Winter Solstice Hand Blended Incense by Star Child of Glastonbury.
It's the depth of winter. The ground is frozen and nature is sleeping under a thick blanket of snow. But deep within the earth womb life is stirring - the sun is reborn. At the Winter Solstice, when we have reached the longest night the flame of hope is born and carries us through the rest of the winter. For the time being, there are few signs that life will return, but over the next few weeks the light we steadily increase. For now it is a time to celebrate and dip into the larder's reserves to celebrate the birth of the baby sun. Winter Solstice is a time to share your resources with friends and family and, inspired by hope, make plans for the future. It is a time to select the seeds and ideas we want to plant and grow in the coming season.
Everything has its season - there is a time to be born and a time to grow, a time to learn and a time to mature, there is a time to live and a time to die, a cycle of seasons that marks the passage of time. Each time of the year has its beauty and its special gifts, but inevitably the wheel must turn and the season will pass - until its time comes around again. The seasonal cycle gives rhythm to time.
Today it is easy to ignore the necessities of time that dominated the lives of our ancestors until quite recently. It is easy to forget that time is not linear, but cyclical in nature and although we may ignore it, deep within our hearts we move to that same rhythm as the earth.
Our ancestors could not escape the seasonal cycle as we can today. On the contrary, it was crucial to their survival. Naturally, they were much more keenly aware of the seasonal changes, which they celebrated with their annual festival cycle. In the Celtic traditions of northern Europe this cycle consisted of 8 festivals, the quarter days, which marked the equinoxes and solstices and the cross-quarter days, which marked the 'in-between times'. The cycle of the seasons was envisioned as the story of the Earth Goddess and Sun Child, which becomes her lover and husband and together they make the Earth fertile and abundant. At the Summer Solstice he reaches his peak and must die. His declining power still ripens the fruit, but by the time harvest comes he is dead. The life-force retreats and the Earth Goddess is mourning, until she realizes that she is pregnant. At Winter Solstice she gives birth to the Sun God once again. His power is restored and her womb is fertile once again and so the cycle of life starts all over.
The seasonal festivals marked the stations of the year. At these times we are at a threshold when time, for a moment seems to stand still and everybody, young and old came together to celebrate the cosmic drama of the Earth Goddess and the Sun King. For a brief interlude the rules and routines of everyday life were set aside and the focus of the community was directed towards the Gods and the changing balance of male and female forces in nature.
How to use:
Place a charcoal disc on a fireproof surface away from anything flammable. A ceramic or metal dish containing some sand is ideal.
Hold a match or a lighter to the rim of the disc, taken care as the disc may spit and spark on ignition. Also allow a good air flow around the disc so that it can burn evenly, and be aware that it may give off quite a lot of smoke.
Once the disc is red hot and glowing, drop a pinch of the incense on the top.
Scrape off the ashes from time to time to expose the glowing centre of the charcoal disc and add more incense as required.
NEVER hold a lit disc in your hand, and dispose of spent discs carefully.
Looking after your incense:
This type of incense keeps well, and as long as it is kept in a cool dark place it should actually improve with age.