Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year.
It marks the return of the sun and has long
been held as both a time for celebration and
a time of reckoning.
In the time of our First Parents, around the First Fires of all the People around the world, the Elders tracked the movement of our star, the Sun. They observed its long journey across Grandfather Sky each day… and they also watched the sunrise and sunset places as the Seasons changed year after year from Winter to Spring to Summer to Autumn and back again to Winter.
This predictable journey became the “clock” of the Ancients. From these recorded positions, they learned when Grandmother Earth came back to life and the growing season began anew. They learned when Grandmother Earth was most fertile, and they planted. They learned when the daylight would grow dim, and nights cold, and they harvested their last crop of food for winter stores.
They also learned when the darkness would be longest, and they knew this was the beginning of the most difficult part of the year. They used this time to honor their dead, and also to celebrate the living. They gathered and shared and they knew some of them would not survive to join in the next celebration.
The coming months were cold, very cold, in many parts of the world. They also remained dark for quite some time after the solstice, even as the First Parents observed the lengthening days. It was a predictable pattern that gave solace to those cold winter months, often spent in isolation and pure survival mode.
During these times, the People turned inward and reflective. It was a time for conserving resources and contemplative the coming Spring and Harvest.
The Elders told even more stories around the tribal fires, for there was scant else to do during this dark and trying time. The First People listened… and they learned the History and Ways of their Ancestors. Traditions were held and passed down from one generation to the next. From mouth to ear, the People preserved themselves through the millennia.
Today, we carry on many of the age old traditions of this dark season as we move towards the light of the Springtime.
Regardless of your ethnicity, spiritual path, or age… take time today to reflect on what the return of the Sun means to you and your own tribe. What traditions can you perpetuate for the youth of your People? And what reflections of your own mind and soul will warm you on this the longest night of the year?
The previous is an excerpt from the daily meditation book “Quiet Winter Moments: Wisdom of the Ancients to Warm Your Days” by Jim Great Elks Waters & Kelly Talking Heron Pavlovic. Available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle formats.