This is the third week of a the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. A candle wheel (4 candles with something like evergreen surrounding/at center) is suggested as a centering support. You can join in at any time by just working with the theme of the week. And you are invited to join the e-retreat in progress for support in tending the season with daily emails and weekly virtual circles. The ritual continues next week with a post on Monday with ritual ideas for Solstice week.
Dark comes to us faithfully each night when the day retires. It is a daily presence, though one more often ignored than noted in our electric age. When we dare to surrender to the dark, however, we can touch its power and reclaim our relationship with its nurture.
Celtic poet and philosopher John O’Donohue writes of the dark in his Eternal Echoes:
Though you live and work in the light, you were conceived and shaped in darkness. Darkness is one of our closest companions. It can never really surprise us; something within us knows the darkness more deeply that it knows the light. The dark is older than the light. In the beginning was the darkness. The first light was born out of the dark.
Yes, the dark is the tomb that receives us at the end of life, but equally true is that the dark is the womb from which we are born and re-born.
From the Gaian Tarot
When we fully enter this season of long nights, we are surrounded by this dark’s paradoxical powers of both life and death. As we come into this embrace, we remember on some deep level that the dark is the place of our beginnings. Then we can flow forward reminded of our own practice with and power to:
- trust in the renewal of the dark;
- be part of the mysterious cycle of Life-Death-Life;
- accept the invitation to travel another circuit of our life’s spiral in its surprising unfolding,
In this third week of our Waiting with the Dark, we stand grounded in the joy ignited by our elemental gratitudes, supported by our ancestors, and entwined with the dark power that springs from within and without. We are prepared to pass through a gateway that will lead us into deepest dark in the time before Solstice. This week we light four candles and blow two out, creating that gateway.
Inspiration from Sacred Images
Tarot, oracles, or any source of sacred images helps to meet the guardians at the gateway, to learn their lessons, to receive their support. As you sit with your two candles lit, you may pull or select two cards from a Tarot or oracle deck to receive messages from these guardians.
The first guardian has a message for you of a lesson to learn necessary for your re-birth. The second has a message of support being sent to you as you enter deep dark.
Weave their messages together and cross under the archway of their wisdom. (The Dark Goddess Tarot does have special gifts to offer in this regard. In the little booklet that comes with the deck, Ellen Lorenzi-Prince gives voice to the Goddesses with messages that I call koans, brief sayings that contain deep wisdom and invite further meditation.)
The 2014 Guardians drawn from The Dark Goddess Tarot were Ixchel who presides over waters of re-birth and Tiamat who presides over waters of surrender. They are essential guides for this time of year.
There is no end to death.
There is no end to birth.
And what has been lost, lives still in the dark,
waiting for its moment
waiting for its form
into which to be re-born.