Since the passing of Autumn equinox in September, when day and night were of equal length, and we celebrated the harvest—our days began to grow shorter and the nights longer. With equinoxes and solstices being astronomical events, this shifting of light similarly occurs throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In addition, there are other seasonal changes found within the natural world that are commonly shared and not specific to the region. However, each area also contains its own magic, its own special energy, and its own sacredness which impacts and is impacted upon not only by seasonal changes but its inhabitants as well. This has created a relationship between individuals and their environment as each supports, teaches and learns from the other. It is through this awareness and active participation that the web of life is created and maintained.
Here in New Mexico, the turning of the year’s wheel, as it moves towards winter and the end of the solar year, has initiated a cascade of changes unique to this region, providing for its inhabitants a multi-sensory experience.
Standing at the base of our eastern mountains looking west offers a panoramic view of endless big sky above and ancient ocean floor below; acting as a portal to the past, the landscape here gifts us with the constant reminder of the flow of our planet’s space-time continuum, the sacred power of the natural world and of the inextricably interconnected relationship between human and land.
It also acts as a wonderful living backdrop from which to observe and witness the changing seasons.
As winter approaches, the color pallet of the high desert is transformed, turning from greens to brown. Fast-moving cold fronts, dancing across open terrain, offer a kaleidoscopic array of cloud formations that carry with them the promise of snow. Accelerated winds whistle down canyons, across roads and through neighborhoods, creating wind chime concerts to orchestrate the swirling leaves being shed as plant and tree move toward dormancy. Activity in the desert begins to slow and stills, preparing for the pervading darkness that will spread over the land as the solar year ends
Within many homes, in response to the advancing dark and cold of winter, and in semi-ritualistic fashion, the transformation also occurs. coolers switch off, heaters come on, and tools of garden and harvest are lovingly stored, being replaced by replenished woodpiles, car scrapers, and shovels. Similarly, short-sleeves and cotton, cut-offs, sandals, and suntan lotion move to the back of closets and drawers as long sleeves, and flannel, gloves, boots, and hydrating lotion are reinstated as ceremonial garb to prepare for seasonal change. Special holiday foods are made and homes decorated, often in accordance with family tradition and, for many, preparation begins as activities and gatherings are planned for families and friends to join together and share in a celebration honoring the season.
Meanwhile, across cities, states, and countries in the Northern Hemisphere, changes are also observed in relation to the winter season, and its associated celebrations. Media sources of all kinds are advertising retail sales while, in stores, specialized decorations, foodstuffs, and gift options are placed on shelves with promotional offers. Seasonal events are organized, schedules are adjusted, lists are created, gifts are purchased, parties are planned, houses are cleaned, food is made, travel reservations are booked. Time speeds up as deadlines approach. Shopping lists increase. Last-minute details increase. Debt increases Worry increases. Stress increases, Anxiety increases. Freneticism increases. Exhaustion increases. Dissonance increases. The separation between humans and the environment….increases.
AH, HAPPY HOLIDAYS IN THE MODERN WORLD………
An alternative perspective, known since ancient times, was the understanding of the relationships that existed: As Above in the Heavens, So Below on Earth. This premise is shown, below, utilizing the time of Winter solstice and cycles of the seasons:
As above in the Heavens: Two different celestial events that occur regularly, consistently and very near each other.
As below on Earth: These celestial events were observed and interpreted by the people, being incorporated into their beliefs and actions
#1 As above in the Heavens: Winter solstice, when the earth is at its maximum tilt away from the sun, creating the phenomenon of the longest night and shortest day…after a period of time where movement appears to stop, daylight begins to increase.
#1 As below on Earth: Winter solstice: Seen as a time of greatest darkness and quietude, creating an opportunity for increased perception, receptivity, and inspiration.
#2 As above in the Heavens: The solar year, when the earth moves through a full rotation of approximately 365 days, completion of a full round of the seasonal cycle.
#2 As below on Earth: The solar year, observation of cycles of nature throughout the seasons; Correlated with the cyclic nature of human existence-the actions of life, death, and rebirth.
Indigenous cultures and earth-based traditions acknowledged this connection and honored it, forming a relationship between them, their land, and the cosmos. However, it is clear that what has evolved as the norm for the majority of modern society is in complete contradiction with and in opposition to, the natural state of things. Instead of embracing this natural time of greatest quiet and receptivity to move inward for release and renewal, the energy of the season instead moves outward, becoming the loudest, most frenetic and chaotic time of year resulting, instead, in holding on and exhaustion.
In spite of the current status of our cultural evolution or the myriad of technological advances that attempt—or assist—us in the promotion and maintenance of our separation from the natural world, as humans, our lives do potentially mirror nature in its movement through the seasons. Whether we are aware or not, we are a microcosm of the macrocosm, an integral and interconnected part of the larger web of existence, and are innately connected to celestial cycles and the natural world. The challenge—and the opportunity—thus becomes remembering, discovering, and finding our way back to our true selves. The reward for doing so is incomparable— for in regaining our relationship with the greater world and learning how to move in conjunction with it, we will have gained support and guidance from foundations and forces without equal.
WINTER SOLSTICE MEDITATIONS
Winter Solstice marks a time of endings and beginnings
Its darkness opening doors of perception and inspiration
Wisdom gleaned in stillness yields understanding
Recognition of limiting burdens, no longer needed
We must lose who we have been to open to who we are.
Release of old creates momentary empty space
A necessary prerequisite to catalyze potential and initiate
The movement towards re-creation, rebirth, and renewal.
