Our winter solstice celebration was a little late this year, having to be postponed from last week. All the same, we entered into the mystery of this time. We began by viewing a brief video clip of the solstice sunrise at NewGrange, in Ireland. You can see it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZzpDgatOa0 It must have taken several generations of workers to build this ancient tomb. Great precision was required to ensure that the light of the solstice sun shafted down the long entrance tunnel to hit the stone in the centre. In the video, the solstice light appears amber, flickering and magical as it enters the chamber.

 Here, on the other side of the world, we meditated in the dark. ‘Winter . . . liberates the vision of the soul’, said Vita Sackville-West. We discovered and shared our visions born out of the depth of darkness.

 We lit candles and ate the solstice fruit.

And celebrated also Matariki, the wandering celebration which this year fell exactly on Winter Solstice. Taranaki Maori would welcome Matariki back in a tearful reunion, and speak out the names of those who had died since Matariki last disappeared. My old teacher, who was from Taranaki, was remembered together with Matariki this year.

I’ve come to love winter solstice for its connection with ancestral rituals, the depth of its darkness on the longest night, and the hope that is seeded with the returning sun. In the northern hemisphere, at summer solstice, darkness is seeded. For you in the north, the season is turning towards the dark now, even as our season turns towards the light. At the equinoxes, we will feel the changeover, but meanwhile you have increasing warmth, and we increasing cold. Happy solstice, wherever you are.