So much is happening in the next few days… Winter Solstice, last moon day for 2014, and Christmas!
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, today we celebrate the day with the fewest hours of daylight – December Solstice. Today, the Sun reaches its most southerly declination and is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. The December solstice has played an important role in cultures worldwide from ancient times and although winter was regarded as the season of dormancy, darkness and cold, this event celebrates that nature’s cycle was continuing, and embraces the return of lighter days.
The solar tradition
Some say the word “yule” is derived from the Norse word jól, referring to the pre-Christian winter solstice festival. The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit symbolising heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honour of the Scandinavian god Thor. A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log. In England, Germany, France and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until twelfth night or kept as a charm and or as medicine.
Here in Ireland, we have an ancient architectural solar marvel called Newgrange. Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.) during the Neolithic or New Stone Age, which makes it older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Archaeologists originally classified Newgrange as a passage tomb, but it is now recognised to be much more – an ancient temple which was once a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. At dawn, from December 18th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber. On Winter Solstice as the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. Modern day winter solstice celebrations take place at this sacred site each year.
Saluting the sun with surya namaskara
The sun is such an integral part of life on Earth. Surya namaskara takes on a new dimension when we become aware of the effects of the sun on our lives and even moreso when we reflect on how important it was to our ancestors before electricity etc. Tune into Mother Nature, let your inner light shine this winter solstice with some sun salutations.. go on.. make room for that Christmas feast, activating that digestive fire and giving yourself a boost with oodles of energy! Even 6-12 rounds will do you wonders.. and you won’t feel guilty eating that extra mince pie 😉
Surya namaskara, meaning “salutation to the sun”, can be seen as a form of worship of the sun, and all that it represents on micro and macrocosmic levels. Surya namaskara awakens the solar aspects of our nature, awakening the inner light, heat and fire, releasing vital energy for the development of higher awareness. So solstice is the perfect day to practice your surya namaskara, and pay tribute to the source of creation and life!
Check out this article in the Times of India for a breakdown of a classical version of the surya namaskara sequence and how this practice benefits and contributes to obtaining a fit and healthy body and mind. Stay tuned to future blog posts in 2015 for further insights on surya namaskara – with lots more interesting details, reasons and benefits for practcing the asanas, pranayama and meditational techniques (including chakra awareness, bhandas and mantra repetition) within the main structure of this beautiful sequence.
Wishing you all a very merry and loving Christmas
It’s almost time to celebrate the birthday of the maha guru of love, Jesus Christ. Taking some inspo and wisdom from the birthday boy…. “love one another as I have loved you”. So in this period of parties, festivities & frivolity… remember to let the love shine through.. and remembering to keep up your yoga practice with plenty of heart opening asanas!!
Last moon day in 2014
And finally.. happy new moon.. last moon day of 2014 is Monday 22 December.. for astral insights check out mystic mamma…..big fan!