Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Winter Solstice

Earth would be a dead planet without the sun. All life on earth, plants, animals, people, everything depends on the sun to live. The sun gives us light and warmth. Also, we use the sun to keep track of the time of day and of the year.

Earth...more than that...our entire solar system...revolves around the Sun. So, at the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, the ancient Celts celebrated the return of the sun’s trek back towards earth with traditions we still observe today. 

Mistletoe and oak were sacred to the ancient Celts. Therefore, the mistletoe that grew on oak trees was highly prized. Mistletoe was called all-heal for its medicinal properties. The Celts looked upon mistletoe as a symbol of peace and goodwill. It was a used as a sign to warring tribes to observe a temporary truce with each other until the next day.

Druids picked mistletoe from oak trees five days after the new moon following the Winter Solstice. One druid climbed the tree and cut the mistletoe with a sickle, while others held an open a sheet beneath him to catch the sacred plant since it was taboo to let it touch the ground. The druids handed out sprigs of mistletoe to the tribe members, who then hung them over entranceways for protection.

The Celts built and danced around huge bonfires and also burned a Yule log in their central fireplace, which was like bringing the blessing of the sun-god into their home. A Yule log could be a gift, or it could be taken from your land, or found in the woods. But if you bought or sold a Yule log its magic would be obliterated.

The ancient Celts would decorate the Yule log with evergreens and bring it home in a cart pulled by an ok. Usually, they sprinkled ale or mead over the log before they lit it. They kept it slowly, yet steadily burning for 12 days in the fire place before extinguishing it. To pass the light on from one year to the next, they kept part of the unburned log safely to one side and used it to light next year’s Yule log. Also, they stashed the log's ashes away until spring, at which time they mixed them with seeds and scattered them on the fields, spreading the sun-god's magic contained in the Yule log over the land.

For the Winter Solstice, ancient Celts decorated the Yule logs and their homes with holly and ivy, which are linked to the God Bran. He had a club made of holly and the gold-gold-crest wren, his sacred bird, nests in ivy.

Last but not least is the food. Feasting was a part of the Winter Solstice festival just like the big Christmas day dinners we enjoy in the 21st century.

In conclusion, let me which you a merry Winter solstice, Christmas, or whatever winter holiday you observe, full of warmth, lush evergreens, kissing under the mistletoe, yummy food, peace and goodwill, and a great time with your tribe (friends and family.)

Also you can spend an Iron age Winter Solstice with Druidess  Bronwen  in my novella, The Bear and the Druidess.

Winter is Coming...The Winter Solstice that is...and the Romans are causing problems as well in The Bear and the Druidess.
Sometimes a secret must be revealed to move from the winter of love into its spring.
Romans stole all the winter grain from Druidess Bronwen's tribe. Now, pursued by Romans, she ducks into a cave to hide. There she finds a handsome warrior who offers to help. He ignites a fiery spark of attraction within her but she can tell he's keeping something from her.

The prayers of a beautiful druidess he can't resist lead the Bear God Artaois into the cave where Bronwen is hiding. He pretends to be asleep until she finds him.

Artaois (Art) is determined to spend the longest night of the year with her. But Bronwen doesn't realize he's a god. He keeps his secret from her and even though he can transform into a bear, he only reveals himself in human form.

With the Winter Solstice upon them, can Artaois (Art) find a way to save her tribe from starvation? And, when Bronwen finally discovers his secret, will she leave the romance building between them out in the cold?