Just to set the mood and take you into the snowy woods, please enjoy a Solstice Story in Two Parts…
Part Two will continue on Day Twelve
Just to set the mood and take you into the snowy woods, please enjoy a Solstice Story in Two Parts…
Part Two will continue on Day Twelve
If you are yearning for some snow, cold and the feelings of a traditional Yule, take a walk into…..
A Point of Clarity (in the Storm)
Today’s post is a journey through a snowstorm. Find a quiet setting where you will not be disturbed and allow this pathworking to move through you…
Please note that you will be redirected to my site on Bandcamp. Not enough memory on this page..
The Holly King and the Oak King… Let’s Revisit
Each holds sway and hand of might
Upon the year’s Great Wheel.
In each domain one shall be King
As wax and wane of Light
Move within nature’s cyclic plan.
Solstice Kings, though brothers, they
in battle determine solar fate.
The Oak King and the Holly King are part of Celtic mythology, and are often seen as aspects of the Green Man. They are usually considered “twin gods,” or sometimes two aspects or manifestations of the same god, often the Horned God. The Oak King rules the Summer (and is sometimes called the “Summer King”) and the Holly King rules the Winter (and is thus called the “Winter King”). The God in this form acts as guardian and keeper of the natural world through its cycles of waxing and waning light. He ensures that all will be well and all will continue and be sustained.
The Oak holds fast
To growing light as
Holly brings shadow near.
The time between held
In equinox Gate and season’s turn
Tips finely calibrated scales.
The Oak King is usually celebrated at Yule and heralds the return of the Light, spring and new growth and the Holly King reigns supreme and is celebrated at Litha, as the Light begins to lessen in preparation for harvest and winter. A battle is enacted at those times and the victor of the new season takes his place as guardian. They are twin reflections of an inner polarity of Light and Dark and the battle that takes on the inner landscape as we move towards acknowledgement and embracing of our own Divine nature.
The Light holds fast
The Oak marks time
Flanked by strength
And sundial’s grace.
The Holly answers with response
A dance of calculated pace.
At sunset’s call, he strikes his final blow
As Oak in silent acquiescence bows
And bends to Summer Light’s repose.
The connection between the Summer and Winter Solstices is one that calls us from the sleep of stasis. The balance of equanimity is more of an illusion than a truth particularly in application towards spiritual growth and setting one’s foot on a path of devotion. It was not that long ago that we basked in the strength of the Sun- the Oak King having reached his peak and we savored that last day where there Sun would remain the longest before night crowded in. And, the battle ensued and Oak King fell to the hand of his brother the Holly King and the much needed rest and introspection soon to be acquired in the illuminated darkness of the waning year.
His brother hails triumphant
As Holly King and
Upon rooster’s call
Shall next arise.
The waning of the year begins
With Oak King’s necessary demise.
We now stand awaiting the return of light filled days and the promise of Spring’s growth. But we should not forget the healing that has taken place in these days of darkness. The lantern of the Hermit has been placed in our hand and we have had choice of remaining without its light of inspiration. Give pause to think on this as we eagerly await the Solstice and offer up the space to embrace the wisdom of the Holly King….
For what lay sleeping within
The growing splendor of Holly’s
Fertile embrace is the promise
Of Light’s return at the peak of
Winter’s darkened and snowy face.
And, once again the two shall meet
Oak strengthened by slumber’s rest.
The end of darkness near.
The Holly King, his energy spent
Shall relinquish crown as
Oak King reigns renewed.
The Lantern of Truth
Transcript and Links
This page is the transcript of a VIDEO showing the Lantern of Truth Tarot Spread
A Little Numerology:
The Hermit- Key IX
Nine (9) is the number of endings and beginnings and initiatory experience. This is the final single digit number that relates to the individual and unique “you”. Wherever nine occurs there is opportunity for growth; but, only if you willingly leave behind what serves no purpose towards your future growth.
The Star of the Lantern-VI
Six (6) is the harmonious elevation of three expressions of being. Two co-create and the resultant product is a third. This triune nature is one of pure creation and amplified x’s 2 gives the energy of polarity. This is the blueprint for creation that is diverse and can serve as a summation of all of its parts. In the model of the 6-pointed star there is an image of 2/triangles (3 parts), one point upwards in reception to the Divine and one pointing downward; acknowledgement that Spirit has descent into the Manifest.
