This is the fourth week of a the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice – arriving on Friday! – as its hinge. Our work this week is prepare for the Solstice by making sure you have released what you do not want to bring into the next circuit of the solar year. Those following the daily emails on the e-retreat have already completed a cycle of release and renewal, but Solstice week is a fine time to follow the prompts below for release and renewal.
Why fear ye the Dark Queen, oh men?
She is your renewer.
We arrive at the darkest time of the year. In Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon, these short days of the solar year mirrors the dark moon time of the lunar cycle. We can follow the moon literally in its moon-thly permutations and also adapt its lessons and rituals to other times when the same energy is needed. These days just before the Solstice are a good time to cultivate the dark moon’s gifts of release and re-birth. This work then invites the Solstice Seed of the New to emerge in your life as the Light returns anew.
I see the work of release and re-birth in the moon-thly cycle as flowing in four (not cleanly linear) phases:
RELEASE – Recognize Death: Loss is a presence in our lives. We make plans and they are not realized. We lose jobs and favorite jewelry. Our bodies change as we age. Physical death claims our loved ones. To ignore loss requires a barricade of psychic energy be built between us and reality. Maintaining the barricades drains energy away from the movement toward new life. The first phase of renewal is to dare to acknowledge what is dead in your life, what is unrealized, what you want to or must release.
RENEW – Honor Grief, Practice Purification: The feelings and changed realities that flow from the encounter with Death call to be honored. Let your tears flow. Scream out into the dark night. Burn what no longer serves. Bury broken bits in the earth. No need to think too much about what to do. Rather be led by your emotions and instincts. The dark of the night helps you follow your wild nature to truly encounter death. (Of course, do this safely. We’ll ask for spiritual support to travel with us in our ritual. If you think you also need physical support, ask a friend to be with you or do your ritual with a group.)
REST – Let the New Gestate: You have worked hard and now rest is your reward. It is easy to ignore this phase in our busy world, but it holds the purpose of the whole process as well as its greatest gift. This is where new life emerges. The Death experience and your grief rituals are compost for a new seed to be planted in the womb of the new moon dark.
WISH – Communion with the Seed: Sit with your Solstice Seed of the New to come to know it. Yes, it comes from you, but it is born of a mysterious process that opens up new potential. The seed may want to reveal new gifts, dreams, desires, or directions to you. Delight in finding them. Let yourself wish for how you would like to see this seed grow.
You can use phases above for reflection without use of cards, but I have found the Tarot helpful for connecting with that which is Greater Than to be guided through this dark moon time. There are no limits to what this Greater than might be. The Dark Goddess Tarot is, of course, a wonderful source for connecting with the Divine Feminine (and the source of the images above).You can pull by chance or choice a Goddess to be with you in the Dark. If you are not using the Dark Goddess Tarot (or one with Divine figures on all 78 cards), then I suggest that you pull a card from the Major Arcana.
This ritual time brings us from the last days of Waiting with the Dark into the celebration of the Solstice.
Start of the Week (Monday): Light one candle and invite one Guide / Dark Goddess to lead you through this week. Spend some time making your requests for help and support from your Guide.
The Days Before the Solstice (Tuesday – Thursday): You light no candles but let the Dark and your Guide help you through release and renewal (as described above). Depending on your schedule you may want to give a theme such as Release or Renewal to each day.
On the Solstice (Friday): Let yourself rest. Go out and play with others. Light as many candles as you wish. Attend a bonfire. Quiet yourself and make your first connection to the Solstice Seed of the New. Don’t do too much meaning making around the Seed on this day, just admire it and let it enter your heart.
A Day or Two After the Solstice (Saturday – Sunday): Keep lighting candles and basking in their light. Spend time with your Seed and meet its invitations, challenges, and gifts. Make your wishes for the coming season of the Light’s return or for the year. Write them down for later review and reflection. Keep your Seed card out where you can see it through the end of the year, and be open to new messages emerging
Things you might like to know ….
- Yes, the images are from the Dark Goddess Tarot: Death-La Santa Muerte; Renewal – La Llorona; Rest – Nut; and Wish – Lady of the Lake.
- The opening quote is from Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon.
Enjoy your winter celebrations! The Descent and Return of the Light seasonal ritual will continue in January with Tending the Returning Light. We’ll be adding more candles each week in our ritual to call back the light. Registration will open for that on December 26th.