I hate being cold, I hate waking up in the dark, I hate that at this time of year when I leave the house to go to work it is dark and when I come home it is dark. I feel like hibernating. However this time of year is good for us. It is a time of rest, a time to gather the energy needed for the year ahead. It is a time of healing, as the Danish would say it is a time for “Hygge”.
I use this time to evaluate the previous year, to look at my success and my fails. I make lists, lots of lists. Lists of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year, lists of plants I would like to grow, lists of things I would like to make. These are not New Year’s Resolutions but plans that I will put into action as we emerge from the dark time of year.
The Winter Solstice or Alban Arthan as Druid’s call it or Yule for most Pagan’s, is not the end of winter, in fact the coldest time of year is yet to come, it is the point when light starts to return to the earth. We pay respects to the spirits at the setting of the sun on the shortest day and welcome the longest night. There are usually bonfires involved and mulled wine. Mistletoe is a must and should not ever touch the ground from the moment it is cut until it is hung in your house. A sacred circle and drumming feature in our rites too.
One of the traditions with my family involves the Yule Log. We get our local tree surgeon to drop off a large piece of wood, either a round or a log about 50cm long. This is then decorated for the Solstice period. You can go mad with ribbons and tea lights. Part of this is burnt in the Yule fire, then at each of the eight festivals of the year another piece of this log is cut off and burnt in the festival fire. The final bit being burnt at the following Yule. This means that you are connecting each celebration, creating a web that goes throughout the year.
I was lucky enough this year to celebrate the Solstice at Stonehenge. It is so peaceful there. You can connect to the earth and the environment at a fundamental level. You come away feeling nurtured and re-energised. If you ever get the chance to visit this ancient landscape then please leap at the opportunity.
I hope you had a peaceful Yule and are looking forward to Imbolc.