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Winter Solstice                   

Incense is very particularly important too – a balanced mix of frankincense and myrrh is usually prepared just before the Solstice celebration, and stored for next year, whilst we burn the one we made earlier during the current ceremony.   This incense has a couple of other ingredients, including wine and honey, and smells…..ah…like angel’s breath.

Another tradition for us is that we take one of the candles from the altar and leave it to burn out, set in a window, to guide the weary wanderer home to safety.  This is something you could do too – but use proper safety procedures if you choose to.   One of the safest ways to let a candle burn out is to sit it in a heatproof bowl of water, still in its stick or holder, where the water level in the bowl itself will act as a dowse when the candle burns low enough.   Do not do this in a regularly frequented room unless you are going to stay with the candle at all times (and I really mean “at all times” – candles always fall over when you nip to the bathroom, you know).  Do not leave it anywhere it can be knocked or blown over.   And do not leave it within reach of flammable materials.

The lack of logic in birthing our group during this ceremony becomes much more obvious when you contemplate the nature of this Celebration.  It marks the Dark of the Year.  The hours of daylight are at their most sparse, and darkness rules for many hours a day.  The Winter Solstice also marks the beginning of a period of rest for those of our tradition.  For over a Moon no workings take place at all, and we recharge our batteries as …ever so slowly….the light reclaims its ground.  We do not officially re-awaken until Lights when we greet the New Year, and bless our safe passage through winter’s chill and threat.  And through all of this we are sustained by the brightness and joy of the Celebration of the Winter Solstice.

You know one thing I always tend to consider at this time of year – mostly because I probably have far too much time on my hands – are the modern Wiccan rituals regarding the solar year.   Many of these grew up based upon the research and writings of Gerald Gardener, the big daddy of Gardnerian Wicca.  There are many many branches of Wicca these days, several of which eschew Gardner’s teachings.   You see this reaction in science as well don’t you?   People say “No, no, that person was completely wrong, and therefor I am not influenced at all by him/her.”   But if you are convinced they were wrong, then surely you are influenced by them?   Otherwise how would you know to believe they are wrong?   It’s a puzzling conundrum, that one.   [More...]

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