Late December, the Solstice 2018
Let all the people say: “Welcome the Light!”
Tonight we hang in balance, still point of the dancing year. Like Mother Night we have been made pregnant by the Great Darkness and now we sit in vigil to birth the waxing year.
If the sun agrees to return to us it will be 14 seconds earlier than yesterday, holding like a tiny seed the promise of summer.
We welcome the ancestors into our circle; we welcome into our community and spirit the whole of creation around us, the earth that sustains us and the stars above and the creatures of the field and wood.
Overhead Orion dominates the sky, facing Taurus, the Bull of Heaven. In his belt we see the string of pearls all the Latinx world calls “Tres Marias.” Above us shine the 7 Wandering Children of the Cherokee, which we call the Pleiades, and the departing figures of Castor and Pollux, who are the pole stars of Gemini.
This morning the sun entered Capricorn, and Venus is our morning star. The moon is waxing gibbous and raising power for her explosion into Cancer on the 22nd.
Hold on to your hats and genitalia! It is the Eve of Saturnalia.
Lady of the Wild Things, we honor you:
Red-winged hawks are making a harvest of first-year squirrels now that the leaf cover is down and wood chucks and eastern chipmunks have dug to their winter sleeping lairs. Noisy flocks of crows and blue-jays and robins gather at the margin of fields. The winter forms of the Hop Merchant butterfly have drunk their last drop of the year’s sun and rest in diapause. Tiny screech owls are calling from the woods on still nights and soon yearling bucks will lose their antlers.
Marbled salamanders have risen from below the earth to mate and now females clutch their eggs at the edge of watering holes and wait for just the right night, just the right rain, to release them into the world.
The forest floor is bright with winter’s light and here the welcome greens appear: leaves of crane-fly orchid, rattlesnake plantain, wild ginger, partridge berry, running cedar, pipsissewa.
We are entering the orange cast phase of the Eastern Red Cedar, when the tiny brown cones begin to color and prepare for February sex.
Not only the conifers have color; look to the evergreen angiosperms: our hollies and groundsel trees and native magnolias. There is still fruit hanging from the tree and vine in December: catbriar, sumac, rose-hips, trumpet-vine, coral-berry, sycamores and mistletoe, which is a bright garland of the Green Man. The winter buds of witch hazel, tag alder, winged elm and maple are about to swell and break dormancy and enter into the great dance of procreation.
May we too break dormancy and bloom, mine the darkness and welcome the Season of Light, Saturnalia, Dionysia.
May our words congregate and fly like the winter visitations of brown creepers and hermit thrushes and ruby-crowned kinglets, our yellow-rumped warblers, our Juncos, our purple finches and white-throated sparrows.
Bonefires are burning on the hillsides of Saxony and the farms of Chatham County; the Goddess is afoot, talking to field and lake and wood.
Let us join now in an ancient litany of hope, of welcome, and commitment:
May we kindle our fire this solstice in the presence of all the holy ones…
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
But with the presence of the holy fire to empower us and inspire us.
May there be kindled within us this evening
A flame of love to our neighbor, to our foe, to our friend, to our families, to all.