Saturday, December 11, 2021

Spirit of Giving

My Bow, Michelle

It gets us all. Eventually. No matter what your tradition, or lack of, is, the Spirit of Giving is in the air in November and December. Perhaps this is a powerful genetic inheritance from the Ice Age when our ancestors had to make sure everyone survived the deepest, coldest, sub-zero winters you could imagine. Five minutes outside and you would be ice through and through. Wind chill took it to fifty below. So checking on your neighbors, giving to those who had needs, and general caring, were a matter of survival. So even in 12,500 BC, people were giving.

The return of the sun follows the shortest days of the year. The sun travels to its lowest point on the Analemma and hangs out there for three days before starting the climb back up toward the equator, warming the frozen earth. Winter Solstice is the turning point. Our ancestors knew that. They huddled in their houses - yes houses, not caves - with warming stones heated on great fires that never went out, fires in the fireplace, oil lamps lighting their homes (Duncan-Enzmann). They were spinning, weaving, and quilting, telling stories about themselves to their children (thus "spinning a yarn") to preserve their history and knowledge.

Soon after the Winter Solstice the days get longer, the ice melts, and life has survived. No wonder we celebrate. Wouldn't you? After thousands of years of social behavior, genetic memories are formed. At least, that is what I have read. So, it is in our genes to give.

The beautiful Celtic cross is a symbol of Winter Solstice, the cross symbolizing the four directions with the southern arm lengthened to designate how to see the symbol (like a North symbol on a map). The orbit of the Earth is represented by the circle (an ellipse would be more accurate), intersecting the cross at the bottom, symbolizing the sun's lowest position on our horizon at the Tropic of Capricorn, which happens at Winter Solstice. The knotted lines are part of the calendric and tell us that, in this case, it is a Winter Solstice symbol. The other intersections are the two equinoxes, and at the top, Summer Solstice. 

What a wonderful symbol to use for the resurrection of life through the eternal rising of the sun, or Son. Winter Solstice is the time when the light returns, lengthening the days and warming the cold earth, returning life to vegetation and spirit. The Festival of Lights celebrates this never-ending cycle. 

Have a wonderful holiday season! And whether you are Christian, Jewish, Pagan, or any other tradition, I wish you joy and blessings. They will come to you when you care and give.

Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is the founder and VP of the Foundation for Research of the Enzmann Archive, Inc. She is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.

Symbologist Michelle Snyder

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