Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21: Winter Solstice

This morning I awoke with a sense of deep excitement: today is the Winter Solstice. In the most literal sense, things will be getting brighter now. 

Solstice means literally "sun standing," an apt metaphor for the shortest day when the sun follows its lowest track above the horizon--a time when the wheel of the seasons seems to pause before rolling on into spring. Winter solstice in this hemisphere is the moment when the earth's axis tilts the farthest away from the sun. It's officially the first day of winter, though we've already been plunged into what most of us would call winter for the past couple of weeks. It seems ironic that the season of ice and cold begins on the day when the sun is, in a sense, reborn. From here on out, until the Summer Solstice, the days will grow longer. Our light will gradually return, even as we plunge more deeply into the snow drifts of the next few months. 

The Solstice has been tracked since Neolithic days--ancient monuments such as Stonehenge are aligned with this significant day. Holidays and rituals have evolved all over the world to celebrate the rebirth of the sun god and/or the light. (Check out Wikipedia for what is literally an A to Z listing of various events connected to the Winter Solstice through time and across cultures. In light of the day--pun intended--evergreen trees decorated with candles really are the perfect Solstice symbol.) As I drove into my driveway tonight, candles in my windows and the lights of my Christmas tree shining through the blind welcomed me, and I felt a true surge of joy. Slowly we progress from darkness to light, reborn ourselves in spirit. Something from earliest human existence, when we must have feared the sun was leaving us for good, stirs within us even now. 

Interestingly, one of my co-workers who is also a doula, a childbirth assistant, helped at a birth today: a new child brought into the world, echoing the reborn sun rising tomorrow to linger with us just a few minutes longer.

Winter Solstice night--
our darkest evening deepens.
New sun awaits birth.

No comments:

Post a Comment