What is the Solstice? Astronomically (and in this case, also astrologically), it is the moment when the sun enters the constellation and sign of Capricorn, the furthest south on its journey. (yes, yes, I know, the sun doesn't move, it is a question of appearing to move. Excuse me, while I put the earth and its inhabitants in the center of creation for a moment). The solstice marks the shortest day (in the northern hemisphere), and therefor, the longest night. This year, for the East Coast of the United States, the moment of Solstice was at 12:48 pm. Pretty much right in the middle of the day. As a result, the nights on either side were of the same length; 14 hour and 47 minutes from sunset to sunrise.
Thinking it through, I decided that it made more sense to celebrate the maximum dark and encourage the return of light and warmth on the second of the two long nights; it is only after the second one that the days will begin their increase. But that also means a Monday night, a weeknight, a work night, and since the Solstice is one of several holidays observed, a busy time indeed. I am a firm believer in observing the astronomically based holidays at the right time, not when it is convenient, so Monday night it is.
I came home from a morning appointment with a client and swept out the fireplace and hearth. Laid in the logs for a good fire, and set matches and "help" near at hand. At the center of the grate, I place the charcoal that had been left from last years Solstice fire. I filled the wood box on the porch. Then I spent the next hour or so getting other responsibilities and chores out of the way, so when night falls, I won't be busy and distracted.
At the moment of the Solstice (Verizon time), I lit the fire. It has been blazing merrily for more than three hours, and the sun has begun to set. I will have time to go out to the woodpile once more before it gets dark, but there is plenty of wood stacked on the porch. Sitting by the fire with the long dark outside, I will contemplate, think upon and remember all those who came before me. All those who set fires and lit candles and created beacons in the dark and cold, so that light and warmth could be found.
Love, and blessings to all of you. If you are without light and warmth, may my fire be as a beacon. And for those of you who have found your light, and source of warmth, may my fire help feed yours.
See you all on the light side!