Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the sun at the lowest point in the sky; the night longest and the day shortest. In our ritual, we chanted "Om Namah Shiva" 108 times to Shiva the God of light - his lingham is often translated as "wand of light". We dropped yellow rose petals on to the giant lingham outside and they were carried down on the waters outside our temple, symbolising light returning.
Ancient peoples, at Stonehenge and elswhere, marked the mid-winter solstice with rituals to persuade the sun to return so that fertility would continue; there would be a Spring, plants would grow again, animals would reproduce again and life could continue. This is part of the link between tantra and paganism; the deep spiritual link between sex, reproduction and the fertility of nature. The shadow of the heel tone would penetrate the womb of the circle of stones marking the commitment of the sky god to fertilise the earth. It was then, and still is, a great Mystery. Reverance for Life is not an option; it is the basis for all spirituality