It's no coincidence that many religions celebrate festivals of light at this time of year. There's Hanukah and Christmas and Diwali, not to mention all those luminaria that light pathways during the holiday season. It's winter in the northern hemisphere … a time of darkness, cold and short days. With Lin's circle of Earth-centered friends, I celebrated the old pagan ritual of Yule in anticipation of the solstice. It's a time of contemplation and hope, knowing that eventually the lengthening days and light of spring will follow. The venue at the UU church in Milton, Massachusetts is the perfect setting for such celebrations.
We sang traditional yuletime songs with a fire blazing in the fireplace. We each lit our own candle in celebration of light. We spoke of the past year and things to come.
I always find the Earth-centered celebrations to be uplifting. I'm warmly welcomed by the group though my participation is sporadic. I usually try to bring something of what I've experienced or learned to share and this year I brought bindis, those little dots that Hindus wear on their foreheads. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It represents the third eye and was created as a means to worship one's intellect. Used by both men and women, the bindi helps to ensure our thoughts, speech, actions, habits and ultimately our character become pure. A strong intellect can help one make noble decisions in life, be able to stand up to life's challenges with courage, and recognize and welcome good thoughts. The belief is that on this premise, a strong individual, a strong family and a strong society can be formed. How can you go wrong with that?
As with all celebrations, we ended with a feast very much akin to a cruiser's potluck. Everyone contributed a dish or two. Everyone brought wine or a beverage to share. We ate and drank. We did a Pagan gift trade … aka a Yankee swap. Music played in the background. The evening was filled with warm, spirited conversation and good karma. Bring on the holidays … I'm ready.