Rituals and the Presence of Soul
Yes, it’s the first weekend of December and our apartment is looking a lot like Christmas even though we are in China for Christmas. We have been decorating for the season in some fashion or other for as long as I can remember as a family. Lights, a tree, and an assortment of other decorations including garland, stars and coloured balls take their place in various places in our main room. As I am writing this, Christmas music is playing and the lights are dancing.
I have to confess that this Christmas season has nothing to do with a religion for me. The lights, the colours, the music, the greenery and the good cheer that animate our home at this time of year are connected with something more primal within. If anything, this joyful celebration is a deliberate act to help the spirit navigate the darkest time of year, taking the spirit back into the light of a new year.
Winter’s solstice has been celebrated almost from the beginning of awareness within humans. The celebrations were invocations to the gods to bring back the light of the sun that seemed to disappear more and more each day. Fear of increased darkness and cold, fear of the loss of light encouraged humanity to cajole the gods, to invite the return of the sun and warmth.
I don’t find any relation between this season and the religion of Christianity. For some reason, the Christian face of the season became corrupted with commercialism. I dislike the practice of gift-giving and shopping for these gifts. I want to give the gift or relationship and the sharing of time, food and good drink – the celebration of being alive and together. I guess this makes me a pagan. Somehow, I think that this also makes me a truly spiritual person, living with my heart and soul rather than out of a creed of rules that separates the saved from the damned.