Hinging around the Winter Solstice, we have #wintermas and the Holly Daze (the stupor into which we fall after eating one-too-many candy canes and hearing *that song* for the 15th-bazillion time). But, what exactly is a solstice?
Imagine having a VERY large celestial toothpick, and sticking it through the North Pole of the earth, through the middle, and having it pop out the South Pole. That imaginary toothpick would be what is called the "axis" of the Earth. All heavenly bodies spin, like a top /dreidel, some faster and some slower, around their unique axis.
The axis of the Earth is tilted, as compared to the axis of the sun, by 23°26′13.0″ (or 23.43696°), according to Wikipedia and other Internet sites. As the Earth circles the sun, that axial tilt causes the sun's energy (heat and light) to be felt more strongly first in one hemisphere, and then the other. That turning point is called a "solstice.
• SOURCE ANIMATION WAS EDITED BY ME •
(I ADDED THE PAUSE, THE WORDS, AND THE ARROW)
The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol ("sun") and sistere ("to stand still"), because at the solstices, the Sun's declination "stands still" — that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun's daily path (as seen from Earth) stops at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction. [source]
The solstice in December is referred to as the "Winter Solstice" in the Northern Hemisphere, and that is when the days are shortest and the nights are longest. This event took place earlier today on Monday, December 21, 2020 at 10:02 UTC [source]. After that, those of us above the equator will begin to see a slow shift towards more daylight and less darkness until the Summer Solstice arrives in June. Of course, the seasons are swapped for those south of the equator.
During this darkest time of year, many people decorate their houses with pretty lights. I love the darkness — it is peaceful & mysterious, comforting & enfolding like a womb, giving seeds and ideas the possibility of germinating. However, I love pretty lights, too!
Many people associate the lights with religious traditions rather than the millennia-old intent of merely "brightening the dark time of the year with a little cheer." That is fine, as long as others' beliefs are respected. My late-husband (R.I.P.) and I did not observe any holiday in our household this time of year, other than my quiet acknowledgment of the arrival of the Winter Solstice.
We preferred a year-round celebration of the Light of the Human Soul, illuminating the darkness of our being.
In our happy home, there were no trees, no stockings, no gifts, nor were there any dreidels spinning, no menorah being lit. During my husband's last years on earth, he favored logic and reason over religion, while I essentially embraced the ancient Sanatana Dharma. Although there were some differences, our beliefs were similar and harmonized beautifully. I miss him, terribly so.
Both my husband and I were born into homes that strictly followed religious observances, but both of us came to believe that following one's heart is more important than following the herd. There is awesome power and beauty in standing alone as a wild creature on a mountain precipice and looking down upon the gleaming valley below. He and I were both Black Sheep who had found each other, so it fit. I was Shakti to his Shiva, and it was bliss.
All year long, I try to hold as much love in my heart as I can for myself and for other sentient beings. I believed in recycling things quite long before it was considered fashionable. I respect Mother Earth, and believe in treating everything with respect and acting with personal accountability. I believe in the beauty and power of the human soul, and I believe in a connectedness to All Things that exists as the Universal Consciousness, that thing I call "Goddess." I do not believe there is an actual "Being" that needs to lift us, pitifully, out of our wallow in misery. We need to lift ourselves. We can do it. We have the Power.
For those who see the light, I wish you cheer.
For those who feel the darkness, I wish you cheer.
For those who are lifting themselves, I wish you cheer.
For those who are waiting to be lifted, I wish you cheer.
Whatever your beliefs, whatever your path,
know that I wish you cheer... and peace.
NOTE: Rewards have been declined for this post, as it is something that I publish every year
on the day of the Winter Solstice. I feel declining rewards to be fair in such case. 🙂