The Longest Night: a Solstice Meditation

A star, densely woven from delicate branches, hanging next to a branch of mistletoe.

The winter solstice is a time to look back upon our ancestors, gather our family and friends close, and rejoice in the return of the sun. It is a time of renewed hope and a time of resurrection – for just as Arianrhod’s Wheel turns and the Oak King resumes his rightful place, so must we go on.

On that night The Long Dark reaches its zenith, and for the briefest of moments it will seem as if the Holly King’s reign will be eternal. On that night of the longest dark, we light a gifted log aflame, remember the ancestors, and tell stories that bind us together as a people.

Let us gather and sing songs of our childhood, sing songs of our parents and of our children, of our friends and of our families. Let us gather, huddle close, and light the log of community. Let us feast and revel, and let us always remember there is always hope for the coming year.

Author's note: In modern neo-paganism, the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King is a metaphor for the seasons of the year. At Midsummer, the Oak King is at the height of his strength, and slowly weakens as the Autumnal Equinox approaches when the Holly King becomes dominant. The Holly King's strength continues to gain (at the expense of the Oak King) until Midwinter, when the dynamic shifts back in favor of the Oak King. This metaphor for the seasons of the year is quite common in Celtic Reconstructionist circles, and was first proposed by Robert Graves in his book, "The White Goddess." "Arianrhod's Wheel" is also a similar metaphor, referring to the moon. Its progression throughout the year is the lunar calendar by which the the solstices and equinoxes are tracked.