Happy Solstice, everyone!
The Winter Solstice has always been my favorite of the Quarter Days. I was marking it long before I would have thought of calling myself an animist or pagan. For many years, winter was my most dreaded season, probably due to some seasonal depression that thankfully has eased over the past few years. Just as hitting the halfway point of a long walk flips some mental switch, so the Solstice has been an annual turning point for me.
Here in southern Indiana, however, it wouldn’t be right to call it the beginning of winter, which has always set in long before the solstice. Here, Thanksgiving could be called the last day of Fall—and the Solstice as the descent into the depths of winter. The Christmas lights on the houses don’t usually stay up past the new year, rendering the early evening darkness still darker. The sun is making its return trip, yes, but the increase in daylight following the solstice moves very slowly. The worst winter weather here happens in January and February. So while Solstice is a turning point, it’s a turn taken in patient hope.
Our Yule log was cut from a windfall in the nearby woods. The branches are from the front yard. The candles are a bit less local—from a beekeeper in Cincinnati.
Simple, uncomplicated things. Imbue them with whatever symbolism you wish but, for myself, I prefer it simple. I’ve done complicated; I understand the appeal. But these days I’ll take what has worked for aeons of humans: Sky Father. Earth Mother. Sitting in silence. Conversing with ancestors. Observing the seasons.
This is enough.