Oh wait, it is Christmas that has (news media-generated) “wars.” How the winter solstice should be observed, however, has become the subject of almost rabbinical discussion on one of the Colorado Pagan listservs, again.
There are always two core factions, the calendrical and the astronomical. The event at stake is the annual Drumming Up the Sun (DUTS), which takes place at Red Rocks Amphitheatre (actually a Denver city park), whose site looks out over that prairie’s-edge city toward the eastern horizon.
DUTS, as one person wrote, is “organic” — it just happens with minimal organizing. And it’s a cool event (pun intended). If I lived up there, I would go. As one Colorado Pagan recently noted in a different context, “trance drumming has become rarer, drum circles are fading, and there just aren’t as many chances for people to drum themselves into trance and call forth the goddesses and gods into our primal beating hearts.” But this one still goes on — it draws hundreds of people sometimes.
But the question is, which morning?
The calendrical faction says, in effect, “Do it on the 21st because that is the solstice date on the calendar.” One of the “calendrists” writes, “Most of the drummers have opted for Monday since some people have to work Tuesday.”
Linking to this website, a member of the astrononomical faction posts, “[The site] is pretty clear that the night of the 21st-22nd is the shortest night, and what I didn’t mention before but what is also visible there is that the 22nd is also the shortest day, not the 21st. That is another reason why the 22nd is solstice day, despite the moment of the event happening two hours and eleven minutes into the day before. In other words, the 22nd is the shortest day of the year, another way to define Winter Solstice. . . . If people want to drum up the morning of Solstice Eve I think that’s awesome . . . . I am not trying to pressure anyone to do anything, but rather to state what I’m doing with my group and to provide accurate scientific information.”
And a third small DUTS faction — call them “let’s do it all” — wants both mornings, maybe even 24+ hours of non-stop drumming. “Since we already have people who feel inspired to drum on the mornings of the 21st and the 22nd,” one asks, “could we connect them together as parts of a longer vigil?”
As of this morning, the online opinion-soliciting continues.
If I must take sides, I lean toward the astronomical faction. I have always felt that if you are timing any working to planetary motion, then starting just after the peak moment of whatever is better than starting before it. “Catch the wave,” so to speak. But others may think differently.
As for the solstice, being a self-employed foothills dweller, I will likely roll out of bed on the 22nd, take a bodhran, dress warmly, call the dog (just the one dog now), and climb up the ridge east of the house.
Thanks to the shape of the land, even if I sleep a bit late, I can pick one of several clearings in which to stand as the sun clears the ridge to the southeast. My drumbeats can float out over the little valley, the neighbors’ scattered houses and pastures, and the sun-lit mountain to the west.
Unless, of course, it’s snowing hard, in which case I will have to improvise.