This morning was a special event: the first full lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice for about 400 years. In Nottingham, there was a solid cloud cover, so not much to see, unfortunately. Also, I woke up with my right foot hurting like the blazes, so I couldn’t try to see if I could spot it anyway. This is what a lunar eclipse looks like, if you haven’t seen one before:
First time I heard of one was maybe ten years ago or so, when I decided to set the clock in the middle of the night to watch it. I thought it would be a quick thing, like a solar eclipse (never seen one – there was a partial one in Sweden once, but again, cloud cover … with rain), but it took such a long time that I went back to bed. When I got up around 6 or 7, the moon was still red! It goes on for hours! If you have the time and patience to wait all through it, or even just a few minutes, it’s an amazing astronomical display.
I thought that I wouldn’t join in with the Christmas wishes this year. There are so many different faiths in the world, and many different ones represented also in the Richard Armitage fanblogosphere. Servetus’s posts about Chanukkah were an enlightening insight into the Jewish traditions for instance. As I’m not a celebrator of the birth of Jesus Christ, and not really a big celebrator of anything (terribly secular, me), the faith I’m closest to is that of Neopaganism, and today is the Winter Solstice. Or Yule for short!
According to many ancient traditions, the Winter Solstice signifies the re-birth of the sun. (Not a coincidence that they decided to place the birth of Jesus around this time of year – it was a very traditional thing to do. The man wasn’t even a Capricorn.) The Vikings celebrated it as their Midvinterblot, for instance. The Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year – every day following, at least until the Summer Solstice, is longer and longer, as the sun comes back to the world.
The Neopagan branch known as Wicca have the story of the seasons as the story about the God and the Goddess. Yule is when the God is [re-]born, and as the warmth and power of the sun (God) increases, so does the growth of nature. The year progresses as the God grows into a man, meets the Goddess, impregnates her, and as nature starts to wind down with autumn, the God grows even older, until he finally dies around Samhain (Halloween). Then, at Yule, he is born again to the world, in a never-ending, decidedly incestuous, cycle.
Wikipedia says he dies and is born around Yule, but that’s not how I remember it. If I wasn’t very secular, I probably would have remembered, because it would have come up once a year at least, but I’ve slipped a lot when it comes to being a practicing Pagan since I moved to the UK, even though there are truckloads of ‘em around here. I did participate in the Pagan Pride Parade in Nottingham in August this year, though. Got asked what my Path is (i.e. denomination, e.g. Wiccan, Druid, Celtic, Asatru, etc.), and my response was along the lines of “err … secular?” which I then had to explain. I wonder if being a Wandmaker counts?
|Yule: Death of the Holly King, birth of the Oak King|
To celebrate the holiday, it would be common to light candles and make a Circle and welcome the sun back. I like to bake something on the eight Pagan holidays, using some seasonal fruits or spices, but haven’t really had time to don the apron. This year, I’m packing to go spend the holidays with my parents instead. Incidentally, in Sweden, the word for Christmas is actually “jul” (Yule), because we’re a bit stubborn with our old Pagan ways up in Scandinavialand!
Although, in a really annoying twist of fate and with brilliant timing, I have come down with tendinitis according to the doctor, which means I’m supposed to rest, compress, ice and elevate my right foot, which woke me up this morning by hurting a ****ing lot, as already mentioned, and I can’t put any pressure on my right heel, basically, so I can hardly walk, and I’ve got bags to pack and a flight to catch. Have followed the flight information for the airport in question, and it’s “operating as normal” (thank goodness we’re not flying from Heathrow!) but the flights over the past couple of days seem to be delayed by an hour … minimum. So it sounds like fun … Oh well, let’s stay positive – it could be worse!