Seven Card Spread
The number Seven (7) is the outcome of the harmonious six of Descent into Matter. Seven offers the paths of exploration that will provide deeper knowledge and greater learning from what has been grown. These seven cards offer the key to knowing more of yourself.
The Hermit Key is placed in the center and is YOU!
Card 1: Represents the strength of your Manifest form and its fullest potential.
QBL-Malkuth- The Foundation of Earth, the alchemical Elements and the Physical Form
Card 2: Represents how you will use that strength to create what you wish to out-picture. (The Darkness of Creation’s Womb)
QBL-Binah-The Understanding of the Creatrix and the Womb of First Beginnings
Card 3: Represents the action and energy needed to seed that creation. (Higher Will to Action)
QBL-Chokmah-The Wisdom of the Cosmos and the Seed that Emanates from the Limitless All
Card 4: Represents the image and plan for that creation. (Inspired Mind)
QBL- Hod-The Glory of Mind Inspired by Pure and Abstract Plan
Card 5: Represents where your passion can be stoked to refine what you have planned. (Inspired Heart)
QBL- Netzach-The Victory of Refinement and Balance through Mastery of the Intelligent Heart
Card 6: Represents the outcome and product of The Darkness of Creation’s Womb with your Higher Will to Action and the Manifest form guided by Inspired Mind and Heart.
QBL- Kether-The Crown of Creation and the Divine Shining in Brilliance and Awareness of SELF
Link to the VIDEO
Other Tarot Topics..
78 Keys of Tarot
The Lantern of Truth
Today’s post is a special Tarot spread that can be used anytime you are seeking deeper insight into how to stoke those fires of light that dispel the darkness and illuminate growth. It aligns with the six-pointed star that is held within the lantern of the Hermit. This being the product of the greater work of turning within and allowing to grow a light of consciousness that shines brightly in any circumstance and on all planes. I have also given a little hint as to the Qabalistic references of the card’s placements (not necessarily the traditional assignations :).
Click for the: Transcript Page and Link
Refer Back to Day Seven Post: The Magician, The High Priestess and The Hermit
The Magician, The High Priestess and The Hermit
Today’s post looks at three cards of the Tarot-Major Arcana and how they may be used to allow you to reach behind (what has past of the Solar Wheel) and to bring it into the darkened light of the Winter Solstice.
The Summer and Winter Solstices stand as cross currents of opposition on the Witch’s Wheel. Opposition, not in the sense of negativity, but rather that of exerting a healthy resistance that enables each to bring to fruition their directive and goals. The Summer Solstice is designated as the longest day of light during the year. The sun has reached its peak and in the final hours (literally) of it commanding day’s hold, the resistance and polarized opposition of the Winter Solstice gives the dynamic that allows for extension and reach.
The Magician- The Summer Solstice
I am the master of two worlds
I am the conduit of Divine Inspiration and physical Desire
I have passed through the veil of the Fool
and have emerged transformed.
The perfect synthesis of As Above So Below
I am that which is attained at the end of Desire.
The Summer Solstice is the space of commanding all that has reached its prime state of brilliance to flow as above, so below. This is the energy of the Key 1 of the Tarot-The Magician. All mastery of the alchemical elements, the nature of manifestation and the workings of non-corporeal laws flow through the conduit of one who has come to the peak of acknowledging his/her own power. The red over cloak of the magician indicates the passion of action and movement. It is precisely this will to action that becomes the driving force behind growth. And, after all, the Summer Solstice is the splendor of flowering bursting ripe and full and just about ready to be harvested and picked.
The High Priestess – The Autumnal Equinox
I am the Middle Pillar
I am the essence of the Moon
And all her mysteries
Are mine to command.
I know the secrets of the Soul
And the ease of balance.
I hold the key to questions yet unasked
And I am the Gate to your Higher Self.
We move now to the bounty of the Autumnal Equinox, the second of the 3/harvests and an opportunity to pause, reassess and bring into temporary balance what will serve to become the heavier offering as the equanimity of the Equinox moves forward. The Light of day is beginning to dwindle and the weather and chill call you inside to gather with friends, family and “yourself”. This is the primer for what will become the Hermit of Samhain that will grow and continue the introspective journey of seeking the light. The High Priestess sits on the throne of the Middle Pillar. She is flanked on either side by the polarities of light and dark and holds steady the current and stream of mystery that draws you in for a closer look. She is the Moon in all of its phases which provides the balance of scale that is held at the Equinox and the subtleties of ebb and flow as the Moon moves from one energy to the other as each phase is expressed. In the image I have chosen the High Priestess holds a skull, the container for the mind of humankind. She is, as the Magician has mastery over the above and the below, the feminine force that holds mastery over the within and without. Together as a flow from one to the other, Summer Solstice to Autumnal Equinox, they provide the recipe for change that calls upon all of the nature’s forces, both corporeal and non.
And, finally the Light that shines in the lantern of our Soul…
It burns too brightly
And I want only
To move within the
Folds of shadow and dark.
Prisms of metal and glass
Light reflected from
The hand that carved
The beauty of silent
From Samhain’s gate, as mid point between the equinox and solstice, we emerge, each step taken a summation of the Magician’s Will to Action and the High Priestess’ revealing of the deeper mysteries. The Hermit has turned within and seeks the Light that animates and provides the focus for the descent of Sprit into matter. The Lantern held is the container for that descent, a six-pointed star illuminated within the darkness the Hermit has sought and from the pure mastery of the Hermit’s introspective creations a light is birthed that transcends all that may be of challenge or barrier towards the birthing of an outer and much greater light; that of the Sun’s renewal at the Solstice itself. The objective now is maintaining what has become the Lamp of Wisdom and allowing the final surrender in the pull of opposition that will occur at the Winter Solstice in response to what was catalyzed at the Summer.
This is just a brief exploration in the synthesis of intent that flows through each of the Sabbats of the Great Wheel, one to the other. You’ll learn more as we progress through these mini series counting down the Sabbats…
Tomorrow we’ll make use of a special Tarot spread that you can use to find the mysteries held within your own…
(The) Lantern of Truth
Image: Tarot Cards
Rider-Waite: The Magician and The Hermit
Andy Manthei: The High Priestess
Graphic Compilation: R.Fennelly
A Journey into the Dark
My offering today is an audio of a pathworking that I have used at various points in the solar year. It is a journey of courage taking you into the darkness of seeking the light. Enjoy…..
Scroll to the bottom of the page
The Journey of the Shadow: A Pathworking of Light and Dark
Today’s post speaks to the cycle of the sun and what is designated as the Light and Dark halves of the year. Take a journey with me through the quarter and cross-quarter days and find the place of return to the Light of awakening….
The Waxing Sun’s Light
The cycle of the Waxing of the Light begins at the time of the Winter Solstice. This is the space of our inner awakening. Through the energy of this cycle of rebirthing we have opportunity to experience the inner awakening of our own Divine flame. We light candles and wait in anticipation of the rising of the sun on Solstice morning and are uplifted in the joy of the Great Mother and her giving birth to the Sun King of Life. This Light of the Solstice is in process of renewal and what lay hidden beneath the shadow of the longest night and darkness is the time for reaffirming the light within and awaiting the birth of an awakened mind, heart and spirit ready to do the Great Work.
This inner light we have cultivated and called forth continues to grow and we welcome the fires of Imbolc as the sustenance of what the burgeoning of longer days holds as potential. The Goddess takes her place as new mother, fiercely protective of the light she has brought into being. And through the quickening of the fires of this light she begins the process of transformation and renewal as her energy shifts into the form of the Maiden. We guard and nurture the growing flame within as mother and anticipate with the fervency of the Maiden the maturing of what has been created.
We find ourselves now at the time of the Vernal Equinox. This is the pause of respite when there is equal balance of day and night. This is the point of integration and synthesis of the work and effort offered beginning at the Winter Solstice. The Vernal Equinox holds the product of renewal and the stirrings of the increasing state of awareness illuminated by the potential that is held within the fertile space of manifest form. We find the space of balance within ourselves and seek out the opportunity to shine that light more brightly as it has strengthened and we open to taking in more of the light that surrounds us. We begin the dance of enlivened exchange shifting eagerly between what has been and what will be.
This opening to receiving the downpour of the light of growth is the preface to the union of the polarities at Beltane. These take the forms of male and female, God and Goddess and are the positive and negative charges needed to generate sufficient electrical current of vibrant and pulsing Light to flow and move towards a state of overt Life. This is the time of procreation and as such the continuation of what has been seeded within is ready to be conceptualized and brought forth into manifest form. Like attracts like and we use the electro-magnetic attraction of our inner sun to create the cycle of connection and flow to the physical sun. We open to receiving and mirroring back the life giving properties as above, so below, as within, so without.
