Winter Solstice - The Light Within
The days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere as sunlight diminishes. The growing season is long over, the crops harvested, the fields tilled and supplies put up for the chilly months ahead. As the sun makes a low transit across the skies, its shadows lengthen, more darkness appears, and a primal part of us watches and wonders, "Will it ever come back?"
The watchfulness is even more pronounced in these difficult and challenging times. Fears, anxieties, angry exchanges, and dire pronouncements fill the electronic atmosphere and the agendas of many, causing us to look around expectantly for an uplifting beam of light on any front. We straddle two types of darkness - the disappearance of the sun's light and the sense of foreboding on the land. Yet, in the physical or spiritual darkness the wheel of life's cycle turns, presenting the essential truth of rebirth and renewal.
The light of hope, regardless of human contrivance, appears again on the horizon. It always does. Even in our modern lives, that primitive urge to summon the light is encoded in the deepest parts of ourselves. It is the fundamental essence of who we are - children of the light. So when that light is lessened in any way, melancholy sets in until the light is restored. We've devised rituals, ceremonies, stories and celebrations to insure the light returns especially around the Solstice when the sun appears to 'stand still' before making its trek back across the heavens.
In December in the northern hemisphere (June in the southern hemisphere,) we celebrate a shared human legacy of the sun's return in the company of tribes, cultures and religions all over the world. We join with the Dogon of Africa who celebrate the arrival of humanity from the sky God Amma; with the Japanese who celebrate the re-emergence of their sun goddess Amaterasu from her seclusion in the cave bringing sunshine back to the universe; with the Incas of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru who celebrate Inti-Raymi by tying the sun to a hitching post to prevent its escape; with the Maori of New Zealand who honor the sun God's return with his winter bride the Star Sirius; and with the Druids who announce the feast of Alban Arthuan, a festival of peace celebrating the re-birth of the Sun Child.
The legends, myths and stories of the Sun Gods of Light have striking similarities. They were all born in the winter; of a virgin; performed great miracles; worked with the poor; lived for thirty years or so; when they died the sun darkened; and all of them were resurrected three days later in the springtime, otherwise known as the Vernal Equinox. They go by many names though the stories are similar. In Turkey the Sun God is Attis of Phrygia; in Greece it's Dionysius whose story mimics that of Horus and Osiris of Egypt. Egyptians celebrated for 12 days reflecting the 12 divisions in their sun calendar. In India, the sun God is Krishna and in Persia, Mithra who was protector of the light. Persians took their festival from the Babylonians, which marked the start of the solar year as a celebratory victory of light over darkness with the renewal of the Sun. In Iran, families kept bonfire vigils all night to help the sun battle the darkness. Coincidentally, a discovery in the ancient text of the Dead Sea Scrolls tells of a war between the sons (suns) of light against the suns of darkness. The Archangel Michael referred to in Talmudic tradition as "Who is like El" or the one who is like God is also called the Prince of Light or the Son of Light.
During the darkest days of the year, we all look for comfort in the re-emergence of the sun's light. It's a signal that no matter how difficult or dark our circumstances, no matter the mood of hostility or ugliness on the land, the sun returns to replenish the fields and our sense of aliveness. The visionaries who have always stood with a higher perspective, still do so today. They affirm and hold a global vision of a brighter tomorrow with an unwavering knowingness. They see and understand that it is by aligning consciousness with an image of what is desired that the holographic fabric of space and time will open to that reality. When the image is planted, then one by one it is embraced. Soon the collective mass consciousness agrees to see that vision, changing what we call reality.
On the solstice of December 21st each of us can affirm what we wish to envision in our lives or for the planet. Write three words or phrases describing your personal vision on a piece of paper. Enter into sacred space or ceremony, either alone or preferably with a group. Light a small fire or use candles to set your intentions. At the moment the sun stands still, hovering at its furthest point south, offer the visionary words written on the paper up to the solar fires. Using your breath and your imagination, send these sacred intentions from your heart into the atmosphere. See the visions enter the electro-magnetic fields of the earth, surrounding the planet with good intentions. As those in the southern hemisphere honor the longest day, and those in the northern hemisphere honor the shortest day, the sun's balanced blessings will return to all of us intensified and magnified.
Stay grounded and look straight ahead towards the horizon line. From that perspective, remain focused on the vision and know that the light will always be there. For even in the darkest hours of blackness, light and hope prevail.
Jo - Dec. 7th, 2009