Winter Solstice

The earth is forever turning.

And we know this time of the receding sun is taking with it the year 2016., and the returning sun brings with it the new one. We know that this coming Wednesday December the 21st, 5:44 am the days will begin to become longer.  It happens at this latitude every year.   Winter Solstice.

The Cherokee call this time vee si gi ga.

The Time of the Snow Moon.

From the dark times of the snow moon

it was understood the sun would return.

Now we look to the earth scientists and astronomers to keep records of celestial movements. But long before computers, long before telescopes and planetariums, long before science-as-we-know-it, this task fell to the spiritual leaders of the village, the woman or man who served as ceremonial leader, counselor, healer, historian, scientist, and magician. The Elders and Spiritual Leaders, in performed these roles, helped the community give meaning to the changing year,  and anticipation of the comping year.

The dwindling of the sun’s light in autumn is a reminder that even as the old year dies, so must all living things. The Mid Winter festivals enabled the community to accept this universal dying, to understand it is necessary for new life. When the daylight hours are shortest, we long for assurance that spring will return, that once again the warm sun will nurture growing things and make the earth green.

In this time when the village is eating foods stored in the root cellar,  dried beans and dried corn,  people in different parts of the world collected evergreen boughs as a symbol of hope and renewal.

There is Cherokee creation story that says once up a time the sun sat in one place in the sky.  And only the people living in a certain valley ever got the warm rays of the Sun.

Everyone couldn’t live in that one valley so …..

All the people cried out to the Sun,

begging her  to move across the earth,

so that all the valleys and mountain tops would get some sun.

The Sun agreed,  But said that all the creatures of the earth

had to stay awake for a whole week.

To watch the sun move.

The sun likes it when people take notice.

All the creatures of the earth agreed,

but by the third day most of them were asleep.

and by the seventh day,

only the Owl and Mountain Lion,

and Evergreen Tree were still awake.

So the Sun gave the earth night by traveling around the earth,

and she blessed the Owl and the Mountain Lion

with the vision to see in the night,

and the Evergreen with the leaves that don’t fall off,

in the winter.

In the last decade or so,

we are more than ever conscious of our earth,

of our  mutual dependence on trees and other living plants as we exchange our carbon dioxide for their oxygen.   We must continue to be aware of the cycle of life, spring, summer, fall,  winter, spring

And so on and so on.

As the new year unfolds,

let us remember: we are creatures of this earth,

with her waters and sky,

and the cycles of this earth are part of who we are as humans.

Happy Happy Yule to you.

Have yourself a merry, merry Solstice

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