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Winter Solstice 2023

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Manage episode 390252435 series 2634748
Innehåll tillhandahållet av The Wonder Podcast. Allt poddinnehåll inklusive avsnitt, grafik och podcastbeskrivningar laddas upp och tillhandahålls direkt av The Wonder Podcast eller deras podcastplattformspartner. Om du tror att någon använder ditt upphovsrättsskyddade verk utan din tillåtelse kan du följa processen som beskrivs här https://sv.player.fm/legal.

2020: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/the-winter-solstice/

2021: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/winter-solsticeyule/

2022: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/winter-solsticeyulemidwinter-2022/

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com

TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Introduction and Welcome
---

Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder of Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark,

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

Mark: and it's that time again.

Discussion on Winter Solstice
---

Mark: We're going to talk about the winter solstice and all the different things we call it, and what the themes of the season are, and how we celebrate it, and all that good kind of stuff. So happy solstice to everyone.

Yucca: That's right. Happy solstice. it's, we're here already.

Mark: End of 2023 already. Hard to believe.

Yucca: Yeah. So, and the

Reflection on the Show's Journey
---

Mark: Does that mean we're going into season five?

Yucca: we're going into season five. That's right.

Mark: Whoa.

Yucca: Yeah. On the one hand, it feels like forever. It feels like it's been a decade. On the other hand, I can't believe it.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: start doing this last year?

Mark: Yeah. Something like. Yeah.

Understanding the Solstice and its Significance
---

Yucca: Yeah, well, let's talk about the solstice, and we'll link to some of our previous episodes of the solstice as well, because since this will be, we're going into Season 5, right?

We've done this particular one, you know, several years before, and that's one of the lovely things about the Wheel of the Year, ? It keeps turning, and we keep coming back to it,

Mark: Right.

Yucca: again, and again, and again, but every year it's a little different.

Mark: Mm hmm. It's a spiral rather than a circle.

Yucca: Yeah, it's like those, you can look up animations of the solar system, but from the perspective, instead of having the sun stationary, having the sun moving through the galaxy, because it is moving just depends on what you're using as your frame of reference, but the planets all going along for the ride as well we're Orbiting the sun and moving with the sun as it goes through the galaxy.

This reminds me of that spiral that we do.

Mark: Huh. Huh.

Exploring the Themes of the Holiday
---

Yucca: So, but let's start with themes. So, Mark, what do you call this holiday?

Mark: Well, that is a bit of a moving target. For many, many years I've called it Yule. I called it Yule in my book.

Yucca: hmm.

The Transition from Yule to Midwinter
---

Mark: But I'm moving off that into midwinter.

Yucca: Mm

The Cultural Significance of Yule
---

Mark: Um, for a couple of reasons, one of which is that Yule is still a cultural reference. It's a, it's a Scandinavian word that references a winter solstice y kind of holiday that happened around this time of year in those cultures.

And I've been very careful not to be drawing from any cultures in my practice.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: midwinter, you know, it's the corollary to midsummer. At the summer solstice, and so that just seems like it feels pretty appropriate to me.

Yucca: Nice. Okay.

Mark: How about you?

The Personal Connection to Solstice
---

Yucca: uSually solstice, just the winter solstice or solstice sometimes first winter. I don't use midwinter because it's not midwinter for us.

Mark: Mm hmm.

Yucca: The, it certainly isn't the start of winter the way it's shown on like the calendar in terms of the astronomical seasons, but it's been winter for a month at this point, ?

But we will not be into midwinter until, midwinter is more, you know, January, you know, end of January for us where we'll really be in the middle of winter. So, yeah, usually solstice, I've never really connected with the name Yule. I think it's pretty. It's on cards that people send. But it, just I've never had that connection with it.

The Separation of Solstice and Christmas
---

Yucca: I don't know, it, it, also you'll me, it still has more of a Christmas association. Like, it's still very Christmas. And even though Christmas is happening around the same time, for me, the solstice and Christmas are two very separate things.

Mark: Yeah, I guess in my case, because I've really just, I've abandoned Christmas. So I have a lot of people around me, of course, who are celebrating it at work and so forth.

The Celebration of Solstice
---

Mark: But I, I just adopted solstice celebration and that's what I do now. So I have a tree for that rather than for Christmas, for example. We were just putting lights on it and discovering that the new lights, there aren't quite enough of them. So now we desperately have to find some more and get them delivered immediately. So that'll be fun. They're, they're LEDs. that have a phone app where you can adjust the lights and the patterns and Nemea really, really is excited about this.

Yucca: Okay, nice.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Lovely.

Mark: yeah. Yeah. I haven't seen it at night yet, but it'll be pretty, I'm sure. So, yeah, I'm moving away from Yule. Yule seemed like kind of a harmless name to use. When I was writing my book, as opposed to, like, the Celtic names and stuff like that, that feels appropriative to me, and not really relevant to who I am and where I live and all that kind of stuff.

Yucca: But in retrospect, it's seeming a little appropriate to you right now. Well,

Mark: believe you can appropriate from a dead culture. So I'm not so worried about appropriating Scandinavian stuff from a Norse Worshipping tradition that didn't exist for a thousand years or so after Christianization. But,

Yucca: still a lot, depending on where, like in Iceland, and there's still there's still some that is around today,

Mark: oh, absolutely.

Yucca: not necessarily in the same maybe strength that it was or, or prominence, but there's still aspects of that around.

Mark: Well, and there's a resurgence.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: I mean, I think that if we had looked at things in 1950, we probably would have seen a few folk practices, but not really anything that was as organized as, you know, a religious practice, for example. But I, I don't know enough about it to say for certain one way or another.

In any case it's safer to simply abandon that name and move with one that's more more generic and English.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: But, you know, when I first came into paganism, everybody called it Yule, and that was okay, and

Yucca: That was just what you were around, yeah?

