Time and place: Seasonal thoughts

Christmas is an odd time of year for me. The reasons are various but it’s largely to do with its proximity to the Winter Solstice. Christmas Day is a few days after what for me is the main event and so inevitably feels like an anticlimax.

I’ve celebrated the Winter Solstice every year for several decades, and it’s a special time for me. The celebration of the Solstice is perhaps as ancient as human consciousness. This is the moment when the year turns. Days had been getting shorter since Mid-Summer, bringing increasing darkness and cold. But from the 22nd the days slowly began to lengthen. This is a profound change because the returning light will feed new life and by early February we can sense the promise of the coming Spring.

The half Moon seen through bare trees.

Perhaps we Pagans like palpable, sensual symbols. The lengthening of the days becomes quickly and undeniably apparent: No act of faith is required to recognise that the Sun has been ‘reborn’. But at a deeper level this return of the light can touch our embodied awareness.

By consciously marking the seasonal cycles I become more sensitive to place and time. This is more than the commonplace recognition of Winter’s cold and dark turning to Summer’s sun; it is an intentional attunement of my awareness to place and time. The long term result can be a richer sense of being at home in the world; an embodied engagement with the natural cycles that ultimately govern our lives.

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