Tuesday 21 December 2010
Yule and the Blood Red Moon
Today was the Winter Solstice, the beginning of Yule, the shortest day and the longest night. Now comes the turning. Life renews in the sun. Sol Invictus will arise with fresh strength! Light the great fires; have no fear.
Well, maybe you should, if you believe in omens. The day coincided with a total eclipse of the Moon, observable from some parts of this island, the first time that an eclipse has coincided with the Solstice for almost four hundred years, not since 1638, to be exact. Yes, the last time was in December 1638, on the threshold of the Bishops' Wars, an overture to the Great Civil War. This time the Moon appeared blood red in our skies. Not, I hope, a portent of things yet to come!
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn.
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born
I happened to be reading Charles Lamb's Essays of Elia in bed this morning, specifically the one entitled New Year's Eve. He has no fear of death; he celebrates life, existence of the moment;
...I conceive disgust at those impertinent and misbecoming familiarities, inscribed upon your ordinary tombstones. Every dead man must take it upon himself to be lecturing me with his odious truism 'such as he is now, I must shortly be'. Not so shortly, friend, perhaps as thou imaginest. In the meantime I am alive. I move about. I am worth twenty of thee. Know thy betters! Thy New Year’s Days are past. I survive, a jolly candidate for 1821.
Alas, 1821, a New Year long, long past. Oh, Charles, thou are dust, not even food for worms! No matter; he understood, understood that present joys have present laughter, understood that paradise can never be postponed.
With lusty brimmers of the best;
Mirth should always Good Fortune meet,
And render e'en Disaster sweet:
And though the Princess turn her back,
Let us but line ourselves with sack,
We better shall by far hold out,
Till the next Year she face about.
So, here am I, a celebrant of the Solstice, a votary and an acolyte of Diana, of Pan and of the Sun God, living, surviving, loving, a jolly candidate for 2011. A happy Solstice to you all, witches and pagans, friends of all creeds, all faiths and shades of belief…and none.