Tag Archives: Soltice

Happy Solstice 2011!

Today is the Winter Solstice, an important holiday for many pagans and non-christian groups throughout the world. There will be feasting and music and merriment and a general celebration of the slow, gradual return of the sun to our lives. This may not mean much to those of us living in, say, Florida, but if you’ve ever lived a Wisconsin winter, the return of the Sun is a really big deal.

In past times, this was known as Midwinter among the Anglo-Saxons and generally was the last great feast for the year. The cattle were slaughtered at this time, so it was often one of the few times in the year that fresh meat was available as well. That’s a good reason to celebrate! Gifts were given to strengthen family and clan bonds and to show appreciation for a year of service to the village or to the local ruler. The mead had finally matured and with fields covered in snow, folks had some time to party with their friends. Sweet! Everybody dance!

 The village shaman has already concluded ceremonies for the day to welcome the sun’s rebirth and now it’s time for fun. Anyone who can play an instrument picks it up and after a brief debate on what song to start, they get the party rockin! It’s the Eleventh Century and we’re gonna party like it’s 999!

Can’t you picture it? The long, smoky feasting hall with everyone you know gathered together. They’re singing songs, telling stories, and playing games. The village kids are running around screaming with laughter and chasing the dogs. The warriors are bragging and trying to catch the eye of some pretty girl who is pretending she doesn’t notice. Some things never change, hey?

While the men and the village leaders talk politics and the grandmas gossip, the women are pouring out the mead and beer and tending to the feast, roasting meat and cooking vegetables, keeping the kids out of the sweets and the teens out of dark corners.

Fast forward a thousand years: Everybody is gathered for the celebration. The Moms are in the kitchen, checking turkeys and roasts in the ovens and making sure Sue isn’t on the back porch with that boy with all the piercings. The kids are playing Xbox and yelling, the Dads are drinking beer and arguing politics. The soldiers home on leave are comparing duty stories and grinning at the pretty girls giggling back at them. Somebody throws in a CD and starts the boombox.

And the next morning the sun comes up just a little earlier, making the world a little warmer. It’s all about family, people, no matter what time or place you’re in.  To all of our Pagan readers out there, at this turning of the year, a happy Solstice to you all, and a joyous Yuletide from us here at Heartfelt!

The Summer Solstice is about more than just Picnics

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The Summer Solstice means more than just a picnic.

 

 

Greetings, one and all! Monday, June 21, 2010 was the date of this year’s summer Solstice. For our Pagan readers, I’m sure you enjoyed celebrating this wonderful halfway point in the year. For the more traditional Roman Catholics, Monday would have been the Feast of St Mary Magdalen, (and of course anyone who has read the Da Vinci Code would have been aware of that). For everyone else, it was just another Monday and the astronomical beginning of Summer.

The Summer Solstice has been an important moment in the lives of Humans for thousands of years. We know this from archeological evidence all over the world—from New Grange in Ireland to Chaco Canyon in the United States. Megalithic sites all over the world have been found to have alignments specifically set up to mark the moment when our planet is neatly aligned with the sun.

Unlike the Vernal Equinox, this is not a time of new beginnings. This is the mid-point, a time of seeing the things we began in progress, of working to an ending we have envisioned, be that in business, our personal lives, friendships, or in the world around us in general. We take a moment to see where we have been and to plan where we are going, to adjust those plans made in the spring and choose our route to the future.

It’s a happy time; the world is exploding with life, exuberantly pulsing with growth and pleasure and yes, with the satisfaction of hard work and knowing we have goals that beckon to us. Like a carpenter building a house, we can see the shape of the finished work. While we may decide to make a few adjustments here and there, the final outcome is not in doubt and we know we will be pleased, like any craftsman.

The Winter Solstice gets more attention, possibly because in winter there is so much less to distract us. The cold forces us into our homes and brings about more introspective thoughts and feelings. We long once again for the bright heat of the sun and eagerly watch for the turning of the world to bring that heat back to us.

It’s here, now, and we revel in it. Summer is an active season in every sense of the word, be it sports, time with family, travelling, or just lolling about getting a tan. The Summer Solstice is about the physical joys in life, just as the Winter Solstice is about the joys of the mind and spirit.

Take this time to get out and spread some of that joy—smile at the girl in the coffee shop, play with your kids, go for a bike ride or pick some flowers from the side of the road for a complete stranger. Crack a joke when it’s unexpected. Do something to make someone’s day in a good way, and be happy when someone does the same for you. Make it good, and good will come back to you. Isn’t that great?