In many cultures, Winter Solstice has been associated with the birth/rebirth of the gods of the Sun and Light, such as Mithras, the Oak King, Lugh, Frey, Heracles, Osiris. And even before the Divine Masculine association, goddesses such as the Roman Anastasia were celebrated (the alleged origins of Mother Night, aka “Matrum Noctem” in Latin) and were associated with the Rebirth and Divine Union aspects of the Winter Solstice.
In one set of Celtic correspondences for the 12 Days of Solstice, we are now in the third of four sets of three days, that which honours the rebirth of the Sun God, and honouring his guidance in this physical world (the other three sets honour the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.
In one Celtic tale, as Winter blankets the earth, the goddess Ériu — seen as both a beautiful woman and a “Hag”, or Crone — resurrects Lugh, her lover, and positions him high in the sky as the Sun. She shares her wisdom with him so he can once again reclaim his supremacy and strength… but her energy is depleted, transforming her from a young Maiden/Mother to The Crone, and their cycle begins again.
In another variation, Lugh — who we celebrate at Lughnasadh in early August (NH) — is sacrificed into the land as seed following the harvest, transforming him into a god of the dark energies to be reborn at Solstice as a god of the Sun and Light.
Newgrange in Ireland, a 500 year old Neolithic earth mound monument, is perhaps the most dramatic example of this concept of rebirth and its importance to early Celts. The monument itself is essentially the womb of the Great Mother goddess, which is pierced by a shaft of light by the god Dagda at Winter Solstice, impregnating her with Young Angus aka Angus Óg.
At Winter Solstice, what seeds will you rebirth in the New Year as the Sun once again reclaims its Waxing rising energy?