Celebrating The Winter Solstice
Today marks the Winter Solstice. The first day of Yule for pagans and it begins the 12 day celebration that honors the Triple Goddess and the rebirth of the God in the form of the Sun.
In the days of old, calendars were based on a variety of sources. Some were lunar or astrological. Some were remarkably accurate, others may have been off by a day or more. Some may have been based on calculations that were learned through years of observations, or passed down through generations. And then there were those that tracked the sun through early temple or monument structures.
The Newgrange burial mound in Ireland’s County Meath is surrounded by megalithic stones set in what archaeologists believe to be astronomical position to the Winter Solstice. The Stone Age monument dates to around 3200 B.C., making it 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and a thousand years older than England’s Stonehenge. Which are also related to tracking the movement of the sun.
Today Yule is still an important holiday to Pagans. In the most direct terms it is still a festival that honors the cycle of nature and the Wheel of the Year. It is not just about the rebirth of the God figure in pagan lore. Yule is a 12 day holiday, it begins on “Mothers Night” (December 21st) and ends 12 days later on “Yule Night” (January 1st). And yes, it’s the origin for the Christian “12 Days of Christmas”.
Over the evolution of paganism, these legends have developed into various rituals and observations within the pagan community. One of the more detailed or organized observations is closely related to the Celtic legend of Lugh, Eriu and the 12 Days of Yule.
These festival celebrations are observed from sunset to sunset. In addition to honoring the Divine aspects of the Universe, this is also a time to go within and align one’s soul to the Divine and review their spiritual mission and lessons. It’s not simply a time for reverent honor of the Divine, but for putting the gifts the Divine brings into practical manifestation in your life.
- Dec. 20 to Dec. 23. During the 1st 3 days –
The virgin Maiden Goddess is honored as your guide for moving forward into the new year, to set you on the right and positive path. For many this is a time to align with the Maiden Goddess and go within to discern where your soul “needs”you to be vs. where your physical brain/heart “wants” you to be.
- Dec. 23 to Dec. 26. The 2nd set of 3 days –
The Mother Goddess is honored for fertility and all your coming endeavors. Again this is a reverent celebration that looks to align your soul with the greater Divine Creation of the Mother Goddess. To focus on what you “need” to create in your life to carry your soul forward on its spiritual mission.
- Dec. 26 to Dec 29. The 3rd set of 3 days –
These 3 days are set aside for the rebirth of the God, and honoring his guidance through the physical world. For many this is making plans and putting the spiritual knowledge learned from Maiden and Mother Goddess into practical steps. To physically create the spiritual insight that was attained.
- Dec. 29 to Jan. 1. – The Final set of 3 days –
The last 3 days are set aside for the Old Crone Goddess who is honored for wisdom and as your teacher into the cosmic lessons of life and spirit. In modern times, under the solar calendar, she might also be honored as the waning year giving way to the new year. Here many people align with the wise Old Crone to review their spiritual lessons and karmic mission. What have they cleared and what have they gained. What holds them back and how do they embrace the wisdom of the Divine and move forward into the coming year.
Many enjoy gathering in a circle for a reverent service honoring the Divine aspect or a particular deity of their choice. After the gathering a feast is prepared and shared, ensuring a plate and drink are offered to the God/Goddess or however they view the Divine. After the feast, a celebration of dance and song occur, typically around a bonfire. Of course these are general celebrations and they can be conducted in a variety of ways. But the Solstice / Yule celebrations are still practiced by pagans around the world.
Whatever your celebration tradition, we wish you wondrous blessings, joy and happiness with your family and friends. May the peace of the season restore your faith and compassion all the year through.
© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.