Solstice – My Favourite Day.

Today is the Winter Solstice, a day that has firmly become my favourite of the whole year!

In our Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day, when the Sun barely shows itself above the horizon and then for the briefest possible time! It marks the turn of the seasons when the days begin to grow longer and the warmth of Summer begins it’s long return journey. It’s also the real beginning of Winter, but hey you can’t have everything! For my friends South of the Equator the opposite is true, your days will now start to shorten towards Autumn.
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The relevance of this turning point has become stronger for me as I have grown older; I understand the ancient people who venerated the turning seasons and the Celestial Calendar. It appears that since the dawn of time our forbears have found reason to celebrate a festival of light in the depths of the darkest day of the year. So why not have a party to celebrate the ending of one celestial year and the beginning of a new one? Sounds good to me, but then I am a Welsh Wizard/Dewin Cymreig!

Let’s not forget that many other cultures and religions around the world also celebrate festivals at this time of the year and have the rebirth of light firmly as their focus.

The Christian Church has celebrated the birthday of Jesus Christ, Christmas, on December 25th since the 4th Century when Pope Julius I chose the date in an effort to replace the Roman Feast of Saturnalia. In several languages, not just English, people have compared the rebirth of the sun to the birth of the son of God.

It’s also interesting to reflect that the origins of many “traditional” Western Christmas decorations such as the Yule Log, Tree and Wreath can trace back to pre-Christian times. Familiar decorations of green, red and white cast back to the Wiccan traditions and the Druids. The old Pagan Mid-Winter Festival of Yule also included feasting and gift giving, doesn’t it all sound very familiar?!?!

A real Christmas Tree.

A real Christmas Tree.


When I was younger we always did the usual Christmas decoration stuff, including a highly non-authentic artificial tree! My late father did little to dress the tree, but had his own take on the whole decoration thing that he insisted on doing himself; every year he would garland the house with boughs of green holly and evergreen, it was only then that I truly used to feel that things were being done properly. I suspect that my Celtic blood has a lot to do with this and I still carry on that tradition today in Dookes H.Q., I adore the house smelling of pine and other evergreens!

Many Pagan religions had a tradition where it was customary to place holly leaves and branches in and around dwellings during winter. It was believed that the good spirits who inhabited forests could come into their homes and use the holly as shelter against the cold; whilst at the same time malevolent forces and spells would be repelled.

Mrs Dookes enters into the spirit of the season with her splendid handmade evergreen wreaths. This reflects another Celtic tradition, the wreath’s circle has no beginning or end and the evergreen represents life in the depths of winter.
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Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, The Solstice, Dongzhi, Yalda, Saturnalia, Malkh, any other festival that I may have missed, or just looking forward to having a restful holiday, have a truly wonderful time and maybe spare a thought, or penny, for those less fortunate.

Thanks for joining me for the ride this year, it’s been a ball and I hope you will saddle up with Harls, Baby and I in ’17 for more two-wheeled adventure and opinion!

“Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.”

Catch you soon.

Dookes

Winter Dusk Dartmoor

Winter Dusk Dartmoor


In memory of “Crazy” Mon and Ann who rode on ahead in 2016.

Now is the Solstice of the Year

Today, the Winter Solstice, is probably my favourite day of the year!

Living in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the turn of the seasons when the days begin to grow longer and the warmth of Summer is beginning its long return journey, true it’s also the real beginning of Winter, but hey you can’t have everything! I spare a thought for my friends South of the Equator for whom the opposite is true, your days will now start to shorten towards Autumn.

As I have grown older, the relevance of this turning point has grown stronger for me, I can rally attune to the Ancients who venerated the turning seasons and the Celestial Calendar. I suspect that my Celtic blood has a lot to do with this, so it won’t belong before I have to pop outside into the rain to grab the Yule Log plus Holly and Evergreen to decorate Dookes H.Q.!

It’s interesting to reflect that the origins of many common Christmas decorations such as the Yule Log and Wreath can trace back to pre-Christian times. You have to remember that though Christmas is a Christian celebration it is firmly superimposed on top of the much older Pagan Winter Festivals that predate it. Lets not forget that many other cultures and religions around the world also celebrate festivals at this time of the year and often they have light firmly as their focus.

Wreaths are traditionally made from evergreen symbolising strength and endurance as the evergreen lasts throughout even the hardest winter. The ring is also immortal, never-ending or beginning. I am pleased to report that Dookes H.Q. is currently displaying a splendid Wreath made by Mrs Dookes!IMG_0990

The importance of the Solstice in Neolithic times is witnessed by the many standing stone sites, such as Stonehenge, which were deliberately aligned to celebrate the Solstice. At Stonehenge the Great Trilithon stands with the it’s smooth face towards the mid-winter sunrise that rises and projects through the gap in the stones.IMG_0498For people who were dependant on the passing of the seasons the Winter Solstice was of phenomenal importance. Now was the time that surplus animals were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed through the winter and there was briefly an abundance of fresh meat to enjoy at the time that the rebirth of the sun began. So why not have a festival and party to celebrate the ending of one celestial year and the beginning of a new one? Sounds good to me, but then, I am a Derwydd/Druid!

Stenness Stones Orkney

Stenness Stones Orkney

In the midst of all this rebirth stuff, remembering David and Dave who rode on ahead this year, one day we’ll talk to the trees again and the plan will come together!

Have a brilliant Solstice everyone!

“Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.”

Dookes

Special thanks to Mark Grant for use of the Stonehenge photo.