Thursday, December 21, 2006
Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. To the ancients, it was as if the Sun and Moon stopped in their flight across the sky for the Sun to gather strength to begin anew the journey towards growth and renewal. It on this longest night of the year when the Sun is reborn out of his union with the goddess Moon. As the Sun grows into his full strength, so the days will become longer.
The Sun's representation as the male divinity, or celestial ruler, predates Christianity. It is said that the Mesopotamians were first to celebrate the importance of his annual rebirth with a 12-day festival of renewal which was designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.
In early times, the darkly glorious yew-tree was probably the only evergreen tree in Britain. Both Druids with their belief in reincarnation, and later Christians with their teaching of the resurrection, regarded it as a natural emblem of everlasting life. It is a tree that is to this day is celebrated on Winter Solstice as a symbol of the Sun's rebirth.
[Photo credit: Andrew Tweedie my inventor chum in Cornwall, sent me this as a Winter Solstice ecard to save some trees. He tells me it's an Ashbrittle Devon Yew Tree planted 1000BC/ie 3000+ years old. Photo taken circa 1970ish. It's a beautiful photo - thanks Andrew]