Saturday, June 16, 2012
Australian Yule: 21 June
During this season of long dark nights, the constellations Sagittarius and Corona Australis can be seen rising in the east. When observing those stars, we face the very centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. In southern Australia this is a time of reasonably cold weather but it is not exceptionally wet and almost never snows in the lowlands. Australian plants do not require a winter dormancy, although in Tasmania, our only deciduous tree, the deciduous beech, loses its leaves. Winter is a time of fecundity and growth, many trees are flowering and various animals, including the lyrebird and the sugar glider, are either mating or giving birth. In northern Australia it is the time of the cool dry season. The Bougainvillea festival is celebrated in Darwin and the bright purple flowers are characteristic of this season. Brolgas begin dancing, cassowaries start egg-laying, and white cockatoo chick hatch. For many northern Aboriginal people, this is a harvest time associated with abundant traditional foods.
Meditation: The June-flowering Cootamundra wattle is the universal axis tree, its tiny yellow blossoms symbolising both the infant sun of the earth year, and the multitude of sun-stars in the cosmos. Wattle reminds us that although we are as small as dust motes on a universal scale, at a human level we are all-potential. We perceive the local and the infinite, microcosm and macrocosm. We are stardust. Every man and every woman is a star.
Yule. The dawn procession moves silently except for the muffled crunch of boots upon the damp forest floor as we approach our regular winter ritual site, a large clearing among the eucalypts. In the centre, a Cootamundra wattle planted so many years ago is once again covered in joyous little yellow blossoms and we place candles in a ring around its feathery skirt.
A mother cradling a sleepy baby stands close to the wattle, within the circle of candles, and a libation of golden mead is poured on the earth at her feet. Linking hands, we dance deosil around the tree, chanting: ‘The Child of Promise, the sun’s new light, begin the year, emerge from night.”