I actually wrote this blog Solstice eve and then didn’t post it because there were so many things that needed to be done – but then I’m assuming that your own lives have been similarly hectic. So I guess I’ll wish you all a happy new year as now we’re past solstice and Christmas and Yule is well underway the next marker is New Year itself. I bought “The Big Issue” and am surprised by how often there are references to the idea that the world is Meant to end in 2012 on the basis that the Mayan calendar runs out next Winter Solstice.
What I love about this “spiritual path”, if I can call my practice that, is that the longer I weave the web the way I do the deeper the resonances are, the more power and beauty these ceremonies have for me. For years I couldn’t “get” Samhain as the beginning of the year because I felt so strongly that winter solstice – “Festival of Returning Light” is so clearly a renewal, a beginning. I find the symbolism of extinguishing all light, sitting in the dark and then meditating with a single candle so potent. Although I can work with the notion that Samhain is the start of the yearly cycle I still think “Returning Light” an important Sabbat to hold energetically because there is so much darkness that needs clearing on so many levels.
I love the annual ritual of cleaning and polishing my meditation candlestick so it glows. In the time I spend cleaning and polishing I’m time travelling, spiralling back through the years gathering the gifts of Christmas and Solstice celebrations over the years. And I’m reflecting on my letting go list. There are many times in the cycle of the year when you can release old patterns but for me Winter Solstice is the best time of all to make such changes, for letting go of things that no longer serve or support you. To me there’s the letting go of the old and then over the time of Yule which is now til the New Year I’m working out what I want the new year to be about – it’s more plans than resolutions but resolution helps!
So tonight the beautiful candle that Rowena gave me last winter solstice flickered out about twenty to midnight (perfect timing) and I sat honouring the dark where seeds grow” with my letting go list in my hand. Then I lit the candle for 2012.This year, as a result of a conversation with
Amy in the Eco-Shop, it is a beeswax candle because ordinary candles give off toxins apparently. I burnt my letting go list and then had great fun because it burnt rather more enthusiastically than I was ready to deal with.
So doing my first meditation for this new cycle that is just beginning, I had a crystal in each hand – I think of them as the crystals of insight and compassion. I hold the sharp-edged clear quartz crystal in my right hand reminding me of “the radical interconnectedness of all things” and in my left hand I have the rose quartz heart that sits softly in my palm carrying the energy of compassion. I’ve been working with these crystals for years especially the heart which so many people have held as they share their heart’s truth. After meditating in silence I move into the “Tara” healing chant that Mandy taught me years ago. The candlestick Maya gave me, the chant Mandy. I am so blessed to have known these beautiful women, I am so blessed in the wonderful women I know now.
Samhain as a season in split clearly in two halves with the first half, up until Solstice as descent and the second half as assent, the return. This year I descended into the Underworld as Inanna, and found myself weeping and wailing as Erishkigal. It felt completely in tune with the season but has been a rather more intense process than I consciously signed up for and I’ve felt overwhelmed. Samhain is the season of Inanna’s descent. I know that as a culture we avoid the Underworld but I identify with Inanna – I chose this path. Winter Solstice, Returning Light, relates to one specific moment within this story – I see Inanna on the hook protesting against the unfairness of what’s happened, angry with Erishkigal and herself – “how could I be so STUPID” and then there comes a time when all her protests have been voiced. And now that she is still, she hears Erishkigal’s lament and she fully accepts the truth of the moment. It’s not about what is fair or unfair, there is an unfolding in life – she is here because she is Inanna. She made choices that lead to this.
We make our choices soul-sized but it is as humans we live with the consequences. I find such blessing in the power of story, I totally buy the idea that it is through story we shape reality. At the moment that Inanna stops bemoaning her fate and listens, is the moment Enki’s mourners appear and begin to comfort Erishkigal. Now that the savagery of the storm is over, I am in a very tender and blessed place. When I think of Erishkigal’s lament, I remember the day Oshia came and for the first time sang for me the beautiful song she had created out of the words I gave her from the play “The Descent of Inanna” . The memory is there as a sparkling jewel. That’s it. That’s the name of the game. Spin straw into gold, turn pain into beauty, trust the alchemy of acceptance and allow it to transform reality.
In my favourite Joanna Macy meditation (the web of life) there’s a line that goes something like “Do not hold out the pain that comes in along the threads, hold out the pain and you hold out the love.” It hasn’t been
easy and I am deeply grateful to all the beautiful women who played the part of Ninshubar so that I didn’t get stuck in the Underworld. What a blessing you are.
I wish you and all yours a (somewhat belated by now) peaceful and joyful Yule full of friends and family.