Some musings on the Solstice

December 21 is usually the date when the Winter Solstice occurs in the Northern hemisphere and the Summer Solstice, in the Southern hemisphere. While the Northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice is associated with many pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia and Sol Invictus, which have helped spawn more modern religious festivals such as Christmas, there’s not too much in the Southern hemisphere that can be associated with the Summer Solstice, apart from glorious sunshine.

Recent happenings however, from around the Southern hemisphere has left me wondering if there is also a touch of madness in the air around the Summer Solstice. And the recent continuous spell of rainfall around South Africa has done little to dispel my suspicions.

Kismayo, a port city just south of the equator in war-torn and religiously divided Somalia is now being dragged back into the stone age by Islamist al Shabaab rebels, as well. The men of Kismayo have apparently been ordered to grow long beards, wear their trousers above the ankles and shave their moustaches. And this, after they’ve already banned musical ringtones, dancing at weddings, and playing or watching soccer. It’s also been reported that al Shabaab enforces this strict form of Islamic sharia law with executions, floggings and amputations. Just what Somalia needs; more religious stupidity to exacerbate their problems.

I can just imagine the rebels yelling at the townspeople ” lower beard, raise trouser! Or else!” And if as reported in October, al Shabaab are still handing out AK-47’s, F-1 hand grenades and ammunition as prizes, then Kismayo should surely be a sight to behold in a short while (if not already); crazy-eyed men in big fuck-off beards running around in ankle-length trousers, re-introducing the grandeur of the stone age to Africa. And does it not strike one as strange or even downright ludicrous to insist on a long bushy beard and no moustache? Has to be some unfathomable religious thing. But, I suppose if you were dragging your people back into the stone age, you would expect them to dress for the part.

Moving westwards, a mass demonstration is being planned by evangelical churches in Uganda, in support of the controversial new law being introduced to persecute and prosecute gays and lesbians. Troubled countries seemingly find ready support in obtuse religious ramblings, to persecute the poor populace and divert attention away from real problems. Perhaps a more constructive use of the law would be in bringing to book, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian military group responsible for gross human rights violations, murder, mutilation, abduction and sexual enslavement of children, while forcing them to participate in the armed conflict.

Further west, in Brazil, a man and his lover were arrested for inserting about 50 sewing needles into the body of his two-year old son over a period of time, in what appears to be a bizarre revenge ritual. The lover apparently believed that she could seduce the man away from his wife by coercing him into the dastardly deed, while entering into a trance-like state, no doubt inspired by the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion. This observation is born out by the fact that she sought out, and paid a practitioner of the Candomblé religion to bless the needles before the rituals were performed on the child. The things people do through religious conviction!

Meanwhile down in Sydney, Australia, city residents are up in arms over the secular stance adopted by their city over Christmas decorations and non religious greetings like Season’s Greetings, instead of Happy Christmas. They claim they are fighting back against the “political correctness” and “watering down of the historically accurate view of Christmas.” A council spokesman was further quoted as saying “Our community is fed up with this erosion of the true meaning and essence of Christmas through this ridiculous pre-emptive surrender of Christmas on the basis it may offend someone.” Perhaps if they conducted some basic research, they would have found out that their traditional view of Christmas is neither historically accurate or true; they would understand why the council had adopted the secular stance, while not exactly popular among Christians, is correct nonetheless. The celebrations around this time of year are of pagan origin, not Christian.

 Finally back to corrupt old South Africa. Convicted fraudster, Shabir Shaik must be hoping for a Presidential pardon in his Christmas stocking this year, after submitting his application recently. Paroled a short while ago, incredulously due to a terminal illness, Shaik has reportedly been seen driving around town shopping and visiting friends and family, in apparent violation of his parole conditions. Amazingly, he seems to have been cured, perhaps due to the warm South African sun or a good old-fashioned miracle. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the person supposed to be considering his parole, was the self-same person who Shaik was convicted of being in a corrupt relationship with; now the President of SA. Seems that conflict of interest just translates to window of opportunity in politics.

That’s enough craziness then, for one Solstice. To all those trying to come to terms with the insanity in this world, happy holidays.

Seasons Greetings to all Pagans

Since re-affirming my secularism (previously atheism), I have fallen out of the habit of acknowledging religious festive occasions, like the one that is almost upon us. It somehow makes me feels like I’m encouraging people to indulge in institutionalized frivolity. Well, I’ve given it a re-think and realized that I was maybe being unkind to all those that still follow pagan beliefs. You see, I’ve rationalized that since those who have pagan beliefs are ostracized and excluded from the established religious community, they are thus, logically in opposition to said community. And though their beliefs are as strange and irrational as those of the establishment, it is in a sense more pure; innocent even.

Without doubt, these pagans with their simple desire to understand the world, laid the foundations for modern religious thinking, which has unfortunately evolved into an ugly monster, unrecognizable from its humble beginnings. So with the onset of the winter solstice, it is time to pay homage to any and all pagans still left in the world. You know who you are; followers of Dionysus, Mithra,  Horus,  Adonis, Attis, Hercules, Krishna, even Zeus.

With the culmination of the winter solstice on the 24Th of December, the Sun will be born again on 25Th December, as it will every year, until it eventually burns out.  Once again, happy Solstice, Natalis Invicti, Saturnalia, Nollagh, Noel, and Baal-fire feast. Enjoy…