Saturday, December 16, 2017

Winter Solstice traditions

My winter solstice traditions started in the tropical heat of Hawaii thirty nine years ago.


John and I sailed away and found ourselves very tanned and wondering what to do to celebrate the return of the sun, in a landscape almost always blessed by the sun.

We decided on a longest night wilderness feast.  Adding only pocket knives and a book of matches to our hands, we built a wind shelter against the warm trade winds, roasted our dinner on a beach wood fire, and stayed up all night to greet the sun.

This story is fully told as a fairy tale  I wrote titled "Feeding the Longest Night." for the Winter Solstice card in my Journey Oracle divination deck.

When we were living in Nova Scotia the wilderness feast continued outside--despite with wind, snow and freezing rain.  We celebrated by honouring each creature and plant that keeps us alive: dining on chicken, fish, pork, beef, root, ground and tree vegetables, nuts and fruit. Once back from the forest we built a large bonfire at first dark so the sun could see the flames and find its way back.

During our years on the east coast we added many birds to our winter solstice decorations.  The bird theme gradually became stronger when we moved to Cortes Island.

We let go of decorating an outdoor tree,

and started making ornaments for the birds to eat.

Now we begin Solstice morning with a toast to the sun in our garden,  We fast as we take our wilderness feast out to the beach and find a sheltered place among the drift logs and rock.  We cook our special collection of keeps-us-alive food and then go for a hike along the shore to find our tree.

After decorating a tree for the birds and small animals we come back to our feast site to leave gifts of salmon and venison for the eagles, ravens and vultures.

We no longer stay up all night, nor do we build and tend a watch fire. But we do fill our house with the warmth of radiant heat from the woodstove, and light candles to help the sun return. 

May the light always return.