The prepared-improvisational dramas I help put on for our Community
Seasonal Celebrations where I live with my family in rural Washington DC.
Including specialty baking, one of my favorite parts of our Seasonal Festivals
Celebrating seasonal changes is in my blood. From time immemorial, my Nordic ancestors celebrated the Solstices -- both Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice -- and also the Spring Equinox.
Beginning when I was around 12 years old and continuing for several years, my mother and 3 sisters and I put on performances of Scandinavian Christmas customs for local community groups. My mother wrote the script telling of traditional festive activities of the Scandinavian countries, and made costumes for all of us to wear for these performances. My mother narrated the program, and we girls acted out skits and sang songs -- in both Norwegian and English -- to my guitar accompaniament. Participating in this program significantly sparked my interest in finding out more about the origins of these ancient seasonal customs.
I remember one time in those years sitting on the ground in the orchard behind our beautiful Ohio farm, and having the realization of the existence of A LONGEST DAY, A SHORTEST DAY, and TWO TIMES OF DAY EQUALS NIGHT ! ! I remember thinking that these times seemed like such miracles that on these days, people should proclaim the news from the rooftops.
The customs from Scandinavia that particularly fascinated me were those of the Winter and Summer Solstices -- particularly poignant in that part of the world with such strikingly opposite experiences of light and dark at those opposite times of year. I was entranced by the Winter Solstice tradition of torch-lit processions of skiers winding their way down from the surrounding hills on their way to Christmas Eve services at church. And in the Pre-Christian era before people's destination was the local church, celebrators were instead on their way to the community Winter Solstice Bonfire. On the Summer Solstice -- which they celebrate as St. Hans (Johans or John) Day -- to this very day Scandinavians build bonfires and stay up all night celebrating the Midnight Sun.
For me, the times of year of seasonal change are deeply spiritual, but not religious in the way the pre-Christian peoples held the sun to be a god. But rather, I feel these times offer opportunities to experience the spirituality that is the essence of the physical world. Of course, the spiritual is part and parcel of the physical in every instant of creation, but the moments in the year just as the Seasons change are gaps in time offered to us by our beautiful planet as a reminder of that, these times when we can feel the infinite shining through so clearly.
At these times of year, our living, breathing planetary matrix (matrix = womb) invites us to experience the infinity of our individual consciousness in its connection with the infinitity of consciousness of the cosmos, to experience how we and everything here are a part of the Great Mystery of Creation....
So far, one generation of our children have grown up with these celebrations on Sugarloaf as an integral part of their lives, and we parents of the group often talk about this fondly. While we know it will take many years to fully establish celebrating the seasonal changes as a permanent way of life, I think we are well on our way to having this tradition enter into the blood and bones and hearts of people......Bringing awareness of these times of seasonal change is such a natural thing to guide people in -- it is already in the experience of all Earthlings -- both in the earth and inside of themselves. In our celebrations we intentionally mark these moments in time as an opportunity to bring people's awareness to focus together on acknowledging something they already know and feel in their bodies and hearts and spirits.