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Winter Solstice                   

Here are Jan's thoughts:
This ceremony is held in particular affection by the group with which I work, for it is also our “birthday”.  To this day, I do not quite know why we selected this end-of-year ceremony to make our very first working – my memory vaguely reminds me we had been waiting forever to be sure we could go ahead, and then just dived in as soon as we got word.   Whatever the reason, this factor introduces an additional level of celebration into proceedings.

I remember our (somewhat frantic) last minute hunt for a Yule log. Since we had given up all hope of getting word before Lights we had made no preparations at all.  We must have hunted through all the local woods before finally finding a dry, insect free and beautifully shaped chunk of wood gifted by an oak tree.   Considering how rarely oak trees occur in woods in this locality - and most particularly those oak trees which will conveniently drop a branch into a rocky overhang that keeps it dry - clearly all our hunting was worthwhile.   To this day that self-same log adorns the centre of our altar, surrounded with all things sparkly and pretty, and lit by many candles.   These days one end of it is covered with dried rivulets of wax accumulated over the years of working, and the seasoned wood holds onto just a little bit more green scatter glitter every year.

Around the log itself are big sprigs of holly. I’m disappointed that I have not yet managed to grow a lady holly starred by scarlet red berries, but my male bushes supply us with glossy deep green leaves every year – then we have to try to beat the birds to a few berry-scattered boughs out in those selfsame woods.  My own spruce supplies the boughs of fir which build the back of the altar.   We also have some glass globes which nestle amid the greenery, and all is scattered with crimson twists of ribbon. So far we have always had to buy our mistletoe….but it HAS to be there.  Naturally, there is also food…we do enjoy a good munch during reports!

Flowers here are usually substituted for a living poinsettia plant – which sadly STILL ends up as an offering to the Gods in its demise due to my inability to keep this vibrant plant going for more than a couple of months.   [More...]

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