Happy Return of the Sun, remember God/s/Goddess/es Love Us!

It was supposed to be a celebration of the return of the sun, the rebirth of the light, to help us get past the gloom of the longest night of the year, which is Winter Solstice. It was supposed to lift our spirits and reassure us that spring will come again, summer warmth will happen, we are not trapped in the bleak heart of winter to die in the dark.

Yes, all the festivities, all the good cheer, really boils down to that. Human beings have been doing something to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Almost all of the traditions have something to do with worshipping, or trying to persuade, the sun, the light, to return, to be reborn and give us their blessing again, because at some level people seemed to realize without the sun there is no more warmth. Without the sun the crops will not grow, there will be no spring lambs, or calves, or . . . We’ve understood for thousands, upon thousands of years that without the sun we’re pretty much screwed so we plead with it to return. Most of the earliest sun religions were about trying to get the sun to keep coming back and helping us grow food, and raise our spirits once more into the light, and away from the darkness of midwinter.

Originally that’s what this time of year was about, and then came Hanukkah, and Christmas. They are also celebrations of light and love, of survival against tough odds, and the conquering of the light, the son, over the forces that would destroy us all. The Israelites survived yet another attempt to wipe them out as people by the miracle of the never ending oil that burned for eight miraculous days. Jesus survived Herod’s attempts to kill him, and the implication is that if he can make it through, so can we, and that we, too, can have the protection of the Virgin Mary, and her stout right hand St. Joseph, who was a carpenter and you just feel that anyone that’s down to earth enough to work with wood must have a good head on his shoulders. In America I think that Joseph is particularly relevant as we have more and more step-parents and blended family. Think about he was step-dad to the son of God, no pressure there. He must have been a remarkable man to have stood by Mary and Jesus, and then all their other children. I love the idea that Jesus was from a big family with lots of half-brothers and sisters. But then I really like the Gospel of Thomas, which the Church deemed too dangerous to put in the Bible, or perhaps too confusing. I love Thomas, he’s always been my favorite disciple. Doubting Thomas who is invited to put his finger in the wound of the risen Christ, because Thomas doesn’t believe he’s real. There’s a man after my own heart, let me touch it, let me test it – Thomas was a sceptic and a scientist at heart, and I love him for it, because I’d want to touch the evidence to, and if you wouldn’t want to touch the risen Christ, then I can’t explain it to you, I know only that I so would have.

But I digress, but then its me, and I tend to do that. This time of year was supposed to either be a rollicking party to help us brave our way through the winter dark, or high, holy time when we worship Deity and celebrate His, Her, Their return, or try to persuade them to return to us and bless us with their light and warmth. We, as people, have a profound need for this celebration or there wouldn’t be any New Grange, the neolithic tomb mound where the Winter Solstice sun comes into that profound dark and brings hope with it. The clouds cleared away enough for the sun to actually do it’s bright job this year. The pictures were awesome.

If any of you are offended by the fact that Christmas is just one in a long line of holidays this time of year, sorry, but it’s the truth. I think the God, Almighty, and his son, Jesus, are both secure enough to accept that Winter Solstice is an astrological event, and that Yule has been around longer than spring baby Jesus has been moved to be a midwinter baby. The Church needed a holiday to turn people’s ideas from drunken revelry and what the Church saw as debauchery, to something more holy, so Jesus’s birthday was moved. I wonder if any of the Church fathers, or mothers (there really have been some) understood that Jesus was joining a long line of sons, or sun celebrations, to welcome back the sun? If you don’t believe Jesus was a spring baby, that’s okay, but there are lambs to greet him in the manager, and shepherd’s watching over their flocks by night, you don’t sleep outside in winter in that part of the world, but there is something about this cold and dark that makes all of us, even the Church, want to put something here to remind us that life will return, that there will be lambs and warmth, and new babies.

So how did a celebration of light, warmth, and proof that Deity loves us and won’t leave us to die in the dark turn into crushing social obligations, and who can buy the bestest presents?

Well, the Romans gave out gifts during Saturnalia which was a very big celebration during this time of year. Some say it’s the gifts of the Magi that gave us the idea for gifts, because of their Frankincense, Myrrh, and gold gifts to the Baby Jesus, and lets face it, their parents. That does explain how Joseph was able to leave his carpentry behind and live for awhile, those were expensive gifts of the day. Other’s say it was an early Christian Bishop named Nicholas, who helped give rise to Santa Claus, because of his charity to children in his day, and throwing bags of gold down chimneys to land in women’s stockings as dowries, according to one story. But modern ideas of gift giving seem to really come from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, and Clement Moore’s, A Visit from Saint Nicholas. It’s actually a very late addition to Christmas, all this gift giving, and yet it seems to overwhelm everything here in the States.

