Backyard just before dawn Wednesday morning, the outlines of bare branches seem almost purple against a heavy gray sky. To the eye all else appears barren, but the intuitive eyes, the heart eyes, the soul eyes–a ripeness of movement motions the air. Some Solstices are deeply still, some you feel the quickening so ripe it breathes you like your own air. A Nor’Easter on the way. I could feel it in my hair, run all in my blood. Reminded me of the Wild, the old days here when this time of year no one was here, and oh boy could the people lose their minds. I know, I was once one. At this early hour, the roundness of the day already announced itself in ways unseen but so fully expressed. A potency emanating off of the already over-saturated moss and greenery of our back yard, of the tract of forest wild that lay beyond on just the other side.
I have stood beneath, beholding, considering these trees my whole life. The slants of light, the color changes, the color consistencies, the shadow play, the catalogues of different languages of the trees, the tree winds. I am so far behind on my tending I think,I have an offering for the Ancestor tree, and a blend to make of prayer herbs that sat on my alter the entire Mabon or Fall season. For my pap, who passed on the Second Harvest, for my gram who’s been mostly with us since then. It occurs to me as I write, no no you’re right on time. That will be how I Solstice tend.
Amid all the movement Wednesday though, a temporal not earthly stillness, within. A stillness from the Forest Wisdom, a reaching out?
I reached out too. Received in full a sensory immediacy of the Ancestresses of this House. Women long gone or more recently departed, women whose SoulHearts still live in the creaks of the walls, the moss of these yards, the tree breath on my skin.
I beseeched Harriet Tubman this year, prayed her quiet ferocity as an Ancestor of this Place, Beach City Delmarva, beneath the swamp purple backyard boneyard Tall Pine lands. In these marshy back roads here I hear her songs. This weekend we depart Ancestor Season, surrendering season long again and again ah to their knowing for us. They’ve been around this week, right? Look around see what you recall.
How could I have ever imagined what you’d bring, that first day of Mabon I so brokenly surrendered, how complete it was, how I felt it slip void-side immediately into Gold, how I knew ohhh what could it be that comes? How could I have ever imagined these blessings from you? And so I trust, and so I trust~
Said the Trees. My Gram, Matriarch of my father’s people, through who speaks Mother of Roses and too this side, Mother of Bones, on her daughter in laws behalf oh My Holy Godmother, your easy softness still anchors me here same as it did in childhood and returns to help me keep my gentle when I need it most. Maggie, oh WoahMan of irreverence and merciless truths how you always kept a room full of riotous howls, the holy Yesses in the laughter you provoked so much more than mirth or glee combined. & With delight, there sing Jacki Oh miss Jacki who is the purple line of light over the seaside night Ms. Jacki, who left on Winter Solstice, 2018, the earliest Queen of my beach bunny dreams. I write part of this on Assateague. There is reggae on, I think of beach mud brown backs and only comes from sunshine gold in the hair my little bro, Sky and Konan Kevin and Shawn, and the blasts we used to have. There, networked against the sky, the trees shone these women’s yesterdays and the rightnows that shone right back at me. ohhh it made me ache and see my own. And so it is, Winter Solstice is here. And so it is.
Many years back, or this is how it feels to me tonight, I read about a folk tradition, this word meaning of the people, in Women Who Run With Wolves about the Winter Solstice. I cannot recall the culture and looked briefly but could not find it. Pinkola-Estes reports traditionally the Solstice was a time for the women to gather and ceremoniously mark the losses they experienced for the year.
(Some of the following appeared in similar form on Women’s Mysteries, Winter Solstice post I wrote in 2014)
Life energy or soul naturally wanes now. This is traditional and archetypal to the patterns of earth and place and winter, in the Northern hemisphere of the Wheel of the Year. Normal aspects of the dark phase–either of the moon, or the dark part of the year, which peaks tomorrow– can be gentle shadow work in which there is acknowledgment of the areas where your inner self or soul is colored by its capacity to grow and integrate specifically because it has experienced pain. With loss comes the embodied experience of forgiveness, strength, compassion, hope. Ritual bathing, quiet honoring of the journey of this year and your own personal darknesses, honoring of the power of death and dark as part of the sacred journey are all intrinsic to the Winter Solstice. On the wisdom path we practice this dropping in and tending with every monthly aspect of the dark moon. We practice this same understanding of reverence for the Darkness tonight and tomorrow night, too.
We move northward now, we honor the Threshold and GateKeepers of the element of Earth. How best, this season, can we walk with her in a more Sacred Way?
Take heart! Life is a continuum, a long spiral. The Winter Solstice, just as the moon in her new phase, marks the return of the light! Tomorrow eve we honor Hope, the return of life. In her darkest phase (the past two days) when life energy and light disappear, it is out of this momentum that the new spark of consciousness stirs. This most precious spark must be nurtured, held warm in hibernation now through the toil of the season of dark. Doing so is how the momentum for life will grow strong. Rest, tend quiet in an active way. The beingness of doing nothing, of activeness of waiting, yearning, and tending. The active embodiment of Hope.
If you’ve not in a while, tending the sacred on your own terms with personal sacraments is a sweet call of Yule tide. To prepare and consciously ignite your own hearth light, with gentle practices of rest and connection to keep you led and tended through Winter’s dark. Make real again your intent to you, your commitment to your Self. Like the capital S kind, you know, your unique sacred Soul print. To thy own Self be True.
And, be well, blessed, dear friends.
Don’t let them tame you!