We continue this expansion of our inner light and reach its apex of form and intent at the Summer Solstice. In opposition to the longest night of the Winter Solstice, the brilliance of full sun and illuminated action holds the power of this outpouring. It is at this point that we have fully ignited our Inner Sun and it is now the time of full expression of the strength and power of its dynamic energy that will carry us forward into the waning light of the year. This lengthened day is the pivotal point of beginning to turn within. The light will begin to dwindle in outward expression and the need to cultivate, and nurture the inner space of light we hold at our core becomes the focus.
I stand in a fragrant field bursting with Summer’s flowers. The sun shines brightly overhead and I feel the radiance of warmth and the pulsing of vibrant light moving through me. I am a reflection of that sun and all that has been nurtured and tended within has grown into the abundant field of beauty that lay before me. I breathe deeply into these thoughts. Affirming my own strength and the longevity of my solar outpouring.
I breathe deeply into the inner space of warmth and see the flaming sun at my center’s core. As I continue to breathe into this truth, the sun begins its descent into the evening. The sky darkens and the final light of sunset retreats; the darkness moving in shadow and drawing this hidden light inward; moving through me as I stand strong and resilient in receipt. The time of the Solstice is at hand and the work of refocusing the brilliance of summer’s light becomes the breath of my intent.
The Waning Sun’s Light
The Waning half of the year supports the process of redirecting the inner light we have brought to its fullness and sending focus inward. We celebrate Lammas and eat heartily of the grain of life, cut down at its peak and offered up as sacrifice to fuel our hunger. As we move through this turning within the need to cull and harvest what will act as the fuel to sustain the brilliance of its fire is the task of intent. In the physical world we gather our food and energy stores and offer up to sacrifice those products which did not thrive in the heat of the spring and summer sun. We look carefully at what we think will nourish and sustain us in the dark months ahead and we choose wisely where we shine our light so as not to exhaust its outward presence.
If we have chosen well and have done the necessary work to maintain that which will carry us through the long night’s journeys those inner fires burn brightly at the time of the Autumnal Equinox. This point of balance offers another time of integration and rest from the efforts laid forth. We begin to settle in as the days grow shorter and the cooler air fulfills the promise of winter’s hold. We spend more time in reflection and stoke the fires of our inner hearth lights, feeding them from what we have brought into this inner space from our plantings during the waning light. The balance of light and dark is the fertile womb that begins the transition of what has been revealed by the inner flames and is ready to become the seeding of wisdom.
The growing darkness consumes the fullness of day and we look to our ancestors as the veils part at Samhain. The fires of the cauldrons and candles light the way for their return to this world in shadow and as specter; and our own inner light shines brightly as beacon to welcome their wisdom into our hearts, minds and bodies. This is the calling to the Midnight Sun and the deep transformation that will illuminate the way of the mystic. This is the sun that burns hot and intent-filled within the earth’s core. This is the hidden sun that although we may not see its face at the midnight hour in our geographical location, the sun has reached its apex of noon at the exact geographical polar opposite. This is the sun of the Great Work that glows its brightest within the fuelings of our will and intent. And, it is within this shadowy landscape that those parts of self which have eluded the sun’s full light are analyzed, refined and embraced as we clear the way for what will be birthed anew at the Winter Solstice.
This journey of Light is one that contracts and expands, much like the astrological retrograde of planetary energy. There is opportunity to reach back in time and space before turning full thrust ahead. And there is space for hovering in momentary pause, not stagnation, but dynamic pause during the balance of the Equinoxes. Each of the cross quarter days offers the point of flexible expansion towards the next contraction or pause. Each is a mini-birth of sorts of the refined energy in preparation for what lay ahead. We return to the Winter Solstice as the cycle begins anew, but we have been changed in the process. Our inner light has transformed every space it has reached and the you that stands waiting to call forth the Light of return emerges from the longest night blazing in full glory.
The night is cold and I stand facing the darkness; thick and almost opaque in its veiling. I think on all that has brought me to this point of the Great Wheel…..