We worry about finding the perfect gift. People will put themselves in so much debt for this one season of gift giving that they spend the rest of the year paying it off. People say, don’t get me anything, and sometimes they mean it, or sometimes they keep score more than anyone else. It’s an emotional and familial politics minefield. The guilt if you can’t get your child that super popular present is very real for a lot of families. When did it become a contest to see who can spend the most money? When did gifts equate to how much you love your family? When did this season of buying become the make, or break, for most retail businesses? I’ve been researching and I can’t find enough agreement on any of the above to be certain, but I do know that whatever this holiday is about to you and yours, it’s not supposed to be about who has the most toys, the most stuff. It’s supposed to be about love and fun. Either God loves us, or Jesus loves us, or we’re supposed to be having wonderful raucous parties and orgies for Saturn and “love” lots, or raise a glass to Odin and the Norse and have a huge party with our friends and families, or we just light a fire and help chase away the darkness knowing that Deity really does love and care for the Earth, animals, and people it and will not leave us to die in the cold dark. It’s a fertility festival, a celebration of life, and birth, thrown into the face of the darkest, deadest, part of the year – we’re supposed to celebrate life, whatever that means to each us.

So celebrate life and love today, whether that means being with huge extended family, or family of choice, or just with your spouse/partner, or just you and your pets, or just you. Remember in all this gift giving and forced merry making that you’re supposed to love yourself, too, and sometimes a little time to yourself is the greatest gift of all. So whether you are knee deep in children and the post gift explosion of presents, or you are enjoying that first cup of tea with no one, but yourself enjoy this moment and remember it really isn’t about the gifts, it’s about the love.

Posted by at 10:53:20 am on December 25, 2013

27 Responses to Happy Return of the Sun, remember God/s/Goddess/es Love Us!

  1. You are so right, it’s all about love not about presents and gifts, but celebrating those that you hold dear around you. Hope you had a wonderful day, Laurell surrounded by all that you love.
    Merry Christmas
    Trinity Blacio

  2. Alaura says:

    Very well said! Thank you, as always, for your words that inspire.

  3. Megan says:

    Well said. 12/25 is also my birthday so I usually celebrate myself in some way within the week. I’m mostly an agnostic so I celebrate the holiday with my family who believe but believe as you said that Jesus was perhaps more likely born in the spring. Whatever your beliefs I like that at least we choose to celebrate in some way and make the winter months festive.

  4. Denise Wingfield says:

    My husband wrote a letter to me and his parents this year.He wanted us to know that he had the best gift ever,his family.I feel that whatever you are celebrating this time of the year,it is about love and those that bring light into your life.

  5. Shannon says:

    <3 Thank goodness someone agrees with me<3

  6. Debbie Doggett says:

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  7. terrie lawson says:

    How lovely.. ty for sharing Laura

  8. Teresa says:

    Thank you, and blessings to you and yours.
    I have just finished Burnt Offerings again, and what a joy to ponder questions of the spirit along with Anita.
    Thank you for using your talent, and all your effort, to share with us.

  9. Jamie Somers says:

    Very well said! Thank you gor sharing this! I couldn’t agree more! Blessed Holidays!

  10. Laina Puckett says:

    I agree that it is about the love you have for each other. I already knew the history of christmas which is why I feel no obligation to go to a church for it. I believe in the gods and goddesses of old over the new one, have you ever thought about all the aspects of God and then looked closely at the Greek or even any ancient mans “Gods”? If you take all of them and combine them together then you have God the father, Besides which even though most churches today try to say that they are monotheistic, they are truly polytheistic (Father, son and holy spirit). OOps sorry chased the rabbit again. Christmas is and always will be to me a celebration of family, friends and love we all share for each other. The coming of deep winter when you snuggle down with your significant other and make those Fall babies and remember the Sun will come out to warm the Earth again.

  11. This is very true. All of not. Thee Egyptian God Horace has the same line up in life that Christ had a long with many others.

  12. “It’s about the love” How right you are!

  13. Debbie Roberts says:

    You couldn’t have said it clearer or louder. I’ve so hated the race for the best present and the guilt it leaves behind when, as a parent, you can’t provide the basics let alone the best gift ever. I’ve had years in my sons’ lives when I barely could keep a roof over our heads and a small amount of food on the table but yet was expected by them and society to provide at Christmas time what I couldn’t give year round. All of children are men in their 30s and still the guilt lingers all these years later. Your words couldn’t ring clearer, it should be the love given that counts the most not the dollar bills spent.

