Winter Solstice is a perfect excuse to wind down for the year. It is happily emphasized since I am on Winter Break for school– hibernating more and going out less. For the last seven years and counting, I have held some sort of Winter Solstice gathering for friends and sometimes family. I have hosted sit-down traditional dinners and the more informal drinks and appetizers only fiesta. We have mulled spiced-wine together, played an old parlor game entitled, "The Minister's Cat," and lit candles. One of my favorite theme ideas was putting a spotlight on the sun: I served spicy Indian food for snacks and the soundtrack featured all songs mentioning the sun. There are a seemingly endless supply of these to choose from.
This year, I am taking some advice from an Indianapolis food blogger, featured in the current issue of Midwest Living. Her article, "Holiday Party Tips From Annie Marshall: Eat Drink and Be Merry," is a great approach to a more relaxed get-together. From hanging treats on an "edible cookie tree," to her insistence on serving a signature drink for the event that you can make a nice big batch of in advance, Marshall knows her stuff. Here is her recipe for Cranberry Margaritas:
Stir up a pitcher of these rosy margaritas for your next holiday bash. The Simple Syrup recipe makes enough syrup for 30 margaritas but is easily halved or quartered.
The autumn equinox is fast upon us – the time when the balance tips from the light half of the year to the dark half.Daylight hours are on the wane and soon the night and twilight hours will take precedence, allowing us a time for rest, for thought and for reflection.
Your light reflects the Pools of wisdom and grace As illusion's cunning Mirror cloaks the knowledge Of inner flood gates.
Filter and flow of celestial sight As velvet darkness parts the way Of expansive breath and I tremble Bowing to your Path of Surrender.
The veil parts The portal opens And ALL stand waiting In anticipation of your Sacred Kiss.
I walk silently down the wrought iron stairway and into my back yard, out into the moonlit night. Noise comes crowding in and I breathe deeply pushing out what seeks to intrude. Lady moon hangs high overhead and the silhouette of tree and plant crowd my view. This is the night of the moon's fullness. This is the expansion of breath and air, mind and heart flowing as one.
I walk to the sacred spot that has received the offerings of many a moonlit night and has witnessed my honoring of the seasons. My hand is warm from the herbs of energy that I carry as offering this night, empowered and quickened in ritual with coven mates two nights before. The potency of their intent moving like tidal flow and peak ready to be carried on the winds that will seed transformation.
It’s December first…. The symbolic beginning of the winter season, at least in terms of our modern calendar. It is, above all else, the beginning of a season of light.
But why light, we may ask? Why thoughts of light right now, when the days are so short and the nights long and cold? Why thoughts of light at a time of year when the land is muddy and skeletal, when cold rains fall and winds gust and one must bundle against the ice and snow?
Imagine yourself as a Stone Age person living more than two millennia ago. You would have spent your life living subsistence fashion, and when winter came, you and the tribe would have taken to a nearby cave to huddle against the cold, working by firelight and living off the provisions you’d managed to gather and store during the kinder summer months. You’d nourish yourself with soups and teas, sharing stories around the fire at night as way to gather your courage against the dark and cold, even as storms wailed outside. You’d do your best to be brave, ignoring the wee inner voice that wondered if the winter might never end.