The Black House in Winter


The Winter Solstice is again upon we denizens of the Northern Hemisphere. Nature’s power is awesome, always to be respected, and as our days begin to lengthen, the gelid outdoors contrast with our toasty indoor spaces here at The Black House in the Haunted Hudson Valley. 

Ralph Vaughan Williams scored the film SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC in 1948, which told the tragic tale of Scott’s failed Terra Nova expedition to reach the South Pole. RVW fashioned passages from this music into his Symphony No. 7 “Sinfonia Antartica” which was completed in 1952. Its five movements offer a sweeping aural rendition of the Antarctic’s daunting climate and landscape. For your listening pleasure I suggest the third movement—with André Previn conducting the London Symphony orchestra—which depicts icy winds and formidable glaciers. Vaughan Williams skillfully evokes the bleak grandeur of our world’s southern polar region, which is, in a sense, a domain of eternal Winter conditions. Nature’s magnificent indifference is here captured in symphonic music.

From our cozy Victorian lair, Peggy and I bid a “Superlative Solstice!” to Satanists, fellow secularists, and to all those around the globe who revere our Earth, who embrace science, reason, and the myriad joys that life can offer. In the immensity of the brumal universe, we are ephemeral beings, so we choose to cherish what we are, what we think and feel, and what we accomplish, for these are but sparks, briefly flaring, in an infinite space. 

May this be, for all of you, a time for deep awareness as well as celebration of the preciousness of life! May vitality be yours and, as you can, do make merry—con brio!

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore