The Rebirth of the Sun

Winter comes. Darkness and cold increase daily causing plants to shrivel and die and animals to perish. The year has declined and languishes in the season of its old age, standing on the edge of its grave. Each day, up to the winter solstice, the Sun grows weaker and weaker. Each day it is lower and lower on the horizon, and each day the hours of daylight grow fewer. We have reached the nadir of the year. Darkness is spreading; everything is winding down, threatening to come to a standstill. As the Roman writer Lucan (39-65 CE) described it:

“Nature’s rhythm stops. The night becomes longer and the day keeps waiting. The ether does not obey its law; and the whirling firmament becomes motionless, as soon as it hears the magic spell. Jupiter – who drives the celestial vault that turns on its fast axis – is surprised by the fact that it does not want to turn.” [1]

Eventually, everything comes to a standstill. For three days the Sun does not move on the horizon. The great wheel of the year has stopped turning. At the solstice, the Sun is still for three days as though time itself is frozen. The word solstice is derived from Latin and means ‘Sun stands still’.

If the Sun does not regenerate then time will come to an end, life will be extinguished, and the world will return to the dark womb of night from which it emerged. The great source of life is failing. The Sun god is dying. Will he be overcome by the powers of darkness and chaos, or will he fight and overcome? The fate of the whole world rests with him.

And then, in the very moment of greatest gloom, the Sun is reborn. Life and hope are rekindled – the light will grow, warmth will increase, spring, summer and harvest will come. The Wheel of the Year, which has been briefly stilled, will spin on. 

© Anna Franklin, The Hearth Witch’s Year, Llewellyn, 2021


[1] Quoted in Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide, Inner Traditions, Vermont, 2006

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Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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