December 11, 2014 by Rua Lupa
What Nox Celebrates
This is the longest night of the year, and death is considered the “darkest time” in life. This is also when the days begin to get longer so new life is celebrated as well. The subject of death and conception connects to the subject of deep ancestry, the origins of life and the celestial bodies that life depends on.
This is a solemn moment to remember those who came before us, whose bodies have provided the earth with nourishment. That nourishment providing a richer environment for new life. Those who have successfully conceived since Transequinox, now being past the first trimester when pregnancy is most at risk of miscarriage, announce the news and are celebrated along side those who have dispersed. The cycle of life and death renewed. The Cosmic History is retold and celebrated during these longest nights of the year when you can take a moment to look up at the night sky and appreciate what is before you and remember that you are a part of it.
For Nox Eve, decorate a tree (or any other prominent plant in your region i.e. cactus, vine, shrub etc.) outside with food stuffs for our distant relations – wildlife – to enjoy. The ways in which to decorate may be endless and a great way to express creativity. Below are some designs already out there, and can be a source for further inspiration.
As it is the darkest time of year, lanterns are used to decorate.
In the colder climates where you can freeze water, Nox Lanterns can involve hollow blocks of ice that have a candle inside them. The shapes and placements of these lanterns varies in creativity, from simple ice blocks lining a path or boundary to ornate carvings as an outdoor ornament.
Nox Lanterns are also made of paper or fabric depicting various images that represent that time of year. From the current constellation(s) of the mensis (Ehoah month), the festive colours and dress, to the Nox Fire, flaming arrows, the shadow stories, and other elements that are common during this time of year for your region.
It is encouraged to have all outdoor lights in the community be red so that everyone can have a light pollution free view of the stars for at least one night of the year if not for the whole duration of the Nox mensis (dark months) or even maintain throughout the year in your community. So the fabrics and ice of Nox Lanterns can be dyed red for this purpose.
Bells of various shapes and sizes are used in every way imaginable to decorate for Nox. On doors, cupboards, drawers, shoes, hats, belts, jewelery, on pets and livestock, as wind chimes, wreaths, tree ornaments, and more.
Jingle bells are particularly associated with this time of year. Having been favored for being easy to ring and difficult to muffle, they were used to hear each other during the long winter nights. Especially in cooler climates as sleigh bells to warn other drivers and people walking along the narrow roads. In fact, many places had laws that required jingle bells on sleighs for safety. There are even a few places in Canada that still have these laws on their books.
Seasonal Greenery & Wicker
Most temperate regions have few remaining species of plant that remain green at the time of Nox, making whatever is left something that is valued as it reminds us of the lush vibrant times of the year and in turn makes us feel more lush and vibrant when surrounded by it. Evergreens (plants that stay green year round such as spruces, pines, cedars, and ivies) are taken as clippings of sprigs and boughs, often made into wreaths and garlands, to be brought indoors and hung out of doors to create this atmosphere. These clippings are done in such a way that no more than a third of the plant or plants are taken, and change up the source of clippings from year to year to ensure they will always be there in years to come.
To acknowledge that indeed most plants are not full of foliage during Nox, wicker decor is used as well. Combining the two in decorations makes us innately aware of the reality of the time of Nox
Mirrors & Metallic Surfaces with Candles & Lamps
Mirrors and Metallic surfaces maximize the amount of indoor light from the sun during the short days and the amount of light emitted from a lamp or candle during the long nights. Providing a little sanity and creature comfort for us diurnal animals. Reflective objects that are suggestive to starlight is used to reflect the night environment. A simple method to increase the amount of light in a home is to use the glass in picture frames as mirrors and place them high in the corner of a room, facing toward the rest of the room, with a candle in front of it. For a little investment you can put in corner mirrors that are placed in ceiling corners to passively maximize the amount of light in your home year round.
Beeswax candles are most favored because of their ability to burn slowly and therefore longer periods (which is more affordable), is clean burning (no soot), is paraffin free (paraffin is made from petroleum sludge – a pollutive and non-renewable resource), is non-Toxic, and non-Carcinogenic.
The most favored oil for lamps are plant based oils, being free of petroleum, and is not volatile.
Being diurnal we usually don’t experience the nocturnal creatures. By getting to know who the nocturnal creatures are and what they are like, we can have better relationship with the night and its associated life. One way of starting a positive relationship with these creatures is to dress up like them. Coming face to face with their forms is an opportunity to become more familiar with what they look like and diffusing what fears may have been previously present from disassociation.
Another way of establishing a positive relationship with nocturnal creatures is to engage with them directly. Presenters of native nocturnal species come by and allow people to see, touch, and handle them to familiarize with their behaviour and needs. It is also a good jumping point to learn what you can do to better the lives of your local night time neighbours.
This is a time when we are most aware of the night, and thus outer space that brings a view of the stars beyond our sun. This makes it a good time to contemplate how stars are the source of the many atoms that make up the universe, that make up the chemicals on earth, that themselves make up the biology of life, our lives. That our origins come from the remnants of those stars that came before the ones we see in the night sky gives much reason to celebrate this time of the night sky. So costumes and make up are worn that are themed on the universe, galaxy, night sky, and stars to remember and celebrate that we are star stuff.
[More to come on celebrating Nox. The next issue will show ways to have a Nox Festival]
For those who are in Australis (the southern hemisphere) here is a link to Lux Festivities that you can enjoy!