NOT everyone dreaded Ballarat’s shortest day of the year yesterday.
While many in the city rugged up against the chill and an overnight minimum in the sub-zeroes, many of the region’s spiritualists, including wiccans, pagans and druids, celebrated the winter solstice.
The winter and summer solstice, along with the spring and autumn equinox, represent the high tide of each season. According to Ballarat Druidic High Priestess Celeste McMurray, each are equally important.
“It is the cycle. You can’t have one without the other,” Ms McMurray said.
The importance of the winter solstice to human spirituality stretches back millennia. According to one interpretation, when the sun was at its lowest point and the days were shortest, it was a time of fear that days would become yet shorter still.
So the ancient druids would perform a ritual to reverse the ebbing sun and put it back on course so the days would begin to lengthen again.
The name of the Driudic winter solstice festival was Alban Arthan, or the Light of King Arthur.
Ms McMurray, through her part ownership of the A Divine Intervention for the Mind Body and Soul spiritual shop on Armstong Street North with fellow druid Kate Discher, has frequent contact with other spiritualists in the region.
She said she was introduced to the ancient Celtic religion through her family and traces her linage back to druids in Scotland.
How wiccans and druids celebrate the solstice can vary from coven to coven, or in the case of the druids, from grove to grove.
“Some Wiccan covens get together, set up a circle and light candles,” Ms McMurray said.
“Druidic groves will come together when
the moon reaches its apex. We will share food and ale and give
thanks. I will then simply leave an offering of grains to the Goddess.”
Ms McMurray’s Druidic grove has just six members and
there are only a few groves in the immediate area.
She says there is a significantly greater number of wiccans and pagans in the area who would have also performed their own rituals.