by Aurora Star Light Bringer
Of the eight sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, Winter Solstice is nearest to my heart. This is because its messages are so enduring and have meaning to last the whole year through—similarly to the way the messages of Christmastime “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all” are valid all year long.
At Winter Solstice we find ourselves on the darkest day of the year—we find ourselves in our darkest hour. In the same way our ancestors sat in the dark night wondering if the sun would ever return, we find ourselves in the dark night of our soul wondering if the obstacles and challenges before us are insurmountable, whether the dark times in life will ever resolve, when we can’t imagine lightheartedness returning to our routine.
I wonder how many Winter Solstices we have a year. How many times do we ask “Is this challenge too great? Is this the mistake that will end my relationship? Will my health ever improve? Will my loved one recover? Will I find a job? Is the small difference I make in this world too significant?” When we find ourselves facing questions like these, in times of hopelessness and doubt, no matter the time of year, we are having a Winter Solstice moment.
Winter Solstice teaches us that there is no darkness without light. That just as we must anticipate the sun’s return, we must expect that light will return to our lives. Marking this holiday formally helps us to renew our understanding of this message and to help us carry it throughout the year. I think the reason why Winter Solstice strikes home for me is that when you pare down my spiritual practice of Earth-Based ritual, when you take away all of the things that make ritual ritual—the quarter calls, the candle lighting, the chanting—what I have left is FAITH.
When I find myself in a Winter Solstice moment, I have a phrase that helps to sustain me and urges me to persevere. “Tomorrow the Sun will surely rise”. That no matter what is happening tonight, right now, no matter what personal turmoil I find myself in, that sun will rise above the Earth and fill it with light once more. Somehow this fills be with hope, it teaches me to hold on, to recognize that tomorrow is a new day, a solution is on its way. It fills me with Faith. Faith that since the sun surely will return, that dark situations will too resolve into new horizons and opportunities.
As Unitarian Universalists, since our religion is free of dogma and creed, we sometimes wonder if it is also devoid of faith. We wonder if it can sustain us through the hard times. But our drawing from our multiple sources provides us with a wealth of lessons that allow us find our faith and understand our on personal faiths in a way that drawing from one source may not fully provide.
This is what drawing from the teachings of Earth-Centered religions has done for me. Eight times a year I am reminded of the cycles of life, and once a year I wait up all night anticipating the arrival of the sun.
If this is your first Winter Solstice celebration, I hope you take with you the message of faith that this sabbat brings. If Winter Solstice is part of your tradition, I hope that this marking of this sabbat renews your sense of faith.
Faith that no problem is without solution, that now obstacle is insurmountable, that you are loved, you are part of a supportive and loving community and that yes, tomorrow the sun will surely rise.
Image From: WiccanTogether.com
This is the dark cottage of the crone, the woman who lives on the edge of the village and forages for herbs in the dawn.
Circle casting – grounding first as young girls, our bodies smooth and unselfconscious; becoming maidens; becoming mothers; becoming crones, our hair graying, our hands becoming dry and wrinkled, our wombs cycling with the moon; each of us becomes the archetypal maiden, mother, crone; as we embody each phase of womanhood, an energy body of each archetype forms in the center of the circle, a pulsing energy center into which we each send our personal energy which flows up from the earth, through our bodies, and into the center energy; that energy body becomes so strong that she holds us all in a safe and energetic web, a powerful strand connecting each woman to the center and to every other woman; this energy center creates a resonating and pulsing container that surrounds us wherever we go that night, even as we go out to the gazebo, it moves with us—not a sphere, but a strong, silvery web, visible to those who have eyes to see energy. We are the Goddess. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Blessed Be!
* Guided meditation.
* Songs Return Again; Old Crone of Mystery, The Dark, Sacred Mother, Earth My Body
* We’ll have a special, short check-in: I’ll prepare a card to pass around. Possibly:
o Name I’d like to be called tonight (could be a new crone phase name, even for those who are young)
o Name of my mother and her mother (3 phases of womanhood—me, mother, grandmother)
o One word I associate with cronedom
* craft/art project.