On 21st June we celebrated the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, in the local village of Kommetjie, with a circle of Songs that Reconnect and pagan sacred rituals.
Winter Solstice is the great stillness before the Sun’s strength builds, and days grow longer.
Winter solstice celebrations honoured the symbolism of fire and light, along with the sacredness of life, death, the rising sun, and the moon.
Honouring the cycle of the seasons and new beginnings. As the longest night or darkest day of the year, Winter Solstice is a powerful moment in the solar cycle where we are reminded that in the darkness we must connect to the light within us. Solstice is a time to embrace the darkness, and be present as the world stands still and holds its breath, waiting to be reborn again.
Solstice is a celebration of the knowledge that lighter days are coming and it serves as a way to remember that our lives, like nature, are cyclical. Nature slows down and goes inward, and we can learn from that. Emotionally, this is the time for letting go of all that doesn’t serve our highest purpose. And a quiet, inward time for reflection.
In Latin, solstice is made of two words: sol– meaning “the sun” and sistere meaning “to make stand.” Winter Solstice is one the most powerful points of the year as the axis of the Earth pauses, shifts and moves in the opposite direction. For three days around the solstice points we experience the power of the standstill point and the shift of direction. The sun standing still is a powerful metaphor for the energy available to us at the Winter Solstice to change the direction of our lives with intention and build on this energy as we journey through this Great Turning.
They are many reasons why honouring the Sacred in ways like these might be the most needed and fruitful spiritual path, especially in the Western world and especially at our time in history. First and foremost, what is honouring? A concept that might seem vague and dogmatic for our individualistic minds. Honouring means acknowledging, paying attention to. When we do that, we send energy to that which we are noticing with our awareness and the energy indeed flows where the attention goes. But it’s also more than that. Honouring meaning to look upon with reverence. That is the part that gets trickier for our minds. Although we can understand this concept intellectually, reverence is something that we practice and feel as oppose to say or think. How does one feel a sense of reverence? This isn’t a given. It is an experience that happens to us as an overwhelming sense of admiration and awe. To honour something or someone, we need to pause. Our Ego mind and cultural patterning fights this process.
Now, what is the Sacred? The Sacred is the representation of the energy that flows through all Life. The planet is suffering from this lack of consideration for and connection to Life. Other human beings, animals, plants, insects are all suffering from it. We have seen emotions being shamed. The Sacred path urges us now, to descend from our mountain tops and come out of the monasteries to practice a spirituality rooted in our relationships, in our bodies, in our families, in our emotions, in the darkest expressions of our personality and in communion with the Earth.
We are urged to create ritual and to create moments everyday to honour Life. May we give thanks for all beings and elements in our days. May we honour our own body in all of its expression, have compassion for ourselves and see all beings as an expression of the Sacred to find healthy ways to worship and appreciate them all.
Connecting to Gaia, the Sun, the Elements and the Goddess through these pagan songs and rituals felt like a pause in deep time to honour the sacred role that we can play as a community in the Great Winter Solstice of our Life.
Written by Joanna Tomkins and Rachael Millson