Mark: Yeah, um, so whatever you call the winter solstice, and you may call it midsummer if you live in Argentina or, or Brazil, um, whatever you call it we're here to talk about celebrating it, and why don't we talk some about some of the themes that come up at this time of year.

There's so much with it. Iconography to this season, you know, with the trees and the Santa Claus and the reindeer and the on and on and on and on.

Yucca: You know, I wish that everybody could see the backgrounds that we both came in with today, because there's a huge difference. So, Mark, you've got this scene with this, the pie. I don't know what trees those are back there, but you're Your conifers with the snow on it, and this little night scene, and this little house and it's these dark, you know, blues and grays.

And then my background, and this was not planned, is the sun. And it's an up close of the bright bright sun with all the convection cells and

Mark: and prominences bursting off the limb.

Yucca: of it.

The Symbolism of Light and Dark
---

Yucca: Yeah and I think that that reflects a big theme for this time of year is the the relationship between the light and the dark and the sun and the night and all of that.

Mark: Ooh, nice, nice segue. That was great. Yeah. Yes the whole question of how we relate to darkness. is very much up at this time of year, because there sure is a lot of it in the Northern Hemisphere. And boy, the days are short now, and they're going to get even shorter.

Yucca: At my latitude, we get about 14 and a half, almost 15 hours of night at solstice.

Mark: wow. Yeah,

Yucca: north it's even more extreme.

Mark: I think we get close to 16 hours. No,

Yucca: No, you can't know not that much, but yeah.

Mark: Yeah, 16 and a half hours. 15 and a half hours. Okay, third time's the

Yucca: hmm. Mm hmm. Mm

The Importance of Rest and Reflection
---

Mark: yeah, so, waking up in the dark, finishing work in the dark I, I feel a lot of empathy for people who have commutes during that time, because of course I've done that for many years of work at home, so that's a, that's a relief.

And the whole piece about how we fear the dark, and Metaphorically how we fear the darkness in ourselves, the, the, the not so nice stuff. The, uh, the sub, the, the submerged stuff that we've pushed down. tHis is a time of year that's often associated with dreaming and with ghosts and. I see that as useful fodder for contemplation, um, you know, trying to get more of a handle on, well, what am I pushing down?

What am I ignoring? What am I afraid of in myself that I'm, that I'm repressing? And maybe it's stuff that needs repressing, that's okay but I'd still like to be aware of it. And, you know, be making conscious choices around all of that. So that's, that's a part of how I come to this season when it relates to light and dark.

How about you, Yucca?

Yucca: Yeah, I mean, the dark of this going in is a big theme for me. The peaceful, restful night in which you have the deep self reflection and there's a stillness. about it this time. Although, yes, we have so much happening in the holidays like we were talking about last week, but this solstice for me is a really, really contemplative, quiet, inward experience in a lot of ways.

And it really is, I mean, I just keep wanting to say going back to this going in, I really, Picture, like, going deep into a cave, down deep into the earth, slash, me, to really kind of understand and reflect and see what, what quiet seeds you have waiting, sleeping there, and, you know, what will become. It's not, things haven't woken up yet.

It's what is going to be waking up. What have we been planting? What's there? And there's something much more vulnerable, much more visceral in the dark, away from the light.

Mark: Mm hmm. Yeah, I think that's very well said. That whole, that kind of journeying piece about Going down into the dark which is so often a theme of, of guided meditations and solo journeying, inward work. It's a good time for doing that stuff.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: the, the body's circadian rhythms are really oriented towards sleep and it's it's a good time for dreaming. For, and I, I, when I think of, when I think about this in the, the context of the life cycle, and the context of a human life, it's a time for dreaming new stuff,

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: uh, you know, dreaming new life, dreaming new ideas just starting to get those first glimmerings of what might And that's it. The what you plant next year and work to achieve.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: soon to get firm on those plans. It's all just

Yucca: you can't be doing anything with the soil yet. It's, it's, whether there actually is snow or not, it's sleeping under that snow right now.

Mark: right, right. Yeah, so it's, it's not a time. I mean, one of the things that I do appreciate about this holiday in the overculture, and there aren't very many things that I appreciate, but one of them is that for a week or so The world seems to hold its breath, at least for Christmas Eve and Christmas, those two days when commerce mostly finally stops, and people are at home with their families, and there's just, there's a silence in the world that I really appreciate, and that seems to persist to some degree through to New Year's.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Most people are not going to work and I would imagine that

Yucca: School's out for,

Mark: School is out,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: all that sort of stuff. So, there's that, that withdrawal into the darkness that I really appreciate.

The Connection to the Forests
---

Yucca: Mm hmm. The other theme, uh, for me is the forests. So I see the, the Wheel of the Year, the different stations at it, or seasons, often celebrating different Types of ecosystems or components that are really connected to how we experience the world as humans and who we're connected with. And this half of the year is the forests. there's a, there's association with the, the forest there, particularly the the pine. Yeah whereas on the other side, we've got the grasslands, ? In the summer and the autumn, there's the grasslands, but now it's, it's the forests and the forest creatures and the and we'll get more into, you know, some of the, the bovines and ungulates and things later, but there's something very Very, for me, kind of ancient and primal about that, too, that kind of pulls back to, you know, different, some of my different roots in terms of my ancestry and that kind of connection with the forest.

Mark: Sure.

The Celebration of the Sun and Stars
---

Yucca: And for a lot of people, it's also a celebration of the sun and of stars, ? And our sun as a star as well.

Mark: Huh, yeah, yeah. I like that historically, the forest was a scary place to go into, for one reason, because it was dark, right? So, you know, you built your little island of civilization in your farmstead or whatever it was, but out beyond those fences, there was more uncertainty. And so going into the woods, you never knew what you were going to encounter, and there's more of that mystery, that going into the darkness.

