In Daoist tradition, the winter solstice, dongzhi, is the time when yin has reached its peak and will recede so yang, still delicate, but certain, can emerge. Welcoming the light back to the world; honoring the natural turn of seasons, is a traditional response to this time of year all around the world. It’s reflected and symbolized in every human spiritual tradition practiced to this day. Even though we’ve got quite a while left of cold weather, now is the time to begin planting seeds for the spring. It’s a good time to set aside some quiet space amidst the celebrating to meditate, seeking in the still dark hour that tiny portal of light that is your connection, your spark to life and belonging.
In honor of my ancestors, the Scots, the Irish, the Welsh, and Italians and who knows where else, the Americans, too; also the Chinese and Japanese sages and those from India who shared their wisdom with others so that it came on its way to me, I am grateful. To those who came before me who lived their multiple faiths, as true to the bone as they could- Pagan, Christian, Daoist, Buddhist, Hindu, Celtic, or Indigenous- and who lived so that I could live, I offer this post in hopes to inspire anyone who may need it. We are all One; this year, my heart is lit up large with the idea of this.
May the end of this year be like a collection of blessings for you to carry into the new year for your health, prosperity, and happiness.
Blessed be. Amen. So be it and so it is.
Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, Have a Cool Yule, and all that jazz!
Poems, Recipes, and Music for the Season
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us—Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.
Fan Chengda (1126-1193 AD during Song Dynasty)
Spring sprouts in the cold winter; the aroma of new vanilla leaves fills in the valley.
After the sunrise tomorrow, it would be a new wonderful year.
Don’t be thinking about medicines all the time; write a new poem at the solar term.
It’s not a forced smile; I merely revel in fantastic nature.
The day is long and I slept well. But when will things outside be satisfactory?
It would be better to gather with like-minded friends to have a great time on this day.
We make good wine and study the ancient musical notations.
Even though I can’t be drunk all the time, I am free at the moment.
Prayer to the Earth:
"Cold and dark, this time of year,
the earth lies dormant, awaiting the return
of the sun, and with it, life.
Far beneath the frozen surface,
a heartbeat waits,
until the moment is right,
Wigington, Patti. "12 Pagan Prayers for Yule." Learn Religions, Aug. 2, 2021, learnreligions.com/about-yule-prayers-4072720.
Of my blood, my generation’s now the oldest, the link
between the lives before and lives unfolding behind me;
carries a slow simplicity, imperfect and complete.
Ancestors circle, surround me tonight, I hear them
more plainly every year. This night they ask
questions that have no words, and no escape.
Tomorrow when the new year’s sun
strikes the keystone of my heart, what light
I’ve kept alive, all I have to give, will answer."
The dark shadow of space leans over us. . . . .
We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred
also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.
As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter,
we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness
may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.
May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice
that spans the world.
In the heart of every person on this Earth
burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.
May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the light and the love
that is hidden in every heart.
Music for the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Yule, and some random stuff, too: