Thoughts on Midwinter solstice
Mid winter is a difficult time for many, for many different reasons. For me if I put aside the never-ending reminders that it has become a time for families to be together, something impossible for me in the circumstances, I think the difficulty is in what the midwinter solstice represents, how it allows us to interpret the shortest day and longest night and of course the change in direction towards more light and warmer days.
The two solstices have a feeling about them, a sort of stillness where the universe, having come to the end of range, holds it breath, hesitates before moving back in the opposing direction. Now yes, I know at the solstice is a local phenomenon, earth bound and experienced differently in the two hemispheres but we are not considering cosmology here but how this local turning of the wheel expresses its self to our limited senses and intuition. And remember everything is connected, everything impacts and guides the path of everything else, so a local phenomenon, a local point of inflection can, and does have universal impacts.
So, for me and I can only speak for myself of course, how do I experience this feeling?
Well, it is as a moment of stillness, but also of danger.
Why danger? Well I feel, sense, the solstice as being a turning point, a point where at the summer solstice the energy, the being, of the wheel of the year is at it most expended. It is balancing on an edge and like any balance it can fall, with unknown consequences
At midwinter, it different. That same energy and being is at it least extended, it is at its most inactive, conserving its energies. In this state the danger is that it will not raise its self and begin the up hill struggle towards the light and heat of the summer. The danger is that the being of the wheel of the year will settle into that torpor and the winter of our souls will remain forever. It is a bit like the story of Persephone where she has to return to the underworld every year for a time, and it it then that the winter comes. What if she were to decide not to return to the upper world, the world of men?
And to me that is the danger this time of year represents. There is a feeling that perhaps the wheel will not begin its long journey up towards the light, that it will stay at its lowest point and we will be trapped in a never-ending winter of the soul.
In years gone past the people of this land would gather together to witness the mid-winter sun rise, but is it more than that, was there a sense, did they understand the danger? Perhaps it wasn’t so much a simple witnessing of the turning of the year but of a need to be there to will it on, to lend the universe their energy to help it make the turn and begin the climb back to the light.
Now many will say, the universe doesn’t need our help, the solstice is just an astronomical event and the days will begin to get longer and the temperatures rise towards summer without our help, and that’s fine.
But if nothing else I feel that there is a need in us to not sit by and just let things happen and hope for the best. There seems to be a deep seated human need to be in control, to be doing something to make a difference. It is this I think that draws us to the solstices and is possible the most powerful aspect of our witnessing and celebrating the solstice. We may not be able to influence the astronomical cycle, but in taking a stand and being there we can, and do, influence ourselves.
By taking that positive action to help bring back the Sun, unneeded and irrational as it may be, we are acting in a positive way and actions drive thoughts and feelings which in turn drive beliefs. We are building in ourselves a positive set of thoughts and beliefs and when enough of us think, act and believe positively we can change the world, and who know maybe even the universe.