Yucca: But it's also necessary.

Mark: Well, yes,

Yucca: also where the, that's where you would go to hunt, ? That's where you'd go to gather your medicine. That's where you'd go for that. There's, you can't just stay out of it, ? You've got to go back in and be part of that whole system.

Mark: which is very much like human psychology.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: You, there are layers and layers and layers of things. There are things that you may think you're over and you may not be over them. There are things that have been profound enough in your life that you may never be over them. You have to revisit them over and over again.

You know, I have quite a number of things like that.

So I really like, at this time of year, to kind of take a step back, reflect, imagine, do all that sort of soft path under the surface kind of work,

Yucca: Mm

Mark: um, it just seems like an appropriate time when it's so dark and it's cozy inside and feels relatively safe to contend with some of that stuff.

Yucca: Yeah.

The Coziness of the Season
---

Yucca: I really like the coziness of just really getting into the coziness of this time of year. We, I use a diffuser with different oils in the house, and I don't buy into, like, the, you know, magical properties of, you know, this particular oil does this or that. I'm like, I like the smell of it. So I use it in the house, and I change those out throughout the season.

And right now, you know, we're doing a lot of those very kind of Spicy, yummy cedars and cinnamons and all of that, just very cozy stuff this time of year with the big blankets and the cuddling with the kitty cat and all that, the warm drink and all that stuff.

Mark: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, I, I really like to lean into that stuff, too. It's I mean, I suppose it really should be thematic for the next and a half months, something like that,

Yucca: Oh, we'll, we'll,

Mark: time.

Yucca: yep, we'll lean into that a lot. Yeah, and we'll, when we talk about the next holiday, we'll get into that more too. But, um, yeah.

Mark: that, we'll talk about slog.

Yucca: Slog, yes. So, and I think we said we were going to at some point come back to doing a darkness episode, probably sometime in January or something like that when we're really in the, um, kind of the thick of it.

Mark: The deep cold, yeah.

Yucca: yeah. Now there's some parts of the holiday too that you were talking about, like doing a tree or things like that. What's that like for you?

Mark: Oh boy, I have so many observances at this time of year, so many traditions that I do, other than just redecorating my focus. We do do a tree, we have collected a set of ornaments over the years that are very thematic, a lot of, a lot of wildlife some antique. Glass ornaments from the 40s, 50s, and 60s that, you know, remind me of childhood.

Some of the few happy memories that I have of childhood are evoked by the scent of that tree and by, you know, these old ornaments. And don't really buy presents for one another because we have too much stuff as it is. But what we do is put Cozy, appealing, charming things under the tree to sort of celebrate our abundance and so forth.

We just got a bunch of internet, we went to, there's a store called Cost Plus here, I don't know if it exists elsewhere.

Yucca: Yeah, we've got that here.

Mark: it's a, it's an import store and so we got German cookies and English figgy pudding and a bunch of different things like that for the holiday and have those sitting under the tree right now.

The Tradition of the Yule Log Ritual
---

Mark: We do a Yule log ritual on the solstice night where we decorate, actually what I do is I take the lower half of the trunk of last year's Yule tree, which I sawed off and kept, and of course now it's dry. So what I do is I use some kind of natural fiber twine, like sisal or hemp or something like that, to tie that to a larger log, because, you know, Christmas tree trunks generally are

Yucca: Not very thick, yeah.

Mark: in diameter at max.

And then we decorate that with holly and pyracantha berries and fresh boughs from the, from this year's Yule tree. And then, and we put candles on it. And then we tuck little notes into, under the twine and in amongst the branches and stuff that are wishes for the coming year. And when that's all done and we've done our Booga booga ritual stuff over it.

We take it out and we burn it in our fire pit outside. And that's just, It's a cool thing to do.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: My ritual circle does a ritual every year where we turn off all the lights in the house of my circle brother and sister. We go outside, you know, we get cold we have a little cauldron with some fire burning in it in the middle of us so we have a little bit of illumination.

But we sing songs and really get ourselves into the whole mood and then each of us takes a taper. Lights it from the fire in the cauldron, and we go into the house again, and light every candle in the house, all throughout the

Yucca: Oh, nice.

Mark: bringing the light back. And that's a ritual that I really enjoy as well.

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: How about celebrations at your house?

Yucca: hmm. Well, we don't have a tree. They, we've got a, at their grandmother's, a Christmas tree. When we lived in the city, I did take I would take branches. Instead of taking the whole tree, I'd take branches and bring them into the house. And part of that was just I, just, I'm not a city person.

It was hard for me to be in the city. So I just wanted any, like, I just craved that. The connection with the land that, and we weren't like smack in the middle of the city, we actually kind of on the, you know, a nicer part of town that did have a few trees and a yard and, you know, that sort of thing. But, um, so I would bring stuff in, but now, you know, we're, we're out. You know, out in the country and it doesn't, I don't miss it all in the same way because we're in, we're surrounded by it all the time, so I'm not, you know, feeling that thirst to bring stuff in as much but we do have, we do have some lights we have some like little solar LED Christmas lights that I think are meant to go out on your fence or something like that, but I just have the solar panel sitting in the window.

And it does it well enough, and you know, it's a dark time of year, so it doesn't charge a lot, but it'll just go on as soon as the light sets in. Natural light fades and it runs for a few hours and we've gone to sleep at that point. So in terms of sort of the more traditional stuff, we do that. And again, for us, the Christmas and solstice are two different times. It's all related. And we've talked about how, you know, the, the history of, you know, why Christmas is on the day it is and the weird calendar switching stuff that happened and all of that. But when it's solstices and equinoxes, I like to set an alarm for the actual moment, ? Because that is an astronomical moment that happens, not just the day.

