Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Solstice decorations

When I begin preparing my winter solstice decorations, I look to nature for ideas. Here on Cortes Island the dominant outdoor color is a vivid green, usually enhanced by the sparkle of recent rain or mist. Many of our winter storms, which can be very dramatic in November, bring down lots of cedar and fir boughs, which make for easy gathering in this quiet of December before the cold and snow of January. I bring in cedar, fir and holly boughs because these trees hold special meaning for me. Cedars are considered the Grandmother / Grandfather trees along these north coasts, giving homes to many in their majestic heights and drawing up groundwater for the plants that live under their protection in times of drought. The Fir is a great helping tree in this place--the slowest burning deep winter firewood is fir; our houses and outbuildings are held up by fir, and dressed on floor and ceiling with its beauty.

The holly is a sacred tree in many mystical traditions. It was understood that the holly would shelter elves and fairies who could come into the homes of mortals during this time of year without doing them harm. It is considered a plant of good omen since its evergreen leaves appear invulnerable to the passage of time. It symbolizes the tenacity of life even in a time of death, which it keeps at bay with its strong protective powers.

I enjoy using representations of apples in my winter solstice decorations. In ancient myths the apple is symbolic of giving love, and of the goddesses of love. As Leigh Ann Hussey wrote, in Celtic times apples were the focus of the winter solstice wassailing ceremony in which prayers and blessings were said to trees. Cider was poured onto the roots to call back the sun to aid in the growth of blossoms and fruit, insuring a plentiful harvest for the next year.

As I gather my winter solstice decorations this year--I am asking trees to bless me with strength and protection, to provide shelter for the other-than-human creatures that visit my home, and to call back the sun, whose strengthening light brings love and prosperity to all beings. May the Journey Oracle bring you blessings.