Greetings everyone, winter solstice is here. Long dark nights and short, dusky days. Biting cold and damp chills pervade. This….this is the shortest day and the longest night and here is where Persephone, deep in her Underworld home, takes with her the fruits and seeds of a fertile season as we have moved into dormant stasis. However, nothing is ever truly dormant, for there is life even in stillness.
As a Goddess, Persephone's personal journey can be seen as the epitome of balance between night and day, dark and light. Kidnapped by Hades and taken into the Underworld, it was said that she grieved so deeply for her previous life that she did not eat from the moment of her abduction. Moreover her mother Demeter, Goddess of earthly fertility, refused to allow anything to flourish above ground whilst her daughter was captive in her underworld prison. Zeus, king of the Gods, seeing the earth moving deeper into famine and barrenness, relented to spare further hardship and allowed Persephone to return to her mother and her upper world home. Perspehone, like Eve before her, Pandora, and a thousand other curious women, had eaten of the fruits of her dark home (pomegranate seeds) thus binding her to 'suffering,' and tying her to her underworld life for at least half of the year.
I love the symbolism in this mythology; I grew up on it. As a child, my mother read Greek mythology to me at bedtime; it became the essence of my childhood, a dreamlike mystical place where dark demons battled gods of light and women and men danced with lust, greed, envy, fear, and pleasure, love, honour, allegiance, and more.
At winter solstice, one of my favourite times of year and one that for me, holds so much more spirit and soul than Christmas, we are called to really enter the darkness and accept it. When we reject our darkness and our shadows, they have control over us. Similarly when we dive in and forget how to swim through it, we risk becoming stuck in it, reaffirming our pain, over and over and over. But what purpose is there to this life we live if not to find ultimate peace and harmony in being here? Why wait until we shuffle off this mortal coil to realise we've blown it by forgetting how simple it can be? Surely being human is about the remembrance that light must always follow darkness and thus darkness must inevitably follow light. Just as the sun rises and sets, as the dawn breaks and dusk brings night, so we too must hold faith that in our darkest moments, light WILL return as we mirror the patterns in nature and in the evolution of life.
It can be hard to hold that faith when in our darkest hours; we become attached to our suffering and fear takes hold, the ego gets busy, the monkey mind starts to convince us that we are alone in our pain, that no-one else understands. The danger is that in becoming over identified with it, we create more of the same and become locked in an endless Sisyphusian cycle of repetition. We become gracious hosts to our very own self fulfilling prophecies; a sad table to feast at for sure, and so it is here at this pauper's seat when we must call upon our inner Kali, our Baba Yaga, our wildest, most primal selves, or risk becoming lost in that sea of suffering, lost in an endless Samsara of pain and repeating patterns.
At this pivotal point of the year, as light returns, so we must understand our own cycles and stories. Our personal mythology must become alchemically transformed into gold, or it will surely consume us as winter and summer merge to become one endless torment, the contrast of light and dark becomes meaningless. Every one of us has some kind of cross to bear, each of us knows separation, each of us has known elation, for the human condition is a universal one.
This morning I awoke in the middle of a strong dream. In my dream I saw a man, a south American or Mexican man, standing over me pulling energetic cords out of my throat. He was cutting these ties and explaining to me what needed to be cleared, he was also teaching me the importance of resting and clearing the energy field when working this way. In other words, we can get help when needed and we are also responsible for taking care of our own needs. Community and self sufficiency; paradox in perfect harmony!
My invitation for the Solstice is that we all remember to return to the still point in the centre, the heart of our experience of a human lifetime, right here, right now. We choose in every moment how we respond to things. For me, I'm starting to look at the energy of resistance and what it creates to engage with this. Choosing instead, to call upon 'flow' and to move like water around a perceived obstacle or source of conflict, to respond instead with compassion, kindness and love whilst coming over and over into breath, self knowledge and timeless awareness.
There is an island…I'll meet you there xx
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