Unlike ancient times we have many pleasant distractions to keep our minds off of the cold and foul weather that plagues us. Movies, sports, books, music, computers and other modern technologies keep us occupied and content. And our families and friends keep our hearts warm through the darkest and coldest days of winter.
We can take comfort in the fact that today is the shortest day of the year and that from this moment on Sunna will make longer and longer flights across our evening skies. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of this season we should embrace the beauty it can bring. The pure white of a fresh snow; the artistic majesty of ice crystals that form in a frost; or just truly enjoy the company of the few animals that stay behind to entertain us as they go about their every day lives. Generally, just try to see the glass as half full instead of half empty.
This year, in particular, is a very special Winter Solstice in that it falls on the same day as a total eclipse. If I understand it correctly the total eclipse will start here on the east coast at around 1:00 A.M. and conclude at around 5:00 A.M. I am not a Sibyl, so I am not really sure what the religious significance is in this, but I am sure that Mani and Sunna have something going on with Great Mother Earth, Jord, this night. Besides, if you miss this total lunar eclipse, the next one is not until April, 15, 2014.
Generally it is Sunna I give the most praise and honor to this night but I think because of the eclipse I will add Mani to the Winter Solstice Ritual this year. I also like to honor Bragi on this night as well because in ancient times it was the skaldic poetry and songs that passed along our traditions, as well as passed away the time on those dark cold nights of winter . At the beginning of the ritual I light only a few candles but as I progress I light more and more to represent the returning light to the days of the winter months. I also like to read, aloud, the entire Eddic poem, Voluspa, which to me represents the whole cycle of life from the creation of the world to its destruction. This to me is what we see every year when spring turns to summer and summer to fall and fall to winter. I end as I always do thanking the Gods and Goddesses for everything that they give us and do for us.
I will see this Winter Solstice as I see all Winter Solstices, not as the end, but as the beginning of the end of the darkness and the very slow re-warming of Mother Earth that wiil bring the explosion of life that always lies just ahead. The warmth, beauty, and color of Spring are always worth the small inconvenience of these winter months.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !