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2005-12-21 Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice, everyone! Every year on this day, I resolve that next winter Solstice will be the one that I'm actually going to do something signficant to celebrate. And this year is no exception. I suppose that this year I could get away with the excuse that the holiday has been overshadowed by our impending honeymoon. But that's not really the reason - the problem is that I'm just terrible about remembering holidays. It's not normally a problem because lots of other people are really good at remembering them, so they usually remind me, but when it comes to a holiday like this one that is honored by no one else that I know, I'm pretty much on my own. I'm sure Jenny would be into it, but I'd have to make the effort to initiate it.

Now, at this point I should make something clear. I'm really not a practicing pagan in the new-age sense of the term. My religious practice is more Buddhist in nature (I meditate daily and try to adhere to the precepts). So how is it, you ask, that I am interested in celebrating solstice in the first place?

Many years ago, several years after I had abandoned Christianity, some co-workers and I were talking about the Christmas holidays. It occurred to me then that there wasn't a lot that I liked about Christmas:

  • the whole family get-together thing was very tiresome.

  • The gift-exchange is downright oppressive (dealing with traffic and hordes of other pissed-off holiday shoppers, trying to figure out gifts for people that you think that they possibly might like, having to feign enthusiasm upon receiving somebody's dumb idea of what they think you might like).

  • Then there's the tired old Christmas music they have playing everywhere you go.

I realized that the only thing I liked about the season was the lights (I guess, in retrospect, I also liked the "getting wasted with your friends" part that usually occurred at some point after the family Christmas celebration). I still look back on the nights I spent lying under the Christmas tree, looking up at all the colorful blinking lights reflecting off of the tinsel and shiny ornaments, as some of my fondest childhood memories.

As time went on, it occurred to me that the lights serve a very useful function - they help to alleviate the depression that tends to come on during the darkest season of the year. I guess some of the other festivities serve that purpose also, assuming that you don't actually find them to be depressing in and of themselves.

And then it occurred to me that that's what it's really all about - this is the darkest time of the year, and we're all looking forward to the turn-around point where the day starts getting longer and the weather starts getting warmer! This is about the end of a cycle that occurs at the astronomical, planetary level.

The end of this cycle is marked with Solstice.

So I think this calls for a celebration - but in the absence of a coven of like-minded cyber-not-so-pagans, how should it be celebrated? The traditional activities include music, intoxication and sex - all good things! Sign me up!

But, in the absence of any real preparations, I think we'll be going pretty low-key this year - probably just dinner, mild intoxication and sex at home. Next year I'll coordinate the massive Solstice orgy in Time Square...