And so this year, I think it's gonna be 827 p. m. our time. So I've got an alarm set so that when it does happen, the alarm can go off and we can go whoo and put our hands in the air. It's much better than when it happens at like 2 or 3 in the morning, because I do wake the kids up for that. We go whoo and then they go back to sleep.

But this time I think it's nice that it's going to be during the day. night when we're still awake, but it's, it's been dark for a few hours at that point, so that'll be lovely.

Mark: That sounds great.

The Celebration of Solstice in Different Cultures
---

Mark: A friend of mine is doing a party that he used to do before COVID. This is the first time since the arrival of COVID, which of course isn't over, but

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: we're doing parties again. So, he's doing a winter solstice vigil, which is an all night party that goes until dawn, and then you greet. Sun at the, they climb up to the top of the hill in San Francisco and greet the, greet the sun. I'm going to go, but I am not going to stay all night because the next morning I have to be in

Yucca: isn't it? Solstice is a Wednesday night

Mark: I thought it was Thursday.

Yucca: I think it's the 21st this year for North America. It'll be the 22nd for Europe. But anyways, it's a

Mark: Yeah, the 21st is the Thursday.

Yucca: Oh, it is a Thursday? It's not Wednesday? Okay. I just had to Okay, great.

Mark: That's good because I took Thursday and Friday off, and if it was on Wednesday , I would feel kind of silly. So.

Yucca: Oh yeah, so it is the 21st. I said the day's wrong in my head. All right, so you'll have to,

Mark: that next morning I have a part in a Unitarian Universalist solstice service, and so I'm not going to stay up all night, greet the sun, then jump in my car, drive 60 miles, and do that. That that sounds like dangerous to me.

Yucca: I don't know about you, but I can't do the whole stay up all night thing. I have not been able to do that in years. People do it for New Years. I'm like, nope, not doing it. I'll

Mark: but I don't choose to very often.

Yucca: If I need to be up at midnight, I'll go to sleep at 6 and I'll wake myself up at 11 30, but I'm not gonna. Stay up till midnight or one, yeah.

Mark: huh.

Yucca: Getting

Mark: you're a mom, so sleep is really at a premium,

Yucca: I like my sleep, yeah. But even before I was a mom, I do not do the staying up. I am not a good person to be around when I'm not rested. Thinking about all that self reflection, we do this type of year. Yeah, I've learned that. Like, nope. Need my sleep. So, but I think for people who that works for, I think that's lovely.

I certainly remember being younger and feeling that, like, that kind of altered state of having stayed up all night.

Mark: Yeah. More emotionally vulnerable and yeah well, this is a separate topic, but the fire circle rituals that I've been to many of, they go from typically eleven at night until dawn.

Yucca: mm hmm,

Mark: And there's the same kind of feeling, and you do them three nights in a row,

Yucca: mm

Mark: and catch some sleep during the day, but of course you don't get a full eight hours, so you are really sleep deprived by the last night, and everybody's just really tender and open, and it's, it's beautiful to be around a ton of people who are like that, but what you don't want to do is operate heavy machinery after having that experience.

It's not, not safe.

Yucca: Right. Heavy machinery, including cars. Just a

Mark: That's, that's what I was meaning

Yucca: Oh, yeah.

Mark: yeah, cars. And I am 60 miles from San Francisco, and I don't want to have to drive on, you know, being awake 24 hours,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: back up to Santa Rosa. So, yeah, so I'm going to go to the party for a while, and then I'm going to come back, uh, and it'll be great to see some friends down there, but it'll also be great to catch some solid Zs, uh, on the morning before I have to do this other thing. We're we're having a, we're recording this on the 16th? Is

Yucca: Yeah, it's Saturday the

Mark: Yeah, Saturday the 16th, and tomorrow the Northern California Atheopagan Affinity Group is getting together for a Yule celebration.

Yucca: Oh, yay.

Mark: Yeah I'm driving down there and we're having a fire pit and sharing delicious, you know, cozy making food.

There's a good chance it may rain. So I'm bringing stuff from mulled wine and we can sit inside and listen to the rain and drink mulled wine and

Yucca: Lovely. You know,

Mark: So are there other things that you do at this time of year?

The Evolution of Family Traditions
---

Yucca: it's still kind of evolving just as the, my kiddos are getting to an age where they can be part of creating those traditions, we'll see what happens over the next few years, right? So.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: Yeah. I mean, and it's wonderful to let yourself kind of be led by their interests in this as well.

Yucca: yeah,

Mark: you'll develop traditions that are just your families and that's very cool.

Yucca: right, yeah. And who knows, maybe, maybe that'll go, they'll, they'll remember that and do that with their families, or something different, or just it's one of the lovely things about what we were talking about in the beginning about it, just that spiraling back around to it. You know, each year there's something familiar but different, and over time that might change to something very different, but still have some of those same roots.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's that's this sort of balancing act that happens in, in modern paganism, where on the one hand, it's very DIY, and you can create your own rituals, and those can all be unique. On the other hand, there's something to be said about tradition, about having these things that you do every year at a particular time of year.

Just to acknowledge that it's that time of year and to create a particular feeling that you associate with that kind of, that time of year. I really enjoy both. There have been times, well, like, for example, my ritual circle, Dark Sun, does the same Hallows ritual every year.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: and I've talked about that before during those episodes.

And there have been times when I've had, like, cool ideas for a hallows ritual, and I would have loved to do it with them, but nope, we're doing the traditional thing. So, I think there's both sides to that. The the to be creative and the desire to create tradition.

Yucca: Yeah. Here we are.

Conclusion and Farewell
---

Mark: Here we are, once again, at the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, and the brightest in the Southern Hemisphere, so if you're enjoying summer, uh, have a wonderful time, you know, go swimming eat some ice cream, do all those things that one does in the summertime. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we wish you a meaningful and joyous and warm and cozy solstice celebration and time of year.

And we will be back next week.

