Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Season of Wonder

Such a newbie am I to the birth scene. Every day or read something that makes me go “Wow!” Today I was visiting Sage Femme’s blog and learned that she donates unwanted home birth placentas to her local Search and Rescue team for use in training their search dogs. Wow!

In case you don’t follow these things, today is the Winter Solstice. According to Weather Underground (the National Weather Service’s website…not the 1970’s revolutionary group) tomorrow will have THREE MORE SECONDS of daylight than today.

There are many, many rituals, ancient and modern, to mark this time of year.

Ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia, where people feasted, masters and servants switched places (hence orgies) and gifts were exchanged. Scandanavians celebrated Yule (juul), which leant many features (holly, ivy, mistletoe, elves) to modern Christmas. Sweden has St. Lucia’s Day, where a young girl wears a wreath of candles on her head and enters bedrooms in the morning serving sweets and coffee.

Mummers? Wassailing? Thank the Pagans. Romania has the turta, which is part of a sweet fertility ritual.

As women, there are solstice themes that we can’t help but resonate to: the “wheel” (yule) or cycling of seasons; the rebirth of the sun; the promise of warmth and new life in the months ahead.

Today take a moment and note the day: its low sun, its fast-fading light. Also honor the darkness: sit in it and think of both its comforts and its many negative metaphors; observe how much space it takes up on this its longest presence in our year. Wow!

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