Photo courtesy of Damiana Fortune
There was a time – not so long ago – that the advent of the winter solstice was for the most part ignored in Australia. In recent decades, I recall a couple of times when others pointed out that the shortest day of the year was coming up, but that was about it. Winter came and went each year, and for most non-pagan people it was cold and dark and frosty, and then it wasn’t.
This year, I am pleased to report that I was spoiled for choice over what to do for the longest night, and the invites weren’t just coming from pagan folk! As well as the usual Yule celebrations held by dear pagan friends, we have started to hear about all kinds of interesting things.
Inner Melbournians were treated to the Inner Light Festival at Federation Square. Participants enjoyed a lantern procession, dancing and a culturally diverse feast.
Further North, the Blue Mountains Winter Magick Festival saw artists, musicians, dancers, drummers, choirs and community flock to Katoomba. According to the website, the streets are annually “lined with market stalls and everybody who attends is encouraged to dress in costume”. Similarly, many other local communities (like this one) put on dinners, dances, movies and more. By all reports these were attended by local people of all ages and walks of life.
Photo courtesy of Damiana Fortune.
This letter in the Albury-Wodonga Border Mail reports a far more sombre affair put on by the twin cities – an event for survivors of suicide. To me, this shows that non-pagans are beginning to experience more deeply the different facets of this time of year, and are using this darker period to remember and reflect upon dark times, those fallen and those left behind.
Underlying this wide range of events is a strong theme of community. And while some maintain that this relatively newfound secular interest in the solstice is nothing more than a greenie fad, I choose to believe that people are waking up to the world around them again, and are actually giving a damn about the place where they live.