Yucca: Yep. See you next week.

----more----

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Innehåll tillhandahållet av The Wonder Podcast. Allt poddinnehåll inklusive avsnitt, grafik och podcastbeskrivningar laddas upp och tillhandahålls direkt av The Wonder Podcast eller deras podcastplattformspartner. Om du tror att någon använder ditt upphovsrättsskyddade verk utan din tillåtelse kan du följa processen som beskrivs här https://sv.player.fm/legal.

2020: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/the-winter-solstice/

2021: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/winter-solsticeyule/

2022: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/winter-solsticeyulemidwinter-2022/

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com

TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Introduction and Welcome
---

Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder of Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark,

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

Mark: and it's that time again.

Discussion on Winter Solstice
---

Mark: We're going to talk about the winter solstice and all the different things we call it, and what the themes of the season are, and how we celebrate it, and all that good kind of stuff. So happy solstice to everyone.

Yucca: That's right. Happy solstice. it's, we're here already.

Mark: End of 2023 already. Hard to believe.

Yucca: Yeah. So, and the

Reflection on the Show's Journey
---

Mark: Does that mean we're going into season five?

Yucca: we're going into season five. That's right.

Mark: Whoa.

Yucca: Yeah. On the one hand, it feels like forever. It feels like it's been a decade. On the other hand, I can't believe it.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: start doing this last year?

Mark: Yeah. Something like. Yeah.

Understanding the Solstice and its Significance
---

Yucca: Yeah, well, let's talk about the solstice, and we'll link to some of our previous episodes of the solstice as well, because since this will be, we're going into Season 5, right?

We've done this particular one, you know, several years before, and that's one of the lovely things about the Wheel of the Year, ? It keeps turning, and we keep coming back to it,

Mark: Right.

Yucca: again, and again, and again, but every year it's a little different.

Mark: Mm hmm. It's a spiral rather than a circle.

Yucca: Yeah, it's like those, you can look up animations of the solar system, but from the perspective, instead of having the sun stationary, having the sun moving through the galaxy, because it is moving just depends on what you're using as your frame of reference, but the planets all going along for the ride as well we're Orbiting the sun and moving with the sun as it goes through the galaxy.

This reminds me of that spiral that we do.

Mark: Huh. Huh.

Exploring the Themes of the Holiday
---

Yucca: So, but let's start with themes. So, Mark, what do you call this holiday?

Mark: Well, that is a bit of a moving target. For many, many years I've called it Yule. I called it Yule in my book.

Yucca: hmm.

The Transition from Yule to Midwinter
---

Mark: But I'm moving off that into midwinter.

Yucca: Mm

The Cultural Significance of Yule
---

Mark: Um, for a couple of reasons, one of which is that Yule is still a cultural reference. It's a, it's a Scandinavian word that references a winter solstice y kind of holiday that happened around this time of year in those cultures.

And I've been very careful not to be drawing from any cultures in my practice.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: midwinter, you know, it's the corollary to midsummer. At the summer solstice, and so that just seems like it feels pretty appropriate to me.

Yucca: Nice. Okay.

Mark: How about you?

The Personal Connection to Solstice
---

Yucca: uSually solstice, just the winter solstice or solstice sometimes first winter. I don't use midwinter because it's not midwinter for us.

Mark: Mm hmm.

Yucca: The, it certainly isn't the start of winter the way it's shown on like the calendar in terms of the astronomical seasons, but it's been winter for a month at this point, ?

But we will not be into midwinter until, midwinter is more, you know, January, you know, end of January for us where we'll really be in the middle of winter. So, yeah, usually solstice, I've never really connected with the name Yule. I think it's pretty. It's on cards that people send. But it, just I've never had that connection with it.

The Separation of Solstice and Christmas
---

Yucca: I don't know, it, it, also you'll me, it still has more of a Christmas association. Like, it's still very Christmas. And even though Christmas is happening around the same time, for me, the solstice and Christmas are two very separate things.

Mark: Yeah, I guess in my case, because I've really just, I've abandoned Christmas. So I have a lot of people around me, of course, who are celebrating it at work and so forth.

The Celebration of Solstice
---

Mark: But I, I just adopted solstice celebration and that's what I do now. So I have a tree for that rather than for Christmas, for example. We were just putting lights on it and discovering that the new lights, there aren't quite enough of them. So now we desperately have to find some more and get them delivered immediately. So that'll be fun. They're, they're LEDs. that have a phone app where you can adjust the lights and the patterns and Nemea really, really is excited about this.

Yucca: Okay, nice.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Lovely.

Mark: yeah. Yeah. I haven't seen it at night yet, but it'll be pretty, I'm sure. So, yeah, I'm moving away from Yule. Yule seemed like kind of a harmless name to use. When I was writing my book, as opposed to, like, the Celtic names and stuff like that, that feels appropriative to me, and not really relevant to who I am and where I live and all that kind of stuff.

Yucca: But in retrospect, it's seeming a little appropriate to you right now. Well,

Mark: believe you can appropriate from a dead culture. So I'm not so worried about appropriating Scandinavian stuff from a Norse Worshipping tradition that didn't exist for a thousand years or so after Christianization. But,

Yucca: still a lot, depending on where, like in Iceland, and there's still there's still some that is around today,

Mark: oh, absolutely.

Yucca: not necessarily in the same maybe strength that it was or, or prominence, but there's still aspects of that around.

Mark: Well, and there's a resurgence.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: I mean, I think that if we had looked at things in 1950, we probably would have seen a few folk practices, but not really anything that was as organized as, you know, a religious practice, for example. But I, I don't know enough about it to say for certain one way or another.

In any case it's safer to simply abandon that name and move with one that's more more generic and English.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: But, you know, when I first came into paganism, everybody called it Yule, and that was okay, and

Yucca: That was just what you were around, yeah?

