Solstice Wishes on the Back of a Turtle~ Happy Holidays

Happy Winter Holidays and Solstice to all! I wish everyone at least one day off this holiday through New Years; a day of doing absolutely nothing but restful, creative, artistic things~ in your PJs ;).  I took a day for the first time in 4-ever, yesterday, to make jewelry, and cook~ and feel like a new creatura today for it. 😉  Next post- a recipe for Dungeness crab…
christmasFlr2733While everyone knows about Winter Solstice (last weekend, Dec 21st) as the longest night, and the shortest day. Here is a bit of history on how and when Christians linked Christmas celebrations with pagan Winter Solstice rites in the Northern Hemisphere. Source: Selena Fox

In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel.

Today, many people in Western-based cultures refer to this holiday as “Christmas.” Yet a look into its origins of Christmas reveals its Pagan roots. Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the “Invincible Sun” in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi (Three Kings Day), was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice. Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with “Christmas” actually are linked to Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures.”

While we all will recognize some of these Pagan rituals (mistletoe, yule brews, bonfires), less well known perhaps, are the traditionally North American solstice ceremonies. There must have been as many traditional North American rites for Solstice as the various tribes across the continent. One I remember from childhood in Arizona, is a Winter Solstice dance performed by Pueblo dancers. Now, during the entire Christmas week, the Turtle Dance and other solstice celebrations are performed annually for the public throughout the Pueblos of New Mexico.

102-1The Turtle ceremony of the Tiwa traditionally went on for at least 10 days; it was/is said to be a ceremony of 6 Directions, giving thanks, celebrating change, fertility, and abundance to come. Old books tell of the lineage passed down from which tribes and Pueblos, and of the alters, objects and rites among the different Pueblos. Fascinating to me are the sages and herbs offered to begin the ceremony, and the meaning of the chants sung, while turtle rattles and drums sound. Here is an excerpt translated from Tiwa, of the Turtle Dance chant:

Away to the north, holy people are gathering from every direction!
They come, with their corn-growing powers, And still they come!
Until here they have arrived! [loud rattling]
Away to the west, holy people are gathering from every direction!
They come, with their wheat-growing powers,
And still they come!
Until here they have arrived! [loud rattling]
Away to the south, holy people are gathering from every direction!
They come, with their squash-growing powers,
And still they come!
Until here they have arrived! [loud rattling]
Away to the east, holy people are gathering from every direction!
They come, with their power to raise all cultigens,
And still they come! Until here they have arrived! [loud rattling]…

Source: American Anthropologist 1899.  Walter Fewkes

newturtle

Source of Art Medicine Mountain

I’ve always loved the symbol of the turtle in Native Indian lore: Mother Earth, the very Island of our land mass, the one supporting us all; to the one who gives water, fertility, and good health; to the one who carries our troubles (and thus walks so slowly because of the burden). The turtle is quietly grand and humble. I hope one holiday to make it to a Turtle Dance in the Pueblos. If you’ve been- leave a comment to tell us about it.

Meanwhile- I wish everyone more celebration, rest and rejuvenation, as we make ready for an abundant new year.

Author: tara linda

Musician, performer, poet, jewelry maker

3 thoughts on “Solstice Wishes on the Back of a Turtle~ Happy Holidays”

  1. Turtle Island! (Do you know/like the poetry of Gary Snyder? He’s written frequently on that theme.) Thanks for the great info on Native American solstice traditions, so nice to connect more with celebrations centered around our earth. Happy Solstice & New Year!

      1. PS: Counterpoint Press released a gorgeous selected edition of his previous poetry, Mountains & Rivers Without End (with amazing cover by local artist Tom Killion); and also will release a volume of his new poetry. Stay Tuned!

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