Family Winter Solistice Celebration 2012 ~ New Family Ritual

Winter Solstice December 21, 2012
Family participating in Solstice Ritual
Family participating in Solstice Ritual

Our totally pagan holiday yesterday was a success in the family!

By days end we snapped sticks over our head at the same time (got the sticks on our hike) and 1, 2. 3 good riddance we said together as we snapped our sticks signifying letting go of old ways and we burned our paper of things we wanted to release and then took our brooms and swept the smoke out the door and tossed our sticks out over the balcony to the woods shouting “good riddance”.

The kids read solstice poems and we decorated the Australian potted pine with names of Sun Gods from all cultures far back to Greece and Rome times written on handmade yellow Sun Shapes with shimmering Sun rays, each person drawing from a bowl their namesake and then with the wish for what they wanted to create and experience in 2013, hung their Sun ornament on the LIVING tree.

Extra  Sun Ornaments and ornaments of gold butterflies, fairies and snowflakes were available for extra wishes.

I read to each person according to their date of birth the name of their Druid Tree, Druid Animal and Druid God or Goddess associated with their date of birth!

One of my daughters was born on the Solstice 35 years ago so we had birthday cake and gifts for her.

I also gave each family member a little solstice gift and we had solstice cupcakes with one candle representing Sun and candy corn for the Sun’s rays.

Each person was given a small candle in a glass container and each lit their candle to welcome the new Sun King and we celebrated the birth of the new Sun.

Earlier in the day we decorated the woods with popcorn/cranberry garland and pine cone/peanut butter dipped in birdseed feeders for the birds and other treats …fruit loop cereal garland and small bagels dipped in peanut butter and bird seed.

We hung them on the trees while wearing garland on our head! It was fun they said!  They want this to be our new family ritual every year!

(they will do x-mas too in a few days…  change isn’t easy.  I’m glad we’re going to rekindle a Celtic tradition in our family! and that it will be part of our family holiday.)

Happy Holidays, whichever one you celebrate… winter solstice is one in which everyone can participate.  After all, we all benefit from the same Sun.

PS — if you are in the southern hemisphere, I hope you’re having a great summer!  We’re so looking forward to ours again and the pool re-opening!  🙂

 

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THE YULE FARIES ~ A WINTER SOLSTICE STORY

A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss.

Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground. “I saw the Sun King today,” the faerie named Rose said as she pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. “He looked so old and tired as

He walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him? The great oak said he’s dying” answered Daffodil. Dying? Oh, what will we do now?” Little Meadow Grass started to cry “If the sun King dies, our

Little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not come and sing again.Everything will be winter for ever!” Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad. As

They huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.

“Open up, Faeries,” called out a loud voice. “Why are you hiding instead of joining us in our Solstice celebration?” Rose opened the door and the little gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat.

“We are too sad to celebrate,” Daffodil said wiping her eyes, “the Sun King is dying, haven’t you heard?”

“He is dead you silly Faeries.” Brown Knobby’s round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. “now hurry, or we’ll be late for the celebration!”

“How can you be happy and laughing?!” Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. “If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the Sun again!”

“Silly little child-Faeries.” Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don’t you want to know what it is?”

The Faeries looked at him in surprise. “Secret?” they all said. “What secret? We are only new little Faeries, you silly gnome. We’ve never been to a Solstice celebration before.”

“Come and see. Come and see. Get your capes and come with me.” Brown Knobby danced and jigged around the room. “Hurry, Hurry, don’t be slow! To the sacred oak grove through the snow!”

He danced out of the door and disappeared.

“What did that gnome mean?” Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak of dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down.

“I don’t know, but the Lady lives in the sacred grove.” Meadow Grass pulled on her hat.

“Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, She can explain what Brown Knobby was talking about”.

The Faeries left their snug little home and trudged off through the snow toward the sacred oak grove. The forest was dark with only the light of the Moon shining down through the thick fir branches and bare limbs of maple and hawthorn. It was very difficult for them to get through the snow because they were very, very small. As they waded through the wet snow and shivered in the cold wind, they met a fox.

“Where are you going, Faeries?” the fox asked.

“To the sacred grove,” they answered, they were cold and shivering.

“Climb on my back and I will take you there swiftly.”

The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up. Then he raced off through the dark.

“Listen!” Lilac said as they neared the grove of sacred trees. “Someone is singing happy songs. A LOT of someones.”

The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried the Faeries right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, Then knelt down.

“Look!” said Elder Blossom as they slid to the snow covered ground. “There is the Maiden and the Mother and the OLD Wise One, And many other Little People.”

“They are all smiling and happy,” said Lilac as she looked around at all the creatures.

“All the animals are here too,” whispered Dandelion. “why are they all looking at the Mother?”

