Consecutive Days Riding: 72 Consecutive Days Blogging: 73
Today’s Mileage: 4 Total Trip Mileage: 631
Holidays and Holy Days on December 21:
Solstice or Yule – A present day Wiccan celebration of the shortest day of
the year, marks a renewal process for many of the
ancient earth based faiths
Yule – A Christian celebration of the light dawning in Jesus.
Happy Winter Solstice Day! In the northern hemisphere, this marks the day of the longest night and the beginning of the sun’s ascent back into prominence.
As I ride the bike this morning I reminisce about past solstice celebrations I attended at the home of a local Wiccan couple. The celebrants, a colorful and diverse group, gathered around a sacred fire, prayers were offered in the four directions, songs were sung as we joined hands forming a circle of celebration. Mention was made of both God and the Goddess. Celtic music, vegetarian cooking and sometime home brewed mead were shared long into the night. There was no debauchery; no evil incantations or satanic rituals, negative thoughts and anger were banished from the circle. The celebration highlighted our connection with the divine through nature, the sun, moon and fire. The circle was made up of Wiccans, Christians, Unitarians, Native Americans, and even atheists. All were brought together into a joyful and loving community for this special day of the year.
Short ceremony – poetry to Nature
Pull out your DRUM
Come PICNIC style
Reads the Advertisement for a Winter Solstice gathering on a Florida website
The astrological significance of this day was not lost on our ancient ancestors. In fact it appears that this solstice represents a central anchor of their faith. Much of the ancient architecture, the sacred places they highlighted with stone circles, earthen mounds, and pyramids act as observatories marking the sunrise and sunset on this very day. Many ancient faiths associated this day with the creation or birth of powerful gods, such as Sol Invictus, the Roman Sun God. It was a day that held promise for the people; the promise of a return of the sun, of warmth and future harvest after the cold of winter. It was a day of thanksgiving and forgiveness, in ancient Greek mythology this was one of the two days a year that Hades was allowed to visit Mount Olympus.
Most of the teachings of these early faiths have been lost to time. They were lost due to a verbal tradition that left no written records, lost as the last of their practitioners, their story tellers and knowledge bearers perished. I have listened as some people lament this loss, the loss of a faith that honored and celebrated natural forces and the loss of sacred natural places that sought a return to balance between man and nature. I’ve listened as others say: “So what, they are obsolete! They are gone because they were wrong!”
I listen to these voices and note their arguments: They are gone because they lost out to “superior teaching” and truthfulness of the religions that followed. Others note that these were “spoken faiths” relying on memories of the followers instead of a written (unchanging) sacred text. This fact sealed their demise. Still others note that it was simply evolutionary or the “survival of the fittest,” similar to Wal-Mart’s dominance over K-mart, or American materialism and consumerism against simpler more communal belief systems. Some argue that the joyful celebration of the birth of the Sun God was simply usurped by the newer faiths that choose to place the unknown birth date of a savior on the same day, building churches over a peoples’ sacred sites till those sites had become their own.
Perhaps all these arguements may possess some “truth” and perhaps it just does not matter what was lost. “What has passed, has passed” some would say. However, at a time in human history when we are faced with monumental questions about our future survival can we afford to overlook any source a truth, even strands of our past?
Let us celebrate the solstice as a diverse and loving community. May we carry the message of renewal and promise of the life sustaining harvest of future seasons to people of all faiths. Let us make use of this occasion to both honor the past and the future with a joyful moment.
The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.