Winter Solstice – Sol invictus; Unconquered sun…

It’s that tipping point of the year again here in the northern hemisphere. The winter solstice. The shortest day – or longest night – whichever way you want to look at it…

From today, as our planet tilts and turns, we travel back towards the light…

Here are two wonderful midwinter songs. They seem the perfect way to bring a celebration of this magical time to Bookish Nature. Both are written and performed by Thea Gilmore, and are from her album Strange Communion. I love how these YouTube videos blend Thea’s sublimely beautiful voice with glorious winter scenes; immersing us in the stunning beauty of the season – and in that special quality of returning light…

First, the spine-tingling magic of Sol Invictus:

‘Come the dawn, come the call
Come, the beating air
Chill the night, soldier light
We’ll be dancing there
And rise up, rise up
Day stretching weary wings…..

…..Come the day, thief of the night
Lifts its voice to sing

Now rise up, rise up
Ever victorious
Know the time, know the light
Comes the sun again.’

(From the lyrics to Sol Invictus, written by Thea Gilmore)

(Video: Jez Horrox)

And, secondly, as we follow roads back to hearth and home, a song that acknowledges both the darkness and light of our days – and raises a toast to midwinter; to the lessons we keep in the folding of the old year; and the chances we can unwrap to make things better in the new. A time to thank our lucky stars for the people and places that sustain us…

Midwinter Toast: (film by terigower)

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14 thoughts on “Winter Solstice – Sol invictus; Unconquered sun…

  1. Dear Melanie,
    Those wonderful words – sol invictus… there’s some magic in them bigger than the literal meaning whenever I see those words…and your words were simple and appropriate too…I think that’s one of the things I always value as a writer…
    The songs and the snow were poetry to an antipodean starved of a real winter – all those joys of the sheer beauty of it, the bliss of winter clothes, the pleasure of hot buttered toast in front of the fire on a dark afternoon… I could go on and on !!!!
    Happy happy Christmas to you and your loved ones XXXX

    • Dear Valerie – I’m so glad this evoked some northern hemisphere winter-light magic for you, and carried you back through memories of snow and fireside treats. Mind you, I’ve just been feasting my eyes on your blog’s ‘Midsummer Christmas, Dawn to Dusk’ photos – and it all looks glorious. Treasures of every season, and every place to enjoy… Magic in this festive time, all around the world, summer or winter – and, as you say, magic in those words…

      A very Happy Christmas to you and yours. Have a wonderful time! xx

  2. Thank you Melanie – I hadn’t come across Thea Gilmore but I will certainly be searching her out. Happy Christmas to you and your family – have a lovely holiday, Liz

    • Thank you, Liz! Really glad you enjoyed the songs. I came across Thea Gilmore’s music about two years ago, if memory serves me right (I think when I heard her being interviewed on the radio) – and immediately wanted to search out more too.

      Wishing you, Dylan and all your family a very Happy Christmas – and all the very best for 2014.

      Melanie

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Beautiful melodies, beautiful words, beautiful images. There’s always something so sad/poignant/beautiful/inspiring about the winter solstice–which the two songs you’ve featured capture so perfectly. Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas & Happy Blogging in 2014!!!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, and for your company here on the blog. Welcome! I’m so pleased this post caught for you the complex weave of this time’s significance, mood and atmosphere. Thea Gilmore’s songs are wonderful, aren’t they… they carry that special quality of honest connection and truth that always shapes a truly beautiful piece of music.

      Wishing you a very Happy Christmas – and, likewise, happy blogging in the new year ahead! I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog today. I look forward to exploring more of your posts in 2014…

      Melanie

  4. I hadn’t heard Thea Gilmore but but Sol Invictus is lovely… funnily enough, the wildest wind for a long time has just raged outside on the moors (decamped for Christmas) and listening to the song was just perfect. Great move to get up in the dark, make tea and catch up with blogs!

    I think 2014 has a great sound to it: always used to think the sound of certain years sounded better than others, and this does. Whatever it brings, it has a trustworthy ring to it!

    I’ve found getting into the usual Yuleish spirit quite elusive this year too: but I’ve gone with that, sometimes it’s just good to go with it, and let the time of year unfold as it wants. Sometimes we can put so much effort into engineering an atmosphere of what it should be, and just letting that go I’ve found, by accident, lets the season find its own magic, something simpler and uncharted. And those things we think are so much a part of what we think Yule is can lie fallow – the books or music or films or places or food or decoration… whatever we do, everyone will down tools for a few days, and that’s the thing: a rare space to float in, and anything that keeps that freer and easier is good…

    Hope to blog before Christmas, but in the meantime, here’s to winter light!

    • So glad you enjoyed Sol Invictus and that it provided a fortuitous and atmospheric accompaniment to the wild music of the windswept moors! There is something very solid and sure-sounding to 2014, isn’t there. I love the thought of it as a year of trustworthy character – I’ll hold on to that idea! Fingers crossed it will bring good things! So true about the letting go – and allowing things to unfold. Relaxing into the moment and that ‘rare space to float in’ (love your description of that special quality to this holiday) lets the magic elements breathe. I’ve found that too. Once the holiday really begins, settling down into that space is one of the best treats of the year.

      Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas, filled with Yuletide magic. I’m sure the canine members of the family will be hatching their plans to cadge extra treats! Hope everyone has a lovely time.

    • That’s really lovely to hear, Berlie… Thank you! I love how, so often with these things, serendipity works its mysterious magic; all those trails that suddenly converge! So glad this struck a chord for you. Happy New Year!

      Melanie

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