Monday, December 18, 2006

Fabulous Solstice

I always fuss about solstice ahead of time... days ahead of time... whether the house is clean enough, if there will be enough people to bother, if we should go out and buy more food, etc. Seems to me that interest in winter gatherings has diminished, even though global warming has made the drive a lot easier to our place.

Nonetheless, solstice came, and although we entertained only 9 guests this year (a record low) it was one of the nicest, most intimate gatherings so far. The gifting tradition of passing something on that you need to move along, worked really well. We feasted. This year I baked pumpkin pies, mincemeat tarts, and shortbread. It was a nice balanced feast.

To recap some of the solar/lunar happenings:

1. Solstice is the time of longest dark, and traditional New Years for aboriginal people, when shamans meet with the ancestors. Our ancestors are the star people, and we light trees, as stars are seen as lights through trees. Technically this occurs on Thursday Dec. 21st @ 7:22 PM, so you have time between now and then to prepare your gifts for the ancestors, and to reflect on your prayers and questions – a wonderful night to channel. Solstice means “sun standing still” and it appears to do so for about 9 days – 4 days on either side of solstice. We typically only see the days getting longer on the 25th – this was a reason for both the Roman and Christian holidays to be celebrated then… In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had long ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice, but they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun's path within a few days after the solstice -- DEC-25th.

2. The 20th is also new moon, when the moon is furthest away from the earth, and the lack of pull allows us to journey with this grandmother – how wonderful is this opportunity.

3. We celebrated the beginning of this 13th moon cycle, the grandmother “Becomes Her Vision” on Nov. 20th. We don’t always have a 13th moon, due to the erratic nature of precession, and the shifting orbits and magnetic pulls.

4. As for perihelion, this is the point where the earth is closest to the sun. This year it occurs on Jan. 3rd, 2007. On an interesting note, it happens to also be full moon on Jan. 3rd – and the name of this moon historically was Full Wolf Moon. It will be a night to howl, and NOT a night to drink alcohol.

5. We have “beware the pogonip” on the 22nd – the time of freezing fog.

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