There are many traditions this time of year. As I have written in the past I enjoy looking deeper into these holidays we celebrate. I was looking for information about Stonehenge and came across a great website ~ Druidry.org Here are some excerpts from the website about winter solstice.
Alban Arthan, or Light of Arthur. Arthur is symbolized by the Sun. The Sun dies and is reborn, just as the mythical Arthur is sleeping deep inside a mountain and will wake up again when the people needs his help.
What Stonehenge is for Alban Hefin, Newgrange is for Alban Arthan. Newgrange (Brú na Bhoinne) is a mighty Neolithic passage tomb and temple structure in the valley of the Boyne River in Ireland. Its age is presently estimated at approximately 5200 years, making Newgrange older than the Pyramids of Gizeh and Stonehenge. Newgrange is aligned towards the sunrise of the winter solstice. When the Sun reaches a certain angle, the light shines through a special window along a 57 foot long passage and at the end of the passage falls onto a big stone, which bears the carving of a three-fold spiral. The event lasts for about 15 minutes, during which the light is wandering across the floor of the passage and the stone at its end, as if it wanted to tell a story.
This alignment has been esoterically interpreted as the insertion of a ray of light by the Sun God into the womb of Mother Earth, to bring about the creation of new life in spring.
What were the celebrations of the winter solstice in pre-Christian times, is nowadays mostly known as Christmas. The difference may not be that big as it appears from the first look. In Catholic tradition, Jesus Christ is "the Light of the World" and it is no coincidence that Jesus is born at the time of the winter solstice. It has been said that the birth of Christ, which is not dated in the Bible, was originally celebrated in spring. It has later been moved towards the winter solstice, partly because the early church was unable to stop the winter solstice celebrations and wanted to give them at least a Christian motto, partly also because it seemed fit to place the birth of the light into the time of greatest darkness.
One of the main features of a traditional winter solstice celebration in Northern European countries is the Yule log. A log or a big piece of wood is burned in the central fireplace. According to tradition it must come from one's own land or be a gift, and it must not be purchased. It is traditionally ignited with the remaining piece of last year's Yule log. This way, the light is passed on from one year to another. The Yule log is to burn slowly for 12 days in the fireplace, before it is extinguished. The ashes are stowed away and in springtime mixed with seeds and brought out on the fields. Thus, the power of the Sun, symbolized in the Yule log, is distributed over the land. The rest of the wood is kept until next year to ignite the new log.
The house is decorated with evergreen branches. The green reminds us of the promise that nature will be green again in springtime and life will return to our lands. In the Irish tradition, a house decorated with greeneries is expected to offer a place of rest to nature spirits fleeing from cold and darkness.
The deities of Alban Arthan are the Dagda and Brighid. Brighid is the bearer of the flame of inspiration, which penetrates the darkness of mind and soul, just as the light of the reborn Sun penetrates the darkest time of the year. The caudron of the Dagda is a symbol for the promise, that nature will bear fruit once again and care for all beings living on Earth
The central and essential thought of Alban Arthan is renewal. We let the past behind us and greet the new. The world is undergoing constant change and we must change and adjust, too, in order to be able to survive. Change is inevitable. The German poet Heinrich Heine said: "Nothing is so permanent as change". In this knowledge, humankind celebrates festivals since times unknown, giving people the opportunity to let go of the old and to embrace the new things which life would certainly hold in store.
Alban Arthan is also a good occasion to think about the meaning of the Sun. In spite of all modern technology and the possibility to bring bright light to a room with the turn of a switch, we are still dependant of the Sun. The Sun is indicating the times of the day and of the year to us. It is vital for the growth of all plants and for the existence of all living beings. It decides over warmth or cold. Everything on Earth and in the whole "solar system" literally is revolving around the Sun!
The other day a friend posted this beautiful inspiring video. I would like to share it with you. It is a powerful message for the times we live in. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Have a wonderful week my friends! Be sure to check out my shop on www.ginnywolfstudio.com. I've been adding new things daily including some great new hats. There is still time to get things shipped before Christmas! Blessings ~ Ginny