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THE CHELA JOURNAL

Winter Solstice

by Raven

This year Winter Solstice falls on December 21st. It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is a time when I celebrate the Returning of the Light to the World. It is a time of feasting. It is a time of joy. And, it is a time, nestled in the depths of Winter, when everyone can come together to celebrate the promise of the future - the Sun’s return.

Since Winter Solstice is the birth of the increase of the Sun, I use the week centered on the Solstice as an occasion to catch the momentum of the incoming Sun’s power. First I gather certain sacred symbols to add the blessing of the season to my home. Every year I try to find mistletoe to protect the transition points of my house, and thus by extension the transition points of my life. I place the sacred herb over the thresholds in my home, and invoke the blessings of this powerful plant for myself and my loved ones, by kissing them when they pass under it.

Another strong sacred symbol is the wreath of holly. This is the time of year when the Oak King relinquishes his throne in favor of the Holly King. The inclusion of holly to the household will ensure his blessing for the new season (ancestral spirits love to be acknowledged).

Before it gets too deep into the season, I like to buy a pine tree - evergreen trees symbolize prosperity and plenty with their strong growth and the abundant greenery they manage to maintain, even in the deepest winter snow. I prefer a living tree to a cut one, it holds the prosperity magic much better, and can be enjoyed for years to come.

I decorate the tree in tiny silver globes representing the full Moon and golden spheres representing the Sun. I like to hang tiny flashing lights on the tree - these represent the stars, and sometimes I include representations of Angels and other sacred symbols. The tree acts as my talisman of prosperity for the coming spring and summer. The coming together of the Sun and Moon on the tree represent the coming together of the active and passive forces in the act of creation. The symbolic "stars" add the element of astrological forces to the mix. The sacred and Angelic forms add the blessings of these forces to the tree. At the top of the tree I set an upright pentagram in the form of a golden star, to symbolize the interconnectivity of the Divine Spirit and Man.

The tree represents the Tree of Life described in so many sacred teachings. It is a living depiction of the interlocking web of life that contains all of us in microcosm and macrocosm. Into this tree I send my wishes for peace, happiness and plenty - for myself, my loved ones, my community and the World. The tree is a vehicle to anchor the blessings generated through the sacred space in my home during the weeks before and after the Solstice. Then it is placed in my garden to spread these blessings throughout the coming year.

Under the tree I like to place a depiction of the Divine Mother and her Child. Whether the Lady depicted bears the name of Mari, Isis, Mariamne, Juno, Maya or Mary - the Solstice is really Her night. It is on this night that the Divine Element of Creation (depicted as a woman - for some reason) gives birth of the young God, who is the Light of the World, the Sun of God. This night is a celebration of Archetype Motherhood (and in a sense all mothers) and I consider it the true "Mother’s Day".

Most importantly, during this time, I like to acknowledge the seasons as my ancestors did. At a time when people lived closer to the land, and had much less margin for error where the harvest was concerned, this was a crucial time of the year. Those with a good harvest had grain and other food stuffs that were just beginning to rot. Their neighbors who, for reasons of weather, accident or pestilence, had a poor harvest, were just beginning to starve. It was traditional for the family with the overflowing coffers to bring foodstuffs and other needed gifts to those who could not survive the winter without it. Everyone in the community was contacted, "checked on" to ascertain their health and status. Then feasts and other gatherings were held to distribute the food gifts.

I admit, I have a few friends who are starving this season, but I like the idea of "checking up" on those who I have not had a chance to keep much contact with during the year - even if all I can send them is a card. And I love the chance to give people things they want but would never buy for themselves. Most often I make the small gifts I give - which I see more and more people doing these past few years. Perhaps people are waking up to the true beauty of the Solstice.

Whether you call it Winter Solstice, Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Modranect, Saturnalia, or "Winter Vacation", it is a time to gather together with friends and family and acknowledge that there is love, hope, and healing in our world just as long as we make the space and time for it. There is magic to this sacred time, just as long as you take the time and believe.

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