Thursday, 22 December 2011

Yule again!

Well, if the Sun is not on its way back to our hemisphere it won't be for lack of us honouring it. Our sort-of neighbors Mickey and Brenda Lee hosted an incredible party. They have been keeping Solstice since they came here a few years ago, but I was never sure if this was one of those happenings that are open to everyone who happens to hear about it, or by invitation only. It turns out to be the former, but I ran into Brenda Lee and got personally invited, for which I am truly grateful. 

I love marking the Earth's turnings. 

For many years a Solstice celebration at the home of our friend Magda at Summit Lake was the highlight of our festive season. As the name implies, Summit Lake is at a higher altitude from us. Winter wonderland was guaranteed, even if it was slushy around town.

This was Maggie's big social event of the year, and the family always pulled out all the stops. The trail from the road to the house was lit with coloured lights and there was a fire pit in front of the house with benches around it. The potluck supper usually featured Maggie's succulent chickens, raised on sprouted wheat and kale. 

Oko, the gentle giant Rhodesian Ridge-back, would wind around people's legs and allow himself to be petted. Apparently he could be terrifying when his ruff was up, but in all his 11 years we never once saw that. 

Our children were friends with each other, and having a good time doing snowy slidey things. There might be drumming and guitar playing around the fire, fooling around with sparklers, and at some point a display of real fire works.

Oko has long since gone to the great lion hunt in the sky. The children are grown and gone to the city. Some of the good friends who were with us around those fires have died. Beth, Marilyn, here is a toast to you!
Four years ago Magda and her partner moved North so they could have more land. Solstice has not been the same.

Until last night. Holy Moses, those people know how to create a party space. 
I didn't take any pictures inside. Let's just say the place was crammed with people and great food. Potlucks are always the best.

Above: lights and prayer flags between the house and the fire pit.  I tweaked the picture, the reality was darker. Below: This fire had been lit and nurtured for hours. A big bed of coals made the whole area really toasty.
Below: Music around the fire. 
More music. This town can drum!
Brenda Lee must have been High Priestess of Stonehenge or something like it in a past life. She invited us to a little ceremony: write something on a piece of paper that you would like to leave behind in the old year. We'll ceremoniously burn it later.
Everyone was handed a lighted lantern thingy to carry through the woods. We were supposed to chant something, but that came out a bit thin and mumbly. We are an inhibited lot in some respects.
If you really look you can to see the string of people carrying their little lights. It was rather neat.
And at the end of the trail there was.........another fire laid out!
This one was for ceremonial purposes. Our host Mickey came out of the woods with a dramatic home-made torch and let her rip.
 This fire had not just been laid, it had been designed.
Once it was going, we threw in our pieces of paper with undesirable whatever. 
Then we were asked to form a circle, hold hands and do some light-inviting chanting. This time people were more inclined to participate. 
Like I said, if the Sun isn't on its way back it won't be for lack of us doing our bit.
I got a bit teary with nostalgia for times past and people lost, but in a good soulful way. This event was less intimate and more orchestrated than our Summit Lake gatherings. Besides, in those times we were socially at the heart of things, instead of on the edge.
But I was very happy to be there and celebrate a real Solstice again. 

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