This Winter Solstice of 2012
Today December 21, 2012 is the Winter Solstice. The solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice also marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Have you noticed that the place and angle of the sun is different throughout the year? With the coming of the winter solstice the sun appears at its lowest point in the sky. The fact that the sun’s noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice accounts for the origin of the word “solstice” coming from Latin solstitium – “a stoppage.” Following the winter solstice – the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter. This change in the span of daylight even though only a minutes or two at first is good news! Everyone seems to notice the changes. For the ancients the solstice was a time of celebration.
The celebrations of Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa at this time of the year have roots in ancient times. Throughout history, humans have observed this seasonal milestone and created spiritual and cultural traditions to celebrate the rebirth of sunlight after the darkest period of the year. The rituals involve personal renewal, sharing, remembering and honoring the past, honoring family and friends – the customs involve wreaths, lights, gift-giving, singing, feasting, resolutions, mistletoe, evergreen wreaths, holly, Yule log, and the Yule tree.
Today might be an especially good day to start a new personal tradition for this time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. Make a promise to yourself… write a short poem or reflection… hug a child and think of those lost and those to be saved. Indulge in a moment of silence. Light a candle.
One Response to This Winter Solstice of 2012
As you know, Newgrange in County Meath has an annual ritual during the Winter Solstice. Back in 1974 my wife and I slept at this megalithic monument that predates the pyramids of Egypt. Here’s a poem I wrote celebrating an aspect of the Winter Solstice in Ireland. It was a time of warm, delicious rhymes…in a ‘cool’ place.
Seventeen Minutes at Newgrange
Lean stems below bush, bloom her stark lily
Lay screamingly hold, keen-start unconcealed,
Seem bold yet my crave, ever she thrill me;
Astray goddess pray, burn sunny rare field.
Seams cotton trace weaves, fire wildly threads,
Clear is so gauzy, skin lightly as breeze,
Mean sun’s too succinct, squall downy a bed;
Sheer legs astir longing, blind wispy they please.
Sky time forward blaze, starkly exposure,
Where essence feint shock, roam womanly dare
Lie rear and high-pure, plunging composure;
Swear skyline her need, awakens thin bare.
Shaft sunlight shines bright, fresh dawning light lies;
Cry womb-ample lift, sigh-blue fills the air;
Craft cavern sunlight, light-fair to the eyes;
Die closely soothe hole, so comely her care.
–Daniel Patrick Murphy