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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in winter

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating Colour

The grey skies and the angle of the sun in a British January often conspire to wash the colour out of the landscape. Whatever colour remains, that is, after the leaves come down, and the grass dies back. Sometimes we get frost and snow – pretty at first but rapidly greying as well. Our winters tend to lack visual drama. What we get instead is drab, and demoralising. This is why celebrating colour in January is so very important.

There are of course brighter days, when the lower angle of the sun can produce surprising effects. Intensely bright blue skies are always possible. I walked on Christmas day this year, and the combination of cloud and low light conspired to create soft light, filling the woods with unexpectedly warm tones. When there’s any kind of decent daylight, it is important to get out there and experience it, especially if you are someone prone to winter blues.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Gaia's Fires in the Cold of Winter

The Solstice is upon us and the chill of Winter is reaching deeply into bone. This year, in particular, is one that has tested the boundaries of cold and feeling isolated in a vast tundra of unknowing”ness”. Things change from season to season and in the never ending cycle that is life itself, Gaia remains steadfast and strong in offering up her body as our home and our refuge as Her fires burn brightly. 

Even though I know this to be true, the memory of her fires fades as the Light of the Solstice returns and Summer takes hold. But now, this is the time of remembering as the nights have grown longer and the cold seeps in, and I feel a chill that cannot be heated by physical warmth. This is a cold that holds the space of awaiting the stoking of the inner fires that resonate with that of Gaia and fuel the yearning, to once again, be held in her embrace. 

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Today, I am a Flamekeeper of Brighid

 The longest night is upon us. For three short days, we have watched the watery sun rise and set in the same place on the horizon, barely skimming the treetops at its highest point, filmed over by hazy clouds. This morning, it was impossible to tell just when the sun had risen, and indeed even though it has been up for half an hour, it's just as dark as before, with heavy overcast skies letting in only a small amount of light. I lit a candle in my lantern dedicated to Brighid just as the sun rose somewhere behind the clouds, and in Her name I lit my solstice flame. The candle's flame burns very low, just barely alight as it struggles amidst a pool of wax and an insufficient wick. There is the tiniest amount of light at the tip, with a small blue aura beneath. I look at it even as I type these words, and its struggle portends much to come.  

It has been a difficult year for many. Across the Western world, we have been rocked by unprecedented political change. There is not much hope for the future. Political leaders do not have the common good in mind, and greed runs riot. Things have not changed for the better. Across the globe, war, strife and unrest rage, with millions of innocent beings suffering.  And there is still more darkness to come.  

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The Rebirth Magic of the Dark Goddess: Four Teachings for the Winter Season

Winter is the season of the Dark Goddess and Her rebirth magic.

Beneath Nature’s outer state of dormancy and death, new life gestates in the dark belly of the Earth. On the Winter Solstice, the new light of the solar year is reborn from the darkest night.  So too we reclaim and rebirth our true beauty from the depths of our wounding. These are the Dark Goddess mysteries that call to us in the winter season.

The Dark Goddess’s wisdom teachings reach out to us from the ancient Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descent to the Underworld realm of Her sister, Ereshkigal. Together, these sister Goddesses gift us with the forgotten ways of the Dark Goddess’s rebirth magic.

Here are four Dark Goddess teachings to guide your personal rebirth magic in the winter season.

1. Turn your mind to your inner darkness to seek your personal rebirth magic.

Rebirth is a special kind of transformational magic that can heal your soul and make your life anew. It doesn’t come from an outside source, nor from the things you already know and understand about yourself and your world. Instead it emerges from the lost, forgotten and denied parts of your Self and your life story, secreted away in the dark folds of your inner landscape.

Inanna turns Her mind to the Great Below. She chooses to leave the land above to descend into the Underworld realm of the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. She steps beyond Her known, secure world in search of the transformation that awaits Her in the vast unknown of the sacred dark.

The Dark Goddess is Mistress of the sacred dark that exists both in the greater world, and in the depths of your inner landscape. Here you can discover the very stuff of your rebirth magic: the lost stories of your beauty and wounding, as well as the hidden treasures of your dormant gifts and potential.  

Be brave. Turn your mind to your inner landscape. Follow in Inanna’s footsteps, and descend into the vast unknown of the sacred dark within. The healing and transformation you seek awaits you there.

2.  Commit to show up, empty and open, to the raw, unedited truth that is your life.

There’s no hiding, running away or distraction when you descend into your inner darkness in search of your rebirth magic. An empty, open state of being is an essential requirement in your rebirth pathwork with the Dark Goddess.

