On this the longest night of the year, Winter is fully upon us. The garden is buried under the first foot of snow. The bee hives are insulated with several inches of straw , held in place by sections of last year's pea trellis. This will protect them from the winter winds, and the hives have upper entrances for the bees to use when the snow covers the lower one.
To our ancient ancestors in northern Europe (and other times and places), this was the day the Earth Mother gave birth to the Sun Child. He will eventually grow stronger and brighter as the year progresses. This year, we followed a suggestion in Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura Shaw, and we built a sacred cave. Their cave calls upon the power of stones, but since we live in northern Michigan, we called upon the power of snow. Our Earth Mother holds her babe, while our totem animals stand at her feet. LD's owl perches on the roof of the cave. She wears the black robe of a crone, tied with red, for motherhood. The glow of the candles holds our eyes and imagination as we watch from the house.
If we can get the kids up, we'll climb the hill with drums and noisemaking devices to wake up the sun. That's a big "if" since they were playing with friends until nearly 10 p.m.!
So on this Longest Night, feel the quiet and the peace. Know that after tomorrow, the days start getting longer again. Rest in the darkness for work will return with the light. We would all do well to stop multi-tasking and just breathe. I raise a glass of homemade hard cider and give thanks to the Earth Mother, to the humans I love, and to the land that gives me sustenance. To all I say "Wassail!"