Winter Solstice In London

Even in a great modern city like London, the Winter Solstice is not totally ignored.
Here, just behind the Angel Islington, preparations have been made to celebrate this Solstice in the local community Culpeper Garden, a small but beautifully stocked oasis amidst the bustle of urban life. There are still those who perhaps see mystery, if not magic, in the ancient calendar of the seasons. What though should we make of the massive snowman not a few hundred yards further along City Road? On the evening of the Solstice he almost seems to be awaiting his taxi as the snow continues to fall…

The Culpeper Garden is named after the famous 17th-Century herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654), who published his works in Islington. Appropriately for the season now, in 1651 he wrote – whilst also apologising for being a man addressing such a topic – one of the first books on obstetrics (Directory for Midwives), and his book An Astrologo-Physical Discourse of the Vulgar Herbs of this Nation has remained in production in countless forms ever since it was first published in 1653…..

Perhaps in this context of mystics and real life together, a monster snowman in modern-day central London feels less strange after all; for today is the first occasion in 372 years (since 1638, during Culpeper’s lifetime in fact) when the lunar eclipse over Britain will fall on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, which for some carries significance well beyond science and rationality.

Posted on December 21, 2010, in People And Places, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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