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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

21st December 2010

In imagination, there's no limitation.

Enough with the white stuff now! I’m supposed to be going to Devon on Thursday and they had 9inches of snow yesterday! And all these poor people stuck at airports, it’s not good at all. I’m just not a fan of snow; snow should be left on the mountains!

Well I went 24 hours without food yesterday because after the meal at Tumbledown farm I had the trots! I did eat toast later on but other than that I was a little scared too. I feel ok though and it was interesting to spend a day without food, a couple of times I forgot and went to have something, then reminded myself and I think that’s like starting a diet, at first you have moments of forgetting when someone will offer you a chocolate and you automatically say yes, it’s habit that’s why and they’re not easy to break. But we all know having lost weight that we can break or change those habits.

What follows now in this email has nothing to do with food or diet but hey you gotta have a day off all that sometimes ;-) I thought I’d share some knowledge with you about what is today a special day for many.

Today is the shortest day of the year; it is also Winter Solstice, which is historically a time of transition in the annual war of light vs darkness, cold vs warmth, abundance vs shortage, life vs death! And even better it’s a total lunar eclipse! Big changes today for our planet ;-)

What is so wonderful about the winter solstice is that once we are past that moment of time we can look forward to brighter skies. Slowly at first, then more rapidly as we go into January and February, days get longer and everything around helps us celebrate the increase of light. It speaks well for the human spirit that our greatest religious celebrations take place at winter solstice time, as people radiate warmth of friendship and love on these dimmer days. The festivals of darker days are really celebrations of light.

In one of his plays, Shakespeare said, "Darkness has its uses." It seems appropriate that our long winter nights shimmer with the brightest stars: Orion, Canis Major, Gemini, Taurus, to name a few beautiful winter constellations. The light they send at night to inspire our minds makes up for the loss of daylight. When we see these brilliant winter stars, migrating farther west each evening, we know with certainty that once more light is on the rise, for we have passed the point of lowest illumination and are surely headed toward warmer days.

NOW THERE’S DEEP for a Tuesday morning ;-)

Think about it though why is it that we turn on so many festive lights during December?

Most might answer the question with "Christmas, of course. We like to put up lots of colorful lights to visually shout the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ." But look around. Christmas is only one of many celebrations involving lights and bright decorations held during December. For Jewish people it is Hanukkah and candles. In Sweden it includes Saint Lucia's Day with lights to compensate for dark of winter. Zoroastrians celebrated the festival of Sada, lighting huge bonfires at sunset, the blaze of fire representing victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Latvian homes are brightly decorated to commemorate the return of light following winter solstice. Ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a wild weeklong unrestrained party. In America various Pueblo groups make elaborate preparations and perform sacred rites that relate to the reversal of migration of the Sun so that life might continue.

When we get down to fundamentals, the reason people in the Northern Hemisphere have always felt the need for additional light in what we now call December is the fact that solar light has waned. With the Sun moving lower in the sky, each day becomes shorter and dimmer. What light does flow down is noticeably weaker, hitting our part of the world from a lower angle, becoming diminished and spread out over larger areas. Weather responds, and all life feels the change.

Humankind seeks solace in numbers. We huddle together around our hearths in comradeship, song and prayer, feeling each other's warmth and love more intimately and intensely than we do at other times of year. We tend to feel greater need for each other now than at times when abundant solar energy comes down from heaven. And in all our celebrations of life, of faith, and of each other, we light electrical and other fires to compensate for the solar energy we depend upon. Our religious reasons for all of this might differ, but buried within them is the need to rekindle our faith that the Sun will turn on the horizon to bring back warmth, abundance and the conditions we need for survival on this planet.

Today we know that longer and brighter days will return following winter solstice, but humans have not always known that. Not so very long ago the fires were lit in belief that if we did not do such things the Sun might keep right on going south until daylight vanished. Indeed, people had learned that regions farther north had no daylight at all during this season of the year. Call it superstition, call it celebration, call it whatever you wish; the fact remains that we cling, in ever changing forms, to rituals with roots in the long ago when people did not comprehend that these cycles of nature resulted from the tilt of Earth's axis and its movement in a great orbit around a star.

I don’t buy into the entire gift buying getting into debt at Christmas time but I do love the idea that everyone gets together and enjoys each others company. Mom and me may not get to go to Devon but if we don’t it’s ok because wherever we are we’ll get to spend some time together and have a rest and that’s all that really matters.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone. And tonight at around 23:38 look at the sky and appreciate the total lunar eclipse even if you can’t see it!

Bev xx

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