This is the great celebration of Mother Night.
And that is why they named this time “Solstice,” because it comes from the Latin “solstitium,” from sol, which means “sun” and -stitium, “a stoppage.” For several days, in fact, it appears that the sun’s arc from sunrise to sunset is unchanged. The long, steady darkening that our Old Ones watched, ever since mid-June appears to pause… and then…. one day, the sun will rise a little more to the north east, and the day is a little longer. And so the days can be seen to lengthen, and all can know that even now as we enter the doorway to Winter, Spring is a certainty.
Mother Night is observed in honor of the Dark Goddess, who holds us at our beginnings and our endings. She may be Frigga, or Freya; she may be a warrior Maiden, protector Mother or ancient Crone. She may be nameless. But this is Her doorway, after which the days of Yule begin.
In the words of one beautiful Heathen rite:
“These twelve nights represent the coming year. It is a time set aside from the old year and the new, and a time when the greatest wyrds are turned. Perchtenlauf and the Wild Hunt ride during this time. And the walls between the worlds are thinned; the Gods’ might is at its peak, the wights and the dead walk freely among the living. Let us remember them on this Mother Night.”
It is also a night for honoring the Fey, toasting and giving thanks:
“Hail the holy Elves,
Shining of the harrow,
Whole Ye hold the Hearth,
Mighty elders of old.
Turn our minds toward you!”
This pause between Dark and the return of the Light is an ephemeral moment, full of magic. Tonight, give yourself time to allow the delicious dark to fill your awareness. Be with it, without fear, without the need to distract yourself. Notice how calm, how deep, how quiet it can be. This night can be a balm for the sometimes too hard-shiny-bright intensity that shuns this time of year’s true gift: its reminder of our own mortality, and the deep surrender of all things, even the Earth Herself, to times of darkness.
Tomorrow, we will light the fourth candle in our Solstice Sunwheel, for tomorrow brings the Solstice dawn. Then on Sunday, we seal the spell with the powerful energy of the Full Moon in 1º Cancer.
But for now, enter the dark Mystery of Mother Night. May She bless you well.