Pomegranates and Pillow Fights: Contemporary Pagan Solstice

Hawina dislikes the intrusion of Xmas on the commune.  For years, especially the first handful we were here there was a soft ban on things Christmas, there were no Christmas trees, no present giving ceremonies – it was quite other worldly given the country we are in.  But in the last few years Xmas has made a beachhead in our holiday calender and this year there will be actual Xmas celebrations (which will be filmed by Russia Today).

Stars on Old Rag Mountain

But Hawina’s fears that Xmas would take over for the normal Pagan celebration of Solstice turned out to be ill founded.  There was a well received and powerful solstice ritual last night, with pagans from the community and some from near by.  Tonight there is the burning of the intention infused Yule log in TCLR and an sleep over (which i may bail on because i have tofu tomorrow at 6 AM).  Plus the generous 6 hours for holiday for solstice plus we made the hx goal early (which meant people were free to go to this eventings events).

We also did a Star Family Solstice which is a newish tradition where Hawina reads this wonderful story (which was modified from the Circle Round pagan book by my old friends Anne Hill and Starhawk, which appears at the end of this post).  We sang some songs.  And in some of the chanting Willow was quietly defiant, singing things that were slightly off intentionally.  And ultimately, he followed his parents lead.

We split a pomegranate and offered each other its seeds and our seeds of hope for each other in the upcoming year.  I hoped Sky would find a poly circumstance that really worked for him.  Hawina wished a good resolution with my stumbles with Sapphyre.   Sky wanted me to hustle brilliant memes during Occupy 2.0 in the spring and re-ignite this fire.  I encouraged Willow to take more of a lead in his home schooling.  All seeds we appreciated.

Then what Willow really wanted was a pillow fight.  And off we went, thrashing around on Hawina’s big king sized bed.  Covers got detached from pillows, tickling crept into the pillow fight.  But the stars were all shining and amused.

So begins the longest night of the year.

The Rebirth of the Sun

From CIRCLE ROUND by Starhawk and Diane Baker and Anne Hill, copyright (C) 2000 by Miriam Simas, Anne Hill and Diane Baker. Used by permission of Batman Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Circle round, and I’ll tell you a story about when the sun was born again …

It was the middle of winter, and the sun had grown very old.

All year long the sun had worked very hard, rising and setting day after day. All year long the sun had fed everybody on earth, shining and shining, giving energy to the trees and the flowers and the grasses so they could grow and feed the animals and birds and insects and people.

All year the sun’s gravity held tight to the spinning ball of the earth and the twirling ball of the moon and the eight other whirling planets as they traveled around and around and around, until the poor sun was dizzy watching it all.

Now the poor tired sun could barely make it up in the morning, and after a very short time, needed to sleep again. So the days grew shorter, and the nights grew longer, until the day was so short it was hardly worth getting up for.

Night felt sorry for the sun.

“Come to my arms and rest, child,” she said. “After all, I am your mother. You were born out of my darkness, billions of years ago, and you will return to me when all things end. Let me cradle you now, as I shelter every galaxy and star in the universe.”

So Night wrapped her great arms around the sun, and the night was very long indeed.

“Why does the dark go on so long?” asked children all over the earth. “Won’t the sun ever come back again?”

“The sun is very tired,” the old ones said. “But maybe, if you children say thank you for all the things the sun does for us, the light may return in the morning.”

The children sang songs to the sun. They thought about all the things the sun gave them.

(Leader: Ask participants what they think the children might have thanked the sun for. Allow some responses. Then, resume the story.)

“Thank you for growing the lettuces and the corn and the rice and the wheat,” they said. “Thank you for growing the trees of the forests and the seaweed in the oceans and the krill that feeds the whales. Thank you for stirring the air and making winds that bring the rain.”

Every time a child said thank you, the sun began to feel a little warmer, a little brighter. Wrapped safely in the arms of Night, the sun grew younger and younger.

At last the children had to go to bed. “We will stay up and wait for the sun to rise again” the old ones said.

“Can’t we stay up, too?” the children asked.

“You can try, but you will get too sleepy,” the old ones said. “But you can each light a candle, because all fire is a spark of the sun’s fire. Put your candle in a very safe place, and let it keep vigil for you as you sleep and dream of sunrise.”

So the children lit their candles and put them in very safe places, and each flame was a little spark of the sun’s fire. And the sun peeped out from between the arms of Night, and saw all the little fires, and began to feel warmer and brighter and younger still.

Early in the morning, the old ones woke the children. Together they climbed a high hill and faced to the east, the direction of sunrise. They sang songs to the sun and ran around trying to keep warm. They waited and waited to see what dawn would bring.

The sky began to turn from black to indigo to blue. Slowly the sky grew light. A golden glow crept over the horizon. Night opened her great arms, and in a burst of brightness, the sun appeared, new and strong and shining.

For in the long night the sun had rested well and grown young from the songs and the thanks of the children, young as a brand-new baby, born out of Night once more.

Everybody cheered, and the children jumped up and down.

“The sun has returned! The sun is reborn!” the people cried. And they danced and sang to celebrate the birth of a new day, and then went home to breakfast.