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Holy Night

credit: Andreas Aierstock

credit: Andreas Aierstock


Over the past week I’ve been really conscious of something in me that longs to mark this time with ceremony and celebration. Something in me wants to make it special, as people have done at the winter solstice and New Year for millennia, recreating the world anew.

Yet I’m also aware that the rituals our culture presents me with seem sadly hollow. “Consumeristmas” is a fitting term for the materialistic orgy so many of us indulge in. I struggle to get my head around the scale of it. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales for 2013 are projected to top $600 billion.

And while I used to celebrate the Christian holiday even many years after I stopped going to church, it just feels strange now. It requires a bit too much abstraction to arrive at a notion of the birth of the holy child symbolizing the creation of form out of darkness. There is rather too much churchianity that one has to willfully ignore.

And so I’m left with this impulse to participate in the cosmogony, as Mircea Eliade put it. To step out of time and into that eternal moment of creation, of becoming, of the great flaring forth. I feel gratified that there’s still something in me that wants to do that.

So I’ve been sitting with the question of what that might look like. I don’t have a real good answer. Only bits and pieces. Something to do with honoring darkness and keeping a vigil for what wants to be born. Perhaps next year I will be clearer. Right now I am appreciating this longing in me. And also conscious of a sense that my culture has failed me. Nothing left to do but work on recreating it. Perhaps that’s what wants to be born.


  1. Paying attention sometimes ritual enough.

    • Maybe so.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Ruth, I share your longing as I’m sure many people do. It’s even stranger here in the southern hemisphere where they paint snow in the windows and all the symbols relate to winter solstice at the height of summer. I am attracted to the idea of going back to my celtic roots but I’m not even sure that works for the Australian context.

    • It seems to me that there must be some ancient human longing to mark these times and preferably to do it in community. I feel very isolated at times like this. As you’re in Australia, I recommend you check out this wonderful woman’s efforts to reclaim some of those old earth-based European traditions Do you know her work? She lives down under too, so it’s all according to what’s going on in your seasons. I think you might enjoy her stuff. I find it super inspiring – even though I have to read 6 months behind :)!

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