solstice (the longest night of the year)

What do those of us who have no official religion do?  I mean, Christmas is rough because it is so deeply ingrained in the psyche of someone who grew up in a Christian culture, but if you don’t buy the idea of someone else taking responsibility for your actions, then Christmas is kind of hypocritical. 

Looking at the historical origins of Christmas, and the fact that Jesus was probably born some time in September (if I remember correctly) and that the celebration of his birth was moved to coincide with the existing pagan celebration of the winter solstice (this is where the symbolics for the evergreen tree comes from – fertility), then it isn’t such a stretch for me to go back to a solstice celebration. 

I probably won’t be announcing this elsewhere.  After all, who wants to explain all of this to ones family.  My grandmother doesn’t need any further shocks regarding the shaky spiritual ground her offspring is on.  And I’m not sure I get it myself, but I’m thinking this is what my personal ceremonies are going to be.  The philosophy behind this all is bound to morph as I articulate it, but I’ve got some ideas about what my unspoken rituals are going to look like.

1) (and I actually did it last night) I’m going to start a fire.  It doesn’t have to be a big one, but it has something to do with burning off the previous year.  I put an old (clean) dishrag with a big hole in it into the fire this year.  Burning off the old … dirt doesn’t seem like the right word, but symbolically burning off the old grime.  Maybe grime is a better word.
2) I took out the trash.  It isn’t the right day for trash, but I took out a bag anyway.   Things I don’t want to carry into the new year with me. 
3) Cleaning the house thoroughly.  I didn’t start listening to whatever it is in me that is suggesting this course of action until it was too late to get things clean for last night.  Maybe I can consider the time between the 21st and the 31st as no-man’s-land between the old year and the new one.  Somehow, the solstice seems like a much better marker of the new year.  Or maybe next year I’ll just get started earlier. 
4) I waved around some incense based on a cleansing ritual a friend taught me. 
5) This morning, I spent some time considering the things I have to thank the universe/God for, and making a request for what I think I need the most: clarity and peace. 

As I said, I’m sure that this will morph further, but for now, that’s what I’ve got and that’s what I did.  I do think that some cleaning over the next few days is in order.

solstice (the longest night of the year)

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