Today, on this first day of winter, balance is the word that comes to me and being mindful of the in-between. As the sun appears to stand still in the sky (the word solstice means "sun stands still"), it is a reminder of the two worlds we live in: inner and outer, the dark and the light, masculine and feminine, waxing and waning, above and below.
We carry these opposites with us at all times and rather than feel polarized and pulled in one direction or the other, this is a time to be mindful of the need to integrate these parts and live in balance. We are at the borderland between Summer and Winter, when in days of old, it was believed the gates between the two worlds stood ajar. It is a time to connect with Spirit, our guides, our ancestors, the gods and goddesses, and seek counsel. The answers are there for us. All we have to do is ask.
In ancient times, this was the day when the return of the light was celebrated. Many temples and stone structures like the one in New Grange in Ireland, were built to capture the sun's light. For about a week before and after the Winter Solstice, the light from the rising sun passes through a narrow opening above the doorway and sweeps down the 80-foot long passageway into the heart of the central chamber. Striking the back cave wall, it illuminates intricately carved spirals and solar discs, symbolic of the spiral of life, the twistings and turnings, and the great wheel, itself. For about 17 minutes, the light illuminates the chamber, then slowly retreats until all is dark again.
Tonight, on the longest night of the year, we can journey into our own cave to see what is needed to get us through the dark and cold of winter, what is needed for the wheel of the coming year as we head into the next six months of the waxing sun leading us to its opposite, the Summer Solstice, when it begins to wane again. It is a time to be aware of our doubts and fears and seek their counterparts, hope and love, and find a way to reconcile these opposites.
Last night we had a lunar eclipse, a symbolic time when hidden thoughts and feelings may need to be examined and revealed. The moon is the feminine realm and during this winter time of the crone, we can ask Hecate, the goddess who stands at the crossroads to help us navigate our way. She holds a lantern or torch to light the way. As a powerful triple goddess, she can see past, present and future. She can help us integrate by both honoring the darkness and welcoming the light. This is a time to find our soul-place and our own nurturing, inner light that brings warmth and clarity.
As Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us, “The psyches and souls of women have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place."
We're on this journey together, even though at times it feels that we're very much alone. The wheel turns again, my friends, and I wish us all well as we contemplate the in-between and as we take the next step...