Midwinter 2013

Today, the 21st of December, was the shortest day and tonight will be the longest night of the year. I got up three hours later than I usually do this morning, so it really has felt short to me. All of our kids have minor ailments which seem likely to wake them up during the night, so its probably going to feel pretty long to us.

I’ve had no time to come up with anything clever to write here but that’s kind of appropriate given that what these quarterly updates usually do (partly at least) is keep you up to speed with how our work is going and, in the case of the Winter Solstice,  how the past year has been for us.

We are very busy (which is never a bad thing) but we are very short on time (which is never a good thing). These days it seems like we work harder than we ever have in our lives just to keep things ticking over. This is what happens when you work from home and you have three pre-school age children, of course, and that’s something neither of us can really complain about. We’re lucky.

We’re all lucky. Lucky to be alive right now, today, and to have this time. Lucky to be able to see in another year, and to forge ahead with plans new and old. Lucky to have the chance to try, and try again. We are each and all “thermodynamic miracles” (as some old writer or other once wrote), “starstuff pondering the stars” 1; the odds against  you, of any of us, being here, now are ridiculous. We are luck personified.

So feel lucky, be lucky, and stay lucky for 2014.  The very best of luck to you and yours.

Midwinter 2011 – wishing you a Merry Yuletide

It’s 05:30 am on Thursday the 22nd of December 2011 and at this moment we’re the farthest we get from our sun. This is the very zenith of the proverbial Bleak Midwinter. That’s why it’s so bloody dark and cold.

Aeons ago our ancestors built – with their bare hands – cryptic monuments such as the Goseck circle and Sí an Bhrú, some of whose passages  or stones seem ingeniously aligned with the sun as it rises on this morning.

Today we cover chocolate Swiss Rolls in butter-cream icing to make them look a bit like logs in their honour.

As the time for giving and receiving and flicking through the channels, hoping you don’t have to watch the same Christmas Only Fools and Horses again draws near, what better way to get in the festive mood than with a seasonal poem? All the very best to you and yours dear reader, now read on.

Yule Horror
by H. P. Lovecraft

There is snow on the ground,
And the valleys are cold,
And a midnight profound
Blackly squats o’er the wold;
But a light on the hilltops half-seen hints of feastings un- hallowed and old.

There is death in the clouds,
There is fear in the night,
For the dead in their shrouds
Hail the sin’s turning flight.
And chant wild in the woods as they dance round a Yule- altar fungous and white.

To no gale of Earth’s kind
Sways the forest of oak,
Where the sick boughs entwined
By mad mistletoes choke,
For these pow’rs are the pow’rs of the dark, from the graves of the lost Druid-folk.

Winter Solstice and Total Lunar Eclipse

The 21st of December 2010 is not only midwinter (AKA DōngZhì, Yule, Şabe Cele/Yalda, Soyal, Şeva Zistanê and many other names) but it’s also the date of a total lunar eclipse. The fact that the eclipse occurs on the Solstice means that the Moon will be at the maximum northern position in its orbit. The last time a lunar eclipse occurred on Dec. 21 was in 1991 and the next one is in 2094.

More info on the eclipse can be found at www.nasa.gov and www.mreclipse.com (which includes an eclipse time table so you dont miss it and have to wait 84 years for the next one).

Lunar Eclipse Totality begins: 07:41 GMT

Winter Solstice occurs: 23:38 GMT

Winter Solstice 2009

Wild Girl and Herne by J H Williams IIIIt is 17:47 Greenwich Mean Time – the earth’s axial tilt is at the furthest point from the sun which it ever reaches – it is the shortest day of the year – it is Midwinter – it is the Winter Solstice.

Have a good one.