A Tale For The Winter Solstice and Christmas-tide
Tonight, is really a big secret, for it is the REAL start of Christmas, not the 1st of Advent or the Holiday season but that season of suspension between the Winter Solstice, when the Yule Log is begun to be burnt and the Wild Hunt roams the midnight forest, and Christmas Day and its apotheosis – Epiphany and the arrival of the Magi and their healing wisdom.
In this season we celebrate births, pagan rituals aplenty, foreign spices and leading stars, evergreen halls and yule trees, mistletoe and kisses, not forgetting the feasting aplenty….
But in a quiet land faraway, in a faraway time too, there is a different story unfolding, the story of a forest, the night and a very little, very muddy white horse called Stumpy.
Well actually his mother called him Tiny, but his friends called him Stumpy because he wasn’t very big, he always seemed to be a dirty grey colour because of the mud he played in, and his friends were always teasing him for his scruffy appearance. He loved galloping like the wind in the plains, though he wasn’t very fast, and trotting through the streams in the forest, where he got even muddier, he was an odd looking little thing with his grey mud covered coat and clear blue eyes.
He also had many friends in the forest where the ivy grew snaking around the trees, the wild clematis wound through the branches and the larches reached high up to the sky, the oaks grew stout and tall, the birch basked in its silver and elegant bark and its delicate fronds, the holly grew red berries and the beech turned copper in the autumn. The trees were his friends, and so were the deer, and the squirrel, and the owl and the buzzard, the field lark and the robin, the visiting swallow and redwing were all companions, as well as the fox and the badgers, and even the rabbits…but they all teased him about his appearance but most of all, his forehead, for this was why they called him Stumpy, because right in the middle of his forehead, there was a little bump where a star should have been, and everyone loved to point out his singular characteristic.
Stumpy didn’t mind because he was a gentle, though boisterous soul, and sustained the joshing of the other horses who lived with him in the fields by the forest. For Stumpy had a wonderful talent that the others did not have, and they all admired him for it.
Whatever and however high the fence was made in his field, Stumpy could jump it, for he had the most amazing powers of levitation and he would away to his companions in the wild wood and play with them all day. He would return, though, at night as in the darkness, the little horse was very afraid of the shadows, and the weasels, and the rats and the local nocturnal cats, and the hunting and calling of the owl, who was so friendly by day but so fierce by the light of the stars and even more of the bats who would swoop so suddenly out of the velvet darkness and surprise him with their tiny screams. He was afraid of the fox and the wolf and the dark and the whispers of the trees to each other through the long night….
….Which is today the longest night of the year, but here we have a picture of some more grown up horses than Stumpy who are decorated for the Solstice with traditional evergreens and white roses, waiting perhaps to join the Wild Hunt later under the bright light of the stars…and tomorrow I shall tell you a little more of the story of Stumpy and the Wild Wood next time….
The Araminta Faux Flower Hatbox is a reminder of Stumpy’s wild wintry woods, with its white roses and fir sprigs rising from the moss.