I've posted this poem at Winter Solstice once before - 5 years ago. I like it a lot, so here it is once more:
Toward the Winter Solstice
by Timothy Steele
Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.
Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.
Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.
And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.
Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.
(Find it HERE.)
In a search for something else to add to this Solstice posting I noted a quotation from a book by one Lewis Spence, "British Fairy Origins":
“...some evidence seems to exist that an idea prevailed that in the fairy sphere there is a reversal of the seasons, our winter being their summer. Some such belief seems to have been known to Robert Kirk, for he tells us that 'when we have plenty they [the fairies] have scarcity at their homes.' In respect of the Irish fairies they seem to have changed their residences twice a year: in May, when the ancient Irish "flitted" from their winter houses to summer pastures, and in November, when they quitted these temporary quarters.”A passing reader might decide this blogger has temporarily slipped "away with the fairies". Not so - well no more than usual anyway. I looked further into the author of that whimsical quote, and his book.
Lewis Spence, ( 1874-1955) a Scot, journalist and fairly prolific author on such fascinating topics as occultism, druidism, the magic arts, Atlantis, mysteries of Mexico, mysteries of Egypt, Scottish folklore, British fairy lore....and much more. Some of his work is still in print but much is now forgotten, although many recent authors have likely used his work for reference, inspiration or as a spring board.
A couple more fairy-related quotes from his book British Fairy Origins
“In my view the study of fairy origins assumes a greater degree of importance than popular opinion is wont to concede to it. Indeed, the ideas associated with it strike at the very roots of human belief and primitive methods of reasoning. It is scarcely to be questioned that the explanation of fairy origins is of the utmost value to the better comprehension of primitive religion. Later it will be made clear that, for the writer at least, the whole tradition of Faerie reveals quite numerous and excellent proofs of its former existence as a primitive and separate cult and faith, more particularly as regards its appearance and tradition in these islands.”
“But this is not to say that a highly specialized body of belief such as that associated with Faerie is not capable of subsidiary explanations apart from this very general conclusion, specially in connection with those later and accretive ideas which must have grown up around it. Admittedly there is a common basis for the origin of all beliefs associated with the origin of spirits, which is to be found alone in the doctrine of animism. This notwithstanding, and with all due respect to the warnings of Krappe, Hartland, and others concerning the risks accruing to the scientific classification of spiritual forms, certain types of spirits with markedly separate characteristics have assuredly been conceived, and have been given diverse denominations and descriptions by those who believed in their existence. Of this the fairy type is indeed a case in point; and however correct it may be to say that it cannot basically be separated from the ghost, the goblin, or the demon, it has, in the course of ages, assumed characteristics which in a secondary sense distinguish it sufficiently from all of these to permit the scientific observer, and to some extent the peasant or the savage, to rank it as a separate variety of spirit, if not as a distinct species.”
― Lewis Spence, British Fairy Origins
More information and illustration of some of his book covers can be found at Controversial.com here.
His natal chart with data from Astrotheme:
Early Sagittarius Sun with Moon in Gemini and Libra rising, in a chart capable of multiple patterns: oppositions, trines, sextiles, sufficient to form what my software calls a Seer Geocentric pattern, made up of Grand Trine (3 harmonious 120* aspects), two oppositions (180*)
four sextiles (60*) all tightly or in some cases a little more loosely linked. I have one of these in my own chart but have never been able to find out exactly what it signifies other than a chart with lots of links, most fairly positive in interpretation. Astrologers would interpret this pattern as, I guess, a mix of the interpretations of two patterns contained within the "Seer": Grand Trine and Mystic Rectangle.
In Mr Spence's case the planets involved are: Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, Moon and Neptune. The artistry in his writing (Venus in Sagittarius) is well-linked and in more than one way, to Jupiter (ruler of Sagittarius) for philosophical ideas and the spread of his writings; Uranus, his interest in "out of the ordinary" subjects - thought by some to be somewhat eccentric; Moon in Gemini: Moon his inner self; Gemini from whence the inspiration to write arises; and Neptune - his creative imagination. Many harmonious links are involved, held together by a couple of oppostions: Jupiter/Neptune and Venus/Moon which, rather than opposing in the usual sense, might more positively be seen as offering a balancing effect.
His natal Sun in Sagittarius doesn't form part of the "Seer" formation, but tunes him into the general feel of "harmony" through sign and element.
Saturn at 9 Aquarius opposes Uranus at 15 Leo - the two rulers of Aquarius, one balancing the other - a tricky job indeed: new thought attempting balance with the old and well-established is one way to put it. In Mr Spence's case, though, he was actually making the truly old become new again: ancient beliefs polished up and brought to the fore.