Dec 21, 2012

Winter Solstice and the Changing of the Light

From ancient times, the winter season has been seen as part of balance of nature...a time where the balance point changes between the darkness and the light.

With the shortening of the day and daylight, comes an increase in the lengthening of the night and darkness. It is a natural time for letting go of all that which seems dark within one's life, and a time for making choices to bring in the light...both to lessen the darkness within..... and to open ourselves to grace and beauty.

Throughout history, in all of the world's cultures, through belief systems, festivals, traditions and practices, the changes in the cycles of birth, death and rebirth have been intrinsically, and symbolically honored. From this honoring comes our holidays...our 'holy days.'

When we walk between the veils of one season and the next......or one change or one emotion and the next.......or even one 'holy day' and the next.......we find ourselves always balancing our emotions...balancing the dark emotions, the very ones which create power and change, or the light emotions, the ones which bring in joy and abundance.

One of hardest of the darker emotions is that of sorrow, grief and loss. Today, I am recognizing and honoring the gift that the darkness brings in, as I honor the sadness of all of us as we face, or as we remember the many energies of loss in all our lives.

I am remembering the 27 who lost their lives this December in an idyllic little town in Connecticut because of the darkness that lay within the soul of the 28th. I am remembering the two who loss their lives in Portland's Clackamas Town Center.

I am remembering the loss of so many loved ones, so many family members, and friends who left us all far too soon.  And I am honoring them in my memory as I think of the deeper meaning of this day of balance between the darkness and the reappearance of the light into all of our lives.

I am think of today, the day of our Winters Solstice and the 12-21-12 symbology of the 13th Baktun.....or the Mayan calendar ending, or really......just a holy transitioning into a new era of spiritual consciousness, and awareness.

A 'Solstice' is of a Latin borrowing and means 'sun stand', referring to the appearance that the sun's noontime elevation stops in its progress. It is both the shortest day...and the longest night of the year. Many cultures the world over perform solstice ceremonies. At their root is the ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with some vigil or celebration.

Many ancient cultures built astronomical observatories...tombs, temples, or cairns, to align with the solstices and equinoxes. Structures such as those at Stonehenge or Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the Newgrange chamber and lights up its chamber for 17 minutes from dawn of the 19th to the 23rd of December. The light illuminates intricate carvings of spirals, eyes, and solar shapes. Hundreds of other megalithic structures throughout Europe are oriented in similar ways.

The celebration of "Yule/Jul/Joulu" or winter festival, is at the time of greatest darkness and the longest night of the year. In pre-Christian times, Germanic tribes celebrated Yule from the late December to early January. Thus, the terms Yule and Christmas came to be used interchangeably in many countries.


The Winter Solstice has always been associated with the birth of a divine king in many different cultures, long before the rise of Christianity. Since the Sun is considered to represent the male divinity in many pagan traditions, this time is celebrated as the return of the sun god where he is reborn of the goddess. Other cultures have similar beliefs and associations.Many cultures celebrate or celebrated a holiday near (within a few days) the winter solstice... Yalda, Saturnalia, Christmas, Karachun, Hanukkah, Festivus, and Kwanzaa.

Christmas, like all holy or holidays, is a special time of remembrance of both the birth of the new, divining power, and the symbols of home and family. It is a time when we can most acutely feel the greatest darkness or the brightest light...a time of giving, of receiving.....or for some a time of loss of light, and a feeling of going into the dark.

This is a deep time and a sacred space, a time and a symbol for all of us about being lost, facing those emotions and feeling the sadness, the yearning, and the grief that such loss brings into our lives.

Such is the sadness, the loss and the acceptance of the dark into our lives that each of us is asked to face at different times. Knowing that the dark will eventually find its way back into the light again is also the knowledge of the power of this holy time in our own lives.

Remember the sacrifice, remember all of those beautiful and precious little children and what they have taught us. Remember that everything that happens is a beacon in the darkness to bring us to full consciousness and that it is no accident that their little town was named "Newtown".  It is time for transition, time for a metamorphic change into our better and higher selves. A time for awareness for how things should be, how we should be and not where and how we all are now.

Remember those 20 little beacons of goodness and light, and bring that light into your own lives, as I will mine. Let us never forget the sacrifices so many have made to teach, to guide, and to bring us into grace. This is a season filled with holi-days, let us never forget.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska and all of her AAQI Quilting. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt Patterns and encouraging others to join in the Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!


Lynne said...

Another amazing researched, thought-provoking post, Michele - thank you! And God bless you and yours this Christmas.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you, Lynne. Have a blessed holiday season and thank you for all of your wonderful support this year!

jenclair said...

Thank you for this lovely, thoughtful, and touching post on the light and darkness of this life. The light will return.

Mariarose said...

Thank you for these wonderful words.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you, Jenny! You carry so much light and creativity of your own. The light will return... and so much more awareness of its grace, as well!

Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you, Maria, for stopping and leaving a comment. My heart and my thoughts and prayers are always with you and with your mother. As I once wrote a poem...we are more than a sisterhood!

Blessings to you and to your family during all of these many challenging times.

Angie said...

Thank you for such an informative and beautiful post, Michele. Happy Winter Solstice, dear friend.

u-woman said...

Thank you so very much for this wonderful post, Michele. Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours!

Michele Bilyeu said...

U-too! Oh, I couldn't resist! Happiest of holidays to you, as well!

Michele Bilyeu said...

Hugs to you, sweet Angie..such an angel you are!

Cher said...

well, always have you in my heart and think often of you ...glad to stop by and catch up a bit..your gift of language and sharing here is such a gift to me as well as to others...thank you my friend.