Mark: Yeah, um, so whatever you call the winter solstice, and you may call it midsummer if you live in Argentina or, or Brazil, um, whatever you call it we're here to talk about celebrating it, and why don't we talk some about some of the themes that come up at this time of year.

There's so much with it. Iconography to this season, you know, with the trees and the Santa Claus and the reindeer and the on and on and on and on.

Yucca: You know, I wish that everybody could see the backgrounds that we both came in with today, because there's a huge difference. So, Mark, you've got this scene with this, the pie. I don't know what trees those are back there, but you're Your conifers with the snow on it, and this little night scene, and this little house and it's these dark, you know, blues and grays.

And then my background, and this was not planned, is the sun. And it's an up close of the bright bright sun with all the convection cells and

Mark: and prominences bursting off the limb.

Yucca: of it.

The Symbolism of Light and Dark
---

Yucca: Yeah and I think that that reflects a big theme for this time of year is the the relationship between the light and the dark and the sun and the night and all of that.

Mark: Ooh, nice, nice segue. That was great. Yeah. Yes the whole question of how we relate to darkness. is very much up at this time of year, because there sure is a lot of it in the Northern Hemisphere. And boy, the days are short now, and they're going to get even shorter.

Yucca: At my latitude, we get about 14 and a half, almost 15 hours of night at solstice.

Mark: wow. Yeah,

Yucca: north it's even more extreme.

Mark: I think we get close to 16 hours. No,

Yucca: No, you can't know not that much, but yeah.

Mark: Yeah, 16 and a half hours. 15 and a half hours. Okay, third time's the

Yucca: hmm. Mm hmm. Mm

The Importance of Rest and Reflection
---

Mark: yeah, so, waking up in the dark, finishing work in the dark I, I feel a lot of empathy for people who have commutes during that time, because of course I've done that for many years of work at home, so that's a, that's a relief.

And the whole piece about how we fear the dark, and Metaphorically how we fear the darkness in ourselves, the, the, the not so nice stuff. The, uh, the sub, the, the submerged stuff that we've pushed down. tHis is a time of year that's often associated with dreaming and with ghosts and. I see that as useful fodder for contemplation, um, you know, trying to get more of a handle on, well, what am I pushing down?

What am I ignoring? What am I afraid of in myself that I'm, that I'm repressing? And maybe it's stuff that needs repressing, that's okay but I'd still like to be aware of it. And, you know, be making conscious choices around all of that. So that's, that's a part of how I come to this season when it relates to light and dark.

How about you, Yucca?

Yucca: Yeah, I mean, the dark of this going in is a big theme for me. The peaceful, restful night in which you have the deep self reflection and there's a stillness. about it this time. Although, yes, we have so much happening in the holidays like we were talking about last week, but this solstice for me is a really, really contemplative, quiet, inward experience in a lot of ways.

And it really is, I mean, I just keep wanting to say going back to this going in, I really, Picture, like, going deep into a cave, down deep into the earth, slash, me, to really kind of understand and reflect and see what, what quiet seeds you have waiting, sleeping there, and, you know, what will become. It's not, things haven't woken up yet.

It's what is going to be waking up. What have we been planting? What's there? And there's something much more vulnerable, much more visceral in the dark, away from the light.

Mark: Mm hmm. Yeah, I think that's very well said. That whole, that kind of journeying piece about Going down into the dark which is so often a theme of, of guided meditations and solo journeying, inward work. It's a good time for doing that stuff.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: the, the body's circadian rhythms are really oriented towards sleep and it's it's a good time for dreaming. For, and I, I, when I think of, when I think about this in the, the context of the life cycle, and the context of a human life, it's a time for dreaming new stuff,

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: uh, you know, dreaming new life, dreaming new ideas just starting to get those first glimmerings of what might And that's it. The what you plant next year and work to achieve.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: soon to get firm on those plans. It's all just

Yucca: you can't be doing anything with the soil yet. It's, it's, whether there actually is snow or not, it's sleeping under that snow right now.

Mark: right, right. Yeah, so it's, it's not a time. I mean, one of the things that I do appreciate about this holiday in the overculture, and there aren't very many things that I appreciate, but one of them is that for a week or so The world seems to hold its breath, at least for Christmas Eve and Christmas, those two days when commerce mostly finally stops, and people are at home with their families, and there's just, there's a silence in the world that I really appreciate, and that seems to persist to some degree through to New Year's.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Most people are not going to work and I would imagine that

Yucca: School's out for,

Mark: School is out,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: all that sort of stuff. So, there's that, that withdrawal into the darkness that I really appreciate.

The Connection to the Forests
---

Yucca: Mm hmm. The other theme, uh, for me is the forests. So I see the, the Wheel of the Year, the different stations at it, or seasons, often celebrating different Types of ecosystems or components that are really connected to how we experience the world as humans and who we're connected with. And this half of the year is the forests. there's a, there's association with the, the forest there, particularly the the pine. Yeah whereas on the other side, we've got the grasslands, ? In the summer and the autumn, there's the grasslands, but now it's, it's the forests and the forest creatures and the and we'll get more into, you know, some of the, the bovines and ungulates and things later, but there's something very Very, for me, kind of ancient and primal about that, too, that kind of pulls back to, you know, different, some of my different roots in terms of my ancestry and that kind of connection with the forest.

Mark: Sure.

The Celebration of the Sun and Stars
---

Yucca: And for a lot of people, it's also a celebration of the sun and of stars, ? And our sun as a star as well.

Mark: Huh, yeah, yeah. I like that historically, the forest was a scary place to go into, for one reason, because it was dark, right? So, you know, you built your little island of civilization in your farmstead or whatever it was, but out beyond those fences, there was more uncertainty. And so going into the woods, you never knew what you were going to encounter, and there's more of that mystery, that going into the darkness.

