The Birth of The Sun

22 12 2008

before dawn

The Earth has been calling to me for as long as I can remember. At first I didn’t hear it properly – it was muffled as though through a dense fog. But its pull was strong. I found it in the writings of Madeleine L’Engle and Douglas Adams, I found it in photography and when studying science. I called it “God’s Creation” (which I don’t necessarily deny now) and it filled me with song deep inside every cell of my body.

the mountains begin to glow

I was raised in the belief that there is one correct religion, that everyone else goes to Hell for eternity, and that to consider anything else would be playing with the Devil who could lead you “astray” and cause you to “fall away” from the church and therefore your chances of eternal bliss. It becomes obvious to me now why I wasn’t comfortable with leaving my religion for a long time – and, indeed, it took me a good couple of years to let the fear of Hell leave my heart. Admittedly, I have some bitterness over this aspect of religion now.

it peeks over

I remember clearly the first time I heard of modern people following the old religions. A friend of mine mentioned her family’s summer solstice celebration and I asked her to describe it. She told us of the fire they lit in honor of the sun and in so doing lit a fire in my heart. I did not hear it clearly at the time, but that was the moment the Earth began singing more loudly to me.

Over the next couple of years, I tried to find ways to mix the two religions – and I still believe they compliment each other well – but there came a time when I had to leave Christianity as I knew it forever. Never again will I believe that Jesus is literally the son of God – but that’s OK with me, because in a way, I love him more now. I certainly appreciate him in a new way and I love his story with a new fire. The more I learn about ancient religions and myths, the more I see how well Jesus fits into that.

Since leaving the religion of my childhood, I have refrained from labelling myself as Pagan. Perhaps because I was not yet ready to commit to a new religious name, maybe just because I didn’t want to be a big old copy cat (because, since hearing about Whit’s Solstice that year, I have met many more Earth-loving people). But I feel ready now to embrace the title. It feels right – I feel home. And, truly, looking back at my entire religious life, it makes more sense this way. Many of the beliefs I held as a Christian were more like trying to fit Christianity into what my heart already believed, than truly believing what I was taught in sunday school. Of course, that doesn’t make those beliefs any less accurate, and if I ever do end up back in a Christian church of some sort, I imagine that would be the path I would take within the religion.

sunrise over our altar

And so this weekend my family celebrated Yule, the Winter Solstice. We made a gingerbread house for Mother Winter and listened to a story about her, we made candles to burn and rang my new chime as we lit them. In the darkness, we awoke and met some friends in the park to watch the new sun’s birth over the mountains. We sang happy birthday to him and celebrated the light’s return.

yule altar in the park

In the last six months, I have been blessed with a group of friends who share the same views I do, and we meet for every Sabbat to honor the Earth’s journey around the sun, to bring spirituality of the human life into our circle, to share our joy with each other. This is exactly what I have been looking for in religion my whole life. Never have I felt more complete in my spirituality than I do when my friends and I sit together in the cold air to watch the sun rise and cast us in its golden light. I am complete: I am Pagan.

sun watchers

Happy Yule to you! And happy birthday, sun!

solstice at balboa park




One response

23 12 2008

Fantastic photos.

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