Sacred Year
Samhain
Winter Solstice
Imbolc
Spring Equinox
Beltane
Summer Solstice
Lammas
Fall Equinox
Moosemas
Dancing the Sacred Calendar
Elements of Ceremony
The Labyrinth
Winter Solstice
ASTRONOMY: Solstice is the shortest day and longest night, days are shorter than nights, days begin growing longer slowly.
SOLSTICE: We celebrate the rebirth of the light when all is darkest.

Winter Solstice Reading
all is frozen. it seems as though nothing is happening or will ever happen again. the bleared sun rises in the same notch on the ridge and travels the same low path across the sky. we have come to some bleak dead end, to the far still ebb of the tide. stand still. out on the colorless sands, we wait.
From The Feminine of History is Mystery, facing page 101

Most cultures have some sort of midwinter festival. In places in the far north, the time when the days start to grow long again is very significant. Before the knowledge of modern astronomy, there was a very real fear that the sun might keep going south and the days get shorter until one day the sun didn't rise again. Travelers north of the Arctic circle can see this very phenomenon. In Scandanavia, at the time of Yule, it was important that nothing go around, not a wheel, not even stirring a bowl - for fear the sun would not stand still and turn back (the word Solstice comes from Latin for "sun stands"). Bringing an evergreen tree indoors and decorating it with lights is a very old ritual to express the hope that green and fertile nature will rise again. The Winter Solstice has been Christianized as the birthday of Jesus, but it was known as the birth of a dying and resurrecting god from ancient times.


Winter verse from the Four Seasons

When winter bites and the leaves all fall
And through the hawthorn cold winds run,
Through dwindling days the cruel-leaved holly
Keeps safe the memory of the sun.


The dance goes on and it's never ending
The circle turns and the singer sings
The year turns cold but the winter wood
Still holds the memory of the Spring...


Dances we do at this time include:

The Shepherd's Dance - a very early choreography in the Sacred/Circle Dance tradition. The music is medieval, the simple dance is done with candles.
Ring of Light - another candle dance.
Four Seasons - traditional dance from the Faeroes
Lulla Loel - the crystalline sounds of the music evoke snow and frost
Kitka - a modern choreography to a song from the Ukraine about an enchanted forest
Lore - a highly structured dance to the four directions
Sonnenwende - "The Sun's Turning" choreographed by Susanne Raschke to music by Denis Quinn
Nightwalking - Marina Bear's dance of walking in the desert at night
White Crown - Russian Dance suggesting skating in a snowy landscape.
Turning Toward the Morning - a dance to Gordon Bok's song about hope as the winter closes in.