Sunday, 14 December 2014


It is hard for those of us born and bred in the far South of our tilting world to understand the terror and glory of Longest Night.

Not until you have been exiled under the northern skies do you begin to glimpse and grasp the roots and reasons for the birth of religions.

We, for whom there is a steady rhythm to the days - sun-rises, and sun-sets of sudden but predictable glory - cannot surely comprehend the slow and frightening progression of what seems to be the wane and eminent demise of the Sun across a darkening sky.

Here, at the height of summer, the sun sets as late as ten o'clock at night. It seems days are endless, a golden blessing of a benevolent god; then as the season wanes, the sun sets earlier and earlier. Darkness strides closer and closer, cold and a whisper of death. Is it so hard to imagine the perception of Winter as evil personified wrestling with the valiant sun across the greying skies?

Not ten thousand years ago, an Ice Age afflicted these climes. The very demon of ice and snow ruled this land. Endless winter, endless nights. I believe this spectre still slumbers in the myths and the consciousness, at the base of every religion that was born in this half of our world.
Sol Invictus, versus Endless Night.

So as the Winter Solstice approaches we light our lamps, and candles against the threat of an endless night. We stand vigil for our champion, our palatine. We pray for rebirth, one more year of light and love and life. The Celts lit vast bonfires, we light trees and faerie lights.

No other night equals the power and the glory and the terror of Longest Night.
Our youngest religions have embraced the rituals as their own: festivals of light, celebrations of birth; but at the root of it lies the threat and the fear of the dark. Endless night comes to embrace us, on whom shall we call, who shall save us?

So we call for salvation, a promise of continuance, the blessing of rebirth.
We wait for the dawn that brings the end of Longest Night; and when morning comes,we trade kisses and gifts, we sing paeans of praise to the Light.

Christ the Reborn, the Resurrected, is an avatar of Sol Invictus; bringing a promise of renewal at the end of our own personal Winter Solstice.

The darkness that falls is not endless, there is an end to night.
Lift high your candles, light the fires for Longest Night.


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