Mara Freeman, M.A., British author, lecturer, and storyteller, is an ArchDruidess in the Druid Clan of Dana, and the author of 'Kindling the Celtic Spirit: Ancient Traditions to Illumine Your Life Throughout the Seasons' (HarperSanFrancisco, Dec. 2000). Visit her website.
The seed of light is born in the dark womb of Midwinter, the time we know as the Winter Solstice, a word which means "the sun stands still." Every year from Midsummer (June 21st) onward in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight hours become shorter and shorter until around December 21st the sun appears to rise and set in the same place for a few days. Then, barely noticeable at first, the sun begins its long journey towards the south, and all of creation starts to exhale. The wheel turns, a cycle of new life begins once more.
Celebrate the Green World
Decorate your house with traditional evergreens. They remind us that the green world cannot be conquered by winter.
Gather branches that have scarlet berries, symbolizing the red blood of life. Choose from holly, yew, or mountain ash and mingle with ivy, bay, and fragrant bunches of rosemary.
Add sprigs of hazel to keep mischievous fairies away.
Mistletoe is known as The Druids' Herb, and it has always been highly prized as a powerful healing plant in Celtic countries. Hang a mistletoe bough just inside your front door. Leave it up during the coming year to protect the house.
Light a Solstice candle. In Ireland, this was either white or red. The family might have one huge individual candle or a number of smaller size: one for each member of the family, and little colored ones for the children. Sow seeds of light for the coming cycle with a simple ritual that can be equally effective alone or with a large family group.
Seeds of Light
1. Place a large candle unlit in the center of the table or floor.
2. Sit in front of it, or if doing this in a group, have everyone sit in a circle around it. Everyone present should have their own small candle.