Zeitgeiber: any external or environmental cue that entrains, or synchronizes, an organism’s biological rhythms to the earth’s 24-hour light/dark cycle and 12 month cycle…
I stayed up all night last night, for the first time for many years (since way back when I had a much healthier body). I got through the Cauldron forum‘s ‘Up All Night’ solstice vigil solely thanks to good company, good music, and some calculated messing with my zeitgeibers.
I wrote. I chatted with friends. I ate crumpets and cheesecake (because they were gluten-free, and why not). I watched some favourite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I did a couple of readings for the year ahead. I went for a pre-dawn walk, watching another planet in the sky and admiring the beautiful waning moon through a light veil of clouds. I went outside to toast the gods and spirits at sunrise, when I was greeted with about fifteen minutes of clouding over that meant I didn’t actually see the sun come up – but I’m pretty sure it did.
Some of the songs I posted on Facebook through the night (so that you could all share my pain) included:
…the Muppet Carol of the Bells
…Kidnap the Sandy Claws
…Jonathan Coulton’s genius ‘Chiron Beta Prime’
…and my favourite festive song of the moment, Jackson Browne’s Rebel Jesus (which HAS to be listened to at Christmas time) – I like the version he does with traditional Irish band The Chieftains
I had my lightbox on for a lot of the night – which directly messes with the light-based zeitgeiber that tells your body when it’s night-time. Yep, it’s sort of cheating. I would never have made it through the ancient vigils for the return of the sun. I would have been the idiot who fell asleep and brought the apocalypse or something. But, as Cat Treadwell always says, if the ancient druids had had iPods they’d have used them. I think that’s probably true of lightboxes too.
In the end, it wasn’t a deeply spiritual nor a magical experience – but maybe it was. Just not in the conventional sense. My morning ritual was really brief (I’ll probably do a longer one later), but I toasted the birth of Aengus Mac Og, along with Boand and the Dagda, and I welcomed back the light. And it was wonderful, thanks to sharing it with good friends, feasting on good food (mainly cheesecake), enjoying some pleasant drinks, and even fitting in a little bit of ritual stuff too. It was maybe a little ‘alternative’, in that all of that sharing was done via online channels — but remove that one tiny difference, and you’ve got the Winter Solstice as no doubt celebrated by many, many of us through the centuries. A vigil for the sun, shared with my (deeply hospitable) community.
My New Year’s Resolution is to find more community – wherever surprising places I may find it, and through whatever unexpected channels it may appear. It is sacred.
And possibly my other resolution is to stop messing with zeitgeibers.
We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the Rebel Jesus.
But please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgement
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the Rebel Jesus.
– Jackson Browne