To read more about the Witch’s Wheel of the Year and the Sabbats:
Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path (YAD)
Overview of Lesson Four
Yuletide Celebrations and Correspondences
Todays post focuses on some of the ways the season of Yule is celebrated. Although in many cases the celebration of Yule coincides with the astronomical date of the Winter Solstice, they are distinct in that Yule is a seasonal observance that often lasted longer than the single Sabbat date it is traditionally assigned of Dec. 20/21 (the Winter Solstice).
The season of Yule begins on the date of the Full Moon in late November or the first few weeks of December, and the season continues for two lunar months. In some Saxon-based traditions, the official celebration of the Yuletide does not actually begin until Mothers’ Night (the solstice) and continues for a week or two after this.
These celebrations may last from 10-12 days after the Solstice date which nicely coincides with New Year’s celebrations. During this time, feasts, gifts-giving and gatherings mark the celebrations.
The Witch’s Wheel of the Year uses the semantic of Yule as the name of the Sabbat celebrated on the date of the Winter Solstice. And with this title come all the symbols that make this one of the most joyful to celebrate. However you choose to celebrate this season, light is the underpinning. This aspect relates to the occurrence of the Winter Solstice during the Yuletide season and the cycle of the Light and Dark half of the year. And, in the Northern Hemisphere and Winter’s hold this light is prominent in celebrating ourselves….
These are just a few of the ways the season is honored….
The Celtic Connection
Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit tthe residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration. It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.
The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.
In the Druidic tradition the name of this festival is “Alban Arthan”, Welsh for “Light of Winter”. According to an older and more poetic interpretation, the name is “Alban Arthuan”, meaning “Light of Arthur”. In this poetical image, Arthur is symbolized by the Sun. The Sun dies and is reborn, just as the mythical Arthur is sleeping deep inside a mountain and will wake up again when the people needs his help.
Alban Arthan, the Winter Solstice, takes place every year on the 21st or 22nd of December (Northern Hemisphere).
While Samhain is strongly connected with insular Celtic culture, Alban Arthan is a universal festival, which has been (and still is) celebrated by many peoples and long before the coming of the Celts. The Winter Solstice is probably (together with the Summer Solstice) the oldest seasonal festival of humankind.
Saturnalia in Ancient Rome
The Magickal History of Yule-Huffington Post
In Ancient Rome the Winter Solstice festival Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for seven days.
Saturnalian banquets were held from as far back as around 217 BCE. The festival was held to honor Saturn, the father of the gods and was characterized by the suspension of discipline and reversal of the usual order. Grudges and quarrels were forgotten while businesses, courts and schools were closed. Wars were interrupted or postponed and slaves were served by their masters. Masquerades often occurred during this time.
It was traditional to offer gifts of imitation fruit (a symbol of fertility), dolls (symbolic of the custom of human sacrifice), and candles (reminiscent of the bonfires traditionally associated with pagan solstice celebrations). A mock king was chosen, usually from a group of slaves or criminals, and although he was permitted to behave in an unrestrained manner for seven days of the festival, he was usually killed at the end. The Saturnalia eventually degenerated into a week-long spree of debauchery and crime – giving rise to the modern use of the tern saturnalia, meaning a period of unrestrained license and revelry.
Fiesta de Santo Tomás in Guatemala
Many Christians celebrate St Thomas’ Day in honor of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21. In Guatemala on this day, Mayan Indians honor the sun god they worshipped long before they became Christians with a dangerous ritual known as the polo voladore, or “flying pole dance”. Three men climb on top of a 50-foot pole. As one of them beats a drum and plays a flute, the other two men wind a rope attached to the pole around one foot and jump. If they land on their feet, it is believed that the sun god will be pleased and that the days will start getting longer. Some churches celebrate St Thomas’ Day on other days in the year.
The ancient Incas celebrated a special festival to honor the sun god at the time of the December solstice. In the 16th century ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholics in their bid to convert the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru, revived the festival in the 1950s. It is now a major festival that begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away.
Feast of Juul
The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god Thor.
A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log. In England, Germany, France and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night or kept as a charm and or as medicine.
French peasants believed that if the ashes were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated in the bonfires associated with the feast of Juul.
The Dongzhi Festival in China
How to Celebrate the Dongzhi Festival
On or around the Winter Solstice, Chinese people observe holiday rituals that would be familiar to anyone: gathering with loved ones and eating too much. The favored treat is tangyuan, sticky rice flour balls that are easy to make—and even easier to consume. Families often make the preparation of tangyuan a group activity, which makes sense as the balls symbolize reunion. The balls come in every vivid hue imaginable, but the holiday itself is black and white in origin: its roots are in the philosophy of yin and yang, the balance between light and dark, with the solstice being the meeting point.
