19 Days of Illuminated Darkness-Day Thirteen

Image: Ellen Vaman

The Light Within the Shadow of the Solstice
The Work of Self
This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post

For most of us the turning of the Greater Wheel to the Winter Solstice is one of welcoming the return of the Light of renewal and strength, the promise of increasingly longer hours of daylight and anticipation of warmer weather and a more outer world focused time. This change is subtle in physical form as this is also when the cold of the Winter  will remain for a few months more prompting us to retreat indoors as the early arrival of evening’s darkness envelopes and calls us into the warmth and light of home.

Each year, I do my work of Self, both within my Tradition (The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel) and personally to call forth this return of Light. And, I also find myself retreating more deeply into the shadows and taking refuge in its landscape of shadow; being intuitively drawn towards the deeper work of spiritual quickening. This is the energy of the Hermit Key of the Tarot (that I’ve shared in earlier posts) and my time to move into the darkened areas of my own inner landscape so that I may welcome and bring forth the Greater Light within. This is also the time of relying on my Shadow self to provide the necessary absence of light to guide me through those darkened paths in a constructive and informed way.

In all spiritual practice, the thought of the physical being holding the Inner Flame of Spirit or The Divine Spark of Light is offered up as a basic concept; although the semantics may differ. The way in which this Inner Light presents itself and interacts with conscious awareness may also have different ideology. And, the tools and methods used to quicken its energy may be worlds apart in intent and function, but the premise remains the same. In the space of our dark nature lay a light that is luminescent and brilliant that may be called upon to enliven and transform our spiritual and mundane pursuits. If we take it a step further, this transformation is the direct result of collaboration and embracing the dark and the light natures of our consciousness and using each as support and spiritual catalyst of the other.

This dark nature that I am referring to also has many names, functions and philosophies attached to it. I will simply call it the Shadow (Self). There is an inherent polarity in all things and this Shadow is that polarized image of our Light nature. I am intentionally not using words that are negative in connotation for the Shadow, because it is not anymore a negative aspect of our being than the Light filled self is. Both are states of being that are subject to all the permutations and scales of intensity and impact that any other state of being is. In reality, if we did not have the antithesis or opposite of something, how could we ever enjoy and fully embrace the thing that is being opposed? So, how can this Shadow state be used during the waxing of the Light and engaged to work co-creatively upon those parts of myself I Will to be quickened and primed in alignment with the increasing state of light?

Beginning steps and contemplative work..

Sitting quietly:

  1.  Think on all of those traits/qualities that you feel comfortable in displaying as who you are. How do each of these traits/qualities make you feel? Smile with each thing called up; this adds a kinesthetic quality for neural memory. Breathe into the ease of this gift of light.
  2. Now, take  deep breath and think on those traits/qualities that you hide from others. Those that make you feel dis-ease with yourself. What is your visceral reaction/ response to each that presents? Make note of how your body tenses and the kinesthetic energy that is patterned by this discomfort. Breathe into the difficulty of this acknowledgement of the shadow or hidden aspect of yourself. 
  3. Envision the co-mingling of these traits. The balanced expression of each in being lit or shadowed by the other. How is each modified? How do your feelings strengthen or soften from what is birthed anew?

In all likelihood, this exercise will feel like an inner battle with yourself. The you that wishes only to reveal to the world what you perceive as light and the you that knows a shadow is cast from that light. 

Tomorrow we will dig deeper into that battle and what can be conquered and what survives..

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19 Days of Illuminated Darkness-Day Twelve


A Point of Clarity (in the Storm)

Today’s post is a journey through a snowstorm. Find a quiet setting where you will not be disturbed and allow this pathworking to move through you…

A Point of Clarity

Please note that you will be redirected to my site on Bandcamp. Not enough memory on this page..

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19 Days of Illuminated Darkness: Day Eleven

We Are Waiting!

Breathe in the night knowing that there is a Light soon to be birthed in the darkness and we stand as co-creators; the Hermit soon to emerge from the slumber of unknowing….

Move slowly and
Speak not a word
And we may catch
A glimpse of HIM yet.

The night is dark
But I have seen the
Icy thread of HER cloak.

Crystal blue eyes and
Hair black as the midnight sky
Grace a face of pale beauty
Poised on a body that is tall and lithe.

She has etched the night sky with
Fingers long and fair painting starlight and
Holding the breath of new dawn
In HER hands’ cupped embrace.

SHE has embraced the world
In the longest of nights.
HER Promise held deep within.

The forest is hushed and white with snow
Ice crystals glisten round and all of life.

Patiently holds strong in stillness
And pause with anticipation of
Newly born hope and renewal.

We watch and wait in silence
The cold penetrating and deep
In its reminder that we are vibrant, alive, aware.

