This time of year the darkness is a weightless velvet air cloaking everything. Darkness is, it becomes us we become it. A quality of being.
On Tuesday morning there was no energy left for me other than the wane. Gigantic hush far bigger than me, but of me~a surrender in my soul.
The moon was tilting towards her decrease, the sun tilting now the very furthest away from our little blue green planet earth up here in the northern hemi. So it is we move with the tide of ancients–when the sun appears to not move in the noonday sky. Solstice. Stillness. Is.
Alchemy & Soul. Cycles.
When I was 24 my psychiatrist, paid by insurance to see me for just 15 minutes a month to check my lithium levels and write me scripts, gave me some off-record tips. She told me she hated that she couldn’t clock hours to give me her actual opinions on how to save–or recover–my own life and wellness. This was the beginning of inflated privatized, corporate health care shifts in the US and looking back, I burn with gratitude that I had health insurance back then at all.
Thank god for her. I’d had two psychotic breaks by then, and as result had thankfully gotten myself off street drugs and booze for a year or so. I’d been seeing this lady for a few months, having found her after someone else in the mental health world told me to switch because it wasn’t ok that the psych meds I was on gave me terrible acne and liquid bowels. Turns out that was good advice and a med adjustment made a terrific difference.
And then later, her off-record advice? Start tracking my daily health, and start reading up on the mind-body and spirit connection. Specifically, she guided me to track my period cycles, diet, sleep, and other details of my until then unconscious choices and routines. Specifically, she nudged me towards the realm of the soul, and storehouse of feminine–divine and human–stories. Instruction that lived outside of modern medicine and healthcare. She encouraged me to find the inside me in the archives of art and story and song and words others had left as guides.
A woman’s issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into a more intellectually acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness. No, that is what has already caused millions of women who began as strong and natural powers to becomes outsiders in their own cultures. Instead, the goal must be the retrieval and succor of women’s beauteous and natural psychic forms. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Women Who Run With Wolves.
The Importance of Stillness
Unconscious literally means to not see. There are layers to the power of this lesson, as peak darkness at the Winter Solstice is a metaphor, or symbol, for being unable to see.
Stories evolve from Nature, from the bigger backdrop we are a part of that we often are also unconscious of. So stories teach us, and when we see ourselves in them, they reach us. They turn our own lights on. When it is dark, our bodies do what nature teaches: we pause. Rest. Get still.
And so in stillness, we are able to reflect. To feel, to connect. With reflection, connection, we learn to see more deeply.
What can be seen, can be transformed. The unconscious becomes conscious. The light of sight comes on.
The retreat at the cross quarter of Winter Solstice is the power of Nature Time: a deep, extraordinary pause. Nature is a power greater than us, a power to which we are often not consciously connected. The artifice of holiday materialism runs counter to Nature’s ebb and deep pause right now. Artifice means fake. Materialism, or fake connection, will never satisfy the soul.
The power of heart and family and cheer and gratitude that drive holiday materialism, however, are as pure as the magic of the return of the light that occurs this week.
The central light, the power of the heartbeat of Life that even when furthest from us, keeps on. This is the ancient symbol of the Sun (Son). As we descend into the great depth of dark that the winter season brings, remember: The exact moment the sun disappears on one horizon is the exact moment that elsewhere, someone’s magnificent first light of day has begun.
The light returns. So it is in the human soul: of the darkness, we connect to our strongest light when we are able to surrender to the darkness that makes us aware of its absence.
The balance is held. During my own quiet time, my own mind-body, soul and spirit tending Tuesday morning, I was moved by the naturalness with which I completely, willingly surrendered. In all things I had pure willingness to let go, to trust the ebb…which will ultimately again, in time, bring the flow.
The Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, occurs Saturday, December 21. We also descend into the balsamic, or dark phase of the moon this weekend, too. Dark moons are the same exact energy of winter Solstice: a deep, dark pause. Ready yourself for this.
Be still. Know.
The moon will become new on Christmas day.
A beneficent, or blessed, synchronicity. Recall that new moon is the the beginning of a cycle. So the magic of Nature and Solstice join Christmas day with the modern sacred story most told to help us best understand the ways of spirit and soul. The Sun–the Son–is born anew.
I do not even remember that psychiatrist’s name. But my god I gave thanks for her Tuesday morning, when during my now LONG PRACTICED morning quiet time, my own mind-body, soul and spirit tending time, I was brought back to her, who out of the side of her mouth, taught me to learn me. To become more conscious of my self. Because what we can not see, how can we ever trust?
Thank god for her, who set me, in the midst of my darkest ebb away from me, on the path back towards myself.
So it is in the human soul: of the darkness we find our strongest light. But first, we surrender. We let go.
The balance is held.
Here is a page I opened to in one of my soul tending moments Tuesday. It is by Starhawk, an admired teacher of mine. It is a piece on the power of the sacred circle. May this alchemy at Solstice tide be pure for you as it has been for me and mine. All love and blessings, dear friends.
…We begin where we are. Each one of us chants our own name, and the circle sings it back to us. The sounds, the harmonies, are gifts. They call to our own awakening power.
We sing the names of those who have done the work of changing consciousness before us, and as we speak them name them, something of their being enters the circle. ‘Harriet Tubman — woman of indomitable courage.’ ‘John Muir — man who was not afraid to love nature.’ ‘Isadora Duncan — who loved her body.’ ‘Emma Goldman — fiery spirit.’ The names continue.
When they die away, we look into the center of our circle. We envision all our images, all our energies running together, swirling and flowing, brewing like soup in a cauldron, until a new vision takes form, until we can see the thing that embodies the change we want to make.
When it comes clear, when we can each see it before our eyes, we breathe deeply again; we draw the power up; we let it flow with our breath, in our voices–a sound, a deep wordless sound that makes the vision glow, that fills it with energy. The power builds and builds. It moves through us clearly; we feel our arms rise up with it, and we are there, in the vision.
Then it falls. In silence, we drop down, press our hands, our bodies, against the earth, and let the power drain from us, back to its source, leaving us empty, relaxed, peaceful.
We ground it into our lives, into what is, when each of us envisions, and say one real, concrete thing we will do to realize the vision. Small or large, alone or together, it will be a step, a small change. We may write a letter, plant a garden, make compost out of garbage, write a book, organize a food co-op or a union — have an honest conversation with our parents. We sing each other’s names again. We say, ‘You are the Goddess. You are the God.’ And we mean it.
And so we open the circle, and we each go and do what we have said we will do.
And already the change is beginning.
from Dreaming the Dark