Jólablót in Iceland
Many traditions associated with Christmas come from pagan celebrations: yule logs, the lighting of candles, and the honoring of trees, just to name a few. Since the 1970s, Iceland’s pagan community has reclaimed the holiday, with jólablót celebrations that begin on December 1 and continue through the evening of the Winter Solstice. Carrying candles, lighting bonfires, telling ancient legends, and sharing wine from a sacred horn, revelers celebrate in five locations: a city each in the nation’s north, south, east, and west (Reykjavik being the largest); as well as at Pingvellir, site of the world’s first Parliament and Iceland’s former cultural center.
It’s always fun to sort through all of the things that are relevant and have been used for celebrations of the Sabbats. There are so many for the Winter Solstice/Yule because of the cluster of other holidays that occur during this time of the year. Many of the Christmas decorations and traditions were appropriated and adapted from the pagan practices. This is just a brief listing of some of the more common correspondences. Be creative and remember that the most important component in selecting a symbol, herb, color, etc… is intention. So, even if what envision as the perfect Yule/Solstice representation is not to be found on any correspondence listing, go with your gut, hold your intention and make it be so!
Symbols Commonly Used:
The Plants and Herbs: of Yule Blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pine cones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valerian, yarrow
Gold, silver, red, green, white
Stones and Crystals:
Cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone
Sagittarius into Capricorn
Celtic Tree Moon:
Incense and oils:
Blended together or alone Bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron. Always use a carrier oil if you are using essential oils. Some wonderful carrier oils are Coconut, Jojoba, Olive and Almond, to name a few.
Animals and Mythical Beasts:
Yule goat (Nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, Yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters (Greek), trolls, phoenix, Yule elf, Jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin
Gods and Goddess:
Goddesses-Brigid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child
Nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine
Gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, hanging mistletoe, bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule.
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness, Personal renewal, world peace, honoring family, friends, Festivals of light, meditation.
Scott Cunningham (asstd. books)
Reflection In the Dark and Cultivating Gratitude
Today is an excellent day for finding solitude and quietly reflecting in the stillness of darkness. Even though we are not able to be as socially active as we wish because of COVID-19, if you are like me, video chats have increased exponentially.
It is not a coincidence that you will often see the increase in articles about stress-free holidays, meditation and simplifying during this time of the year. Add a global Pandemic to that mix and there are not enough places of advice that can be tapped into. So, for today’s post I am offering two contemplative moments. One that is a written version and the other a video I recorded in March of this year with a a focus on gratitude.
Relax into the moment. Let the words on the page wash over you. And, stand for this moment of time in a space that is a little less bright….
As we carry the energies of the previous Sabbats forward in the continual cycle, there is much that is accumulated from those experiences and our daily interactions in the world. The dark half of the year begins at the Summer Solstice in June and what we have brought to fullness begins to wither in its exuberance and vitality. This is a natural process of the ebb – peak and flow of natural cycles.
Lughnasadh provided the space of gratitude for what we had accomplished, what was ready and ripe for the picking and what would serve as the compost for the next year’s growth. As we sat at our table of plenty and resigned ourselves to the coming of winter and increased loss of light, we saw the potential and product of what could be done with steadfast intention and purpose in planning for this time of lessening.
The Autumnal Equinox provided a space of balance and pause to regroup, re-shift and reassess what would fall into the pan of quickly amassing weight as the dark crowded in closer with shorter and shorter daylight. We may think that what remained as the lighter portion, lifted and floated away, but I think of it as becoming more hidden and less overt in its impact- there, nonetheless.
Samhain gathered everything of the dark and ancestral world to a climax of joy and sorrow, pain and release. How that out-pictured became the new norm accepted and the thoughts now turned towards the holidays, celebrations and a new perspective driven by the expectations held. You know how it goes, we either love the holidays or they are painful reminders of what we wish could be. And, now as we sit in the space of awaiting the Winter Solstice and the return of the light, we have choice as to whether we will fully embrace what calls us to settle in, turn up the heat and cozy up.
Self-Reflection is also a calling of this time of the year. Finding the space to be truly honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses and getting to know who we are naked and vulnerable in a not so brightly lit space takes courage and intention.How we go about this task is dependent on how deeply we wish to go. I like to use the practice of meditation to model my explorations.
