Updated: Jun 22, 2020
In holding vigil in this time of darkness, we’re reminded that we have our part to play in the Great Turning of the Wheel of Life; that we are in relationship with Life itself. We’re not supposed to just sit idly by in desperation. We are midwives to both the Light of the World, and to our own Light.
Dark of the Moon each Month
Each month we experience the Dark Moon phase of the Moon. It’s that short period of time between Her final waning and when She is again illuminated by the Sun. It’s a time of darkness and letting go, as well as a time of faith and preparation for the new beginnings that we can feel calling us forward. It's a time of ritual, when we set our New Moon intentions for the coming month.
At the Dark of the Moon each month, we simultaneously hold space for the mysteries of death and rebirth. We realise and honour how intimately these processes are entwined.
Winter Solstice: Dark of the Year
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we're approaching the Winter Solstice, ie: the shortest day and the longest night of our year. It's the Dark Moon phase of our entire yearly cycle. Instead of the Moon’s light waning, though, it is our Sun’s light that has waned. And the mysteries of death and rebirth that we're being asked to hold are on a far bigger scale than those at our monthly Dark Moon.
In the Great Wheel of the Year, the Winter Solstice is when we observe Yule.
All of Life depends on the Sun’s Light and warmth, so at this time of the year the ancients in colder climes waited with trepidation as the Sun got weaker and frailer … colder and darker. For many of our ancestors, it was the time of greatest danger, of longest hunger, and of bone-chilling cold. It was a time of death.
Deep in our ancestral memory, we remember a time when the Sun did not return from the darkness. We hold the collective memories of the great Ice Ages within us.
Even in a time of modern conveniences, with central heating and supermarket shelves brimming with food to ensure our survival throughout the dead of Winter, Winter Solstice can be a time of great fear and darkness for many ... especially for those who are intuitively, empathically connected with our ancestors and with the Earth Herself. The Sun symbolises our own Light, as well as our collective Light. At Winter Solstice, as the Sun weakens, many may feel the struggle for the continuation of Life, as though it were intimately their own.
What can we do at this sacred time when all seems bleak?
There are many traditions associated with Yule, but they primarily centre around a form of sympathetic magick, where we hold vigil all night long on the evening of the Solstice. As the old Sun slowly dies, the Goddess assumes Her role as Great Mother and prepares for labour, to birth the newborn Sun into the world.
Like the ancients before us, we are called to intentionally offer flame to flame, in direct relationship with Life itself! We hold lantern parades, and gather together to drum and dance around magnificent, communal bonfires. We kindle the fires and offer the Light of our hearts, our candles, our hearth fires, and our bonfires to strengthen the Great Mother and the Sun itself, in labour.
Heat to heat!
Light to light!
We offer our own Light to the Sun at Winter Solstice to ease His birth pangs, and to remind Him that he MUST be reborn!
We offer ourselves and our magick as midwives, to support the Sun in being reborn and rising again into our world!
(We offer our magick to our personal, individual Sun, as well.)
Through the longest night of the year, we anxiously await the news that both ‘Mother and Child’ are well. The Sun’s annual rebirth heralds the continuation of all Life on Earth. While Winter Solstice is a time of darkness and fear, it's also a time of faith and of magick. It's a time when we individually and collectively remember our power as midwives. And with the Sun’s blessed rebirth, it is a time of renewal and great celebration!
Our Modern World's Apocalyptic Myth
In our modern society, many of us fear that all of Life could soon be extinguished on our planet. We fear the end. Now, more than ever, remembering and embracing the sacred wisdom and traditions of our ancestors is vital - Yule, in particular.
Because Yule, itself, means ‘Wheel’. It refers to the Great Wheel of Life that perpetually turns and returns, returns, returns. Yule reassures us of Life's ability to renew itself, even from the apparent brink. We can trust Mother Nature's perpetual cycles of day & night; the monthly phases of the Moon; the ebb and flow of Her mighty tides; and our ever-changing seasons. They are as reliable & predictable as they are seemingly changeable.
As a culture, we've forgotten the cyclic nature of Life. We've forgotten that the out-breath is as important as the in-breath. We fear the dark of night and the cold stillness of Winter, instead of honouring them as a core part of the greater process. We resent their ability to interfere with our desire for bigger, greater, ever-growing productivity!
Our modern way of Life seeks to flatten everything to the same, controllable pattern. We use electricity, lights, and technology to eliminate the differences between day and night, and between the seasons. We eat oranges and avocados all year round, by shipping them to our shores from far away. We use medication to prevent people from journeying into their own personal darkness. We wake at 6:00 am in the dead of Winter and scurry to work and school, thanks to electric lights, alarm clocks, and a misguided allegiance to the Day and Summer parts of consciousness.
We try to insist that all of Nature maintain this panicked, frenetic pace of Life. We seek to impose our shortsighted, masculine Day consciousness on a much greater Being, denying half of Her existence and disrespecting Her sacred balance.
And when Life itself seemingly threatens to stop, we panic. We're so unfamiliar with Her natural cycles. We've forgotten Her wisdom and Her ways. We no longer trust Her. We arrogantly thought we'd 'defeated' Nature. In the Age of Enlightenment, science declared it had raised the Veil of Isis, and had conquered Nature's glory and wisdom. We thought we knew better.
But we NEED to remember (and to trust) the cyclic nature of Life - ever-changing, ever-returning.
We are wise to reconnect to the cycles of Life by celebrating the New and Full Moons each month, and the eight High Holy days throughout the year. This restores and anchors our faith in Life’s resilience. It guides us away from despair and hopelessness, and brings us back into right relationship with an ensouled Universe.
Yule reminds us that when things are at their bleakest, darkest point, and when we are perhaps without any hope at all, something shifts, the Wheel turns, and the Light returns! Life continues!
Importantly, in holding vigil in a time of darkness, we’re reminded that we have our part to play in the Great Turning of the Wheel; that we are in relationship with Life itself. We’re not supposed to just sit idly by in desperation. We are midwives to both the Light of the World, and to our own Light.
As Above, So Below.
We are significant. We are empowered. We are necessary.
Peace Juliette xo