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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Winter Solstice

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
All Time Is Now (Happy Yule!)

Dear Moon Muser,

As I write to you (3rd version is the charm) in the complete darkness this morning due to a power outage at the exact moment of starting (a sign!) I just knew I needed to send this version of my museletter to you.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Winter Solstice

The longest night gifts us with time to enter the darkness, fully. We hold our breaths with nature, where life is suspended, waiting in extremis. The stillness behind action gathers as we empty and trust in our renewal. What will you give/lose to the night? 

Death is a metaphor; learn to keep dying. The old symbol systems are dissolving at our feet. We need a new language to speak to the crisis of denial and despair. Imagine new models of love, work, health, education, security. Claim your inner resources, and fasten your seat belt. Like Copernicus, we're engaged in a cultural rescue attempt—we're not the center, but one species among millions. Like Cassandra, we shake others awake from the slumber overtaking them. We've got to see through the assumptions and fears, awaken to the warning signs of a world slipping away—in fire, in water, in oru human collusion, in all directions. Our stories close their circle to enfold us. All the old laws are thrown into the cauldron of Solstice, as we embrace the ground of what death doesn't touch. 

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A Winter Solstice Tale: Ereshkigal and Our Beauty and Wounding

On the longest night of the year, in the thick of the mysteries of the sacred dark, turn your mind to the Great Below and the fearsome voice of Ereshkigal:

“I am the still, held breath of the dark that precedes the dawn.
I am the hands of the Earth that cup the seeds of new life.
I am the dark powers that pulse within the fleshy matter of your body.
I am the death that promises rebirth, and the kiss that awakens you from your death slumber.
I am the keeper of the lost parts of your soul, and of secrets that can set you free.”

Inanna turned Her mind to the Great Below and Her Goddess sister Ereshkigal. She surrendered everything, even Her life, to the Underworld mysteries of death and rebirth. And through these mysteries, Inanna was transformed into Her full Goddess presence and power.

As terrifying as this journey may seem, know that its rewards are immeasurable. On this darkest of nights, the seeds of brilliant new beginnings, within and without, are stirring from their death sleep, ready to return from the darkness to the light.

Be brave, follow in Inanna’s footsteps. Make this conscious descent, stripping yourself bare of your worldly masks and illusions, and habits of belief, thought and action that stand between you and your truest, most beautiful potential. Do these things and Ereshkigal will grant you entry to Her realm and help you discover the seeds of your new beginning and the way forward to the soul-based life you long for.

Ereshkigal does not rise from Her throne as you enter Her inner sanctum. She is dressed in a red velvet sheath that molds itself to Her voluptuous, curvy form, with a silver circlet as a crown and silver snake bangles on Her ankles and wrists. A smoky heat and feral power rises from Her amber skin and strong, bare limbs, marking Her as a dangerous, commanding being that could easily reduce you to ashes. With an imperial scrutiny, She pierces through your outer veneer into the core of your being. There is no hiding in Ereshkigal’s realm.

Hold your own under Ereshkigal’s probing, black-eyed stare, and stay in your center and power. As formidable as She appears, Ereshkigal’s intention is to help you, not to harm you, though She will ask much of you in service of your greater becoming.

“I know why you are here,” Ereshkigal says, “You have dared to stand before my throne in the Great Below because you seek the miracle of my rebirth magic in your own life and journey of soul, where new beginnings emerge from death and darkness. But be warned, there is a price to be paid for so potent a magic. As the new dawn is born from the darkest night, so too the beautiful new beginnings you desire emerge from the depth of your wounding.

“Long has been the dark night of soul of your human species. Long have you done great harm to each other, and to the good green Earth. Long have you run from the pain and sorrow of this grievous wound. Whatever personal wounding you carry is a reflection of this greater harm.

“But all is not gloom. Nothing lasts forever. The dark night of soul for you and your human kin is ending. A new dawn beckons for those brave enough to dare the rebirth magic of my Underworld realm. As a reward for your bravery, I will show you what you seek.”

Ereshkigal leaves Her throne and circles around you. Her movements are sinuous and creature-like, and Her nostrils flare as She sniffs the air, seeming to take your measure from the scent-signature emanating from your form.

“However you have learned to deny and hide from your wounding will not serve you in your pathwork with me,” Ereshkigal whispers in your ear, “I strip you of these things so you can see the truth that is your life and your world, though you travel my ways by your own freewill, and I never ask more than what you are able to bear.”

