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The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 22, 2018 at 7:43 am

Alternative Advent Calendar 22Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!


Deep appreciation.

Following on from the solar event of the Winter Solstice yesterday, the feeding of the birds or other wildlife and the setting of personal intentions for the coming year, it is a good idea to spend a little time today focusing on the Earth itself.

If the weather permits, step outside for a few minutes. Close your eyes and breath deeply… yes, even breathing in the fumes of the city, because we have created them – are responsible for them – and they are also a part of our world.

Feel the ground beneath your feet. You are standing on it with all the weight of your body. Really register that there is something solid beneath you, that this is planet Earth which nurtures and supports us in every physical way. Send feelings of deep appreciation down through your body and out of your feet into the ground and deep into the Earth. Where would we be without it? That might sound like a silly question but think about it. This is our land, our place, our planet. And what have we done to it? So take this opportunity to begin to reverse our thoughtless and ignorant despoiling of this incredible place and replace our rape and ruination of it with some very personal and sincere gratitude and thanks.

Next turn your attention to the air which you are breathing. It may be flawed and polluted, but then again, imperfect as it might be, where would we be without it? Simply focus on the fact that we have an atmosphere to breath and that it gives us life. As you breath out, with every exhalation, breath out your appreciation and thanks.

Now pause to consider all the wondrous species of animals, insects, birds and fish which inhabit the globe, in, on and under this earth of ours. All the amazing, bizarre and stunningly beautiful forms of life which breath the same air, eat, sleep and live their own lives along side us. How privileged we are to co-exist with so much rich and fascinating diversity – and you might also wish to extend this to the human species as well. Actively become aware of sending out your appreciation of all.

Finally, bring your mind to bear on all the gorgeously lush mantle of plant life which cloaks our world; which is mind-blowingly beautiful with a staggering ability to survive and thrive… which feeds, protects, shelters and heals us and which also acts as the filter and lungs of the planet and without which we could not breath.

Send some deep appreciation out from the centre of your chest – from your heart – to all these numerous and stunning life forms. They all play an integral part in the place and survival of the human race. We are all physically made up of earthly molecules and energetic matter; we are all connected to each other by our common source of physical origin.

This concept might make you feel uncomfortably small. Conversely it might succeed in giving you the impression of being a part of something so much greater, so much more amazing, so much more wondrous and beautiful than we could ever be just on our own. Life – ALL life – is truly incredible and, whether we like it or not, we are all a part of it. Surely this is something to celebrate and rejoice in?

So, at least for today, appreciate your natural world around you and acknowledge with gratitude your place within the whole grand scheme of things.

The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 21, 2018 at 10:26 am

Alt, Ad, Cal,21Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!


Sow some seeds.

This is the day – the Winter Solstice! In our whole year this is the day of least daylight, (the ‘shortest day’) and the longest night, or greatest length of darkness. The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin solstitium which means ‘sun stands still’ and marks the time when the days get neither shorter or longer but appear to pause… until the morning of the 25th December when the increase in daylight is once more perceptibly measurable by just over one minute and so is looked upon as the day of the birth or re-birth of Light and the Sun/Son.

Today we can definitely turn our faces away from the past year and the recent dark and dreary days towards the new year, the springtime, the lighter, longer, warmer days. This is not to say that the cold, miserable days of winter are over – we have hardly begun with the really bad weather yet! – but it does mean that we have turned the corner. For some time yet the hours of daylight will still be terribly short but the quality of the daylight will have changed; the actual darkness becomes a little less dense and the daylight takes on a brighter quality.

Which is why today – and Christmas morning – are times of great celebration. If you have been following the old Celtic calendar then you might have spent from the end of October (the Celtic new year) metaphorically hibernating; slowing down on all the hustle and bustle of life and seeking quieter, more sedentary occupations… turning within and taking time to re-evaluate all that you have done and all that has happened in your past year. Just as importantly you might have been thinking where you go and what you do next.

This is the day to literally begin to put those new plans into action! These are the ‘seeds’ that I am referring to. Your hopes, dreams, wishes and plans for the coming few months. But it is not much use if you are indecisive, unsure, or want to achieve something but are already convinced that it will never really happen. You have to be firm in your intention and very clear about exactly what you do want out of life. You don’t have to understand or work out how you might accomplish it, simply know that this is what you want and this is what you are going to get.

First of all you have to decide what you want. Next, write each aim, goal or wish very clearly on a small piece of paper and fold it up tightly. Then I want you to literally plant them in the ground (whether that be a pot of soil, out in your garden, in your local park or on a piece of waste land. Know that your wishes will grow out of the soil with whatever else emerges from the soil into the spring light and warm summer sunshine.

As the daylight fades – or later this evening in the inky darkness – you might like to light one or more candles or tea lights. Place one in the centre to represent and encourage the returning central Sun, then light others to represent each of your wishes for the coming year and place them in a circle around your Sun candle, then sit with them for a little while and contemplate what you have just done.

And for those of you who have planned to give your local birds/wildlife a feast today, don’t forget to put it out for them.

May I wish you all a gentle Solstice filled with good thoughts, positive actions and peace.

All To Be Thankful For

  • Posted on November 22, 2018 at 10:02 am
November mountain

Looking truly like the end of November! The last of the golden leaves still on the willow tree (but not for long!) and the first snow on the mountain.

The season of Winter is deepening. Yesterday we awoke to a sprinkling of snow on the mountains and the wind was so cold that it stayed there… a good way to mark the fact that it is only a month to the Winter Solstice and the shortest, darkest day. After such a beautiful autumn of warm nights and colourful woodland, our descent into the cold and dark now feels almost abrupt.

But we have other things to keep us metaphorically warm. Today America is celebrating Thanksgiving Day. I was first really introduced to this celebration Continue reading All To Be Thankful For…

Welcoming the Dark

  • Posted on December 21, 2017 at 1:15 am

This is the day of the Winter Solstice, when here in the northern hemisphere we see the least daylight and the maximum length of darkness. We are poised, tipped furthest away from the life-giving Sun and so experience our coldest, darkest time.

In days gone by, people would mark this day by lighting bonfires, lanterns, candles – anything to emulate the apparently dying light and encourage its return. For after December 21st we slip into the darkest three days of the year. Traditionally this time was known as ‘the earth stands still’. For only on the morning of December 25th is it possible to actually measure that the daylight has grown longer again. Then we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun/Son.

Later today I shall be celebrating this darkest day with friends around my hearth. We shall Continue reading Welcoming the Dark…