Different faiths celebrate light, warming darkest part of year

February 25, 2017

Yesterday when I went for my walk to collect the mail from the boxes two blocks away from where I am house sitting in Quispamsis near Saint John, New Brunswick, I noticed, with a joyful flip to my heart, that it was close to 6 pm but still light out.

This is one of the amazing things that connects us back in time to the first peoples who rushed back to their caves after hunting and gathering all day before the darkness set in. No doubt, they, too felt a flip of the heart when they realized that light was staying longer in the sky so they could slow down a bit on their journeys back to their caves.

When I was in Ireland a few years ago, I remember a tour guide, at a ruins, stating that when the days of light shortened considerably in December that many pagans were terrified that the Sun was gone for good.

No wonder so many peoples from so many religions still celebrate making surroundings light for themselves during the earth’s darkest days as well as joyfully welcoming in the longer days.

The following is a piece about this:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
Different faiths celebrate light, warming darkest part of year
by Tanya Lester

The magic of light.

When our ancient ancestors rubbed those sticks together in the dark of night and a flame erupted, they must have fallen to their knees in spontaneous worship of a universe that could produce such a miracle.

Warmth in the dead of night.

Hope that the rain would one day stop; that the snow and the long hours of darkness would once again yield to the warm rays of the sun.

Fire to heat food and to warm bellies.

A flame to envelop one’s body in the nurturing warmth of Mother Earth.

This is the miracle honoured when people celebrate the festivals of light.

“It just fills you with hope,” said Sharon Marmorstein, who celebrates Chanukah.

She said she was involved in a business deal last week during Chanukah and everything turned out fine. She attributes this success somehow with the candle lighting done on the eight days of this Jewish holiday.

Marmorstein said in the Jewish faith everything is explained on a simple level as well as on a mystical level. On a simple level, lighting the eight Chanukah candles goes far back into history when the Greeks impurified the Jewish temples by erecting their own statues inside the temples.

The story goes that a group of grassroots Jewish people called the Maccabee were able to regain control of the temples. In their re-dedication ceremony, they re-lit the eternal flames (in a candle holder with a wick in the oil) and there was only enough old for it to burn for a day.

People set out to get more oil but it was an eight-day journey to find and
return with oil.

The miracle was that the flame kept going to eight days until the people came back with more oil….(note: I have lost pieces of this article)

A Christmas wreath is the backdrop for five candles, Murray said.

Three purple candles are lit during the fist three Sundays and each individually represent hope, love and peace.

The pink candle is lit for job, he said, and remembers the night the angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her that she was miraculously to give birth to Christ.

The fifth candle, which is white and called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Eve, Murray said. The candles are a symbol of Christ being the light of the world.

He said lighting the darkness is significant and represents an innate response in us. “You need that sense that spring is going to come and light is going to return,”
he said, adding that a need for community seems stronger in the darker part of the year.

Wiccan Dan Ralph Miller will be celebrating the winter solstice at Rose’s Cafe in Fulford on December 21.

He said it is difficult to accurately trace historical events surrounding this event held on the day marking the shortest length of sunlight and the longest length of darkness because pagans practised an oral tradition. In fact, writing things down was probably seen as taking away from immersing oneself into the experience.

Miller speculated, however, that the winter solstice feast, in the Scandinavian areas of what is now Europe, took place in the chieftain’s longhouse around a huge fire.

He said an alternative to this would have been to congregate in a forest hall dedicated to the gods. People might build lean-tos…

The winter marks a time, with the sun seldom visible, in which the ice realm — the cold, contractive and material side of the world — was dominating over the fire realm which is characterized by expansive energy, according to Miller.

During the solstice, the ice giants are taking over, said Miller. Those who light fires frighten them away until the sun goddess returns.

“There is an acute awareness of how fragile life is,” said Miller.

The fire was traditionally kept during continuously during this time of year…

Miller said pagans believe “the world is divine” and miracles are constantly occurring. He stressed that pagan practices can vary greatly among individuals of this faith but they generally celebrate nine special holidays each year. Besides the winter solstice, this include Halloween, May Day and an event at the beginning of August.

Miller will host a traditional Yule Celebration and Viking New Year circle with toasts and posts at Rose’s Cafe. He will also read the ancient Icelandic epic poem Svipdagsmal, which inspired the Sleeping Beauty folktale…

–END–

To read more posts in this blog, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Tanya’s book are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (available for purchase from the author or from amazon.com) and Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes.

Tanya is a psychic specializing in tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a reiki master and full-time house sitter. To access her services, go to her web site at treading.wordpress.com or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. She can also be reached at tealeaf.56@gmail.com or 250-538-0086 cell.

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