To enter Ereshkigal’s realm and descend to Her throne room in the depths of the Underworld, Inanna must give up Her royal accoutrements. This is the law of the Great Below. Inanna passes through seven gates; at each gate something is taken away, until naked and humbled, She stands before the mighty Ereshkigal.

The Dark Goddess doesn’t ask these things of Inanna, or of you, because She is cruel or domineering. She knows that you can’t learn, heal or grow when you’re burdened with a busy life, and stuff-filled mind. She strips you down so you can be present to the greater truths and possibilities within you.

Be still, empty, open. Know that when you work with the Dark Goddess, She will demand much of you. She will take away your masks, pretensions, judgements and anything else that stands between you and your work of soul. You’re the master of your own journey, working at the pace and level of depth that are right for you, and ensuring your self-care and self-responsibility in your spiritual pathwork. But, step by step, healing moment by healing moment, the Dark Goddess will return you to the raw, unedited truth that is your life, and the inner space of your deepest transformation.

3. Sometimes something has to die, to end, for something new to be reborn.

Decline, death, suffering, wounding – these are parts of our human experience, and the reality that governs all things of the living Earth. Try as we might, we can’t escape them. Instead, we need to embrace these aspects of our mortal existence as our allies and guides in our rebirth pathwork of healing and transformation.

Ereshkigal takes Inanna’s life. Inanna makes this ultimate sacrifice in service of Her greater becoming. This too is the law of the Great Below.  

Both Goddesses understand that suffering and sacrifice are the price of admission to the Underworld, and to life itself, and that the old self must die for something new to be born in its place. These are the deepest roots of the Dark Goddess’s rebirth magic.

Be wise and let your unfolding life lead your soul work. Don’t expect your spiritual pathwork to be pretty or easy. There’s a sacred purpose in everything that comes your way, even those death-like endings, and wounding experiences. Rebirth magic will take you to the deepest roots of your soul work. It will ask you to die to your old self, over and over again. But trust that something new will always arise in its place.

4. Rebirth is the Dark Goddess’s gift and promise.

To travel the ways of the Dark Goddess isn’t for the fainthearted. It requires bravery, commitment, wisdom and resilience, as well as a high level of self-care and self-responsibility. The Dark Goddess is a demanding taskmistress, but She gives so much in return. 
 
Ereshkigal grants Inanna the ultimate gift for Her suffering and sacrifices — a new life. Inanna is reborn, transformed into Her full beauty and power: Goddess of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld. Inanna accepts Her death, trusting that rebirth will come, because this is the way of Ereshkigal. 

Inanna knows these things. She descends into the Great Below and abides by its laws by Her own freewill and choice. She stands before Ereshkigal humbled but undiminished, still a Goddess in Her own right.  She surrenders to death and is reborn into a more powerful, whole version of Her Self.  This is the Dark Goddess’s gift and promise to anyone who braves the Great Below and Her ways of rebirth.

In the winter season, with the powers of death and darkness reaching their peak on the Winter Solstice, the Dark Goddess calls you to Her rebirth magic. Like Inanna, you get to choose whether to say yes to the ways of the Dark Goddess, and let Her guide you into the depths of your inner darkness where your rebirth magic awaits you. Though the work may seem hard and daunting, remember that the gifts are immeasurable, because what is reborn is nothing less than your true, beautiful, powerful Self.  

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December Check-In

Hey.  How are you doing?  Are you taking care of yourself?  Are you feeling okay?

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Winter Hibernation

In the old days, people would hibernate somewhat in the winter.  Tools would be repaired, activities went from tending the earth to resting.  Animals were tended but outside work was minimal mostly because the weather prohibited it.  Though there were worries about food and fuel lasting through the dark times, it was a quieter more restful time of the year.

Now we don't have the luxury of staying indoors by a warm fire.  We also don't have to worry about food or fuel being scarce.  The frenetic pace of life continues even when we get a snowstorm dropping inches of snow on us.  We wait until the plows dig us out and continue with our lives.  Rarely do we take a day or week or more to stay at home, cuddle in and ignore the fast pace life we normally have.  

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating winter trees

For those of us who live in landscapes with deciduous trees, winter creates opportunities to appreciate them in different ways from summer. The loss of leaves means that tree shapes become truly visible. This is especially true of field trees, whose solitary positions make them easier to appreciate. Field trees have much rounder forms than their woodland counterparts, but in the woods, winter reveals the patterns of branches and the sky above.

Trunks and bark become more visible in the winter – and there’s such an array of textures, subtle colours and surfaces. Fungi on trees are more present at this time of year, and resident moss and lichen is easier to spot. I’ve blogged over at Druid Life about my favourite winter tree exposure.

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