DIANE POLASKY ©2019
Loss comes in many forms and takes many faces
emptiness space it leaves is not
a timeless void, limitless and vast;
Rather it is a fruitful womb—silent and safe
full in its emptiness, pregnant with future’s potential.
Embrace the pain loss creates; it is the seed of healing
and, in its planting, comes new life.
Let what has been lost provide the passage
to what is waiting to be found.
DIANE POLASKY ©2019
IT TAKES COURAGE TO FACE THE DIMINISHED LIGHT OF OUR SPIRITS, TO GIVE NAME TO THE SHROUD VEILING OUR SHINE; TO CONSCIOUSLY TRUST THE INWARD MOVEMENT TOWARDS THE CAVERNOUS DARKNESS WE CARRY. OFTEN NOT EMBRACED WILLINGLY, ITS PRESENCE MAY HAVE BEEN THRUST UPON US THROUGH THE ACTIONS AND WORDS OF OTHERS OR POSSIBLY WAS PERMITTED TO GAIN ENTRY TO OUR SOUL’S SANCTUARY, UNKNOWINGLY, INADVERTENTLY, WITHOUT AWARENESS OF REPERCUSSION. REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS, AND NON-JUDGEMENT OF SELF AND OTHERS BECOME IMPERATIVE, AND IT IS VITAL TO SET ASIDE PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS; THESE NOT ONLY CREATE BLINDERS BUT ARE OBSTACLES TO DISCERNMENT AND ATTAINMENT OF TRUTH.
THE NATURAL WORLD GUIDES US INTO THE SHADOWS SHARING ITS GIFT OF RECEPTIVITY, OFFERING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR INTROSPECTION AND UNDERSTANDING.
GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGING THE NIGHT’S PROTECTIVE EMBRACE, CELESTIAL ENERGIES ARE INVOKED, ALLOWING US TO ALIGN AND MOVE DEEPER INWARD. REFLECTIVE EXPLORATION YIELDS INSIGHT, REVEALING INITIATING SOURCES OF SEPARATION THAT WHICH HAVE BEEN HOLDING US HOSTAGE FROM OUR OWN INNER BRILLIANCE. THE DARKNESS, IN LOVING SUPPORT, BECOMES FERTILE GROUND FOR OUR SOUL-SEEDS IMPLANTATION, EACH SEVERED BINDINGS, REVEALED AND RELEASED, NOURISHING ITS GROWTH.
GERMINATING, TRANSMUTATING, ENERGY QUICKENS, AND FREQUENCIES RISE AS, SUPPORTED BY SWEET NIGHT SHADOWS, AWARENESS GROWS. CLARITY GAINED WITH EACH BURDEN’S RELEASE SPARKS LIFE-LUSTER; SPIRIT-SHINE TAKES ROOT, REFUSING LIMITATION AS RADIANCE EXTENDS BEYOND CONTAINMENT. EXPANDING OUTWARD, UNAFRAID, AND INSPIRED, WE EMBRACE THE ILLUMINATION OF THE RETURNING SUN.
DIANE POLASKY ©2019
A SIMPLE RITUAL TO HONOR THE DARKNESS AND THE RETURNING LIGHT
(Adapted from the ceremony by Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids; www.druidry.org)
FIRST, CREATE SACRED SPACE IN WHATEVER FORM YOU MIGHT CHOOSE (prayers, calling of directions, smudge, etc.)
SIT COMFORTABLY WITH ONE OR MORE CANDLES LIT WITHIN REACH. WHEN READY, SAY:
We are now in the period of the astronomical year when the father of time rises and sets the furthest south. This is the season of the greatest night.
The winter solstice is a turning-point of the whole world and is of the truths taught us by the sun, regent of good. It belongs not to one area or to one person but stands for truth universal. Tonight the sun, symbol of the divine, the supreme principle, has withdrawn himself furthest from us. If we doubt not that he returns, he will indeed. But doubt is darkness, and this darkest day is for those who doubt. Yet we know that the divine rises again in the hearts of those who are ready and aware, and the physical rebirth of the sun is the sign of this.
But first, there must be darkness…
Let the darkness be felt with our minds and our hearts. Only out of darkness does light arise. Only when we have mourned the passing of the old can rebirth occur….we know well that there will be a new dawn tomorrow after this the longest of nights. Yet often we forget this simple truth….when we let go of our longing for the past, or specific qualities, traits, relationships or experiences from the past, we are free to nurture the still small light within our hearts, which will allow it to grow and shine in the future…..
Blow out candles & sit in the dark even for 30 minutes,
experiencing the longest night. Then, when you ready,
relight the candles to symbolize the birth of the new solar year
And then can say:
The new fire is with us in the place of light.
The light is reborn on earth
As it is in the depths of our souls.
I proclaim the rebirth of the sun
I proclaim the creation of all things, the evolution of
All that is past towards a new good.
Let the past be honored, and the future be cherished
And let those who have passed over be remembered…
Let us wish for them, and all those in need, some of our
New strength of rebirth………
O sun, source of light, love, and power in the universe
Whose radiance illuminates the whole earth,
We welcome your return.
May you shine brightly upon the earth,
May you shine brightly upon me (each of us)
Illuminating also my/our heart(s)
That I/we, too, may do your work.
See how, from the one source of all life, light, and love, our own tiny flames have been kindled. Feel the strength of those flames united. Within our daily lives, let us unite our thoughts and our actions with all those who work for peace in this world with all those who work to build a safer earth for the generations to come.
May the power of this moment inspire us, here at the rebirth of the light. May the power of the one life sustain us. May the love of the one light pervade us. May our souls be strengthened by the light of love and life.
You can then add any personal words of gratitude or thoughts or prayers.