Winter Solstice & The Goddess Hecate

Triple Goddess of the Crossroads I have emerged from hibernation--yes, I started early. Hibernation for me took place during the fall -- I moved to a new home in September. It's a wonderful farm house on 5 acres that feels like country -- we are surrounded by horses, cows, deer in abundance, and a few coyotes (newcomers to this neighborhood) -- yet we are only five minutes from town (Carrboro). During these past few months I have taken a much-needed break from external demands and allowed myself time to settle into our new home and new life, just one year after moving to North Carolina. It takes time to reassemble, I have had to remind myself. Now I feel the wheel turning...

It seems fitting to return to Owl and Crow at the time of the winter solstice, coming up on December 21, just one month from my birthday in January. (Crow has been very irritated with me for my absence, pecking at my brain, telling me to get back to writing and expressing myself. Owl doesn't want to be bothered and would just as soon sit in silence, preening and pondering, or read a good book.) But I tend to come alive in the winter, a sort of rebirth as I approach the place on the wheel of my sun sign, Aquarius.

The Solstice, from the Latin sol stetit, meaning "sun stands still," is the time when the sun seems to rise and set at the same point on the horizon for about a week. It is considered the turning point of time, when people of old celebrated the return of the light. The winter solstice signifies the moment of new beginnings, the point that divides the year in half, a time of mystery when the gates between the two worlds stand open for a moment.

Celtic Queen of Winter

It is also the time of the crone, the third aspect of the Triple Goddess. In Celtic tradition, the Cailleach, Queen of Winter, or "The Old Woman Who Never Dies," walked upon the earth toting boulders in her apron and a great feather pillow over her shoulder. She was a creatrix from the beginning of time, who created the mountains when she dropped a boulder. She brought the cold, bitter winds with her as she trod upon the earth, as well as the frost and snow when the feathers spilled from her pillow.

In the Greek tradition, it is the triple goddess, Hecate, who stands at the crossroads, or threefold path, guiding us on our journey to the unknown. She is a lover of solitude, often depicted with three black hounds, and other times as having three animal heads (the horse, the snake and the bear), which allow her to see the past, present and future. She may visit us while we sleep (as nightmarish, shadowy creatures, the dark feminine, the black Madonna), and awaken us to new insights. She can guide us to see things differently and help us find greater understanding of our selves and others.

Although her name means "The Distant One," Hecate is always close at hand in times of need, helping us to release the old, familiar ways and find new ways of being. As protector of women during childbirth, she can help us give birth to new aspects of ourselves. But it's important to remember that the birth process is not easy and it can feel scary, uncomfortable, and lonely as we find our way in the darkness before emerging into the light of new awareness. Be gentle with yourself during these times and call on Hecate for guidance, nurturing, and protection.

As the New Year approaches, you may notice you are at a crossroads pondering which direction to take or groping in the dark a bit. It may be time to let the old die so the new can be born. How can Hecate help you transform?