She presses Her hands, firm and hot, into the front and the back of your mid-torso. Your mind and body become still, silent, empty. Whatever you think you know, think you are, think you want, vanish. There is only the pulsing, fleshy darkness of your inner landscape and the pulsing, potent darkness of Ereshkigal outside and inside of you.

“Where you find your wounding, you also find your beauty,” She says, “When you show up to your pain, you also remember your joy. In stepping into the fullness of your life story, you shed a smallness of being for a bigness of presence and power.”     

As Ereshkigal withdraws Her hands, something passes through your skin. She uncurls Her fingers and two shining seeds rest within Her open palms.

“These are the seeds of your beauty and wounding that are waking within you,” She says, “Within their compressed interior are the makings of a bright new beginning — a magic that can heal your soul, brewed from the illuminating meeting of your beauty and wounding. You cannot reclaim one without the other.”

Ereshkigal turns your hands palm upwards and places the warm, pulsing seeds within their cupped interior.

“These seeds come with challenge and choice,” She says, “You can take them inside of you and then change will come. Or you can cast them back into the dark. But to no avail, because change will still come. What is waking in you will not let you rest until you have taken the next step closer to the soul-based life you are meant to live, and the new dawn waiting to be born from your inner darkness into the sunlit world.”

The darkness around you begins to lighten as the longest night gives way to the new dawn. Ereshkigal and Her realm grow fainter and fainter until they disappear altogether. Yet the power of Her presence and words remain, beckoning to you from the shining seeds.   

One more time, be brave. Raise your hands to your lips and swallow the magic of these seeds whole. Take them inside of you and feel the stirrings of a new dawn within your gestating interior. Though you cannot know where these seeds will lead you in the months to come, you have dared the Great Below and claimed its powerful rebirth magic as your own.  You have taken the next step into the soulful life that is yours to live and in the weaving of a new-made world.  

Artwork: Julie Dillon

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Building Your Witchy Community, Even in a Solitary Time

This is the first time in fifteen years that I will not be able to host my beloved annual Winter Solstice Shindig and I must be frank: I’m bummed. However, that does not mean I won’t still enjoy a great meal with my constant companion, light a bunch of candles, meditate, and raise a glass of vino while reveling in my umpteenth viewing of the musical version of “Scrooge,” starring Albert Finney (available for free viewing on YouTube, BTW). Hands down, this version of Dickens’ classic tale of the old miser and his redemption features the best depiction of The Ghost of Christmas Present EVER. He is the living embodiment of the Holly King in my eyes, and man would I want to party with that guy– especially as depicted in the cheery ditty in the film, “I Like Life.” For more notions on a liberal Yuletide spirit, check these out.

Just because we may be feeling more cut off from our loved ones this year or may only be able to have virtual or limited contact with them, doesn’t mean those relationships are lessened, or any less important. As I learned during my conversation with our third “Women Who Howl at the Moon” guest, Anne Newkirk Niven, these bonds are more vital than ever now.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Forgiving Yourself

First, a resource article aboutforgiving yourself for the holidays by Jennifer Louden:b2ap3_thumbnail_November-2016-003.JPG

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Winter Solstice: A Gathering of Posts

It's December already (how did that happen?) which means we're moving inexorably toward Winter Solstice where I live in the northern hemisphere. In Modern Minoan Paganism, our celebration of Midwinter involves several different layers of myths and practices. Since I've written about this festival a number of times already, I thought I would gather up all the posts here along with a little explanation.

First, a few introductory thoughts from the section about Winter Solstice in Labrys & Horns: "This festival has two layers in MMP, one that focuses on our Sun goddess Therasia and one that centers around Rhea and her Divine Child. In both cases, the central symbolism is that of birth and rebirth, of the old cycle ending and a new one beginning. Minoan civilization lasted for many centuries, and during that time religion changed and grew. Like the Egyptians, the Minoans tended to simply add new ideas, gods, and celebrations on top of what was already there instead of substituting the new ones and removing older ones. So over time, Minoan religion became a lot more complicated, with multiple reflections of the same ideas throughout the sacred year. We’ve included some of these nuanced layers in our sacred calendar because they have meaning for us as modern Pagan practitioners."

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

 Fall autumn leaves Free stock photos in JPEG (.jpg) 1764x1297 format for  free download 688.85KB

One by one, the autumn leaves are letting go in the northern hemisphere and floating from their summer homes on high branches and falling to the cooling Earth who now tilts toward the contemplative season of Winter. But what about us? Many Americans, and people the world over, are not gently falling from one home to be cradled in another in the natural cycles of nature like the autumn leaves are, but feel harshly tumbled in a time of economic hardship and health fears because of the pandemic.

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