Yucca: But it's also necessary.

Mark: Well, yes,

Yucca: also where the, that's where you would go to hunt, ? That's where you'd go to gather your medicine. That's where you'd go for that. There's, you can't just stay out of it, ? You've got to go back in and be part of that whole system.

Mark: which is very much like human psychology.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: You, there are layers and layers and layers of things. There are things that you may think you're over and you may not be over them. There are things that have been profound enough in your life that you may never be over them. You have to revisit them over and over again.

You know, I have quite a number of things like that.

So I really like, at this time of year, to kind of take a step back, reflect, imagine, do all that sort of soft path under the surface kind of work,

Yucca: Mm

Mark: um, it just seems like an appropriate time when it's so dark and it's cozy inside and feels relatively safe to contend with some of that stuff.

Yucca: Yeah.

The Coziness of the Season
---

Yucca: I really like the coziness of just really getting into the coziness of this time of year. We, I use a diffuser with different oils in the house, and I don't buy into, like, the, you know, magical properties of, you know, this particular oil does this or that. I'm like, I like the smell of it. So I use it in the house, and I change those out throughout the season.

And right now, you know, we're doing a lot of those very kind of Spicy, yummy cedars and cinnamons and all of that, just very cozy stuff this time of year with the big blankets and the cuddling with the kitty cat and all that, the warm drink and all that stuff.

Mark: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, I, I really like to lean into that stuff, too. It's I mean, I suppose it really should be thematic for the next and a half months, something like that,

Yucca: Oh, we'll, we'll,

Mark: time.

Yucca: yep, we'll lean into that a lot. Yeah, and we'll, when we talk about the next holiday, we'll get into that more too. But, um, yeah.

Mark: that, we'll talk about slog.

Yucca: Slog, yes. So, and I think we said we were going to at some point come back to doing a darkness episode, probably sometime in January or something like that when we're really in the, um, kind of the thick of it.

Mark: The deep cold, yeah.

Yucca: yeah. Now there's some parts of the holiday too that you were talking about, like doing a tree or things like that. What's that like for you?

Mark: Oh boy, I have so many observances at this time of year, so many traditions that I do, other than just redecorating my focus. We do do a tree, we have collected a set of ornaments over the years that are very thematic, a lot of, a lot of wildlife some antique. Glass ornaments from the 40s, 50s, and 60s that, you know, remind me of childhood.

Some of the few happy memories that I have of childhood are evoked by the scent of that tree and by, you know, these old ornaments. And don't really buy presents for one another because we have too much stuff as it is. But what we do is put Cozy, appealing, charming things under the tree to sort of celebrate our abundance and so forth.

We just got a bunch of internet, we went to, there's a store called Cost Plus here, I don't know if it exists elsewhere.

Yucca: Yeah, we've got that here.

Mark: it's a, it's an import store and so we got German cookies and English figgy pudding and a bunch of different things like that for the holiday and have those sitting under the tree right now.

The Tradition of the Yule Log Ritual
---

Mark: We do a Yule log ritual on the solstice night where we decorate, actually what I do is I take the lower half of the trunk of last year's Yule tree, which I sawed off and kept, and of course now it's dry. So what I do is I use some kind of natural fiber twine, like sisal or hemp or something like that, to tie that to a larger log, because, you know, Christmas tree trunks generally are

Yucca: Not very thick, yeah.

Mark: in diameter at max.

And then we decorate that with holly and pyracantha berries and fresh boughs from the, from this year's Yule tree. And then, and we put candles on it. And then we tuck little notes into, under the twine and in amongst the branches and stuff that are wishes for the coming year. And when that's all done and we've done our Booga booga ritual stuff over it.

We take it out and we burn it in our fire pit outside. And that's just, It's a cool thing to do.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: My ritual circle does a ritual every year where we turn off all the lights in the house of my circle brother and sister. We go outside, you know, we get cold we have a little cauldron with some fire burning in it in the middle of us so we have a little bit of illumination.

But we sing songs and really get ourselves into the whole mood and then each of us takes a taper. Lights it from the fire in the cauldron, and we go into the house again, and light every candle in the house, all throughout the

Yucca: Oh, nice.

Mark: bringing the light back. And that's a ritual that I really enjoy as well.

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: How about celebrations at your house?

Yucca: hmm. Well, we don't have a tree. They, we've got a, at their grandmother's, a Christmas tree. When we lived in the city, I did take I would take branches. Instead of taking the whole tree, I'd take branches and bring them into the house. And part of that was just I, just, I'm not a city person.

It was hard for me to be in the city. So I just wanted any, like, I just craved that. The connection with the land that, and we weren't like smack in the middle of the city, we actually kind of on the, you know, a nicer part of town that did have a few trees and a yard and, you know, that sort of thing. But, um, so I would bring stuff in, but now, you know, we're, we're out. You know, out in the country and it doesn't, I don't miss it all in the same way because we're in, we're surrounded by it all the time, so I'm not, you know, feeling that thirst to bring stuff in as much but we do have, we do have some lights we have some like little solar LED Christmas lights that I think are meant to go out on your fence or something like that, but I just have the solar panel sitting in the window.

And it does it well enough, and you know, it's a dark time of year, so it doesn't charge a lot, but it'll just go on as soon as the light sets in. Natural light fades and it runs for a few hours and we've gone to sleep at that point. So in terms of sort of the more traditional stuff, we do that. And again, for us, the Christmas and solstice are two different times. It's all related. And we've talked about how, you know, the, the history of, you know, why Christmas is on the day it is and the weird calendar switching stuff that happened and all of that. But when it's solstices and equinoxes, I like to set an alarm for the actual moment, ? Because that is an astronomical moment that happens, not just the day.