It is for us that this night returns as the
Wheel comes to rest in imbalance.

It is our yearning that calls us from our
Warmth and comfort to offer up
Adoration and honor to the Light that
Sustains and answers with flame.

We watch and we wait in silence.

The time is almost near
and our hearts beat in excitement,
attuned to the cycles that are eternal.
Stillness hangs heavy.

Softly, softly…
Crimson lips gently part and
SHE breathes an exhale of gentle release
As sun light stretches from its inner sleep.

The fiery fingers of new child’s grasp
Reaching out to experience, explore
and warm all within its reach.

The returning Light of the Solstice
Cries out anew, its sounds inaudible
To all but those who have silently
Waited in the darkness.

The Mother of Winter’s long cold night
Has called forth Her Child as the world
Awakens to the Promise of Sun King’s return.

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19 Days of Illuminated Darkness: Day Ten

The Lantern of Truth
Tarot Spread

Today’s post is a special Tarot spread that can be used anytime you are seeking deeper insight into how to stoke those fires of light that dispel the darkness and illuminate growth. It aligns with the six-pointed star that is held within the lantern of the Hermit. This being the product of the greater work of turning within and allowing to grow a light of consciousness that shines brightly in any circumstance and on all planes. I have also given a little hint as to the Qabalistic references of the card’s placements (not necessarily the traditional assignations :).

A Little Numerology:

The Hermit- Key IX

Nine (9) is the number of endings and beginnings and initiatory experience. This is the final single digit number that relates to the individual and unique “you”. Wherever nine occurs there is opportunity for growth; but, only if you willingly leave behind what serves no purpose towards your future growth.

The Star of the Lantern-VI

Six (6) is the harmonious elevation of three expressions of being. Two co-create and the resultant product is a third. This triune nature is one of pure creation and amplified x’s 2 gives the energy of polarity. This is the blueprint for creation that is diverse and can serve as a summation of all of its parts. In the model of the 6-pointed star there is an image of 2/triangles (3 parts), one point upwards in reception to the Divine and one pointing downward; acknowledgement that Spirit  has descent into the Manifest.

Seven Card Spread

The number Seven (7) is the outcome of the harmonious six of Descent into Matter. Seven offers the paths of exploration that will  provide deeper knowledge and greater learning from what has been grown. These seven cards offer the key to knowing more of yourself.

The Hermit Key is placed in the center and is YOU!

How To:

  • Use whatever deck you are comfortable with;
  • Set out a beautiful solid color cloth to lay the spread on to;
  • REMOVE the HERMIT-Key IX from the deck and place in the center;
  • Be sure to shuffle the remaining cards very well;
                               …..Then…
  • Take the deck in your hands and breathe and center yourself;
  • Set the intention of seeking the wisdom of finding the truth of your gifts (refer back to the numerology above as the support for this);
  • Set the intention of what is revealed to be used as the tools of birthing a light within that will herald the birthing of a new light at the Winter Solstice.

Card 1: Represents the strength of your Manifest form and its fullest potential.
QBL-Malkuth- The Foundation of Earth, the alchemical Elements and the Physical Form

Card 2: Represents how you will use that strength to create what you wish to out-picture. (The Darkness of Creation’s Womb)
QBL-Binah-The Understanding of the Creatrix and the Womb of First Beginnings

Card 3: Represents the action and energy needed to seed that creation. (Higher Will to Action)
QBL-Chokmah-The Wisdom of the Cosmos and the Seed that Emanates from the Limitless All

Card 4: Represents the image and plan for that creation. (Inspired Mind)
QBL- Hod-The Glory of Mind Inspired by Pure and Abstract Plan

Card 5: Represents where your passion can be stoked to refine what you have planned. (Inspired Heart)
QBL- Netzach-The Victory of Refinement and Balance through Mastery of the Intelligent Heart

Card 6: Represents the outcome and product of The Darkness of Creation’s Womb with your Higher Will to Action and the Manifest form guided by Inspired Mind and Heart.
QBL- Kether-The Crown of Creation and the Divine Shining in Brilliance and Awareness of SELF

Read more about the Qabalah..
Qabalah Bootcamp-Just the Basics
Qabalistic Journeys

Other Tarot Topics..
Tarot for Troubling Times

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19 Days of Illuminated Darkness: Day Nine

The Magician, The High Priestess and The Hermit

Today’s post looks at three cards of the Tarot-Major Arcana and how they may be used to allow you to reach behind (what has past of the Solar Wheel) and to bring it into the darkened light of the Winter Solstice.

The Summer and Winter Solstices stand as cross currents of opposition on the Witch’s Wheel. Opposition, not in the sense of negativity, but rather that of exerting a healthy resistance that enables each to bring to fruition their directive and goals. The Summer Solstice is designated as the longest day of light during the year. The sun has reached its peak and in the final hours (literally) of it commanding day’s hold, the resistance and polarized opposition of the Winter Solstice gives the dynamic that allows for extension and reach.

