Winter Solstice is upon us again reminding us of the ever turning great wheel of life. With the passing of one aspect the birth of another follows on, this is the natural ebb and flow of the seasons, of our being, of life itself.
What a wonderful time of year it is as we prepare to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun after the shortest day of the year, and the longest darkest night. The long nights of winter have come to an end and the birth of Spring, with all of its hope and promise, is looming upon us.
Even though we live in the Southern Hemisphere, a deep connection with these rituals and traditions, and our reverence for the elements remains in tact. The changing of the seasons affects our lives in many ways and even though most of us live in houses, protected to a large degree from the elements, and we are no longer hunter and gatherers, undeniably we continue to live at the mercy of the seasons.
Our ancestral roots connect us with our past, back to a time when our lives were ruled by the seasons. Our ancient foremothers and fathers were hunters and gatherers and their lives were ruled by the elements, the great forces of nature. The ancestors worshiped the sun and held it in great reverence. In some cultures, the belief was held that the sun was in fact a great wheel, which ‘turned’ the seasons.
In Britain, long before the advent of Christianity, the Druids would cut mistletoe from oak trees and offer it as a blessing. The Oak Tree was sacred and a symbol of life. It was the Druids too, who began the burning of the Yule log. The log would be burned for a period of twelve days to keep evil spirits away and bring in good luck for the coming year.
Winter Solstice remains a wonderful celebration and an excellent opportunity to be still, give thanks and gratitude for all that we have in our lives and to remember to look forward to the future with hope and optimism for all that is yet to come.
This time last year I was blessed to be travelling through Europe and made the journey to the incredible, magical and mystical Newgrange, Ireland. This mind blowing construction has stood for over 5000 years, older than the great pyramids of Egypt. Experts are still undecided as to the true purpose of the structure but most agree that it is probably a tribal burial chamber. All agree it holds great mystical mystery.
Newgrange is aligned astronomically with such precision that on Winter Solstice the sunlight enters the structure through the main entrance and lights up the central chamber in all of its magnificence. The sunbeam touches a stone basin at the end of the passageway and lights up a series of spiral carvings inside the chamber, their meaning remains unknown. The event lasts about 17 minutes.
Clearly, this most special of days in the seasonal calendar held the utmost importance to the people of this area who, by hand and hard labour constructed this most reverential monument. The beautiful Newgrange is flanked by two smaller mounds, Knowth and Dowth.
Winter Solstice is a time for sharing and being with family and friends, it’s a time for reverence but also for celebration and what better way then with the sharing of food, drink and dance.
I’ve provided below a recipe for some Yuletide fare. The Sun King Soup recipe comes from http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulecooking/r/TomOraRoseSoup.htm
I hope you enjoy!!
Celebrate this festival of light with a nice rich bowl of Sun King Soup — the bright sun colors and smooth texture are just the thing for either an appetizer, or a light meal at Yule.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- 3 Tbs butter (use real butter, not margarine)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 1/2 Cup tomatoes, diced
- 1 Cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 Orange juice, no pulp
- A few sprigs rosemary
Transfer the entire mixture into a blender and puree, adding the orange juice. Return to stovetop, add rosemary, and simmer for about 5 – 10 more minutes. Add paprika to taste. Serve in warm bowls with a nice loaf of soft bread, or as part of a larger feast.
- 4 cups Apple cider
- 1 x bottle of red wine (Cab Sav)
- ¼ cup honey
- 2cinnamon stick
- 1 orange zested and juiced
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 star anise
- 4 oranges peeled, for garnish
Combine, cider, wine, honey, cinnamon, zest, juice, cloves, star anise in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add orange peel to each and serve.
(this recipe from the foodnetwork.com)
Wonderful yule wishes to all,