June 2014 –
Winter is here …. and we have just restored a beautiful old wood-burning stove for our home. As the nights and days become cooler, we are lighting it more and more … warming our home and enjoying cooking with the same fuel used for heating (how wonderful to have a hot kettle on the stove all day when it’s really cold).
As I noticed how quickly it’s become a centerpiece of our little eco-house, I started reflecting on the meaning of the word “hearth”, a concept more or less forgotten in today’s society and homes. Literally the fireplace, figuratively the centre of the home, a place where the family gathers to be together, tell stories and welcome visitors. In Spanish, the hearth or fireplace can be called El corazón del hogar (literally “home’s heart”); while the root of our English word “focus” is the Latin focus – meaning “fireplace” or “hearth” as well as “home” and “family”.
Winter is a time when we tend to spend more time indoors, perhaps more time at home with our families. In South Africa, I find home and family still much more important than in many other countries today; one of the many elements of the quality of life sometimes overlooked here. Mother Theresa once said “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family”.
We’re busy preparing for a Winter Solstice Celebration at The Garden, on June 21st, with a labyrinth walk, chanting, and shared picnic by the river (see sidebar for more details – we’d love to see you here!). Winter Solstice occurs from June 20-23 in the southern hemisphere (this year on June 21st at 12.51pm in South Africa) and marks the lengthening and warming of the days from this point on.
In days gone by, it was the day the birth of the Sun God was celebrated; people would keep fires burning through the longest night and feast as winter set in, staying with the Sun Goddess as she laboured through the darkest night, and sitting in stillness until dawn, as the sun returned to the landscape once more. The Solstices are marked around the world by hundreds of megalithic sites built across hundreds of years to honour these exact moments in time.
Today, in our culture, the Solstices may pass more or less unnoticed. But although we may no longer worship the sun as a god, its many blessings are worth noticing and celebrating – warmth, light, energy for our crops to grow. I love holing up at home in winter, a wonderful time for introspection and reflection; but I also celebrate the return to spring, a season of new life. Winter Solstice marks this point, and reminds us of the turning of the seasons, the cycle of life that continues ceaselessly, whether we notice it or not.
It’s (as always!) been a busy couple of months here – check out our progress on the yoga circle as well as the revamped (post-flood) small picnic area on our Facebook page. Our “Walk as One at 1” for World Labyrinth Day in May was a lovely occasion with a very special group of guests, a beautiful walk and picnic – thanks to everyone who shared the day with us. This Saturday 7th June, we’ll be at the Cambridge Food Festival selling our teas hot and packaged to take home – stop by and see us if you are there! After the Winter Solstice Celebration, we’ll be quiet over July-August (enjoying that beautiful stove at home!) – but will be in touch soon with more on our plans for a Spring event and opening dates for picnics after the winter is over.
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