Here in Wales our winters are becoming increasingly soggy. All too often they are grey and depressing. But today, after a light snowfall, skies are blue and the horizon is clear. Hearts sparkle again like the snow on each twig.
Feels like cue a song!
Winter calls a clear horizon
Like the sea calls to the port
Like the sky calls to the desert
Like a love calls too the heart.
(That’s “Clear Horizon” by Jan Harmon 1985.
Listen here: Clear Horizon by Libana, from Libana’s album ‘Fire Within’. Buy the track or cd here: Fire Within)
Imminent in the festival calendar, leading up to Solstice, are the various festivals of ‘Saint Lucy’ tomorrow on December 13th. A northern version is that known as Lussi Long-Night. Read more here: Lussi Long-night in Maria Kvilhaug’s blog. Maria’s page includes a further link to a recipe for luscious-looking Lussi-cat buns. We have lots of wood cut, and my cake is baked, so hopefully Lussi won’t find the household unready, and give her blessing to the baking.
Here in the UK the annual orgy of consumerism, debt, drunkenness and over-eating is well under way. I prefer to use the name ‘Xmas’, which though perfectly legitimate in origin, in modern usage has the connotations of secular tawdriness that I want to express. In addition, saves me having to use the C-word any more than necessary. The UK stands out from other ‘formerly Christian countries’ in the massive distortion of the festival calendar towards this single event.
Those of us who are Pagan, of whatever form, often hate this time of year. On the one hand we want to be enthusiastic about our festival of Yule (or whatever), and do our best to tell the noisy rabble of street revelers just how spiritual it all is really. For ourselves, we want to actually contact some of that spiritual meaning. If we are parents we want to try to share something of the ‘real magic of it all’ with our children – we are convinced this isn’t plastic and electronics. But on the other hand, we cannot avoid being swept along by the pressure of commercial advertising and media mania. We struggle not to be defined as ‘Scrooges’ (or Grinches maybe, as a more recent literary creation), or as boring party-poopers. We know that if we try to call out that the whole thing is ‘humbug’ (Dickens-speak for cant and hypocrisy) then the world just laughs at us.
All this tends to bring on (hopefully non-clinical) depression. Much about the season pushes us that way in any case. In Carmarthenshire, Wales, where I live, the weather has been very grey, most days filled with rain that has varied from penetrating drizzle to full-on horizontal. The ground is sodden. Work in the garden is largely impossible (even though my standing joke is of gardening as ‘playing in the mud’). A walk on the hill, where the weather would certainly blow or wash ‘the cobwebs away’, all just seems far too much effort. One might try a little Hypericum as remedy – derived from a beautiful golden-yellow flower traditionally linked to Midsummer – in the hope of recapturing a little of summer’s light. We hope for clear horizons on the day of Solstice Dawn, December 22nd . (here in the UK). We’ll be lighting a fire to greet the Sun.
For some further thoughts and inspiration, you might be interested in the next posts on the themes of
- Winter Solstice – believe it or not? – what do we actually believe?
- Santa’s Sacked – so we do we do then?
- Winter Solstice Meditation
- Mother Earth’s Winter Solstice Colouring Book