The brightest star.  The longest night. 

Winter Solstice is almost upon us.  This year it will occur on December 22, 2011 at 12:30 a.m. EST.   Otherwise known as midwinter or Yule, it is the longest night of the year and in the days following the sun will linger a bit longer each day.

In the old pagan lore, the Winter Solstice represented the birth of the new solar year and the birth of the sun.  It was a time of bonding with family and friends, and connecting once again with Mother Earth.  Mistletoe and other greenery were brought indoors to mimic the world outside and to remind all that with the birth of the Sun, spring will come again and the world will again be green.

I like to think of Winter Solstice as a day of reflection and my own personal rebirth.  What did I do right this year, what did I do wrong?  How can I be a better person?  What plans can I make during this winter and what seeds can I plant in my own soul so that when spring does come again, I will be ready to grow with the world around me?

Light a candle to honor the sun and the light within your soul.  Hang the mistletoe to represent the love you feel for those around you and to bring luck into your life.  Some would caution that you should never remove the old mistletoe until you have the new to replace it or else you will lose your luck (be sure if you have small children or animals to remove the white berries as they are poisonous if ingested).  Burn a log in your fireplace and keep a bit of the ash or a piece of charred leftover wood for next year to toss in with the new Yule log.  

I have a small cluster of mistletoe given to me by a very close friend and I keep this cluster in a vase in my kitchen window.  It’s been in that vase for over 10 years and has moved with me from my old home to this one.  I also have a larger cluster that fell from a tree my mother’s front yard about 8 years ago.  It hangs from my chandelier in the dining room.  Both clusters are quite dry and brittle but I will never replace them because of what they represent to me.  

This year I will light another candle, hunker down and welcome the night.  I will give thanks for everything I have received be it good or bad.  I will honor both my pagan deities and the gods of other religions because the seeds of those gods also reside within me.  And I will send my prayers, wishes, thoughts and hopes into the night to dance upon the fragile glow of a single candle flame.

Caeli enarrant gloriam dei.    The heavens declare the glory of god.