Solstice Edinburgh: Light in the Dark

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So here we are, the longest darkest night of the year. From tomorrow onwards we will turn back towards the sun, and light and warmth will slowly creep back into our lives. In the meantime all of the beautiful sparkling lights ,scattered across our homes and cities, will bring us pleasure and hope despite the darkness.

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Ever since the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, trees have been hung with stars, Suns, and the faces of Janus the double headed God who guarded the start and end of the year. For more than two and a half thousand years the trees around our homes and cities have been decorated and celebrated, it was only 150 years ago that Queen Victoria rewrote our winter celebrations and trees were brought indoors.

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In Edinburgh nowadays we are busy throwing the lights back outdoors, and into the trees which still remain with their roots in the earth. The whole city is sparkling with stars in the bare tree branches, winking at their cousins deep in the ocean of the night sky. Tiny points of light in an infinity of darkness.

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So in these darkest of days, we can follow these beacons of light, pulling us ever closer to the gateway, guarded by the ancient God Janus, which leads us through into the new year. The darkness of night and winter is at is strongest, pressing in around the pools of light which guide us forwards and upwards. We only need to believe and follow our stars.

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What we find as we cross the threshold into the ever increasing light of the sun might surprise us. It might be a wonderful combination of the new and the old, merging the two faces of Janus, bringing the best of the last year to light the way forwards into our new beginning.
Wishing you all a light filled Solstice Xx

These photos were all taken last week in the centre of Edinburgh, around the Christmas market. It’s such a great place to find some Christmas spirit, among the twinkling lights and the wonderful old buildings of Scotland’s capital city. Light in the darkness is so uplifting in these long dark Edinburgh winter nights, gifting us with hope and joy on the long Solstice night.

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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48 Responses to Solstice Edinburgh: Light in the Dark

  1. vastlycurious.com says:

    We only need to believe and follow our stars. So true!!!

  2. If the last couple of days are anything to go by, Seonaid, the light may be creeping back but the warmth certainly isn’t, not yet, anyway. I love the way you have captured the lamplight in this photograph. Happy New Year – I haven’t visited my Reader for some days, so Christmas is over by the time I write this.

  3. LB says:

    Sounds like a wonderful place to celebrate the Solstice and Christmas. Happy Holidays to you, Seonaid!

  4. Magical words and photos, as always, Seonaid. Peace and light to you and your family. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Beautiful post for this time of year… Michelle

  6. Tina Schell says:

    These are beautiful Seonaid, as are your thoughts, as always. I especially liked the final shot which brought it all together for me. Happiest of Holidays to you!

  7. restlessjo says:

    I remember it so well from my visit last year, Seonaid! It’s a beautiful city and I really must make my way back sometime this year. Maybe when that sun’s shining a little stronger ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a wonderful Christmas and very best wishes for 2015.

    • It really does look good in all the Christmas lights…..I love the splashes of colour across the old stone work…..and this year we indulged in some spiced cider which was delicious and helped to chase the cold away from our bones ๐Ÿ™‚
      Let me know if you’re heading back for a visit, if you fancy getting together for coffee and chat!

  8. ladyfi says:

    Lovely lights shining in the darkness. And now we go towards lighter times again…

    • Yes, the light begins to grow….but still for me a time of reflection and pause….before the spring burst of energy and colour. Lovely knowing you again this year, and a very happy Christmas to your new doggie on his first Christmas with you Xx

  9. pommepal says:

    A lovely reminder that spring is now on the way. Blessings to you and your family for a peace filled Christmas.

  10. Zambian Lady says:

    It is always interesting to experience in real life things I learnt at school, e.g. the solstice. We don’t have this in Zambia, so to see people celebrating/mentioning such things is interesting. However, for me, it feels as if days start getting longer in March as that is when I see the longer days ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Its hard to ignore the solstice living as far north as we do. There is such a huge difference between the length of the days and the nights from winter solstice through the six months to summers solstice. We get only 7 hours of cold sunlight today in Edinburgh….in six months we will get 17 hours of hopefully warm daylight!! Every minute counts as we eagerly watch those hours of light begin to stretch…..by March we’re heading to the equinox where the length of day and night has become equal here. Im sure you are enjoying wonderful warmth in Zambia, and thats something I would find interesting around Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Glad your celebration was joyful and colorful. Ours was very quiet (which is fine with me). Among our many Solstice traditions is to spend the day without using electric lights … oil lamps are allowed. We also trim our animal tree by festooning it with everything from the kitchen and pantry that is old or otherwise unwanted. It’s fun to watch the deer, squirrels, and wide variety of birds sample the fare for days after. Now … it’s all down hill until spring … right? Oops, seems I forgotten about winter! D

    • What a lovely tradition David, to really allow the sense of the darkness to push in around the soft lamplight. And then how wonderful to feel it vrowing in strength from this day onwards. I like to keep the solstice as a quiet medititive space, to reflect on the year which has been, and to pause for just a little while before we get flung forwards into the celebrations of Christmas and then the New Year to come! We light lots of candles too, but lamp light sounds wonderful….so evocative.