The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The Mother held a bundle close in Her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden reached down and took the Faeries gently in her Hands. She held them close to the Mother so they could see what She held.

“A Baby!” the Faeries cried. ” A new little Baby! Look how he glows!”

“He is the newborn Sun King,” said the Maiden smiling.

“But Brown Knobby and the old oak tree said the Sun King was dead,” the Faeries answered her. “How can this little baby be the Sun King?”

“That is the secret of the Winter Solstice.” The Old Wise One touched the baby’s cheek with her wrinkled hand. “Every year the Sun King must come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King.”

” You mean everything lives and dies and lives again? the Faeries looked down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.

” Yes Little Ones,” answered the Old Wise One. “There is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice.”

The Faeries laughed because they were so happy.

“I think the little Sun King should have gifts,” said Rose. “I will show him where the wild roses bloom in the early summer.”

“And, I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind,” exclaimed Dandelion.

“When he is older and stronger, ” said the Mother, “then the flowers will bloom at his touch, the birds will return to sing their songs, and the air will be warm from his breath, and winter will be gone for a time. Then the Sun King will run and play with you in the forest.”

The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King, songs of the coming spring, the sweet smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the forest. And all the creatures within the sacred grove sang with them. Then the fox took them back to their snug home under the roots of the giant oak tree where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PS— a little teaching gift: it is said that written even in christian texts that Jesus was born in the Spring; it’s no accident that the patriarchal church fathers chose to move his official birthday to the time of the Winter Solstice – for it is indeed a time when the Light enters the darkness of the World, and we see again the building of christanity  on the foundations of yet another ancient Druid Celtic ritual. ॐ Om ॐ  Despite that, Happy Holidays to you no matter which one you celebrate and a very Happy New Year!

Sharing a sacred place in nature with you–photos, channeling and thoughts

The evergreen growing in the center picture is coming up right at the top-center of the mound--right at the top of the elevation of the mound although it doesn't appear that way in the center photo, it really is at the point of the top of the mound. You can see it if you look carefully in the other two photo's too. I did not notice it for some reason the last few times I was up there. It is what I will call my very special holiday yule tree.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all Ridicule and Deformity… and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.

–William Blake

[See notes at the end of this post regarding the Yule Tree.]

The images above are a composite of the American Indian Burial Mound.  The energy up there is fantastic and soothing/healing.  The trees and foliage is bare and skeletal right now of course, because it is winter–it will be beautiful up there in the spring with all the wild rhododendron’s up there that will be blooming.

I am very careful not to disturb anything up there, letting nature be completely herself.  As I get to the end of the woods on my way back down, I do pick up pieces of small dead wood for kindling for the fireplace and I thank the trees.  To me, it’s as sacred as any muggle church.  And I am so aware of all the natives who walked that very same ground thousands of years ago as well as imagine the life of the husband and wife buried up there.

Here are a few words from Chief Seattle (the name that the white people gave to him) that I really resonate with.

Every part of this country is sacred to my people.  Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory or sad experience of my tribe.  Even the rocks that seem to lie dumb thrill with memories of past events connected with the fate of my people, and the very dust under your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours because it is the ashes of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred.

I read that passage a few weeks before Thanksgiving this year.  And this being around the time I first visited the burial mound that the landlord said was there on the mountain top.  By the way, I asked how she knew for sure that it was a burial mound and she said that it is on the papers from the county–on the deed.  I also loved this next segment for Chief Seattle’s words…

And when your children’s children shall think of themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the woods, they will not be alone.  And at night when you think of your streets as deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this beautiful land.  The white man will never be alone.  Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless. 

I am in a pinch for time and it’s getting late but I wanted to share with my readers a very, very special and sacred place.  If I thought for a moment that anyone could ever find this place, I’d never be so public about some place that is so sacred to me.  To be up here, although it is a heck of a climb straight up–like ‘if you don’t hang on you will fall backward’ kind-of-steep–and it gets the heart pumping to get up there, it is worth the hike… every single step is worth it and I enjoy the journey up as much as I do spending time at the top.

I am not alone up there–there is a strange feeling of being watched.  I always bow to the nature spirits and the ancient ones buried in the mound as I approach and always bring a gift–sometimes cornmeal, sometimes apples for the deer and the rest I will keep secret.  I speak to the Cherokee Little People whenever I get to the top as well as pause at the graves of the christian couple buried next to each other; they crossed over in the — well, she in 1883 and he in 1904 according to their gravestones. One grave has a  footstone with the man’s initials on it.  I really feel that their spirits are part of a nearby tree that is growing fairly close to their graves.  In fact, this is nearby a huge flat top rock that I sit upon to meditate.  I call this the KISSING TREE.  Perhaps to see the images below, you could understand why, considering the words of Sealth AKA Chief Seattle why I believe this tree contains the energy of the couple (who died in the late 1800’s mentioned above) — the trees are kissing. So my grandkids and I call it the kissing tree but in my heart, it contains the energy of the buried husband and wife.  Images below.

