Winter Solstice


” The winter solstice, as Crowley explains in The Gospel According to St Bernard Shaw, “was regarded as the Nativity of the Sun, because the day begins to lengthen and the power of the sun to increase from that turning-point in the year.” He cites a “remarkable” ritual from Syria and Egypt where “celebrants retired into certain inner shrines,” from which at midnight they set up a cry: “The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing!” The Egyptians then “represented the newborn sun by the image of an infant which on his birthday, the winter solstice, they brought forth and exhibited” in ritual. Since in “the Julian calendar the twenty-fifth of December was reckoned the winter solstice,” Crowley comments with reference to the Christianization of Yuletide that “No doubt the Virgin who thus conceived and bore a son on the twenty-fifth of December was the great Oriental goddess whom the Semites called the Heavenly Virgin or simply the Heavenly Goddess; in Semitic lands she was a form of Astarte.” Likewise the popular god Mithra “was regularly identified by his worshippers with the Sun — the Unconquered Sun, as they called him — hence his nativity also fell on the twenty-fifth of December.” While the “gospels say nothing as to the day of Christ’s birth (and accordingly the early church did not celebrate it),” a tradition arose among Egyptian and Eastern Christians of observing Christmas on the sixth of January. Gradually the Western church adopted the solstice date as their Christmas, because it “was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity.” (Indeed the “heathen origin of Christmas is plainly hinted at, if not tacitly admitted, by Augustine when he exhorts his Christian brethren not to celebrate that solemn day like the heathen on account of the sun, but on account of him, who made the sun.”) Thus it was “that the Nativity of Christ” came to be “assigned to the winter solstice in December because that was deemed the Nativity of the Sun” (Liber 888, pages 189-92). ”



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