Today is the shortest day. Here in the northern hemisphere the earths’ tilt takes us to our furthest position from the sun. Last year in Scotland I watched the sun be born into a blood red sky. At this time of the year I enjoy the darkness, a place to hide and retreat and yet while our ancestors knew the importance of rest in this mid winter somehow our lives just get busier under the sick glow of electric lights.
My first year here in the Appalachians was knee deep in snow, haunted by the ghosts of winter solstice. Last year I headed back over the Atlantic to Scotland where it was the coldest it’s been for the last 100 winters. I wandered the hills in awe of the hoar frost sculptures. This year I am hibernating in a winter retreat, speaking the ancient language of the trees.
The pine comes into it’s time just after the winter solstice. Druids used to light large bonfires of Scots pine at the winter solstice to celebrate the passing of the seasons, they decorated glades of Scots pines with lights and shiny objects and so as the tree was covered in stars it represented the return of the Divine Light. It’s very scent is inspiring, uplifting, immediately soothing. Stepping into the presence of pines the scent of their resin creates a magic stillness, evoking an ancient place.
While we might be celebrating that the sun is reborn yet it seems we are plunged into a darker darkness. The returning light is a fragile newborn. The ogham teaches us that, like from the very top of a pine, the pine offers us foresight, seeing into the mysteries of the unknown. The pine is most powerful after the solstice when the solar energies begin to grow and the season of birth seems just around the corner.
At this time the pine seems to guide the first creative energies of the new solar year to where the process of life awaits ignition. It stands sentinel as the energies of the year move forward to the birthing season of spring when natures clock starts ticking again. Like all that we dream for in these winter months they must be tended like this new born sun, they must be mothered and looked after, sing soft lullabies. Care for them tenderly in meditation and intention, feed them with winter walks and inspiring reading.
More than anything I feel the deep pull of home. From across the ocean I can hear the song of my favorite places, offering their embracing silence. And so as the light blessed the stones atop of my favourite hill (or more likely they grey skies turned a brighter shade of grey) and the first rays shone down the long chamber of Brú na Bóinne (and those lucky drawers of the lottery got to be inside the chamber) I will replay its rising set to the deafening embracing silence which I will forever hold in my heart.
Magical & cleansing bath: Take time for yourself. Run a bath adding pine needles or oil of pine to bath water. As you soak concentrate on allowing negativity to flow out from us into the water – which eventually goes down the plug hole. But make sure to take time to fill yourself with positive energy, meditate and spend time inspiring yourself as the universal law dictates like attracts like.
Wishing you an inspired solstice.