Winter Solstice

As the shadows lengthened in the valley I made the arduous climb to the Observatory. A sunset ritual was planned to celebrate the shortest day of the year.
The moss covered stones of the Celtic circle were still bathed in sunlight as I collapsed to the grass, puffing plumes of vapour in the cold air.
The day was so still and gentle it hardly seemed possible that these heights were the scene of such tempests and gales in the past. The valley lay soft and golden undulating richly to the distant hills.
Over my shoulder to the left, velvety mountains of the national park were clear in the crisp mountain air, hills folding into hills, graduating to blue in the distance.
I readied myself.

I had searched the web for Winter Solstice rituals and had found some general info. It varied from culture to culture but all seemed to involve family, friends, renewal, rebirth, fertility and lots of candles. I couldn't find anything specific for the southern hemisphere so I decided to make something up, a sort of DIY ritual. I'd just have to wing it.

I cleared the little alter of dead winter grass and set up a yellow candle. It's little flame seemed brave under the vast sky and I thought of friends so far away.

We flickered, the candle and I ,side by side as the sun slowly faded.

Inspired I wrote in the ceremonial notepad...

The descent into winter has ended
from now on the days will lengthen

new life
new growth
new beginning
the turning point

I gazed out over the mountains in wonder. The tall white gums stood like ghosts, silver veins in the green fur. Lacy silhouette of trees on the far hill.
Birds call, songs echo in the valleys.

So still. Not a leaf moves in the whole forest.
Colour comes slowly , lighting up the stage. Clouds hang motionless, in water colour waves.

Our Kookaburras down below in the Dark Forest cackle and call in a long burst. Only the colour moves, changing from golden to rose.
And the temperature is dropping, creeping into my bones.

I rise.

A ritual is not complete without an energising dance around a stone circle. The Observatory is a meticulously crafted replica of a twelfth century Celtic ruin.
At this point I should have thrown off my clothes to really get into the spirit of things but the temperature was steadily falling towards zero.
I danced around in an anticlockwise direction, and, just to be sure, danced around in the other direction.

Warmed by the activity the blood flowed back into my extremities.

I stood transfixed in the centre of the circle.

A golden arrow drew a line through the clouds,a rumble of flight engines underlie the kookaburra's melodies.

Vapour trail pointing inland expands to a shaft of light in the deepening blue across a wide horizon.

dark green below

I opened up my hands to the burning colour and held the mountains in my arms,

leaning back
reaching wide
surrounding the sky
blush pink vistas over black hills.
At last a final rush and burn on the horizon flowing hot.

Night was a presence behind me.
Darkness stole across the mountains eager to begin the longest night of the year.

Suddenly the glow was gone and with it any feeling of warmth. Stars twinkled in the east. I gathered my things and blew out the candle thereby marking the end of the ritual.

It worked!

For a moment I had been the Goddess!

Bursting with the love of life, I scurried down the rocky hill in the deepening twilight anxious to get back to the safety of the valley...

and begin in earnest the full moon celebrations.

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