Today, Autumn passes into Winter…
In Ireland, the Winter Solstice is marked by a special event at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley. The Sun rises and penetrates the mound – lighting up the passageway and touching, briefly, the triple spiral petroglyph. The place that receives the light is also the place from which it is born… The darkness is past and the Sun/Son is returned….
We cannot be certain of why the triple spiral symbol was chosen to be lit by the mid-winter sun by the builders of the mounds of the Boyne Valley, however, the impact of the triple spiral glyph is evident by its absorption into many of the cultures that have encountered it – each giving it a meaning significant to its own beliefs. It is possible that it signifies the cycle of life, death and rebirth and that the mid-winter event was, in fact, that rebirth in ritual. Perhaps to Ireland’s pre-Christian people, the Winter Solstice was the time for the return of the deity of the Sun and signified the nearing end of famine. The Solstice marks the day with the longest night and that every day after this point until mid-summer the days grow longer.
The Winter Solstice is a spiritual, cultural as well as astronomical event all over the World. There are events, celebrations and rituals to mark the coming of longer days in the Northern Hemisphere in China, Africa, Eastern Europe and South America. Called “Yule” by the Germanic peoples and celebrated as a mid-winter festival and feast, it was later adopted by the Christians as Christmas – the birth of Christ.
After what has been a year of extremes, we are poised for a rebirth of sorts. We sit watching the World change more abruptly and profoundly than has been seen in a couple of generations. As we approach the New Year, we must take a quiet moment to contemplate what is of real value to us and how we want to proceed and contribute to this brave new world. Change is not good or bad, it is merely change. It is what we make of it that counts.
It is my sincere hope that to all of the people that this blog reaches, no matter what your culture or religion, that you may receive my wish of peace and happiness. No matter what the next year brings, we can remember that after darkness, the light always returns…
- Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season” with writings from John Updike, Hendry David Thoreau, Bashō, Annie Dillard and others. Edited by Gay Schmidt and Susan Felch.
- Kindling the Celtic Spirit, Mara Freeman – Chapter 12 Winter Solstice
Recommended Winter Art:
- Walter Launt Palmer – His art is available all over the web and I have a post on his work from last Winter!
- Jeff Gola (Beautiful realism in egg tempura)
- The Cliff Walk (Photographs by Eddie McHugh)