Sunday, December 22, 2002

Merry Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year. Scientifically, the sun is at its lowest arc in the sky and your hemisphere is leaning its farthest away from the sun. Culturally, it marks rebirth and the return of the sun. The solstices and equinoxes have been celebrated for at least 50,000 years - intimately linking these celestial events to seasonal passages in the lives of people, animals and plants. Many of these rituals are tied to light (as life) - to creating and sustaining light/life. Each day after the Winter Solstice edges us closer to the full light of the Summer Solstice, and we must take care not to let the light burn out under threat of darkness.

From the intimate rituals of nomadic tribes to the spectacles of imperial celebrations, the solstices have figured prominently in our collective histories. They mark the nomad with her fragility and the emperor with his absolute power over the universe. Songs to the heavens and delicate candle celebrations with kin gave way to monumental architecture and imperial parades. The collective grew and religion gave way to the state. We no longer celebrate the solstice.

And so before next week's onslaught of consumption - I wish you a very Merry Solstice.

May you recapture some of the intimacy of earlier times and sustain your light. See you in the new year.

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