The Winter Solstice

My dream is to be in England in December to celebrate the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge. But I’ve begun to think, maybe the old Druid homeland on the old Isle of Anglesey is a better choice as it once held an ancient grove of trees from which the druids and witches communed with the Earth Mother and the death of the Sun, her child. For Wales – the homeland of more ancient Celts – certainly held a more profound connection to the Solstice, I think.

The Winter Solstice, no matter how Modern people celebrate it, is strictly a Western Holiday. It has no meaning to people outside Europe for it belongs to our ancestor’s ancient connection to the movement of the sun in the Northern Hemisphere. Everything Western people assigned to meaning in life and in death resolved around the cycle of the sun, not the sun itself. For it was the cycle of brutal life, death, and rebirth patterned in the sun’s movement and the reaction of the earth to that cycle that consumed them.

It predates Christ and Christmas by thousands of years and was designed to be overwritten by Christmas and the Romans in the 4th century. But it never got fully replaced. For our sense of time and our emotions are still deeply tied to these solar events, though we deny it. The reason why we are who we are is because of myth and tradition combined. But we are also bound to the Earth and its magic, as well as the primitive symbols that flood our English, European, and American culture.

But it’s now dying. We no longer read fairy tales to children and when we do we try and hide their brutality and meaning. For so many people today have killed off these symbols or denied them or feared them that they have been replaced with Capitalistic ideals. We have let Corporate Consumerism replace all our symbols and stories so that the corporate myth of owning a product someday supersedes life’s ancient Nature stories. Corporations have done a brilliant job of that, I must say.

We have also let fallen institutions like marriage and sports and some aspects of religion replace our myths of true love, true competition, and human bonds with theirs so they no fail to now stir us and instead we worship the hollow corporate myths of money which now replace our more ancient ones. This has only happened in the last 50 years.

All we have left now are a few primitive stone monuments, but when we try and attend these events, they don’t have power any longer because the understanding of the central myth is lost. The Winter Solstice wasn’t a one day event of partying and people, it was a solemn and private event owned by the magicians in the tribes. That’s what sustained its mystery and set its evolving symbology. And it wasn’t joyous. It was sad as the sun was taken by the earth mother for 5 days to the underworld to be reborn by her again around New Years Day. The Druid’s would drink a poisonous brew of holly and mistletoe, green and red, in sadness and sacrifice, while the witches would dance and celebrate the suns bloody death and end of the world.

For it was their power, or women’s power, to give but also take life, they had on that day that had meaning. It was a female holiday and an ode to the power of the Earth’s power to give and take away all life. We no longer see these myths in ritual but we celebrate them anyway in cutting Christmas trees that slowly die, burn candles and Yule logs, and kiss the earth mother under mistletoe. Green for life but blood red for death are her symbols. It’s a very fascinating thing to see them survive in modern America, still. We still unconsciously celebrate the Death of the Sun on Christmas. Yet it’s our blind ignorance to the powers of our symbols in Modern Culture and of the Earth Mother and the meaning of the Sun’s death and resurrection that we still cannot grasp.

We can only watch as ignorant story tellers in books and in Hollywood unconsciously sprinkle their symbols in thousands of movies, not knowing they do so over and over in telling the same good versus evil tropes, while we let our brains react to them in strange emotional ways we barely comprehend. But maybe a few now at Stonehenge are starting to ponder the truths in the Winter Solstice holiday. Maybe a few Western people are starting to glimpse its larger purpose and the purpose of all of Mythology, which wasn’t to worship pagan gods or the Sun or disavow modern religion or any of that.

It was simply to continue the identity of Western Culture and of Nature and of the power of life and of death over us through Nature; to imbibe culture and our minds with the ancient symbols again that once gave our life it’s secret meaning and purpose, now lost in this Digital Age.

– the Author



Leave a Reply