My apologies to Dylan Thomas for ripping off (and slightly altering) his poem title. I couldn’t resist. I wanted to come up with my own but “seasonal affective disorder” must be clouding my normally clever, creative, and highly astute thought-processes 😆 Besides, I do want to “rage against the dying of the light”. Thanks again, Dylan.
The pagans and druids were out in full force at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England today to observe the winter solstice. Yes, it’s December 21st, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The astronomical phenomenon of this event has always fascinated me, as does astronomy in general (although I did poorly in the subject in school for some reason).
This is the celebration time of year, with holidays galore, commemorative feasts, festivals, and religious observances which reflect the vast spectrum of spirituality across cultures. But I have to say that the solstices are my favorites because they recognize the patterns and movements of our beautiful planet. I don’t think one must label themselves a “pagan” to acknowledge the elegance, intelligence, and awe-inspiring travels of earth through the universe.
To me, the best thing about the winter solstice is that it signals the reversal of long nights, and we begin to gradually inch toward my personal preference of longer days and shorter nights. At the beginning of this post I made a crack about seasonal affective disorder, but I was only half-joking. Maybe it’s just silly psychology, but the truth is I do feel more glum when the skies are darker, and conversely I feel more buoyant on brighter, sunnier days. I’ll go one step further – and stupider – and use my birthday as an excuse. I was born in the heart of the summer; a bona-fide “summer baby” if you will. So I suspect that long, lazy, humid days were implanted in my DNA with the sun’s alignment back in July of 1968. Works for me. Plus I prefer shorts to long pants, and that’s some hardcore, empirical, scientific proof right there.
Edward Hopper was a 20th century American realist painter. And guess what? He and I share the same birthday – July 22nd 🙂 Another summer baby! Right on, Edward! And no wonder he created many paintings that feature sunlight streaming through windows. This is Morning Sun from 1952. On this winter solstice, let’s look to Hopper’s bright day to carry us through until bleak winter passes.