Sadness and fear die in the night of the Winter Witch.
It’s the shortest day of the year, officially the first day of winter. The sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. Here in Northern England sunrise today is at 08:25, and sunset darkens at 15:39 (twenty-one minutes to four in the afternoon). In all we will have 7 hours and 14 minutes of grey daylight today.
It’s the winter solstice, which happens for everyone in the northern hemisphere at exactly 16:28 GMT today. The night will be dark as the new moon was only a few days ago on December the 18th. The next full moon will be on New Years Night, January the 1st 2018. This will be the Full Wolf Moon and it also means a fresh start, a time for reflection, self-awareness, and rebirth. This is the time for all of us to be born anew.
The winter solstice has been celebrated by pagans in England for thousands of years, and many of the traditions now associated with Christmas have their roots in winter solstice celebrations ~ basically Christianity ‘stole’ the winter solstice. (One wonders why Christmas isn’t actually on December the 21st.)
The ancient feast of the winter solstice was called Juul in Scandinavia and by the Germanic Peoples, (now Yule), or Saturnalia in Ancient Rome, Yalda in the Middle East, Tekufat Tevet in the Talmud, Dongzhi n China… Yule is a fire festival, and this is when the Yule Log is brought into the home ~ it should be Ash and it should burn for 12 days before being put out. (Which is where the 12 days of Christmas originate.)
In the Northern Hemisphere, friends gather to celebrate the longest night… a chance to still ourselves inside, to behold the glory of the cosmos, and take a breath with the Sacred. ~ T. Thorn Coyle.
The ancient monument at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, was built so that it actually indicates the solstice. Modern druids still go there to celebrate the shortest day of the year and the rebirth of the sun as the days begin to lengthen again. From today our physical, mental, and spiritual energies will begin to increase from the low ebb they have reached as the days have shortened.
This is the night The Goddess becomes The Great Mother and gives birth to the Sun King, (not the Son King). It is a time to eat, drink, and be merry ~ light candles, give gifts, gather greenery… It is a time to connect with the natural world in a way that honours the sacred immanent in all things, and a time to celebrate the interconnectedness of all things.
The Wheel of Life has turned again.
Marmaduke and I
Wish You A Happy Yuletide
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Today is the Shortest Day of the Year
In the northern hemisphere December the 21st is the darkest day. Where I live the sun will rise today at 08:26, and it will set just over seven hours later at 15:39. As there will be some cloud today I’m not likely to see much sunshine at all. Today will not be the longest night in all history ~ most respectable scientists think that was December 21st 1912. The rotation of the earth is generally slowing down over time, but it’s speeded up a little recently due to the melting of the glaciers.
Officially today is the first day of winter. The coldest months are yet to come, normally it’s much colder in England in late January and early February.
If you are a pagan, or a witch, today is a big day for you. In ancient times December the 21st was called Yule, probably from the Anglo-Saxon word Iul, meaning wheel. This symbolises the stars and the Earth turning like a wheel, the wheel of the year, and the wheel of life. Today the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the Sun King. It’s unsurprising that Christians chose around now to be the time of the birth of Christ, even if they did get they day wrong by 4 days. Although the ancient Persian Mithraists always regarded December 25th as the time of the victory of light over darkness.
If you can get to Salisbury in Wiltshire, perhaps you should be at Stonehenge for dawn and dusk today. Nobody really knows why Stonehenge was built some 5,000 years ago, but the great stones are aligned in such a way so as to mark the rising and setting of the sun on Midsummer’s day and Midwinter’s day. A hell of a lot of work to make a clock / calendar.
Personally, I will go down to the sea today and watch the dawn. For many of us, today is the rebirth of the year and of the world.
Have a happy Yuletide.
rhythm never ending
world constantly turning
tilted orbital angles recurring
heliacal gravitation commanding
winter solstice dawn
words and pictures by jack collier
Sunday, December 21st is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Officially, it is also the first day of winter.
I have news for you;
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken, its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds’ wings;
season of ice, this is my news.
pictures by jack collier
poem, 9th century Irish