And so this year, I think it's gonna be 827 p. m. our time. So I've got an alarm set so that when it does happen, the alarm can go off and we can go whoo and put our hands in the air. It's much better than when it happens at like 2 or 3 in the morning, because I do wake the kids up for that. We go whoo and then they go back to sleep.

But this time I think it's nice that it's going to be during the day. night when we're still awake, but it's, it's been dark for a few hours at that point, so that'll be lovely.

Mark: That sounds great.

The Celebration of Solstice in Different Cultures
---

Mark: A friend of mine is doing a party that he used to do before COVID. This is the first time since the arrival of COVID, which of course isn't over, but

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: we're doing parties again. So, he's doing a winter solstice vigil, which is an all night party that goes until dawn, and then you greet. Sun at the, they climb up to the top of the hill in San Francisco and greet the, greet the sun. I'm going to go, but I am not going to stay all night because the next morning I have to be in

Yucca: isn't it? Solstice is a Wednesday night

Mark: I thought it was Thursday.

Yucca: I think it's the 21st this year for North America. It'll be the 22nd for Europe. But anyways, it's a

Mark: Yeah, the 21st is the Thursday.

Yucca: Oh, it is a Thursday? It's not Wednesday? Okay. I just had to Okay, great.

Mark: That's good because I took Thursday and Friday off, and if it was on Wednesday , I would feel kind of silly. So.

Yucca: Oh yeah, so it is the 21st. I said the day's wrong in my head. All right, so you'll have to,

Mark: that next morning I have a part in a Unitarian Universalist solstice service, and so I'm not going to stay up all night, greet the sun, then jump in my car, drive 60 miles, and do that. That that sounds like dangerous to me.

Yucca: I don't know about you, but I can't do the whole stay up all night thing. I have not been able to do that in years. People do it for New Years. I'm like, nope, not doing it. I'll

Mark: but I don't choose to very often.

Yucca: If I need to be up at midnight, I'll go to sleep at 6 and I'll wake myself up at 11 30, but I'm not gonna. Stay up till midnight or one, yeah.

Mark: huh.

Yucca: Getting

Mark: you're a mom, so sleep is really at a premium,

Yucca: I like my sleep, yeah. But even before I was a mom, I do not do the staying up. I am not a good person to be around when I'm not rested. Thinking about all that self reflection, we do this type of year. Yeah, I've learned that. Like, nope. Need my sleep. So, but I think for people who that works for, I think that's lovely.

I certainly remember being younger and feeling that, like, that kind of altered state of having stayed up all night.

Mark: Yeah. More emotionally vulnerable and yeah well, this is a separate topic, but the fire circle rituals that I've been to many of, they go from typically eleven at night until dawn.

Yucca: mm hmm,

Mark: And there's the same kind of feeling, and you do them three nights in a row,

Yucca: mm

Mark: and catch some sleep during the day, but of course you don't get a full eight hours, so you are really sleep deprived by the last night, and everybody's just really tender and open, and it's, it's beautiful to be around a ton of people who are like that, but what you don't want to do is operate heavy machinery after having that experience.

It's not, not safe.

Yucca: Right. Heavy machinery, including cars. Just a

Mark: That's, that's what I was meaning

Yucca: Oh, yeah.

Mark: yeah, cars. And I am 60 miles from San Francisco, and I don't want to have to drive on, you know, being awake 24 hours,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: back up to Santa Rosa. So, yeah, so I'm going to go to the party for a while, and then I'm going to come back, uh, and it'll be great to see some friends down there, but it'll also be great to catch some solid Zs, uh, on the morning before I have to do this other thing. We're we're having a, we're recording this on the 16th? Is

Yucca: Yeah, it's Saturday the

Mark: Yeah, Saturday the 16th, and tomorrow the Northern California Atheopagan Affinity Group is getting together for a Yule celebration.

Yucca: Oh, yay.

Mark: Yeah I'm driving down there and we're having a fire pit and sharing delicious, you know, cozy making food.

There's a good chance it may rain. So I'm bringing stuff from mulled wine and we can sit inside and listen to the rain and drink mulled wine and

Yucca: Lovely. You know,

Mark: So are there other things that you do at this time of year?

The Evolution of Family Traditions
---

Yucca: it's still kind of evolving just as the, my kiddos are getting to an age where they can be part of creating those traditions, we'll see what happens over the next few years, right? So.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: Yeah. I mean, and it's wonderful to let yourself kind of be led by their interests in this as well.

Yucca: yeah,

Mark: you'll develop traditions that are just your families and that's very cool.

Yucca: right, yeah. And who knows, maybe, maybe that'll go, they'll, they'll remember that and do that with their families, or something different, or just it's one of the lovely things about what we were talking about in the beginning about it, just that spiraling back around to it. You know, each year there's something familiar but different, and over time that might change to something very different, but still have some of those same roots.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's that's this sort of balancing act that happens in, in modern paganism, where on the one hand, it's very DIY, and you can create your own rituals, and those can all be unique. On the other hand, there's something to be said about tradition, about having these things that you do every year at a particular time of year.

Just to acknowledge that it's that time of year and to create a particular feeling that you associate with that kind of, that time of year. I really enjoy both. There have been times, well, like, for example, my ritual circle, Dark Sun, does the same Hallows ritual every year.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: and I've talked about that before during those episodes.

And there have been times when I've had, like, cool ideas for a hallows ritual, and I would have loved to do it with them, but nope, we're doing the traditional thing. So, I think there's both sides to that. The the to be creative and the desire to create tradition.

Yucca: Yeah. Here we are.

Conclusion and Farewell
---

Mark: Here we are, once again, at the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, and the brightest in the Southern Hemisphere, so if you're enjoying summer, uh, have a wonderful time, you know, go swimming eat some ice cream, do all those things that one does in the summertime. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we wish you a meaningful and joyous and warm and cozy solstice celebration and time of year.

And we will be back next week.

Yucca: Yep. See you next week.

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