Monday, December 24, 2018

Bringing in of the Light, the Gifts, and Gratitude




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 or holi-days.'
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.

As with the falling of the  leaves, it is a time for change and a natural time for letting go of all  that which seems dark within one's life.



A natural time for making  choices to bring in the light...both to lessen the darkness within, and  to open ourselves to life's full grace and beauty.

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.



Winter  Solstice falls on December 21 (Northern Hemisphere) or December 22  (Southern Hemisphere) and is the moment when the earth is at a point in its orbit, where one hemisphere is most inclined away from the sun.

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.




I light candles and make wreathes from cuttings from evergreen trees and winter flowering shrubs in the yard. I add branches of red dogwood and sprigs of holly.

This "wildcrafting" brings me closer to nature, its seasons and all of the sensory delights and organic elements for celebrating this season.



And my tree, itself, is decorated in natural "earth colors" rather than traditional red and green. They are almost all  hand or homemade including my pieced and stuffed "peace and prayer" fabric hearts, my dried flowers, homemade ornaments and a kit of simple burlap or calico "cloughtie" or prayers and best wishes strips.  I call it my "Woodland Christmas" tree and I love it.

It feels, looks and represents all of the wintery, holiday, natural and home made elements that  I've always loved but still incorporates the spiritual feelings and remembrance that  I treasure from this season.

The Winter  Solstice has always been associated with the birth of a divine king in  many different cultures, long before the rise of Christianity and the  blessed birth of the holy infant, Jesus.




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) of  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 all of 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.




But  with that darkness, comes the sacred birth of a new light and all of  the wisdom, power, and knowledge that this sacred birth created and  brought into our lives for transfiguration and rebirth.

We create our gifts of abundance, we manifest blessings and peace, and we enter into a new place of well-being and joy.




Celebrate with the gifts  of nature, the gifts of our hands, and the many blessings and gifts from  our hearts.

I always celebrate with a Winter Solstice Celebration. On some years, I have invited my family (and my family's extended family) to our home, where we shared the fruits, nuts, and grains of harvests past and libations and toasts of good health and joy.

We welcomed in the bringing of the light into all of our lives as the new cycle began once again.






But most years we celebrate privately, each family in it's own way. We look at the moon, we feel the magic of the night air, we look at the mysteries of the stars, the planets and we feel such remembrance of times past, of all of those we have lost whether this year or in the past.  

It is our own secret anniversary of the heart. And most of all there are blessings, prayers and gratitude for all we love and are grateful for. 







I think of the year past with its Joy's and its challenges and I feel gratitude for having made it through them with as much grace as I did. 

Gratitude for those we have loved, gratitude and sorrow for those we have lost but always with gratitude for the returning of the light.




On Christmas Eve, I celebrate the passing of one year, and enter another. For it is my own birthday. This year I celebrate the beginning of my last year in the decades of my life.  The last year of my sixth decade.

Again, without fanfare but celebrated quietly yet still honored and grateful for what I have had and been able to do but more importantly what I felt blessed to give.




Happiest of Holy Days from the light of my heart, and my home, to the lights of all of your hearts and all of your homes,


Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

1 comment:

Jeannie said...

Wishing you a very happy birth day. (My husband's was the 22nd.) Your beautiful post made me reflect on my own Solstice traditions and my Holy day traditions. They both used to be about family traditions passed from one generation to the next. We used to gather together and together celebrate. Sadly, geographic distance has made this less likely. So for the past 5 years I have been trying to create my own. It begins with All Hallows Eve and the planting of bulbs. I always feel like I am planting hope when I do this. Wishing you and yours a glorious time during this transition from dark to light. Peace.