The Magician- The Summer Solstice

I am the master of two worlds
I am the conduit of Divine Inspiration and physical Desire
I have passed through the veil of the Fool
and have emerged transformed.

The perfect synthesis of As Above So Below
I am that which is attained at the end of Desire.

The Summer Solstice is the space of commanding all that has reached its prime state of brilliance to flow as above, so below. This is the energy of the Key 1 of the Tarot-The Magician. All mastery of the alchemical elements, the nature of manifestation and the workings of non-corporeal laws flow through the conduit of one who has come to the peak of acknowledging his/her own power. The red over cloak of the magician indicates the passion of action and movement. It is precisely this will to action that becomes the driving force behind growth. And, after all, the Summer Solstice is the splendor of flowering bursting ripe and full and just about ready to be harvested and picked.

The High Priestess – The Autumnal Equinox

I am the Middle Pillar
I am the essence of the Moon
And all her mysteries
Are mine to command.

I know the secrets of the Soul
And the ease of balance.

I hold the key to questions yet unasked
And I am the Gate to your Higher Self.

We move now to the bounty of the Autumnal Equinox, the second of the 3/harvests and an opportunity to pause, reassess and bring into temporary balance what will serve to become the heavier offering as the equanimity of the Equinox moves forward. The Light of day is beginning to dwindle and the weather and chill call you inside to gather with friends, family and “yourself”. This is the primer for what will become the Hermit of Samhain that will grow and continue the introspective journey of seeking the light. The High Priestess sits on the throne of the Middle Pillar. She is flanked on either side by the polarities of light and dark and holds steady the current and stream of mystery that draws you in for a closer look.  She is the Moon in all of its phases which provides the balance of scale that is held at the Equinox and the subtleties of ebb and flow as the Moon moves from one energy to the other as each phase is expressed. In the image I have chosen the High Priestess holds a skull, the container for the mind of humankind. She is, as the Magician has mastery over the above and the below, the feminine force that holds mastery over the within and without. Together as a flow from one to the other, Summer Solstice to Autumnal Equinox, they provide the recipe for change that calls upon all of the nature’s forces, both corporeal and non.

And, finally the Light that shines in the lantern of our Soul…

The Hermit

It burns too brightly
And I want only
To move within the
Folds of shadow and dark.

Prisms of metal and glass
Light reflected from
The hand that carved
The beauty of silent
Eternity’s Tempest.

From Samhain’s gate, as mid point between the equinox and solstice,  we emerge, each step taken a summation of the Magician’s Will to Action and the High Priestess’ revealing of the deeper mysteries. The Hermit has turned within and seeks the Light that animates and provides the focus for the descent of Sprit into matter. The Lantern held is the container for that descent, a six-pointed star illuminated within the darkness the Hermit has sought and from the pure mastery of the Hermit’s introspective creations a light is birthed that transcends all that may be of challenge or barrier towards the birthing of an outer and much greater light; that of the Sun’s renewal at the Solstice itself. The objective now is maintaining what has become the Lamp of Wisdom and allowing the final surrender in the pull of opposition that will occur at the Winter Solstice in response to what was catalyzed at the Summer.

This is just a brief exploration in the synthesis of  intent that flows through each of the Sabbats of the Great Wheel, one to the other. You’ll learn more as we progress through these mini series counting down the Sabbats…

Tomorrow we’ll make use of a special Tarot spread that you can use to find the mysteries held within your own…

(The) Lantern of Truth

Tarot Spread

Image: Tarot Cards
Rider-Waite: The Magician and The Hermit
Andy Manthei: The High Priestess

Graphic Compilation: R.Fennelly

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19 Days of Illuminated Darkness: Day Eight

A Journey into the Dark

My offering today is an audio of a pathworking that I have used at various points in the solar year. It is a journey of courage taking you into the darkness of seeking the light. Enjoy…..

Click here:
Scroll to the bottom of the page

A Pathworking of Light and Dark

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19 Days of illuminated Darkness: Day Seven

Yuletide  Celebrations

Todays post focuses on some of the ways the season of Yule is celebrated. Although in many cases the celebration of Yule coincides with the astronomical date of the Winter Solstice, they are distinct in that Yule is a seasonal observance that often lasted longer than the single Sabbat date it is traditionally assigned of Dec. 20/21 (the Winter Solstice).

The season of Yule begins on the date of the Full Moon in late November or the first few weeks of December, and the season continues for two lunar months. In some Saxon-based traditions, the official celebration of the Yuletide does not actually begin until Mothers’ Night (the solstice) and continues for a week or two after this.
These celebrations may last from 10-12 days after the Solstice date which nicely coincides with New Year’s celebrations. During this time, feasts, gifts-giving and gatherings mark the celebrations.

