Winter Solstice. Images of Druids at Stonehenge flick through the mind. Women dancing under the moon. Is the Winter Solstice a pagan ritual? A celebration of New Age tribes? Is it just the longest night of the year? Simply a happy return to longer days for farmers and domesticated animals? Or is it a day of darkness steeped with mystical significance or at very least opportunity? Happy Solstice doesn’t seem to fit the occasion. It is more a day of quiet contemplation.
Today the northern half of the planet is tilted at its furthest point away from the Sun. The north pole pointing to the star, Polaris. The sun will not rise north of the Arctic Circle and it will not set south of the Antarctic Circle. It is our shortest day in the northern hemisphere. Our longest night.
The English word “solstice’ comes from the Latin word ‘solstitium’ meaning ‘sun stands still’. The circular earthwork enclosure of Stonehenge was built in 3000 BCE. It was used as a cremation cemetery for several hundred years. Clearly the story of what was unfolding was monumental in significance. Indigenous people have observed this seasonal event for tens of thousands of years. Clearly the story emerged and changed according to the people living their lives and how they made sense of their lives.
In our life and times, the darkness that we have experienced in the past year depends not only on our experiences but on our perceptions of those experiences. Our own stories may reflect challenges related to physical health, mental health, relationships, or work. Certainly, our stories reflect the impact that Covid and climate change has made in terms of how we view our lives, how we plan to live in the future and the people we embrace.
Looking to the past, some historians report that the Druids valued peace, nature, and harmony. Others convey them as dangerous rebels willing to do anything to resist the spread of Christianity. Who really knows? My preference is to look to our Indigenous people in helping us to chart our way forward. The survival of Indigenous People for tens of thousands of years has been a result of looking for ways to express respect toward nature and chart a path of sustainable co-existence within our natural world.
Today is the time to contemplate who are the people that genuinely care about us and that we can depend on to lift us up rather than shame or silence us. It is the time to reflect on the actions we can take, both personally and collectively to re-establish a way of living respectfully in the natural world so far beyond our ability to control. Tomorrow is the time to celebrate as we move towards a path filled with light and promise.
Also see: Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids by Susan Fourtane Interestingengineering.com