Before moving here we lived in a culture that drowned creativity. At this time of year our ears and eyes would be filled with the buzzing of lighted sales and ornamented schemes. Drained by work and dazzled by variations on a theme of consumption there was no blank space for thought. Hay espacio aqui. Here, there is space.
Here we are absolutely free to make our own culture. Actually this, like all others, is forced freedom. Separated from that noise, we do make our own culture. If we do not think about what culture we make we make it thoughtlessly, bringing our unexamined ways with us.
For thousands of years Europeans have stored up annual resources to unite and make merry culture at the darkest hours of the year. As ideas and traditions come and go the stamp of the time makes it marks on these old ways and the old winter festivals bear ever changing names. The memes of religions, humanism, consumerism, anti-consumerism and more flutter into a tornado of noise for the winter festival.
Here in the stillness of noise we face the mud and matter of winter: with darkness we have very little electricity to read and work by in the long nights. What we have an abundance of is cold: cold only half-heartedly banished from the breezy stone walls of this un-mortered cottage by our brave wood burner. We either spend our time carefully measuring wood consumption or we spend it all in pine forests above cutting up cured trees from the forest floor. With the ever darkening days our solar panels cried out for light and so did we as we tried to read evening books to the whirring sounds of wind-up torches.
With our simple life, the bleak reality of earth’s tilt forces our focus on the solstice, after which the days will get lighter again. About a thousand years ago the anglo-saxon christian scholar Bede wrote of a festival called modranekt, mothernight, celebrated the night after the solstice. It is easy to see why those-that-we-came-from felt the solstices’ importance. It is important to us too. For a solstice feast we built a primitive outdoor stone oven to roast cabbage, sweet potatoes, parsnips, apples and a chicken in. We have spiced our wine and enjoyed very much our shortest day and longest night. Mothernight we are spending celebrating the new year of lightening days. We have enjoyed our solstice and mothernight, not accompanied by any neo-pagan rites nor rituals, simply, the happy stark reminder that our world turns and our fortunes cycle for a new round of seasons. Traditionally presents are given to one’s loved ones, our presents this year lack much materiality but we wish to send out our love and greetings to all close to our hearts as you also celebrate your mid-winter feasts.