The nature of existence spins like a wheel. Our seasons, life spans, the moon, and even menstruation ebb and flow in cycles; constantly revolving, renewing and changing. Today, December 21st, is the day many around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice. In an astrological sense, the Winter Solstice signifies the shortest day of the year, the entrance into winter and the beginning of longer days ahead. In a spiritual sense, the Solstice signifies the symbolic rebirth of the sun, rest and rejuvenation. Since ancient times the Solstice has been celebrated with fire festivals. During these festivals people would adorn their homes with evergreen boughs and trees, would exchange gifts in the name of celebration and burn a Yule Log to signify the rebirth of the sun. If this tradition sounds an awful lot like Christmas you would be correct.
During the Dark Ages, as Christianity became the favored religion, Pagan rituals and celebrations like the Solstice and Yule were misappropriated as Christian traditions in hopes to convert Pagans. However, Christianity was not the first religion to utilize the Winter Solstice for the birth of their savior: Horus, Mithra, Hesus, Krishna, Buddha, Hercules, Attis, Osiris and many, many others were born at or around December 25th. This is not coincidental. Holy days celebrated around the Solstice offer the perfect metaphor for Light’s victory over Darkness (aka good over evil) and the renewal of life. It is thought the first holy celebration of the Solstice occurred because people began to notice how, as the seasons went on, the sun began to grow weaker and hung lower in the sky. As you could imagine, this was terrifying to people who had not yet discovered nor understood the cycles of the sun. They literally thought the sun was burning out and the world would soon end. People offered up gifts to the gods in hopes their efforts may restore the power of the sun. Low and behold, as the Solstice passed and the sun began to grow warmer, it rose higher in the sky and illuminated longer days. This was seen as a victory of the people who marked the blessed day with celebrations and festivals.
Unfortunately, this time of year has become divisive as each religious sect battles for superiority over all others. Rather than appreciating the beautiful metaphor of the sun and seeing how this time of year could unite us all in celebration we have grown to prefer separation. As another Winter Solstice quietly passes I will celebrate the blessings of the sun, rejoice for longer days ahead and spend the isolation of winter renewing my spirit and building my inner strength. These long, cold days remind me that spring will indeed come; the darkness will pass and the cycles of our lives will continue to turn – even if we can’t sense it until we break through the frozen ground and unfurl our petals in the warm spring sun. I wish the happiest of celebrations and good tidings to you and yours.