2019 Winter Solstice Retreat Time: We Begin in Darkness


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

As we do each year, we begin the first half of the Solstice e-retreat Descent and Return of the Light by Waiting with the Dark. Weekly themes stay the same – cultivating gratitude, connecting with the ancestors, opening to dark nurture, release and renewal – because the Sun is consistent in its movements. But the Moon travels a different path each year, shifting through dark and light on its own 28 day cycle. As constant Sun and shifting Moon dance together, each season flows with a unique energy. And for those who tend the sacred at this time, a special gift awaits in the unique mix of dark and light each year. 

For the 2019 season, we begin in deep dark. 

The first day of this retreat-in-everyday life is the last day of the lunar cycle stamped with the initiating energy of the Tarot’s archetype of Death 

Death’s appearance is a call to transform that which can no longer exist in its current state. Even when we desire such a change – and certainly when we haven’t asked for it – bringing forth the new is a birthing process filled with messy struggle and an effort that tears us apart. And much of true transformation is beyond our control, requiring us to surrender to that which is Greater Than ourselves.

From Tarot Roots of Asia

The first night of the e-retreat when the moon is dark in the house of Death offers us a place to make that surrender. Death can receive anything we pass into its being. Death receives our internal blocks to making desired change, the wounds we carry from change thrust upon us, our fears. Death composts all we surrender and turns it into the soil of the next becoming. 

Beginning the season with such surrender opens us wide to receive the gifts of the waiting, helps us adjust our eyes to see in the dark. 

On Day 2 of the retreat we begin a new lunation stamped with the initiating energy of the Tarot’s Temperance. The great work of this archetype is taking two different elements and combining them in a way to create a third something that is entirely new, nurturing, necessary. 

The whole of the 8 weeks of the Solstice-hinged Descent and Return of the Light tempers Dark and Light. During the weeks of Waiting with the Dark we focus on coming into a better relationship with the Dark because repair is needed here. Our modern lives leave little space for darkness. The writer Clark Strand in his beautiful Waking Up to the Dark reminds us of a better balance: 

The daylight realm is the place of fulfillment, destiny, the desire to grow, discovery and progress, to be useful. But the dark is the place of surrender, mystery, depth, the dead, the place to be part of eternity without need of judgement of your place in the sun-kissed realms. 

The December full moon that comes overnight on the 11th – 12th (and is exact at 12:12am ET on the 12th – that’s a lot of 12s!) offers us a special guide for our tempering work: the Virgin of Guadalupe. Like other Divine Feminine figures that come to us through Catholicism (I’m thinking especially of the Celt’s Brigid who was both Goddess and Saint), her image and attributes are a synthesis of Christian and earlier indigenous traditions. With her dark skin illuminated by a mandoral of light, she mirrors both the Aztec Mother Goddess Tonantzin and European images of the Virgin Mary. While the Virgin of Guadalupe’s origins include cultural appropriation, Her true and loving Presence is inextinguishable. She emanates a power that is beyond control of human religious traditions. We can call on Her to aid us in our seeking during this season. 

Perhaps you will feel inspired to call on Her for guidance as we move into the deepest dark of the year. This year the Solstice on December 21 comes during the last days of the lunation. The nights will be very dark indeed, and here we will be able to surrender what we no longer need and do not want to carry into the coming year. 

All year long with each dark moon, we can add more to the compost with our surrender. With this work we are preparing inviting and fertile ground in which to plant our Solstice Seed of the New, that dream, image, mystery, or project we will tend until the Solstice return with the Sun next year. 

Please join us for this season’s journey to and out from the Winter Solstice! 

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