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The Queen of My Self

This week’s theme is the Winter Solstice and all the multicultural goddesses and festivals associated with the return of the light.

A common theme of solstice ceremonies everywhere is the burning of fires to symbolically re-kindle the dwindling sun. People gather together to cheer on the ascendancy of the light. The victory of the very forces of life. The Hindu Festival of Lights, Divali, comes about six weeks before the solstice. The story surrounding Divali is that Lord Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, Ramayana, was sent into exile (read darkness), but he redeems himself by slaying the evil ten-headed demon King Ravana, who had stolen his wife, Sita, the light of his life. He is then, after fourteen years, able to return home in triumph.

On Divali, people light his way back into the fold each year and at the same time, invite the gifts of the Goddess of Prosperity and Plenty, Lakshmi. They place clusters of deyas, small clay lanterns filled with oil and a burning cotton wick, along all the pathways, garden walls, window sills and patios in a town or village. Their flickering glow, providing a warm welcome.

Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights celebrated near the winter solstice, commemorates a miracle, which is a metaphor for the dwindling, then returning light of the season. The popular story goes: the stock of oil that was used to fuel the everlasting light on the altar of the temple ran low. A one-day supply was all that was left, but it was somehow able to continue burning for the eight days that it took to procure more. The eight-day Chanukah ritual involves the lightening and blessing of eight candles in a menorah, a ceremonial candelabra. One additional flame is kindled each night, mimicking the gradual gathering of light in the dark sky. For Jews, the candles represent the light of truth, the flame of freedom.

Throughout Northern Europe where the weather is more severe, the solstice fires were lit indoors. The Yule log and colored light decorations, which are today emblematic of Christmas are the same as were once lit in honor of Sulis, Sol, Sunna, the old Goddess of the Sun. In Sweden, Santa Lucia, Saint Lucy, Saint Light, is observed on December 13, the date of the Winter Solstice on the old Julian calendar. Young girls dressed in white nightgowns with crowns of lit candles in their hair parade the streets at dawn, waking people with coffee and fresh baked cakes in the spiral shape of the many-spoked sun wheel.

Morning sun, morning sun, come my way, come my way
come my way, come my way, take my pain, take my pain
take my pain, take my pain, down below, down below
down below, down below, cool waters, down below
Morning sun, morning sun, I thank you, I thank you
(Each line is repeated four times)
– Salish Chant to the Morning Sun

Tomorrow: Festivals of Light – Part 2

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

 

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