Today is the shortest day, we have survived the longest night. The days get longer, the sun gets stronger from here on. This, to those of us who celebrate today, is the start of new beginnings, the promise of spring to come.
As I was growing up I celebrated, and loved, Christmas like so many others. I was never raised within the Christian faith but the feast days are so embedded in our culture and with all my grandparents being Christian there was never really any consideration that things could, or should, be any different. As a child the magic of Christmas was strong but as I got older I realised that this was not my faith and this was not my celebration and yet to me the turning of the earth, the changing of the seasons retains an essential magic, a connection to life and to nature that I needed to keep alive to myself and so I found my own brand of paganism and as I am wont to do I not only made it mine but I made it up as I went along. As always my words reflect my own thoughts, the significance and meaning to me. Your experiences and thoughts may be different and it is part of the all encompassing whole that those differences can and should exist.
I connect so deeply with this land, with this country, I feel it in my steps and in my being. I am who I am and who I was meant to be and growing up where the seasons change so dramatically I feel I can only be rooted in a faith that is created and embodied by our landscape.
I wanted a winter celebration and this day is unique, a day when the sun barely appears above the horizon, all is gloom and darkness and the best place to be is inside, in the warm, and with friends. Giving and gaining hope that the world will turn and the sun will return.
There is a lot of symbology connected to this time: a reenactment of the endless battle between the Oak King and the Holly King as the Oak fights to return with the spring and new growth, the Holly has everything to lose as winter slips from his grasp; the time of the darkest side of mother Nature, of the triple Goddess, a time of death, a time of remembrance and a time of reflection, for the Goddess is all powerful, look to her to understand the darkest and deepest parts of yourself; a time of feasts and fires, revelries and gifts, the fallow fields and early sunsets giving perhaps more time for crafting and hobbies; I experience this as a time to draw close with those closest to you.
Last night I shared Solstice Eve with the wonderful people of Challice Well in Glastonbury, this age of the internet allowing me to connect with others who share my faith across the world, and also with those who we were going to be seeing in person today.
My heart is with you all as you enter this next chapter of the strangest period of our lives and I feel with you that hope is a fragile thing, hard to keep when the days are darkest, waxing strong as the spring shoots rise.
So blessed be to all for who wish to receive it, love and hope and good tidings and I will see you all in the New Year.
Let’s join together, all faiths and none, to work towards a 2021 where it really is OK to be your authentic self, where you can be “free to be me”.