  14. I agree with what you said. And we do tend to get caught up in all the shopping (which can be fun) that we sometimes forget why we’re buying gifts in the first place. Because we love the recipient, duh. lol. And even though I love my family and friends I’m glad when all go home and it’s just me and the hubs. We snuggle with a glass of wine or something warm and talk about past holidays. And just enjoy each other. It’s times like this, and they do happen at other times of the year, which make me greatful. I love and I’m loved. The greatest of gifts. And when I celebrate Yule and the birth of the Sun King, I’m thankful for another year in the sun with my family. Enjoy life. It’s a precious thing.

  15. Kristi Lloyd says:

    I hope your Christmas and your Winter Solstice were both lovely.

    Our Christmas here was nice. We are a military family and far from “home.” But we are fortunate to have my brothers-in-law in town here with us, and we spent the holiday with them. It made for a nice, stress-free day.

    My Winter Solstice was very small as I’m the only Wiccan in my entire family. But that went well too.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I love your open honesty about what say about this holiday. I have even express the same thing to other people. Some have been upset about what I have said others were like oh wow I did not know that. I just tell them all they have to do is open up their history books and read it with an open mind.

    I like to think no matter what you believe in that all people’s belief’s should be respected. It saddens me when other people don’t want to respect them. Our belief’s are similar and most people find ironic that I was raised in a Christian home and I have since leaving my parents home changed what I believed. I have always felt alone in our church and that made me unhappy. I searched a long time before finding something I could be happy with. In some way’s it is a mixture of several different religion’s but the core belief is to treat others with respect and to live in harmony with all that is around us. I am still learning and I know I still have a long way to go.

    I wish you and your family a long and peaceful life. Or in the words of Spock “Live long and prosper.”

  17. Karen says:

    Thank you for being the voice of reason in this time of madness.

  18. You are so very correct. I am an avid fan thanks to my best friend leading me to you. My greatest wish is that the people of the world could and would love each other as much as the Deities we worship love us. Thank you for the beautiful and heartfelt sentiment this holiday season. Bless you and your family and to everyone who reads this or not.

  19. Diane P. says:

    This has really hit the nail on the head for me. Thank you for putting into words my exact feelings on this season!!!

  20. joyce says:

    Thank you for your insights, and I have to say, I could not agree with you more. I hope your holiday was filled with love and light and the joy of being with the ones who mean the most to you. Goddess Bless…

  21. Kristina Learned says:

    Thank you for so much. I know this is such a challenging time of year for so many. Recently I had the privilege to meet and make friends with a family who are just one more of us out here trying to make it and with the help of my parents we were able to give this family a little extra for them to give their three children. We made it clear that everything they picked out was to go to their kids from them or a grandparent, these things were NOT to be from us. They are hard working people and we didn’t want to take away the pride and joy they felt being able to give things like a new pair of shoes or toy to their kids would give them. It was the BEST feeling ever!! :-)

  22. Diana Sprain says:

    So many of our holidays are based upon seasons of the year, and ancient traditions, especially many Roman ones, adopted by the Christians & Catholic Church. Win their hearts and the people will join your group. Where else could we connect bunnies to Easter but for the fertility rites of spring?

    Blessed Be.

  23. Joanne E. Fitzsimmons says:

    Thank you for this blog Laurell, it was very meaningful and exceptionally written, as always. I was finding Christmas harder to wrap my head around as the years went by and was feeling a little disenchanted. Even though I stopped believing in the bible the way I once had, I didn’t want to leave Christmas behind entirely (too sentimental to give it up I guess). I wrote a short poem about it that lifted by spirits a little. It is for those of us that still want to retain the essence of Christmas but can no longer follow the beliefs or doctrines of the religion.

    Christmas Without A Christ – by Erica Fitzsimmons

    Left without a Christ to follow,
    Yet still beholden to his endearing values.
    What meaning now lies in this holiday?
    When my religion is gone, but my heart remains.
    Why not these symbols may I still enjoy?
    But with a renewed viewpoint of this amazing boy.

    Reborn my love for this Christmastime,
    When I embrace the light and realize
    It’s about hope, love, giving and caring,
    Friends and family learning compassion and sharing.
    Opening our hearts to these stories and lessons,
    If taught symbolically, shall retain their essence.

    For is it not the deeper meaning that counts?
    Not gifts, a jolly red suit, nor three wise men on their mounts…
    Children are miracles lest we ever forget,
    That these miracles happen everyday in our midst.
    This is what I would like to believe,
    Of our Christmastime story,
    Not of its biblical means.

  24. Kate says:

    Thank You. Finally. I’ve printed this blog and gave to everyone who asked me why don’t i celebrate christmas. Less talking for me. lol

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