Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice a the stone circle

The Winter Solstice is celebrated in my novel DARK BIRTHRIGHT.

Here is an excerpt from a chapter named YULE:

LOUDEN WOOD, DECEMBER 21, 1636

It was the evening of the winter solstice.  A heavy snow had fallen, blanketing the landscape.  Keira fastened her white cloak and went outside to gather pine branches for the feast.  As she walked in the sparkling forest, she pondered the events of the last few months.

Cawley and Florag died after the first snowfall, wrapped in each other’s arms.  It was sad to see the old ones go, but she knew in her heart that they wanted it this way.  Michael chose young Torry as his apprentice, to follow in his footsteps as priest.  She was so proud of him!  Best of all, her friends Janet and Alistair expected a child in March.

Her own future was unclear, frightening in some ways.  She closed her eyes and offered a prayer. “Goddess, hear me. I promised my love that we shall marry within the year.  He is kind and compassionate, with the soul of a poet and a song in his heart.  He knows you not, yet his heart is a reflection of your wisdom.  Mother whispers that our union is important.  Is it the end of the burning times?  Will I see the face of my newborn child or shall I suffer her fate?”

A gentle voice whispered through the trees. “Trust me, child.”

Keira was overcome with emotion as she held her hands to the sky. “Great Mother. I surrender my fear, my hopes, and my dreams to you. My life is in your hands.” At once, she was filled with a peace so profound that it defied description.  Warmth spread throughout her body, as the Goddess’ arms encircled her.  Her path was clear.  The future of her people rested with the handsome fisherman.  Wind whipped snowflakes into the air, stealing her breath, and bringing her back to the moment. “Thank you Mother,” she whispered. “For granting me a piece of the Summerland.”

Snow buntings twittered in pine trees, ruffling their mottled plumage. “Tirrirriripp….. piu… piu…”  Keira reached into her pocket and took out some cranberries, leaving them for the birds.  She gathered an armful of pine branches and walked to the barn.  Outside, a large cooking pot hung over the fire, filled with lamb stew.  Marcia and David West tended the fire and ladled stew into wooden bowls.

Marcia smiled. “Oh, good. You brought more pine branches. They’re almost done decorating.”

The smell of boiled lamb filled the air.  Keira’s stomach growled. “I’m starved.”

David nodded.  “We all are. It won’t be long now.”

Keira entered the barn and saw that it was decorated with holly and pine boughs.  Soft candlelight played on the walls.  Fragrant mistletoe, sacred to the Goddess, hung from rafters.  She placed her bundle on the table and arranged the branches.

Janet squeezed her shoulder. “Thank ye, lass.  Here’s a red ribbon to tie it together and cranberries to dress it up.”

Keira reached out and touched her swollen belly. “It won’t be much longer, friend.  Three more moon cycles.”

“Aye.  What more could I ask for?  I have a loving husband, a child on the way, and the best friend in the world. You mean so much to me, lass.”

Keira’s heart ached.  How could she tell Janet that she was leaving?  She lowered her head and tied ribbon around the branches. Torry pulled her close, kissing her on the cheek.  “Torry!”

“I can kiss ye. You’re under the mistletoe.”

“That I am.”

Janet laughed. “If you stand there, chances are you’ll be kissed more than once.”

It looked like everyone had arrived. David and Marcia brought in bowls of stew and set them on the table. The villagers gathered and bowed their heads in respect.

Michael spoke. “Friends.  We gather this solstice night to celebrate Yule. Let us reflect upon the abundance of the harvest and the gift of this wonderful feast. We thank the Goddess for plentiful crops and her profound love and protection.”

Keira smiled. “Blessed be.”

Michael held out his hands. “Peace be with ye.  Let the feast begin.”

The villagers gorged themselves on lamb stew and sweetened cakes, filled with nuts and dried fruits from sunnier days.  Aileana strummed the harp and George played the Bohdran.  They drank mulled wine and apple cider and retired to their homes to get ready for the walk to the stones…

***

***

Read more in Dark Birthright…

DARK BIRTHRIGHT is book one of an illustrated trilogy that takes place in 17th century Scotland, England, and the Colonies.  It is followed by DARK LORD and DARK DESTINY.

You can read about it and view video book trailers at:

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

keira

Keira

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