Wednesday, December 21, 2016

May the "Light of Winter" bring you many blessings

Almost as if they knew what today marks, the cloudy skies broke and the sun shone in celebration of Winter Solstice (Celtic "Alban Arthan"). According to the linked blog posting, the Anishinaabeg celebrated Winter Solstice in a manner and time of the return of the sun, which happens a little while after today. According to me and what I see about me at this time of year, America and many other countries would better serve their citizens and others living within their borders if the prevailing cultures were a little more tempered with pagan elements.

Winter sunrise
Winter sunrise
Photo by J. Harrington

The ancient Celts
"did not take the return of the Sun for granted, and in addition they were suffering much more under the hardships of severe winter weather than we do today. For an agricultural society, whose survival depended mostly on crops, the return of the Sun was not just a matter of casual celebration, it was rather a matter of life or death."
The Anishinaabe celebrated a
"winter ceremony where you got together and you feasted. It’s the beginning. See Anishinaabe counted years from winter to winter…abi’aboon to abi’aboon. When you talk about last year you talk about nishkwaaj abi’aboon (the one that just came by) and then next would be minaawaa bitiboon for next winter. And this year, the present winter, is abi’aboon. The beginning of winter for us really is—or the New Year—is the full moon after solstice. When the sun starts to come back; the coming back of the sun after it stood still. After the sun starts coming back, then we know the next moon is really the New Year because we went by the moons rather than anything else. So the full moon was the New Year; that’s when you held a ceremony, feasted and sang, talked about it, talk about why we’re having it."
A writing course I took at The Loft years ago taught me a little about the idea of a Lakota "Winter Count." I'm sure you know that the Lakota and the Anishinaabe are separate and different Native American cultures. I had not thought about it until I started writing this post, but their individual cultures share an approach to counting time similar to that followed by we Judeo-Christian, Anglo-Saxons and our Gregorian calendar, that of measuring a year from Winter to Winter. Perhaps we still have access to much of the pagan wisdom needed to live closer to nature and provide for a thriving future for our descendants, all we have to do is burnish it some more. May Santa leave us all burnishing kits and the wisdom and energy to use them.

burning stored sun light
burning stored sun light
Photo by J. Harrington

Many of us have come to believe that our celebration of Christmas has become too commercial and has drifted, or been pushed, too far from the original meaning of the season, just as many of us have come to believe we can no longer continue to abuse nature as we have during the Industrial age. It's wonderful to know there are alternatives we can follow if that is what calls to our hearts and souls.

As we leave an age marked by our consumption of the sunlight stored in fossil fuels and enter a new age based on energy produced directly by sunlight or indirectly by sunlight created winds, it might be wise for us to take the return of the sun less and less for granted. Our knowledge of our dependence on it returns just as it returns, each day and year, light and energy to us.

Winter Solstice Chant


Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
now you are uncurled and cover our eyes
with the edge of winter sky
leaning over us in icy stars.
Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
come with your seasons, your fullness, your end.

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