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‘Stir the fire & light the lights’

Here we are once again at the Winter Solstice - where everything feels cold and dark. We have yet to really get started with the worst winter has to throw at us and yet today we celebrate hope of what is to come. The solstice sun (if we even get to see it) seems frozen, distant and weak. Today is the day we remind it to return once more to it’s full power and to bring us light, warmth, spring and summer.

Bonfires can be lit to remind the sun of its returning strength as this solstice marks a moment of stillness and transition before bit by bit daylight increases and wins its battle over darkness. A Yuletide tradition was that on entering a neighbours home, before you could speak to anyone, you would go to their hearth and stir up the fire to bring new life into the embers and reinvigorate it’s flames . That in essence is what we can do today for our sun . Light up the lights in your homes and banish winters darkness.

The stillness of solstice is a beautiful time for reflection and remembrance. We can consider what the passing year has given us and the things we have encountered and been through. It is a time to turn negatives into positives where we try to draw light from our darker experiences and celebrate the joy, opportunities and our friendships . We lay a place at our table for those who have left us and keep their warmth in our hearts.

The silence is soon broken when in this darker time of the year our imagination is fully switched on as we are on high alert as to what lurks in the darkness. In the past , and in some places revived, making a clamour was essential to scare off any evil spirits lurking where our eyes can’t see. Pots and pans, metal dustbin lids, drums, beating sticks against sticks and shotgun fire have all featured in bringing noise to the feared quiet darkness. Wassailers, Mummers and Morris added to the cacophony bringing life and merriment as well as a wish of good cheer in return for a coin, a morsel or a toddy to help them sustain themselves and their families when winter made work short.

Dear friends however you spend this festive season - May wintertime be magickal And full of love and light. Thank you to all who have supported us over the years in helping to keep alive the old ways and celebrating the passing of the year by buying the Country Wisdom & Folklore Diary - we hope the 2020 diary proves a good companion throughout the year as we venture together into the next decade X

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