swivelling on the year's axis

Solstice star and flame

I purchased this candle-holder and holiday decoration this winter. It’s a star entirely made of beads, and it’s been hanging in my dining room window for a couple of weeks. Today I lit a votive candle, placed it inside the star and took pictures of it illuminated by the Solstice sun.

It’s quite a special day since it’s a full moon with a lunar eclipse on the solstice. I’m glad to celebrate the passing of the shortest day and to welcome back longer days.

It’s been a cold and tough winter by Irish standards, and we’re not out of it yet, but I often feel optimistic on the winter solstice. Especially on a day with bright blue skies and sunshine illuminating the snow-covered fields. We’ve been lucky not to get much snowfall in my area in the West. A friend of mine has been cooped up in her house since last Thursday, and she’s probably got another few days of being ice-bound ahead of her. At least she has a fire and many books to alievate the cabin fever – and the Internet! Whatever did people do in the past when they were iced in for weeks? (Yes, I know: murder and cannibalism!)

I think about the year as swivelling around two solstices: the rising of spirits and warmth as we approach the summer solstice and the dimming of light and a natural introversion which is epitomised by dark, short days of the winter solstice.

This period can be hard on people for a number of reasons, especially with the pressures attendant with the holiday season that push us towards idyllic notions of happy families around the table and presents glittering under a festive tree.

Change creeps along, sometimes so slowly it’s hard to notice. The longer days won’t be obvious for at least another month, but eventually those daily extra minutes add up and the days stretch a little.

As hard as it is to cope with the long slide into darkest winter at least the climb out into brighter Spring, and warmer Summer, will also follow.

Update: here’s a photo of the same decoration later on, with reflected holiday lights, brightening up the shortest night of the year.

Star, flame and reflected lights