The views up there are very nice… well, winter views are different from the summer season but you have lots of privacy even in the winter and really once I’m up there, I do not want to come back down!  Last time I was there four hours and did not come down until the sun was going down and I had to!  I meditate, write, read and hike and explore and talk to the spirits; if ever I was at home somewhere, it is there.  No people, no muggles–just me and the trees.  Oh, it is very late at night now–way past my bedtime.  I will share some random thoughts that I jotted down last time I was up there and then I will end this post. Oh, now that i am looking at the longhand here, I see part of this is channeled.  Well, I will type it all out–I’m too tired to edit.  LOL

“We the spirits of this mountain top recognize your presence, your offerings, your prayers and the blessed ones smile upon you and father sun knows of your thoughts as well as the hawks who now call out their greeting to you.  Hear them sister for they too acknowledge your presence as you have acknowledged ours.  And the deer are happy for the apples and would like for you to bring more.”

Then i asked if there were ceremonies held up there.  And what I heard was, “Plenty” and with that the explanation that it was like what is called the ghost dance which is a dance or ceremony to ask for the help and blessings of the ancestor spirits.

I sit on a bed of dry leaves at the end of fall; the start of winter–trees are bare and exposed.  They show their unique shapes–arms, breasts, some with double trunks, some with arms twisted by the winds who have shaped them.  Their arms reach out toward one another, some embracing while others seem to bow in homage to their fellow trees.  Some trees seem to be about 60 feet tall.  Each one unique, special with its own personality–some with faces–some with lips kissing.  They are alive!  Alive as much as any human–less animated of course but their branches are lively and dancing in the wind–it is very becoming for them. 

They are ALIVE! Conscious! As much as any human! (maybe moreso in some cases)

Thick vines wrap around some trees creating arches and loops.  Knobs on tree trunks are different unique faces much like human brothers/sisters.  Peaceful presence.  Sturdy–looking at you, at one another–observing and communicating with their energy, with each other.  I sit upon the earth where their trunks sink into the soil looking up at their haunting skeletal silhouettes and know they are my friends–we acknowledge each other.  Their energy bands (rays) wrap around me helping me to ground into earth’s soil just as they do; yet, I look up to the sun to the direction of the top branch–the very tip-top–and then scanning down… I could stay in this place in this way forever.  I have somehow before, I have and wonder if I am remembering once being a tree–could that be?  or did I live alone in the wood and the trees were my only contacts?  It feel it within me–it was a good life then.  I wonder about that and try to remember…

I breathe in harmony and send it out to the world, and then love, and then happiness, and then peace and then…

The sun is descending toward the tree line at next mountain over and has reached the tree line and suddenly, it is noticeably darker.  I must hike down the steep descent before I cannot see the way down.  The trees along with trail down are spaced in such a way that they provide convenient hand holds to compensate for gravity pulling me forward severely.  I’m aware of the cars going by on the highway and am entering back into the world of humans again.  I always stop, turn, look up and wave several times on my way down.  I feel like I am saying goodbye to close friends and really hate to leave, know that I have to, and promise to come back again.  “Goodbye my friends; I love you guys; I’ll be back as soon as I can be.” 

I wanted to end this with an observation and perhaps a moral or lesson is part of it.  What i mean is that if you’ve been following this blog, you know that I had a trauma when the man across the street massacred trees.  I’m sure to some readers this would sound silly and I can understand that.  The greater point is that I’m realizing that what happened was that something was removed from my life (the trees across the road) but it was replaced by something much better–the mountain top of trees and a totally private place to be and surrounded by trees from every direction!  It is a reminder (yet another one) that when one door closes, another opens OR in this case, when some trees are taken away, other trees surround me!  Well, you get the idea, right?

For the benefit of the christian readers, here is a little bit about YULE TREES.  The Celtic Druids venerated evergreen trees as manifestations of deity and as symbols of the universe. To the Celts, these trees were sacred because they did not die from year to year like deciduous trees. Therefore they represented the eternal aspect of the Goddess who also never dies. Their greenery was symbolic of the hope for the sun’s return.

The Druids decorated the evergreen trees at Yule with all the images of the things they wished the waxing year to bring. Fruits for a successful harvest, love charms for happiness, nuts for fertility, and coins for wealth adorned the trees. These were forerunners to many of the images on today’s Christmas trees. Candles were the forerunners of today’s electric tree lights.

The church confiscated this druid tradition as well as many others and converted it into christian church tradition.  Most people know that–its called history but HERstory is more truthful.  🙂