Tag Archives: Winter Solstice

Sun Stands Still

The olde year now away is fled,
The new year it is entered

– Traditional

Longest night, but not darkest night. Not this year. Not with the moon almost full.

I went out to my spot, in the hills, tonight. My tracks were the first human tracks on fresh fallen snow, but not the first tracks. A highway frequented by rabbits, coyotes, deer, birds was laid before me. It was silent tonight, but I knew I was not alone up in those hills. The moonlight revealed all those tracks, a dizzying network of them.

The winter solstice is the anniversary of from the gap. I didn’t even think about it when I wrote The Great White Winter, didn’t really pay attention to what the date was. But now, two years to the day, it seems weighted with significance.

In the natural world, the one that is not governed by the clocks and calendars of humankind, the winter solstice is the eve of the new year. It is the shortest day (here, in the northern hemisphere), the longest night. It is the beginning of winter. It is a time when old things die and new things incubate and wait to grow.

Today is a day to think about the new year ahead, and what should be let go and what should be nurtured to grow. What should be left behind and what should be run toward. It is a time to take stock of what’s come before and plan for what’s to come. It’s a time in-between.

I think about how far I’ve come in the two years since I started writing in this space. I think about how I felt two years ago, because I remember it well. And I think about how I felt one year ago. And it seems like no time has passed, and like all time has passed. I’m not the same person I was and yet I’m more myself than I’ve ever been before.

I think about all the places I’ve been, how far I’ve travelled. I think about where I want to go next, of all the places not yet seen. And it frightens me a little, because those places are far away and I so hate leaving here. But I must, as I have before. Must go to come back.

But for now, there is no going, no leaving. There is just the stillness, of my mind, of my heart. There is just the quiet, the strength of the moon and stars and the lay of the land beneath my feet. Right now there is no need to move. I can stand still, for just a moment, as the sun stands still.

 

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Longest Night

The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

Joseph Campbell, The Journey Inward: The Power of Myth

The Winter Solstice and the December New Moon are conspiring today to create the longest, darkest night of the year.

It was a year ago to the day that I wrote the first post of this blog, The Great White Winter. As I explained in Chasing the Light, I did not know what form it would become. I simply felt impelled to write. It was a crisis moment in my life, a moment of in-betweenness. I was in a gap. And I find myself there again.

Tonight I am much more conscious than last year of what it is I am doing here. But life is still a mystery, as it always should be. I have come to another crossroads, a moment of transformation. Perhaps it is my fate to re-enact this every year at this time. Perhaps it is all humanity’s fate, it is encoded in our collective consciousness, to burrow deep inside at the darkest time of the year, bundled up, provisions laid down. It is not just our physical form that burrows, but our minds and hearts as well. We look inward to see if we can find enough light there to get us through the Longest Night.

For millenia humans have built altars to align with the light of this day. Festivals of great significance are enacted the world over at this time. My favourite aspect of these festivals is not the celebration of returning light, but the turning-upside-downness of society and the willing participation of all to observe it. In ancient Rome during the festival of Saturnalia, slaves became masters and masters became slaves. In medieval Europe, the Boy Bishops of universities and cathedrals continued this tradition. Weak became strong, small became large, powerless became powerful, and vice versa. Of course, for only a brief time. Then the world is turned right side up once more, as the sun strengthens in the sky each day, reasserting the order of normal life.

This dark time is a time of reflection, of turning inward. The past two months I have been caught up in the world outside. I had work to do, important work. I finished a giant task, I took on new ones, I found myself in situations I never could have anticipated. In the aftermath, there are painful truths to face and difficult lessons to learn. And here I find myself on the Longest Night. Life feels topsy-turvy and uncertain. Last year, I could not see the light coming. This year I am wiser. I know it will come, that there will be a bright dawn after this dark night. That things will make sense in time, that I will have come out of it stronger than before. I must trust this to see me through. In the darkness creativity incubates, waiting for the first ray of dawn to coax it forth.

Solstice Sky. December 21, 2014. The Gap.
Solstice Sky. December 21, 2014. The Gap.