Midwinter Solstice

For our 4th moot, festivity was in the (dark, cold) air and we elected to have a talk about Yule – arguably the most widely observed festival worldwide under its different guises:

This is the part of the solar year’s cycle most difficult to ignore, at least by the Northern hemisphere’s standards – the longest night, the shortest day, the time of year where nature seems to be advising you to stay indoors and snuggle up with a hot drink. We observe the point in the wheel by being up and awake as the sun rises latest in the morning and seeing it go down again soon after. We can literally see the wheel turning at this point as the sun sets earlier and earlier each day through December… this is part of what makes most people feel so attuned to the celebration of this festival.

So what’s to celebrate? Well in such times of darkness we want to create light through celebration, take stock of our blessings and what we have saved up for this time with feasting and the domestic comforts of hearth and familial bonds – these feelings add up to a feeling of safety to contract with the risks of cold and darkness outside.

Yule chimney

We also talked a lot about midwinter as a festival of birth or rebirth. As well as Christian religions placing the birth of Jesus at this time (much like the Queen’s official birthday is placed at a more culturally convenient time in sunny June than her real one in rainy April), it is also the birth of Mithras, of the Greek mystery cult, and in modern Pagan witchcraft come the myths of the rebirth of the God form the Goddess, the start of the cycle for the male principle. The deaths of what has been harvested after summer’s growth and the leaves that departed the trees in Autumn are now come full circle back to being reborn – here begins the promise of Spring.

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