Turning the Year
Noon had seen the village’s joyous Yuletide Feast. Some then had an afternoon nap, on a day when all regular work was set aside. Families who honoured the ancient creed of Yeshua son of Mariam gathered to speak mysterious words: most ignored it. But when the Village Gong sounded eleven deep notes before sunset, everyone gathered at the Meadow of the Gods. Children too small to walk were carried. So too were oldsters too weak to hasten with dignity.
Assembled, they could see Her Majesty the Sun sinking towards her setting in the Sacred West. Saw with relief that the shadow cast by the Village Sundial was just where it should be, with no signs of disorder in heaven. Seven years before, they had been alarmed by Her Majesty’s dalliance with a Hairy Star, a Komet, which in late autumn had shone bright and been wooing Herself. But nothing bad had come of it. This year all should be well – but only if they did their part.
When the sundial shadow entered the marked circle, the Village Recorder gestured and they all began to sing. Sung a mysterious and ancient song with many puzzling words – but they all understood the chorus, Turn Around, Bright Eyes. Her Majesty the Sun must be reminded that her march to the south had gone on long enough. The short cold days of autumn and winter had made most plants die, or else hunker down without fruit or new leaf. Her Majesty must now turn back and give new life to the world.
The next morning, the village gong sounded joyously. Her Majesty the Sun had indeed been slightly more northerly in her rising in the east. There were still a few old-year days to go, but the Winter Solstice had passed without sign of ill luck. They were now confident of another spring, to clear away the hungry bleakness of winter.
Copyright ©Gwydion M. Williams
‘Yeshua son of Mariam’ is a more accurate version of the person known to us as Jesus son of Mary. The story is set in an Alternate World, but influenced by ours. ‘Turn Around, Bright Eyes’ is from Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, which has somehow become part of the mix.