This meditation may take the form of contemplative journaling, sitting in a darkened room and simply making note of the sounds of my breath, walking alone outside in the darkness of night(safety first, please), or doing periodic check-ins as I go through my day, assessing my thoughts (no, not my emotions).
..My preferred form is that of sitting quietly in a darkened room, with an unlit candle and lighter arms reach away. I begin by settling deeper into the physicality of my body on whatever supportive surface I have chosen. Sitting in a chair allows for comfort and the intention that you will not fall asleep.
I take several minutes to attune to the sounds surrounding and engage actively each of my senses in the experience of this darkened space. It is remarkable how heightened your sense can become when you are in the dark and visual – mind connection is temporarily paused. I take a few very deep breaths and audibly sigh into the release of each, holding the intention that each release is a willing surrender to ceasing activity and being fully present in what I am experiencing.
Soon, my breath and the sounds of the room disappear and I am surrounded by the stillness of the dark. Just me, my consciousness and the energy of the darkened space surrounding and almost cradling me in support of intention to simply “be”. I allow this sensation (not simply a feeling or thought, but much more than that) to take hold and carry my attention where it will. To carry me where it will into the darkness.
I remain in this energetic state for as long as feels natural in this moment of time. When the darkness and I feel as one, I visualize a tiny point of light directly in front of me. Slowly and methodically this point begins to spiral inward towards the center of my field of awareness. As it spirals, I see the petals of a single white rose begin to form. I am watching the creation of what has emerged from my space of darkness and with each curling and shaping of petal, the connection of it to me is strengthened and made more palpable.
I breathe into the creation of this beautiful flower and the dispersement of darkness that accommodates the formation of each delicate petal. As the Rose nears its completion light begins to emanate from it. Not a brilliance, rather the light that reflects on the supple waters of a consciousness that has loosened its rigidity and is able to move in accord with change and transformation. In finality the Rose lay on its side, a beautiful and symmetrical shape that I recognize as the beauty of the light within myself and that there is no need to fear revealing the delicacy of both light and shadow that are of my own making.
I remain as long as needed drawing in the beauty and light from my Rose. And, I offer up gratitude for the gift of beginnings and endings. This offering moves into the Rose itself and the petals begin to wither. Each drawing back into itself. Each appearing to diminish in vitality and light.
There is no sadness at this sight. This is the cycle of each Solstice and the Light that must give way to the darkness and the Darkness that must surrender to the newly birthed light. The darkness surrounds once again and I open my eyes as I reach out taking the lighter in my hand and light the wick of the candle. I pause at the beauty of this external light. I breathe into the knowledge that this is the same light that is held within the Rose of me, and that what is required is the intention and action of lighting its flame, regardless of closely the dark surrounds.
I spend some time just enjoying the gentle flame and soft light of the candle as I breathe deeper into my physicality, open to the sounds and smells surrounding and return to the space of the start of my journey….
Be creative in how you access this inner light and most importantly listen to the intuitive nature that will guide you towards how, what and when you need to modify what tools you use.
So, I invite you to take some time in the next few days to see the beauty of a rose reflecting back at you as the many layers and complexities of who you are. That same rose will at some point wither; its petals browning and drying up and stem of thorns becoming more pronounced. Nonetheless, what created it and the beauty it holds are still very much inherent within it.
Rest is the perfect companion and support towards creating a space of gratitude, regardless of how you may feel darkness, sadness and uncertainty creeping in. This recording was offered as a respite from the challenges of the Pandemic as things spun out of control in March. It was written with the intention of cultivating a deeply held sanctuary of gratitude that could be used to calm and soothe.
We have arrived now at December and COVID is raging throughout most of the country. Even with the promise of a vaccine not too far away, the reminder that we will not be able to spend time with family and loved ones in the same way as we celebrate the turning of the seasons leaves many feeling as though there is little to be grateful for. The truth is that we may need to just look a little deeper. Deeper into the memories of those we may have lost. Deeper into the joy of seeing family and friends on video; a gift that not that long ago was not technologically sound. Deeper into the gift of health. Deeper into the joy and support of community. Or just simply gratitude for waking each morning and being able to take a breath of life.
Join me in holding and cultivating your own space of gratitude and relax into it’s healing gifts….