Winter Solstice Without Snow

Winter Solstice Without Snow December 18, 2017

The Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Place: Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, Barneveld, Wisconsin, USA

The Season: Winter?

Alright, let’s back up.

Once upon a time, Selena Fox toured as a Pagan musician, in this very bus.

From October 2015, through February 2017, I was part of a group of rare creatures: paid non-profit staff, working for a 5o1c3 Pagan Church (Circle Sanctuary, specifically). This meant, among other things, that my office was located in a renovated barn without indoor plumbing. I remember, keenly, using a port-a-john in freezing temperatures.

Circle Sanctuary, for those of you whom have not had a chance to visit, is a nearly 200 acre Nature Preserve composed of Pagan land, located in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. This part of the state closely resembles The Shire of Middle Earth, with rolling hills and narrow valleys. The land which Circle occupies is no exception, with rocky outcroppings, such as Spirit Rock, and the winding Stream of Consciousness running along the valley floor. It boasts a green cemetery (as far as I’m aware, it’s the only Contemporary Pagan cemetery in the nation), a mowed spiral Labyrinth, and a microlithic stone circle. Circle is a truly beautiful place, and there are times when I miss the daily drive along rural routes, landing among the prairies and forest.

The Spiral Labyrinth at Circle Sanctuary, viewed from the trail above.

There are also times, when I truly do not miss that drive… Such as in the depths of winter. Country roads are “interesting,” even in the best of weather, and the past two winters, I came to appreciate every time I made it up a slippery hill without my car skidding off the road into a ravine.

Which, brings me to the photographs in this article. This is not a lovely, albeit gray, autumn day. I took these, yesterday, during Circle’s Yule celebration.

The path leading downhill from Circle Cemetery into the prairie restoration.

For a people with an “Earth-Centered” spiritual tradition, this should be alarming. While indoors, the day appeared Yuletide enough, outside, the weather was warm enough that children played without their coats (and their parents were not dismayed).

For those who say that Climate Change is not happening, I say, please open your eyes.

During my long walk around the Circle property yesterday afternoon, I witnessed flies and honey bees in flight. I saw ferns, grass, and other undergrowth plants of the forest, in their full green splendor; the brambles actually budding out, ready to shoot new leaves. I saw the stream, bubbling away, with no ice around its edges.

We are in a crisis.

The current President of the United States is under the impression that now is an excellent time, to reduce National Monuments, which were conceived to protect and preserve green space, eliminating the ability to mine uranium.

We need to step up.

This Yuletide Season, please consider giving to your local conservation non-profits. Perhaps send a holiday card to your governmental representative, wishing them a Happy Solstice, and requesting that they do what they can to protect and renew our planet, starting with our nation. Or, simply, skip the disposable plates and silverware this holiday season in favor of the stuff that lasts.

Maybe, by our combined efforts, winter might be a little more wintery next year.

And, maybe, our sense of powerlessness will be diminished too.


"Hello Ashleigh - I am late to the debate, as I only just noticed this ..."

To Know, To Dare, To Will… ..."
"The last two paragraphs are especially beautiful. Thank you!"

Meditations On A Life Worth Living
"You're being a bit self-righteous there. You don't hold the book of all knowledge about ..."

Poly At The Holidays
"Love this! Thank you for sharing. :)"

Meditations On A Life Worth Living

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Pamela Lee

    It is the witching hour and I have read your post…the community sounds wonderful…your concern for the impact on our weather sounds sincere…however…the Winter Solstice is December 21st this year, 2017…today being December 18, the New Moon in Sagittarius… are you sure the post was meant for this year ?…believe me I understand typos…I make them on a regular basis…..that being said, I fully support your and anyone else efforts in earth conservation…if I had my way…all the techno nerds could climb on a spaceship and find another planet to distroy…leave people like us with the Mother and all her creatures…please forgive my impetuousness… As you will…so mote it be…

  • David Ewing

    Greetings Pamela,
    To clear it up, Circle Sanctuary did celebrate the Winter Solstice this past weekend. They normally hold the larger public gatherings on weekends, typically the weekend before the Sabbat in question or the closest weekend that fits in the schedules. With the Winter Solstice coming up this Thursday, Circle held their observance this past weekend.
    Blessings and keep fighting for Mother Earth!

  • Hello, Pamela; thank you for asking!

    Rev. David is correct; Circle Sanctuary often holds their gatherings the weekend closest to any given Sabbat, as do several other Pagan churches/communities in Wisconsin. This year, Deeply Rooted and Sweetwood Temenos are also hosted Solstice gatherings the weekend of the 16th.

    Circle is also hosting a Solstice Eve gathering, tomorrow, Wednesday, December 20th, and the Threshold community center is hosting “Winter Solstice: The Home Within” on Thursday, December 21st.

    I think a lot of groups opt for meeting the weekend before the Solstice, because it is less likely to conflict with Christmas plans to spend time with family.

    However, your query has gotten me thinking, that it might be good to do an update on the snow status here, on Solstice proper. Presently, I’m watching a pair of squirrels chase each other around a tree in my back yard… And there isn’t a speck of snow in sight. :/

  • Hi David! It’s nice to see you, out here, in cyberspace. Thanks for chiming in for me; I really appreciate it. ^_^

    Please send my love to Jeanet!

  • Richard Wachenheim

    Treibh-na-Tintean in Joliet, Illinois will be having our solstice celebration Friday evening on the 22nd. The weather forecast for the wee hours of the morning is for 60% chance of snow and in the evening around the time we have our bonfire its to be 10%. We shall see. As of today (the 19th) its been light rain with peeks at the sun. As it is most pagans nowadays want some snow, but no cold. Where are our roots? In the sand of a warm beach somewhere? The warmer the winter the more nasty the bugs are in the warmer weather of spring and summer. Since the cold frost kills the nasty bugs that are hibernating. The birds that generally are used to coming back after a normal winter is over, are finding that the food sources have already budded out and are gone due to a mild winter.

  • Hi Richard! 😀

    Thank you for chiming in; I know how important conservation and getting folks thinking is to you. You’re absolutely correct about timing throwing the natural world off balance. What I didn’t mention in the article, is that a Big Brown Bat also graced our Yule celebration at Circle, by flying around the Temple Room. This time of year, the bats should be hibernating; if they don’t sleep through most of the cold season, they starve, which is why White Nose Syndrome is so dangerous.

    Hopefully, the lack of a White Christmas will get the idea through to the greater community, outside of the Pagan realms. We’re in a pickle, and we need to do more, every day, to work on this issue.

  • Richard Wachenheim

    Wow; a brown bat. That is really a concern; I would wager some people thought otherwise. I think it is going to take a catastrophe climate event before most people sit up and take notice; then it may be too late.