns and the Oak King resumes his rightful place, so must we go on.
Let us gather then, and sing songs of our childhood, songs of our parents and our children, of our friends and our families. Let us gather, huddle close, and light the log of community. Let us feast and revel, and let us always remember there is hope. Always.
Be blessed ya’ll, be blessed.