Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why I Honor the Solstice

I told my husband the other day that I really wanted to put lights up before the Solstice.  I wouldn’t call myself a pagan (though the Beliefnet “What Religion Are You” quiz put me 100% at Neopagan, then Bhuddist, then UU, HAH!) but honoring the Solstice, the shortest and longest nights of the year feels authentic to me.
I think it’s no secret that I’ve lived through my share of darkness.  There are many labels you can apply to me, some of my own volition, some not, but the one I used to hold to was that of survivor.  Now, however, I prefer to think I’m in my post-surviving, thriving phase! And honestly, does any thinking, feeling, aware person get to be 42 and and not have had their share of darkness? I have a *good* and meaningful life, one I’ve fought very hard to have.  I used to feel guilty for my blessings, but these days I just work hard to appreciate them, to deserve them every day.  I just turned 42 and decided it’s time to dump the guilt. 
So, for me, honoring the Solstice, especially the Winter Solstice, is about acknowledging the truth of light and dark in the world, and in my life.  Here in New England, it’s been getting darker and darker.  It has a big impact on mood, on energy, on the simple rhythm of the day. Even though I know that Winter hasn’t even hit here, that we’ve still got months of ice and snow and shoveling and slush ahead of us, it gives me hope to know that it will be getting lighter.  I don’t think about it as the light vanquishing the dark, because isn’t that also the reality of life?  That just as the light comes, so does the dark?  Honoring the Winter Solstice to me says “I know the dark is there, and real, but so is the light. And light is coming.”
By honoring, I don’t mean that we’re doing any elaborate rituals or anything.  The Solstice is at 5:30 on Thursday morning, so I hope we’ll be asleep!  And Thursdays are busy for us, I work, the kids have school, we’ll go to Karate, I’ve got approximately eleventy-billion Christmas presents to wrap.  By honoring, I mean, I’m going to take note, light candles, turn on the outside lights to light up the long dark night.  I’m going hold my family close, like I do every day, and try to live in the light as much as I can.

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