Winter Solstice at Handfastings.org
Wishing You Yultide Blessings December 2008

Welcome New Officiants

We'd like to welcome our newest officiants to join the Handfastings.org family.  They hail from from Michigan, New York and Virginia.  Glad to have you with us!  Check out all of our officiants here.


A Season of Giving
December Weddings

When it's time to give wedding guests a parting gift, brides and grooms have the option to take the money that they would have spent on little favors for everyone and instead donate to their favorite cause.  This practice is becoming increasingly popular, especially for those who get handfasted around the Winter holidays.
Shop to Support

Handfastings.org shopping bag, shop to supportShopping for Yule gifts?  Keep an open mind about how you can give back to your community. Support your local merchants, local new age stores and favorite ma-and-pa bookstores.  This way you have a direct hand in giving the economy a boost in your local area while shopping for holiday gifts!

Please also consider shopping through Handfastings.org's own web shop here, powered by Amazon.com.  A portion of the proceeds go to help keep our website up and running, as well as to help continue our newsletters to be available to you free of charge.

Seasonal giving follow-up links

As the season of giving continues, we can't help but want to give more!  In our last newsletter, we suggested a few great non-profit organizations that we love.  We were overwhelmed with emails from you responding with even more interesting and worthy organizations, some of which we'd love to share with you here.

The following links were suggested to me by your fellow newsletter subscribers.  Please check out these worthy causes!


Handfastings.org Newsletters Now Available Online

Finally!  Handfastings.org's newsletters have been archived and are now available online.  You can visit our archive link here.  You can also find this link directly on our website under "News."  Bookmark this link!  We have added this new newsletter email archiving service so you can go back and read any emails that you may have missed previously. 

Readers can explore what we've been up to throughout the Wheel of the Year.  This also affords us the chance to introduce ourselves to new readers by giving them a sample of what our upcoming newsletters might be like and what Handfastings.org is all about.

The Solitude of Winter

"This is celebrating our reliance on nature (and our people) to get us through the long, hard and discouraging parts, and being confident that we will get through them. Comfort, friendship, and security; these are the things this holiday revolves around." - Amanda Cummings

Just when it seems that there is no ending to the cold darkness that we associate with this chilly, snowy season, the Winter Solstice reminds us that the Wheel of the Year keeps turning.  The Solstice marks the coming of the light half of the year.  While today may be the longest night of the year, the days following will become longer - showing us more sunlight as time moves forward.  

Because of this, many people associate this day with the birth of the sun.  During Winter Solstice, we celebrate the coming of the light by lighting bonfires and candles, and honor other sources of warmth and light.  
winter solstice at stonehenge
The burning Yule log, which originated out of Pagan Norse tradition, symbolizes the light that is to come.  In Wiccan traditions, the story of the Holly King (God of the Waning year) and the Oak King (God of the Waxing year) is acted out in Winter Solstice ritual, when the Oak King defeats the Holly king in battle for the second half of the year. 

In other Pagan traditions, we might see the ancient Greek story of Persephone and Demeter reenacted, where Hades symbolizes the winter and steals Persephone from her mother's arms.  Or you might be told of the Ancient Egyptian story of Isis and Osiris, who is reborn of his mother's solitary creation.  Jewish tradition retells the story of the burning temple that inspired the Festival of Lights.  In other well known Gnostic traditions, the story of the birth of Jesus is retold.

Which ever way you put it, the magical rotation Mother Earth around the sun reminds us that sunnier, brighter, and warmer days are around the corner.  We look forward to new growth of crops, thoughts of the first green popping up from the frosty ground, and soon, the ability to take a stroll without feeling so chilly.  While Mother Earth continues to gestate, we writhe with anticipation at the coming of the Light.

Celebrating the Solstice

To celebrate the Winter Solstice, decorate the room with winter greenery, using pinecones, holly, and branches of fir.  Smolder some incense that contains frankincense, myrrh, cloves, and orange oil.  Dim the lights.

candles, winter solsticeIf you are solitary, you can light some candles and meditate upon your inner self, reflecting on your life experiences since last Yule and how you've grown from them.  

If you have guests over, sit in a circle - everyone holding a candle.  Light your candle from a larger central one which symbolizes the sun.  Once the candle is lit, speak about something that you have learned this year, and what you see in the future.  Then, going clockwise, light the next person's candle so they may reflect upon their own experiences.  Each subsequent person will light her or his candle using their neighbor's flame and discuss her or his thoughts until the circle is complete.   

When all is said and done, the room will be aglow with light.  Set the candles in holders - then celebrate the coming of the sun with a feast!

Link back to Handfastings.org

If we've added your website to our officiant list, or even if you just really dig our site, link back to Handfastings.org.  The more reciprocal links the better!
Handfastings.org wants to know what you think.  Please email me at shira@handfastings.org and let me know if you have any suggestions, ideas, or corrections.  I'm all ears.

As always, Handfastings.org remains a free service to all.  I look forward to hearing back from you.  

Mission Statement
The mission of Handfastings.org is to link people in the Pagan and Wiccan communities with ordained officiants who perform Handfastings, Wedding Ceremonies, Commitment Ceremonies, Sacred Unions and other Rites of Passage and celebrations.

Artemisia Shira Tarantino
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