Solstice & Equinox

Got this clip from, The Sacred Gardener

My Daughter, Cedar has seen nine solstice trees and the accompanying rituals come and go. So it’s not too surprising that the other day while I was driving her to Kung Fu class, and she was looking at the houses along the highway, said with a sneer “why do people buy fake trees?”, seeing one in someone’s front window. Seems like a very good question when we’re surrounded in every direction by endless forest and trees. I didn’t really think about it much, and just said, “ya it’s weird eh?, I guess they think it’s easier than finding, or paying for a new one every year.” That was the end of the discussion. On the way home after dropping her off I started thinking about it more.
I remember in the 1970’s when the first plastic trees were on display at Canadian Tire. Some were white and some were green. Even at ten I thought they were hideously garish. While my dad was not a woodsman or particularly traditional I remember he scoffed at the site of the plastic tree, and insisted spruce made the best Christmas trees. Without any particular reasoning my brother, sister and myself felt instinctively repulsed by the idea of having a plastic tree from a box. Now, as an adult and a student of history and the old ways I find it incredibly sad when I think about folks gathering around a plastic tree.
Nobody really knows the pagan origin of bringing an evergreen (tree or boughs) into the house at solstice time. This ritual practice is likely tens of thousands of years old, predating Christmas and Christianity by a long shot. The European and North American tradition came from Germany in the 1800’s, which points back to earlier nordic origins. Many rural German traditions even to this day predate the Christian Era. The Germans like many Northern European cultures still have a strong connection to their ancient past.
The central idea of the old solstice tradition or ritual is to ceremonially bring an evergreen bough or tree into the house at the very darkest time of the year when all the green vegetation has died back from the land over months of cold. That evergreen was understood to hold the heart of the life that sustained us, and so it was cut and treated with great care and respect. The sight of a decorated house with evergreens, as well as the smell of evergreen aerosols coming off the tree brought that life force back into our hearts. It helped us remember and celebrate the life force which seems to have retreated from the land at this time of year.
The next big traditional ceremony is Brigid or Imbolc, which is when the very same life force returns to the land with the first ephemeral spring flowers. In fact all 8 of the solstices’ and equinoxes’ are meant to hold and honour this most sacred “green” life force, in its different incarnations throughout the year. So when we bring in the solstice tree we do so in deep recognition of the incredible gift of this mysterious life force. And the ceremony also recognizes the fragility of our connection to it. Because this life force seems to be held through the winter only by the evergreens like Spruce, Pine, Firs, Hemlocks, Cedars and Holly, of course.
Here’s the sad part to realize. Our culture which has for the most part left all traditions behind, except in symbolic fashion, is a culture completely based on fossil fuel or oil. Our food is grown with it (and sometime made from it!), our utensils and clothes are most often made from it, we keep warm with it and travel roads and fly with it. It is our God. So it’s more than just ironic that our recognition of the life force that keeps us and everything alive, as represented previously represented by the evergreen Christmas tree has been replaced, and hollowly replicated by something void of that green life force. Something dead and slick. And by draining the residual blood of another geological era 200 million years ago we’re killing our present global ecology.


But I liked this gal or guys version of having a tree and why we do it. Trivia that many people do not know. I didn’t until I read it.

But bees are probably more in tune to the Solstices and Equinoxes than any one of us. They live by the seasons, as much of wild life and nature does.

When the Summer Solstice is past, the bees are knowing that winter is coming and they are preparing.

This December has proven to be one of the coldest that I can remember. Usually the cold comes in January and can hit in February, but this year the digits are dipping in December.

In this type of weather the bees stay in a state of tuPor. – a state of lowered physiological activity typically characterized by reduced metabolism, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature that occurs in varying degrees especially in hibernating and estivating animals.

We humans, too, slow down and hibernate more with our fire and our soup.

Have a Blessed Solstice.

A Very Merry Christmas,

And I’ll be back in January of 2023!!!


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