On December 22, at 08:04 GMT, the North Pole reaches the point at which it is tilted furthest – 23.5 degrees – away from the Sun.
As I wrote exactly a year ago: One breath later, we begin to tilt slowly back toward the light, toward warmth, toward longer days and shorter nights, toward a new awakening of seeds, toward the birth of new animals into the domestic herds.
We are in a deeply paradoxical time because even as we are slowly moving back toward the fertile renewal of the land, back toward greening, in earlier times, the stores of food carefully put up and laid down for the lean times, would have been waning. Even if the growing season had been unusually long, it would have been almost three months since the last of the fresh vegetables and apples were gathered. Therefore, Yule would have been the final feast before the hard winter enfolds the land and famine becomes a very real possibility.
In our more urban cultures, in a world where fruits and vegetables are routinely imported from the southern hemisphere during these fallow northern days, we have lost much of the primal fear of physical starvation our ancestors would have experienced. But our world seems to be sinking more and more deeply into spiritual starvation with every passing day.
In spite of surface impressions, religious fundamentalism (whatever its flavor) is not a reflection of spiritual abundance, but of spiritual poverty. Rigidity and hoarding of ‘spiritual truth’ is a manifestation of the fear that there is not enough to go around. It is the terror that if I allow you to have some truth, I might have to go without. Spiritual abundance, on the other hand, is evident in generosity, in curiosity, in flexibility, in a desire to share truth, recognizing that it becomes richer and more life-giving as more streams flow into the ocean which sustains us all.
One of the most important gifts of Samhain is the long darkness that draws us into sleep and into the transforming possibility of dreams. Our dreams are not rigid; they do not hoard their wisdom; they are not limited to what we know or have known. The images and symbols that dance through them may seem peculiar to our rational mind, but they sparkle and pulse with creativity and new being.
If we allow it, our sleeping dreams can become our waking visions, new and generous truth to bless all of us. What has outlived its ability to nurture us in its current form, dis-integrates in the darkness and becomes the compost to nurture the seed that is awaiting its time of blossoming. The darkness of the tomb and the darkness of the womb are the same place.
On the knife-edge lacuna of the solstice, we choose every year whether to carry death or life with us into the returning light.
May we have the courage this year – especially in the face of such wide-spread fear and retrenchment – to choose the messy vulnerability of new birth. May we release all that is locked in rigor mortis and allow our spirits and souls to surrender to transmutation. It can be the choice that saves our world.
May you be gently enfolded
in the nine blessings of darkness:
the renewal of tranquility,
the silence of sleep,
the refreshment of dormancy,
the depth of vision,
the wisdom of dreams,
the reweaving of hope,
the potential of re-creation,
the generosity of surrender,
the joy of peace.
Nine gifts to open your heart
and empower your spirit
on the solstice fulcrum.
O let it be so.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015, Immram Chara, LLC
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You may also want to check my Etsy shop for new fiber art and a special assortment of angel cards to carry your visions and dreams to friends in the new year.