  12. Liana says:

    I’d be drinking rose tea with you today if I could ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Ahh Seonaid I’ve so enjoyed knowing you this year. May your winter pass as it should, until you and all of us, emerge shining and bright in spring, with all good wishes, Gilly.

    • Likewise Gilly, its wonderful to meet kindred spirits in the blogsphere ๐Ÿ™‚ I have enjoyed so many of your beautiful posts, written from the heart.
      Heres hoping we pass unscathed through the doors of the year into the new light. Xx

  14. londoncab53 says:

    Your photos are wonderful as always, some of your best! When you say Queen Victoria “rewrote the winter celebrations”, can you explain a little please. Does it mean that before that people were banned from bringing trees inside to decorate or that she came up with the idea?
    Happy New Year!!

    • Queen Victoria was German, as was her husband, and so they recast the British Christmas more along German traditions. We had never brought trees into the houses…..she introduced the idea from Germany, along with quite a few other things. She created a much more child focused festival than we had previously seen, and of course all the opulance of the new Empire was pulled into the extravagence of the celebrations. The British traditions did include decking the halls….with boughs of holly….as heard in the song, but really all sorts of evergreens and herbs were hung around the home from the wild woods and from the garden. These traditions were very old, prechristian, and so its lovely they still remain…..might write a post about this if I get time ๐Ÿ™‚ have a lovely Christmas and a merry New Year Xx

  15. poppytump says:

    Who can resist all those extra lights at this time of year … not me !
    Loved the whirlygig sense of freedom in the chair o plane (?) photo…. let’s fly …
    Wishing you and your family a peaceful but fun time over the festive season Seonaid .

    • Well I certainly cant resist sparkly lights….never too many for me ๐Ÿ™‚
      The last shot is of the ‘Star Flyer’….which is basically a fancy chair o plane…..they upgraded a few Christmases ago! I loved the bright modern structure next to the sombre, thoughtful Scot Memorial….and the lights form the star flyer cast some cool colours onto the old stone…..more to follow when I get a moment ๐Ÿ™‚
      Wishing you all a wonderful joyful season Poppy Xx

  16. Rachael Charmley says:

    I love being reminded of Edinburgh – such fond memories. Thank you for your beautiful photographs. xx

  17. Amy says:

    Perfect, beautiful photos and words for the Christmas time. You captured the glorious Edinburgh light! ๐Ÿ™‚ Merry Christmas to you, Seonaid!

  18. westerner54 says:

    Beautiful words and lovely photographs as always. Thanks for the many calm and peaceful moments you’ve brought to us all this past year.

    • Many thanks for your generous comment. Calm and peaceful moments help to bring joy to my heart, and thats so lovely to share ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’ve loved following your adventures and beautiful pictures this past year.

  19. Blessings to you and to all! Janus, Mars-Quirinus, Kronus and Saturn – may they bring the benedictions of the Goddess for the coming year…

  20. Elizabeth says:

    All the photos are lovely!

  21. Robin says:

    Beautiful, light-filled post, Seonaid. Happy Solstice! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. gwynnrogers says:

    I wish my words were as exquisite as yours! The change brings the opportunity for soul-searching and renewed growth. May your Christmas be MERRY and BRIGHT… filled with family, friends, happiness, health, and joy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

    • Gwynn what a gorgeous collection of blessings you’ve bestowed upon me, thank you! Soul searching in the dark often throws up a few surprises, treasures to carry us ever forwards. Thank you for all your warm and enthusiastic comments over the year. Merry Christmas to you and yours Xx

  23. SalvaVenia says:

    Be that; that it may be … ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Beautiful post. Thank you for this little journey. Happy Holidays!

    • My pleasure, I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed this tribute to the dying yet living sun! It’s always lovely to hear from you…..wishing you and yours a happy Christmas and New Year Xx

  25. risinghawk says:

    Exquisite! ๐Ÿ™‚ Always a delight to see your work! Peace to you . . .

  26. dairiel says:

    Blessed Be at the turning of the year, dear Seonaid.

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