When the wheel of the year turns towards fall, I always feel the call to retreat, to cocoon, to pull away. I also feel the urge for fall de-cluttering—my eyes cast about the house for things to unload, get rid of, to cast away. I also search my calendar for those things which can be eliminated, trimmed down, cut back on. I think it is the inexorable approach of the winter holiday season that prompts this desire to withdraw, as well as the natural rhythm of the earth which so clearly says: let things go, it is almost time to hibernate.
Late autumn and the shift toward winter is a time of discernment. A time to choose. A time to notice that which has not made it through the summer’s heat and thus needs to be pruned away. In this time of the year, we both recognize the harvest of our labors and that which needs to be released or even sacrificed as we sense the promise of the new year to come.
This year I cocoon with my new baby. Though I have three other children, this new baby was the first child whose development and arrival perfectly mirrored the wheel of the year. Conceived during the first month of the new year, taking root in the darkness of winter’s end, beginning to bud during the springtime and coming into full bloom during the summer. And, then, with the season’s spiral turn into fall, when many beautiful things are harvested, his birth: October 30, into my welcoming hands in the sunlight bright morning in my living room. Now, with the steady approach of winter, we curl together in a small, new world. We cocoon in the cave of our own home, the size of the world re-sized to the size of my bed, kitchen table, and rocking chair. This is the fourth trimester, the time in which the baby continues to develop his nervous system and continues to live within the context of the mother’s body. I am his habitat. His place. His home is in my arms.
This sinking in, this cocooning, this safe, small world is perfect for the call of winter. While my to-do list has again begun to clang in my ear and the clamor of my other children surrounds me, the early nights, cold temperatures, and gray skies, remind me to nestle, remember, and grow. Beautiful magic takes root in dark, deep places.
Deep, long, dark night.
echoes in skeletal treetops
and crackling leaves.
Receive and feel.
Pause and check within
for that glowing emberheart
in your soul.
What purpose calls your name?
What seed incubates
waiting for the breath of hope
and the breath of action
to coax it into life?
Time for your light to shine
from within the sheltering dark.
If you pause in darkness what does your body have to tell you? What do your dreams have to tell you? What does the frozen ground have to tell you? What do the spirits of place have to tell you?
What song can only be sung by you?
What emberheart can only be ignited by your breath?
What path have your feet found?
What messages are carved in stone and etched on leaf for your eyes and in your name?
What promise are you keeping?
May you enjoy a rich, peaceful solstice with your family and loved ones! May you be blessed by light and may you find wisdom and solace in dark, deep, places. And, may you remember not to be so distracted by the promise of the light to come that you forget the great value to be found in endarkenment as well.
Molly is a priestess, writer, teacher, artist, and activist who lives with her husband and children in central Missouri. She is a doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College and the author of Womanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation. Molly and her husband co-create at Brigid’s Grove: http://brigidsgrove.etsy.com and she blogs about theapoetics, ecopsychology, and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com.
12 thoughts on “Winter Solstice Meditation by Molly”
I especially like these lines and I feel the poem could have ended there. What follows feels like “work” while this time really is a time of rest preceding regeneration.
Welcome to your new baby boy.
Thanks, Carol! I guess I see the season as both a time for hibernation and a time for the work of reflection! :)
I agree with Carol. For me the second half of your poem has more to do with Imbolc or Candlemas than Yule. As I celebrate the wheel of the year, Imbolc is the time to identify the seed that is germinating, still waiting for springtime to really sprout. Yule is the light in the darkness for me, but not at all well-formed. It’s the reminder that the wheel has turned, but it’s still dark for many days.
These are good questions.
I love it that your oldest son is taking care of his little brother!
Great post and interesting Etsy website, Molly, especially enjoyed those pics of the figurines arranged outdoors.
The ancient Goddess figurines have returned into regular use in our world in modern times after how long a disappearance? How many millennia were they absent? There have always been nude sculptures of women, of course, but I think the fertility figure has to be small enough to carry in the hand, creating an actual physical union of the power of the figurine with the woman’s own living spirit and thus with her creativity or reproductive cycle. I saw a modern garden sculpture recently of the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Compassion Guan-Yin, and I leapt for joy when I realized she was holding a Goddess fertility figurine in the open palm of her hand.
Sarah, those ancient goddess figurines disappeared in the West, but you can find them all over India (many different goddesses), in Buddhist parts of Asia as one of the Bodhisattvas (Kuan Yin, Tara of the many colors, etc.), and in many parts of Africa, in the South Pacific (e.g. Pele in Hawaii), as well as both North and South America. We UUs have a curriculum called _Rise Up and Call Her Name_ that’s devoted to these goddesses with a BEAUTIFUL video showing many of them.
Lovely post and poem. My son was conceived at the winter solstice and born in September, and I was in graduate school, too, at the time. I agree that the winter season is a time to hide away and commit some serious feng shui de-cluttering. These activities help us, of course, get ready for the openness of springtime.
I used to model little, fat goddess figures out of glow-in-the-dark Fimo (which is like clay) and carve little symbols from what Gimbutas calls the language of the Goddess on them. I sold a lot of them and later saw them hanging in windows. I still have one in my bedroom.
I love your questions. I am pasting them into my journal for further pondering. Yuletide joy to you and your family!
Thank you! I am putting them in my journal too! ;)
Oops–this is Molly using my primary WordPress account rather than my FAR-only account. :)
Molly, as usual, I love your evocation of the season. And I love the questions your guided meditation asks. I will ponder them, just like Elizabeth.
It truly is a wonderful time of year to be cocooned with a baby! As I was reading this I was especially excited because my daughter Cora Luna was born at home with the light of the moon shining in on us on October 30, 2013!
I hope you continue to enjoy this special time of reflection in your cozy home.