The dark of winter wraps around us tight.
The lamps are fired, and flickering light
beats time to the fiddle as notes float softly down, like the years' first snow.
While outside the window a blast of late December wind
whistles harmony to the drone of the pipes.
We push the old year back against the wall
so we can dance a jig for Christmas and welcome in the new.
Reflections on a Scottish Christmas, by Johnny Cunningham
My Winter Solstice post is definitely squeaking in under the wire! I would have preferred to have posted yesterday, ahead of the shortest day of the year, but I was a bit distracted by my being laid off from work and being pushed straight into my new beginning.
I guess my favorite way to spend the winter solstice is with close friends, good wine, candles, and a Christmas tree. December is such a wonderful time to celebrate.
This year, I didn't throw a party as I thought I might at the beginning of the year, but I did manage to have The Boyfriend and another friend over for some board gaming and Baileys.
Is there a moment quite as keen
or memory as bright
as light and fire and music sweet
To Warm the Winter's Night
To Warm The Winter's Night, by Adam Victor Christianson
Some years, you really have to think about new beginnings; some years, your new beginning is simply all around you, not to be denied.
Months ago, I said that I would address the question, "What religion are you?" And surely solstice is a perfect time for that.
When pressed, usually I will answer that I am no religion. Given an official form, that is most likely what I would check. I don't consider myself Wiccan, although I enjoying reading about Wiccan practices from time to time, and I do use Wiccan resources when I feel like creating and performing a meditation or ritual.
But wait, if I'm practicing a ritual, how does that reconcile with not practicing a religion? I guess I consider paganism as a general practice to be more about spirituality than organized religion - because surely it is frequently not organized in the same way that Christianity or Judaism or Islam, etc. are. And I do not practice it in an organized way at all. Actually, I feel I study it more than I practice it.
Marking the pagan holidays this year - to the extent that I actually did that - was part of that study. To some extent, that practice.
The seasons and the changes they bring are with us. Part of our world no matter how far we move from the field. The pagan turnings find us in the city, and they are there whether we mark them or not. To look towards them for what they can illuminate in our lives, is to gain wisdom that has always been there.
Am I a pagan? Well, yes, I believe I am in many senses of the word. Then again, the Internets have left me to "spiritual, but not religious."
And that's about right.
Solstice poems are from this site for Aine Minogue's CD, To Warm the Winter's Night.