Greek Mythology and the Winter Solstice

halcyon-winterstolsticeThe kingfisher is a majestic bird with regal qualities that was revered by the ancient Greeks. The Greek word for kingfisher is halcyon. The ancient Greeks believed the bird nested at sea. They explained its unusual habits through the myth of Alcyone and her husband, Ceyx.

According to Greek mythology, Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, keeper of the winds. From time to time, when her father was angered, Alcyone saw the damage that her father’s winds could cause. Their destructive force concerned her greatly.

When her husband, Ceyx, told her that he needed to make a journey across the seas, she consulted an oracle. She was told that he faced great danger, so she begged him not to go. Even so, Ceyx felt he had to make the trip. The first night that he was at sea, he drowned in a fierce storm.

Alcyone was not aware that her husband had died and she continued to pray to Hera for his safe return. At last, Morpheus came to her in a dream and told her that her husband was dead. Alcyone rushed down to the water’s edge where she found the body of her husband floating near the shore. As she went into the water, the gods were so touched by her loving devotion that they changed her into a kingfisher. She then flew to Ceyx, who was also restored to life as one of those majestic birds.

Legend has it that the lovers, reunited, continue to fly over the waters and each winter they nest and raise their young on top of the waves. And once a year, seven days before and seven days after the Winter Solstice, Aeolus forbid the winds to blow. During this time there are no clouds in the sky, no rainfalls, and the kingfishers raise their young in perfect tranquility.

These calm, clear days actually occur in the Mediterranean at the Solstice, and today, we continue to use the expression Halcyon Days, named for Alcyone, to refer to times of peace and contentment.

Peace and contentment, calmness and tranquility, can be brought easily and effortlessly into our daily lives not only around the Solstice, but each and every minute of each and every day all year long. This is my heart-felt blessing for everyone this holiday season.

Certified Tea Master Chas Kroll

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