Happy Solstice/Yule/Sunreturn, everybody.
Winter Solstice (Yule) [December 21]
Come, glorious Yule, thou princely season,
wherein the king of oaks reclaims his crown
and the winter darkness starts to lessen.
The lord of wrens and holly is brought down,
and the dark Maid becomes the bright Mother,
with her new-born Sun suckling at her breast.
His birth for a time has slain his brother,
and likewise he will face the mortal test
when six months more have brought the year around.
The Unconquered Sun renews his power,
even in this dark time of frozen ground.
Therefore we praise his willing bearer.
We welcome thee, White Lady, in your days,
And chant our prayers to thee with thanks and praise.
Hail, day of darkness, gathered at the spoke
where all nature’s softness is stripped away,
and every branch bends beneath winter’s yoke,
seeming heavy and bleak, dreary and gray.
Yet winter, like kings, tests his subjects’ wills,
and bends them down in fealty to the ice;
those who will not like vassals ben, he breaks.
Still, evolution fears not winter’s chills,
but works hibernation in sleeping mice,
and sings trout to sleep beneath frozen lakes.
Magnolia grows petals within fir coats.
Sparrows take shelter together for warmth.
Black crows pick over fields of winter oats.
Owls delight in their longest working month.
And yes, mosquitoes marshal their forces,
yellow jackets find refuge under bark.,
and bees in their hives aggregate their heat.
Deer ramble on frozen watercourses;
blue jay sings in the dimness before dark.
Under winter’s tyranny, life stays sweet.
From here on out, they’ll count daylight minutes,
watch by slow degrees midnight’s overthrow.
Snow-rimed coasts filled with plovers and gannets
still revise themselves to Moon’s undertow.
Winter yet shall reign, and govern by snow,
but Green prepares itself beneath the slush.
Blizzard bites hard, but relentless revolt
makes light’s return known in dawn’s salmon glow.
The changes of winter are no less lush
than those of springtime: Even Earth must molt.
Greetings, deepest darkness, crowding out last light,
Shutting away with twilight shortest day.
Here in utmost silence, seek we delight:
Abundance of laughter, music, food, play,
And above all friendship and good tiding—
Hope kindled in winter, like new-sparked flame.
Store up kindling for this fire’s abiding:
Dynamic magic born of Nameless Name.
Spirit: resident in rock, root and seed;
Animating hawk, and human, and hart!
Awaken Light in this midnight of need;
Fill us with new inspiration and art,
And cheer us, though season is cold and gray,
With shortening darkness, and lengthening day!
Hail to thee, Night of Darkness Ascendant!
The sun flees the sky and leaves you the field,
solemn and old, depressed and repentant,
scattering the last of his evening gold.
Now come the days of the Lords of Misrule,
who turn all law and custom up-side down,
who make merry against the dying light.
So we praise the secret meaning of Yule,
when the red-suited prankster comes to town,
to make the poor rich, and dispense delight
though snow and the wolf-pack howl at the door.
Is there any more honest rebellion
than giving good to the weak and the poor
on a night of secret celebration?
And therefore the powers scream, Buy! Buy! Buy!
limiting with plastic the children’s gifts,
while adults fear the season’s debts creeping.
Yet Scriptures and tradition both deny
Caesar’s coinage, though our attention drifts:
In Ramallah, a mother’s voice, weeping.
Refocus us, O Holy Solstice Night,
and kindle a spark of change in my brain.
Redefine for us the meaning of light
for as long as winter darkness remain.
And redefine the darkness for me, too,
when right hand does not know the left hand’s deed,
whose gifts bring change no power can defer:
the sun’s gold returning, gleaming and new;
frankincense smoke, reflecting Spirit’s need;
transformation smeared with honey, and myrrh.
Poems behind the cut, if you want/need ’em.