The Witch’s Wheel of the Year uses the semantic of Yule as the name of the Sabbat celebrated on the date of the Winter Solstice. And with this title come all the symbols that make this one of the most joyful to celebrate. However you choose to celebrate this season, light is the underpinning. This aspect relates to the occurrence of the Winter Solstice during the Yuletide season and the cycle of the Light and Dark half of the year. And, in the Northern Hemisphere and Winter’s hold this light is prominent in celebrating ourselves….

These are just a few of the ways the season is honored….

Ancient Beginnings

Celtic Celebration:
The Celtic Connection

Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit tthe residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration. It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

Druidry
The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

In the Druidic tradition the name of this festival is “Alban Arthan”, Welsh for “Light of Winter”. According to an older and more poetic interpretation, the name is “Alban Arthuan”, meaning “Light of Arthur”. In this poetical image, Arthur is symbolized by the Sun. The Sun dies and is reborn, just as the mythical Arthur is sleeping deep inside a mountain and will wake up again when the people needs his help.

Alban Arthan, the Winter Solstice, takes place every year on the 21st or 22nd of December (Northern Hemisphere).

While Samhain is strongly connected with insular Celtic culture, Alban Arthan is a universal festival, which has been (and still is) celebrated by many peoples and long before the coming of the Celts. The Winter Solstice is probably (together with the Summer Solstice) the oldest seasonal festival of humankind.

Saturnalia in Ancient Rome
The Magickal History of Yule-Huffington Post

In Ancient Rome the Winter Solstice festival Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for seven days.

Saturnalian banquets were held from as far back as around 217 BCE. The festival was held to honor Saturn, the father of the gods and was characterized by the suspension of discipline and reversal of the usual order. Grudges and quarrels were forgotten while businesses, courts and schools were closed. Wars were interrupted or postponed and slaves were served by their masters. Masquerades often occurred during this time.

It was traditional to offer gifts of imitation fruit (a symbol of fertility), dolls (symbolic of the custom of human sacrifice), and candles (reminiscent of the bonfires traditionally associated with pagan solstice celebrations). A mock king was chosen, usually from a group of slaves or criminals, and although he was permitted to behave in an unrestrained manner for seven days of the festival, he was usually killed at the end. The Saturnalia eventually degenerated into a week-long spree of debauchery and crime – giving rise to the modern use of the tern saturnalia, meaning a period of unrestrained license and revelry.

Modern

Fiesta de Santo Tomás in Guatemala

Many Christians celebrate St Thomas’ Day in honor of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21. In Guatemala on this day, Mayan Indians honor the sun god they worshipped long before they became Christians with a dangerous ritual known as the polo voladore, or “flying pole dance”. Three men climb on top of a 50-foot pole. As one of them beats a drum and plays a flute, the other two men wind a rope attached to the pole around one foot and jump. If they land on their feet, it is believed that the sun god will be pleased and that the days will start getting longer. Some churches celebrate St Thomas’ Day on other days in the year.

The ancient Incas celebrated a special festival to honor the sun god at the time of the December solstice. In the 16th century ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholics in their bid to convert the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru, revived the festival in the 1950s. It is now a major festival that begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away.

Feast of Juul
TimeandDate

The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god Thor.

A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log. In England, Germany, France and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night or kept as a charm and or as medicine.

French peasants believed that if the ashes were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated in the bonfires associated with the feast of Juul.

The Dongzhi Festival in China
How to Celebrate the Dongzhi Festival

On or around the Winter Solstice, Chinese people observe holiday rituals that would be familiar to anyone: gathering with loved ones and eating too much. The favored treat is tangyuan, sticky rice flour balls that are easy to make—and even easier to consume. Families often make the preparation of tangyuan a group activity, which makes sense as the balls symbolize reunion. The balls come in every vivid hue imaginable, but the holiday itself is black and white in origin: its roots are in the philosophy of yin and yang, the balance between light and dark, with the solstice being the meeting point.

Jólablót in Iceland
Iceland Review

Many traditions associated with Christmas come from pagan celebrations: yule logs, the lighting of candles, and the honoring of trees, just to name a few. Since the 1970s, Iceland’s pagan community has reclaimed the holiday, with jólablót celebrations that begin on December 1 and continue through the evening of the Winter Solstice. Carrying candles, lighting bonfires, telling ancient legends, and sharing wine from a sacred horn, revelers celebrate in five locations: a city each in the nation’s north, south, east, and west (Reykjavik being the largest); as well as at Pingvellir, site of the world’s first Parliament and Iceland’s former cultural center.

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