Handfastings.org News and Views  Dec. 2010

In This Issue
New Officiants
The Winter Solstice
Solitude Meditation
Lunar Eclipse Magic
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Hello Friend,

My husband and I just watched a fascinating account of The Real Story of Christmas on the History Channel, which took us from the old Pagan customs of Winter Solstice, to the more designed - and sometimes very rowdy - solstice celebrations of Yule through the middle ages, to the Christianization of the holiday and how it has evolved through the years.  My favorite line was, "Traditions are never as old as we think they are."


Religion, customs and rituals evolve through the ages.  And while our core principles may remain the same, we learn to adapt along the way, through environmental changes and other things that necessitate our development.  We take what we call our traditions every year and put our own spin on it, driving the evolution of our holiday rituals.


This Winter Solstice, take a moment to think about why it is we do the things we do.  Why am I lighting this candle?  Why am I hanging this ornament?  On the darkest night of the year, it is time to reflect on our innermost spirit.  Sitting a moment to collect your thoughts can be so freeing.


In this December newsletter from Handfastings.org, we discuss the Winter Solstice, offer up a solstice meditation courtesy of Dr. Judith Rich, and ponder the magical significance of the Lunar Eclipse on the 21st, which in its rarity this year falls exactly on the solstice.

And we are delighted to announce our first listed officiant who performs handfastings in the US capital, Washington DC!  See more below...

So whether you observe the Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, or a combination of any winter holidays, may you have a bright, warming winter and a season filled with magic and wonder.

Blessed be,

Shira and Family (including the cats)



Welcome New Officiants

Spotlight On:
The Rev. Allyson Szabo
Allyson Szabo
Rev. Allyson Szabo

This month we are delighted to add to our officiant list book author and handfasting officiant, the Rev. Allyson Szabo of New Hampshire.  Rev. Allyson comes to us from an eclectic religious and philosophical background, which includes studies in Wicca, Judaism, Atheism, Catholicism and Hellenic Polytheism just to name a few.  Her book, entitled Longing For Wisdom: The Message Of The Maxims, offers inspirational dialogue about the Delphic Maxims of ancient Greece.  Rev. Allyson currently attends Seminary at the prestigious The New Seminary based in New York City, which promotes interfaith community and inclusive dialogue on religion.  Rev. Allyson prides herself on designing ceremonies that bring out and highlight the personalities of all involved.  Welcome Rev. Allyson!

Handfastings.org is glad to have Rev. Judith L. Guasch, M.Div. of South Central PA, Maryland and Washington DC - our first officiant on our website to be listed who performs handfastings in our nation's capital!

Judith L. Guasch
Rev. Judith L. Guasch

And finally we give a hearty welcome to The Rev. Sandra Palmer of California.

Sandra Palmer
Rev. Sandra Palmer (hey, cute kitty!)

  Welcome all!




Winter Solstice
Nebra Sky Disk
Nebra Sky Disk

Today is the birth of the golden sun, known as Winter Solstice.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2010 at 6:38 PM ET.  The winter solstice brings the shortest day - and the longest night - of the year.


The good people at Chiff.com summed it up succinctly:


"In ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated at the feast of Saturnalia, while in pre-Christian Britain, the end of December centered around the pagan Yule log in a fiery display to melt the heart of a cold and dreary winter."


Today, Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere praise the (re)birth of the sun, whose presence is welcomed with ritual, song, dance and merriment.  We look forward to the promise of longer and warmer days ahead.


Winter Solstice Deities

(Adapted from Patti Wigington's

more comprehensive Deities of the Winter Solstice guide)

  • Alcyone (Greek): Alcyone is the Kingfisher goddess
  • Ameratasu (Japan): The Sun Goddess
  • Cailleach Bheur (Celtic): the Queen of Winter
  • Holly King (British/Celtic): the Holly King battles the Oak King for supremacy throughout the year. At the winter solstice, the Holly King is defeated.
  • Spider Woman (Hopi): Soyal is the Hopi festival of the winter solstice. It honors the Spider Woman and the Hawk Maiden, and celebrates the sun's victory over winter's darkness.
Have a peaceful Winter Solstice!





A Winter Solstice Meditation
winter solstice

By Dr. Judith Rich


A brief ritual to include in your observance of Winter Solstice:

1) Set aside at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, but whatever works for you is fine.

2) Include friends, family members, or celebrate alone if you prefer. It all works.

3) Settle in, light some candles. Build a fire, if you have a fireplace.

4) Spend time with your eyes closed, breathing slowly, watching the breath.

5) Let your awareness settle down in your belly. Sense it, feel it fill and empty. See your life coming and going on each inhale and exhale. Feel the strength and fragility of each breath.

6) You might want to include this magnificent video with images from the Hubble space  telescope. It will connect you with the grandeur of the universe in which we live.  Towards the end of the video, notice the tree-like images from deep in space. As astrology tell us, "As above, so below." Here's proof.

7) Reflect on your connection with the universe and your place in it. Who are you in the grandest scheme of things?

8 ) Remain in silence for a few minutes after you've finished. Savor the moment.


Read the rest of Dr. Rich's article on the Winter Solstice here:

Lunar Eclipse Magic Today!

Rare Event - Lunar Eclipse Coincides with Winter Solstice


On December 21/22, 2010 there will be a total lunar eclipse visible from North America.  Total eclipse begins at 11:41 p.m. PST Monday or 2:41 a.m. EST Tuesday. The totality phase - when the moon is entirely inside Earth's shadow - will last a little over an hour.  The eclipse will last 3 1/2 hours if skies are clear. 

Lunar eclipse diagram (Pacific Time shown)
Lunar eclipse diagram (Pacific Time shown)

 The moon will appear high in the sky.  The eclipse occurs on the longest night of the year, and its maximum is only about fifteen hours before winter begins.  Total lunar eclipses during winter in the northern hemisphere are fairly common, NASA says. However, a lunar eclipse falling precisely on the date of the solstice is quite rare.   During the eclipse, the Earth's dark-red shadow will turn up on the edge of the moon and it will cover it in its entirety for 72 minutes.


Eclipse and Solstice Magical Significance


On the magical significance of this rare event, Sucellus of Long Beach, CA writes, "In considering the complete structure of all the cosmic forces surrounding this spectacular event of Yule 2010, it is remarkable to place them into focus within the framework of how the symbolism of these natural forces play into the creation of our own spiritually reflective personality as we celebrate Yule.


He goes on to quote author Donald Michael Kraig, who states in his own blog, " 'A lunar eclipse can be viewed as a miniature version of a complete month,' and he goes on to express how we can use this time of the eclipse as a way to take an overview of the big picture of our lives.  'We can take in the changes of maiden, mother and crone, or the triple Goddess energies in one cycle all in one night.' "








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.
I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter.  Handfastings.org is a labor of love, and I couldn't have made it this far without people like you.  Please consider supporting us and tell your friends about us!

Love and Light,

Artemisia Shira Tarantino
Joining Hearts in Perfect Love™ 

Contact Information 
email: shira@handfastings.org
website: www.handfastings.org


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Free Hugs! 
All Handfastings.org News and Views readers are entitled to One Hug by yours truly.  May you always be inspired by the wind that brings hope, the sun that brings transformation, the oceans that bring love, the earth that brings sustenance, and the Great Spirit(s) that brings the mystery of Life.  Blessed be! - Shira 
Offer Good Always