Winter solstice

Tuesday 3 June 2008

In just under three weeks, the Winter Solstice will be here in the southern hemisphere, the 24 hour period with the shortest daylight hours and the longest night. I want to do something to mark it this year, and the fact that my health seems to have stablised. If I recall correctly, last year I was already bemoaning Winter by the time of the solstice as hump day, and clamouring for the extra couple of minutes of light each day brought.

This year - this year is a totally different story. The whole thing so far feels like a piece of cake. Now, I know it's just started so I'm still girding up my proverbial loins. I'm pretty sure I'll tire of the whole cooking and eating hot food and feeling like my toes are freezing off and carrying a blanket around the house like Linus thang a fair while before Spring springs. I don't think I'm turning into a Winter person. But I am realising just how much easier Winter is when you've got some sort of health going on.

My body clock doesn't seem to be going as loopy as it usually does. I'm fighting off colds and stuff. When I'm tired, like today, I can still function. Last Winter when I was tired, it felt somewhat like the marrow was seeping out of my bones. There is nothing like being removed from your own groundedness for a long period of time to make it all positively orgasmic once it's returned to you.

And so I want to do something to mark the occasion. My art therapist gave me some dried leaves she had collected and I wrote on them a couple of weeks ago, all the things that had come to an end in my life, both good and bad, and then set fire to them and burnt them. That was kinda cool.

But I want to do more. I want to do something on the actual day. Maybe I'll follow the lead of the Zoroastrians of ancient Persia. They had an all-night party, sat around a special low-slung table telling stories and reading poetry, eating pomegranates and watermelon and some kind of fruit and nut mix, and burning bonfires outside. Which sounds pretty alright, I guess, although I'll swap the watermelon for a glass of merlot, if that's okay.

I think I'm rather more drawn to the ancient Greek festival Lunea, or the Festival of the Wild Women, where a man was ritually torn to bits by a gang of women and then eaten. It all had something to do with the god Dionysos. Things fared better for him later on in the ritual, because he got to be reborn as a baby. The poor bloke who drew the short straw to play the lead role in this little doozie of a ritual just scored himself an early exit at the hands of a pack of crazy bitches. Pretty drastic stuff. By the time Greece had entered its classical period, it had all been dumbed down a bit, the representative male replaced by a goat, and the crazy wild women reduced to the role of funeral mourners.

I think the idea of a Wild Women Festival is a good one, though. I wonder if the Melbourne City Council would grant me a permit to hold it in the Fitzroy Gardens? We could skip the murdering and eating a man bit; I'm sure there's a few occupational health and safety clauses that'll nip that little baby in the bud. Maybe something a bit more surreal, like banshee wailing while slapping dead fish together over our heads while we dance naked around a bonfire.

There really aren't enough rituals in our lives. Especially ones involving wailing and slapping dead fish. Personally, I think there's room for it.


  1. OK I'll seriously pass on the dead fish. Eww.

    But you are right about the lack of ritual, especially the kind that involves "dancing" and "fire" in it.

    Anyhow, I'm absolutely certain you can find a solstice party...just Google it.

  2. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it :)

    Actually, I thought of the dead fish thing from this ad that used to be on TV a few years ago. They were promoting the fact that they now offered alternative therapies on their insurance, and to demonstrate they showed someone lying face down while a guy stood over them wailing and slapping two big fish together. It just always made me laugh :)

    I did notice there's a church having a solstice concert that night. Which is kinda ... out there. I might go :)

  3. In Newfoundland they are into wailing and slapping dead fish -- cod, I believe. You should go there for vacation some time or read The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. It will make you feel warm as toast in the Aussie winter.

  4. Barbara, really? Why do they wail and slap dead fish together? It sounds ingriguing.

    I love Newfoundland dogs (just as a totally unrelated aside :)

    I tried reading The Shipping News a few years ago, and I don't know - perhaps I was sick and couldn't concentrate or something because I jsut couldn't get into it. But so many people love it, that obviously I have missed something.

  5. a church solstice concert!?!

    personally I think a bonfire sounds way more fun

    celebrating the return of the sun, the advancement of the sun


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