Here in England, the winter solstice is tomorrow afternoon and as I collected the holly and ivy from a very frosty wood this afternoon to decorate the shrines in my home, I wondered, after such a hard year, how many of us will feel able to bring the child of promise to birth from ourselves. It is one thing to celebrate the return of the Sun’s warmth in the middle of the winter but how do we shed light on our own darkness and bring spring to our own winters?
Each year at this time, pagans celebrate the return of the Sun and in the western hemisphere in the middle of long dark cold nights, it is a welcome thought that the days will begin to grow longer and the warmth will begin to make its way back to our part of the world, even if it will take a while before we really notice it!
It is also most welcome to see the lights that we decorate our homes with as we journey home, the candles and fires we light within our homes and the desire to be with loved ones in the midst of the darkest part of the year.
For many people though, this year has been particularly harsh; not only have many lost jobs and homes, had pay cuts yet worked longer hours and struggled to find a positive way forward – there are those fighting a war in another country which will mean many families without their sons and husbands, wives and daughters maybe for Christmas, maybe forever.
For many there is no return of the Sun. It could be spring or summer, morning or afternoon but in some hearts there is only darkness. We cannot see beyond our own pain, loss and despair. The sun rises and it doesn’t promise change. Our pain remains the same. Our loss cannot be replaced. Sometimes we focus on who is to blame. Anyone but us. Sometimes we mourn, sometimes we rage and sometimes we give in and give up. It is a truth that some losses need a time to mourn and a time to rest in the dark before we can emerge again, reborn. Some sorrow requires more than time to recover from. But how long that takes us depends largely on how much we seek the light within. Without acceptance, forgiveness and understanding, we cannot bring our sun to birth. Without taking responsibility for our actions and allowing others their own responsibility – accepting the seasonal changes in our lives of birth and death and all the seasons in between becomes harder and the longer it is difficult, the less likely a rebirth will happen.
‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain’ is a quote by Vivian Greene springs to mind. That we should start learning to live with our sorrow, accept it and integrate it into ourselves, so that it becomes part of us but not who we are; that each day we take one step forward towards acceptance and understanding and seeking our inner light – our inner wisdom. That despite our loss and pain, we can still live and love, share our thoughts and our feelings, learn and grow and connect with others, the seasons and the earth we all share. And if we can still do all that, perhaps a little each day with a true heart – perhaps that is a path that can lead us back to our own rebirth.
When the sun rises on the solstice and the frost sparkles in its light, let us trust in the season and know that it cant rain all the time and that seasons will change, within and without – we just have to let them.