Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice Liturgies, Chasing away Dragons, Werewolves, Darkness, and Christians

"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 
     I am afraid of you, 
lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." Galatians 4:10-11 (KJV).

St. Paul's words to the Galatians might come to mind, silently echoing in your head as you read today's post.

It is becoming quite fashionable for churches to host or to sponsor celebrations of the various equinoxes and solstices, and in spite of the ancient warnings, these "liturgies" appear to be spreading. I had been trying to forget the spring equinox service and the summer solstice worship held at an Episcopal church in Columbia earlier this year, but a friend recently sent an e-mail about the winter solstice goings on in their diocese. Intrigued, I did a quick search and turned up a number of these services of which I give to you as a sampler.

First we have, Chasing Away the Dragons of Darkness from: St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Casper (Wyoming) by: The Rev. Canon Tristan English

St. Stephen's announces plans for Annual Chasing Away the Draghons of Darkness liturgy. St. Stephens Episcopal church, along with St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, will hold it's annual Service to Chase Away the Dragons of Darkness on Dec. 21st at 7 p.m.

The service will include a short liturgy and then we will go outside to bang pots and pans, ring bells, and toot horns to chase away the darkness of winter. Dec. 21st is the winter solstice and is the longest night of the year. A reception of warm beverages and treats will follow. St. Stephen's is located at 4700 S. Poplar St. in Casper.
Banging pots and pans is supposed to scare away bears, not the darkness. The only banging you might hear if you read further is the sound of my head banging against the wall. For a "thinking church" that might object to the very idea of a God capable of stopping the day to think that banging metallic kitchen utensils can cause the sun to change its course is a little amusing. If only banging pots and pans could change the direction the church is taking.

Next we find Saint Anne's Episcopal Church (MN),
Winter Solstice Celebration Wednesday, December 21, 7:00 pm
Honoring the darkness, welcoming the light A service of readings, singing, silence and lots of candles Followed by a bonfire and walking the labyrinth.
Honor the darkness???? Is this a Christian church?

And you can't forget the grandaddy of them all, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine NYC Dec 15, 16, 17 2011

The first time I played in the Cathedral, it was empty and dark. I had come to New York that evening in 1979 to try the acoustics of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Playing to myself, I listened as each note resounded through the 7-second reverberation of this vast and cavernous space. It was like playing in heaven. A year later the Cathedral hosted our first winter solstice. Over these 30 years, the event has evolved into a theatrical celebration that inhabits the entirety of this great space. Of all the places I’ve played in America, only two could host a concert on this scale: the Grand Canyon, and this Cathedral.

This year, our 32nd annual show, will feature a special program by the dynamic Forces of Nature Dancers, as well as other special guest musicians. For me this solstice celebration is an ever-renewing thrill — whether watching the sun gong ascend 12 stories with its player to the vault of the Cathedral; or hearing the “tree of sounds” as it slowly turns, reflecting a myriad of lights from its hundreds of bells, gongs and chimes.

Please join us as we celebrate the return of the sun. We celebrate not only the rebirth of the sun, but the community of life on earth.
Talk about the house of the rising sun! Bow down before the Sun Gong, New Yorkers!

Not to be left out, here in South Carolina, the druids are busy at work once again for the "Winter Solstice Service" Thursday, December 22, 2011 5:30pm Outdoor Chapel St. Michael and All Angels'Episcopal Church Columbia SC

And don't forget the kiddies, they must be initiated into these sacred rites. Leave it to the Diocese of Mississippi Grace Church-Canton to rename the Christmas season,
Winter Solstice 8 days from now December 27, 2011 5:00 pm until January 1, 2012 12:00 pm Camp Bratton Green, 1530 Way Rd., Canton, MS 39046 Come enjoy camp in the winter! Winter Solstice is open to Senior High youth (grades 9-12). This is a camp week in mid-winter with songs, play and a big New Year’s Eve Dance to celebrate the New Year. This camp provides a safe place for youth on New Year’s Eve. Campers arrive on December 27th and depart on New Year’s Day.

This last one may not be part of the solstice celebration but still takes the prize. This comes to you from St. Alban's Episcopal Church - Albany, CA

 Sunday, January 29, 2012, 7:00 pm St. Alban’s Episcopal Church 1501 Washington Ave., Albany

Lycanthropos: The Werewolf in Story and Song
Tim Rayborn presents an eerie look into the enduring fear of werewolves, a belief which induced terror on moonlit nights from the Middle East to the Balkans, from Italy to Ireland. In music and story, he will perform tales of shape-shifters from Greek and Roman sources, the Lai of Bisclaveret by Marie de France (late 12th c.), the Icelandic Volsunga Saga, the frightening true stories of Peter Stumpf (16th-c. Germany), the Beast of Le Gevaudan (18th-c. France), and more

Just shoot me with a silver bullet will ya.

And for fun, check out what the Unitarians are up to,

Wednesday, December 21, 7 pm A Solstice Spiral Meditation in our Parish Hall (Join us at 6 pm if you’d like to help build the spiral – bring some greens if you have them) In a circle of 25 to 40 people, we will each meditatively walk the spiral with an unlit candle while savoring and perhaps letting go the year’s experiences, light the candle from the chalice, and lay it somewhere along the spiral as we return to welcome the coming year. Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven Unitarian Memorial Church 102 Green Street, Fairhaven, MA.

I respect the honest uncertainty of the Unitarians; they are just not sure where along the spiral to lay those candles.

I might worry more if they were as certain as the above mentioned Episcopal churches appear to be of the power of labyrinths and solstices.

How easily we are led astray by these false teachers who gamble with our souls.
"If I had listened to what mama said,
I'd be at home today,
but being so young and foolish poor girl,
let a gambler lead me astray..." House of Rising Sun (1937) - Georgia Turner


  1. I'm sure Satan is pleased with TEC's embrace of paganism. Heaven know, the old Liturgical calendar was so boring and old-fashioned. Why remember Advent, Christmas, St. Stephen's Day, The Innocents, etc. when you can dance around acting like an idiot to chase "dragons?" Query whether there is a deliberate attempt to mythologize Christ by embracing these pagan myths and rituals.

  2. "Deliberate" perhaps on the part of our foe with the churches serving the role of useful idiots.