Christmas has come and gone and this year seemed a little surreal as first one and then the other of us had a rather unpleasant stomach bug we caught from our little grandson. Yuck. It seemed to put the lid on this year for us, and we are both looking forward to a rather better 2015.
I know that many of you are ardent followers of the series Outlander, so I thought you might be interested in the following which I "lifted" from our local newspaper as we just passed the Winter Solstice on Sunday.
The week before and the week after the Winter Solstice, 21st December, were named "Halcyon days" in the belief that in this fortnight the waves and wind would be calmed so that kingfishers could breed in their watery nests.
Halcyon is Greek for kingfisher.
December 21st is also St Thomas's Day when old women in East Anglia went "a-Thomasing", asking for sixpences. They were optimists because a tanner (6 old pennies) was then quite a lot of money.
The 21st December itself truly stood for optimism, the feeling that things would only get better as the days lengthened.Christmas is a Christian festival tacked on to a much older pagan one that celebrated the turning of the year when the days began to lengthen once again. The people who developed Stonehenge and Avebury were better aware of the true significance of the winter solstice than were the Christians who came long after them.
Neither Christians nor Druids have ever understood the true meaning of Stonehenge and its relations. Although the builders had an inaccurate understanding of the workings of the universe around them, they were at least trying to find out more about them in an honest and straightforward fashion.
In the Western Isles of Scotland are the prehistoric standing stones at Callanish. Facing them are five undisturbed rocks with a "fissure" in the middle rock. These rocks were a sacred spot long before the Callanish standing stones were built 4,000 years ago.
As the sun's path drops lower in the sky towards the winter solstice, the shadow on the five rocks and the light beam between the fissure extends further and further north.
The extreme sliver of sunlight falling on the ground at midwinter would have triggered ritual to nourish the dying sun or sun god. Whilst Stonehenge has always been geared to the sun, Callanish when completed was related to the moon. Although they don't still have their 'lintels' like the stones at Stonehenge, they are every bit as spectacular and unlike Stonehenge are entirely 'open to visitors', so you can go and touch them and walk round them. (Direct flights from Norwich to Stornoway!)
I am now on Book No 5 of Outlander and am completely immersed in the books despite their verbosity. Just wish the TV series would come over the pond!
In the New Year I hope to get back to normal re my blog, and I have several topics I should like to share with you. Although 2014 hasn't been the best of years healthwise, TTWD has continued to draw Dan and I closer together, and often each week brings something new to discover about each other. After all these years, this is nothing short of miraculous and wonderful.
We are very definitely in our Halcyon Days!
Dan and I would like to wish you all a Very Happy New Year, and hope that 2015 is filled with love, peace and joy.