At 4:19PM (CST) today the sun will set. At 4:44AM tomorrow morning the sun will be situated directly above the Tropic of Capricorn marking the precise moment of Winter Solstice. And at 7:21AM the sun will rise.
It is in the recognition of these simple numbers that my religion resides. The relative positioning of the earth and the sun is scientific fact. It needn’t have been invented by shamans and storytellers, and yet it has been appropriated by shamans and storytellers for good reason. It is true. It is real. It is in our bones, in the flow of our blood, in the wind of our breath. I am an animal sharing this space in time with all of creation. I share it with the trees, with the ocean tides, with the sun, the moon, with Whitman’s leaves of grass, with you.
Crass and self-serving merchants and priests have done their best to sully this natural magic with sinister and cynical machinations in order to wrest power and wealth, to twist and pervert the natural beauty and order of this day for their own purposes. But they have no power over me today (or any other day) for I do not surrender to their greed. I do not concede my ownership. This is my story, and yours. This is our truth. This is our sacred moment.
My bloodlines run through Scandinavia and the British Isles. Surely I have Druid blood, I have no doubt. My ancestors lit the Yule and welcomed the returning sun. Early indigenous religions had a more sophisticated, holistic cosmology. What they lacked in scientific discovery, they made up for with a deeper understanding of connection.
I honor my ancestors today. I honor the inextricable ties to them and to all of nature. So, at sunset I will light a candle and I will be still. I will mark the occasion with reverence, with silence. I will embrace the darkness and hold the returning light in my heart and in my mind, knowing its return signifies the promise of new life. I ask you to join me in this holy night. Good Solstice to you.
Charles Bursell is a writer, performer, host and commentator heard nationally on SiriusXM, National Public Radio, and The Pacifica Radio Network. He currently hosts the podcasts Stream of Consciousness Talk Radio Theatre and Conversations With Charles Bursell. Both shows, and more, can be found on several platforms, including Apple Podcasts (iTunes) and Libsyn.com.