Last year I attended a bonfire on the night of the winter solstice at a friend’s house. As my companion and I walked towards the ledge where the fire had been the year before we were both astonished. Where was everybody? We stood in the dark confused. Minutes passed.
After suggesting we leave, my companion remarked with annoyance, “What the hell is going on here?” A Rhetorical question. I sure didn’t know.
Sudden hooting split the night and some dissonant musical sounds seemed to be coming from out of the bushes below us.
Following the sounds we descended the steep hill and discovered that the fire was at the river’s edge, and that a few people were already gathered there.
Unbeknownst to either of us the location had changed, and from our vantage point on the hill we couldn’t see the fire or hear any sounds. I had been looking forward to this celebratory turning, and liked the idea of sharing it with friends. Yet, now I felt uneasy.
As I recall, there were noise makers (?) but what stuck in my mind was my sense of confusion. Was this some sort of joke being played on us, and if so why? The anguish I felt was palpable. I barely remember the rest of the evening. I felt completely shut out and took refuge by staring into the flames of the fire, ending the evening by giving a solstice gift to my friend.
The next day I believe, I felt compelled to write to my friend to tell her how upset I was over what I perceived had happened. I love this woman, and consider her a soul sister.
She was as deeply distressed as I was. And when we spoke, cried, and hugged all at once, it immediately became clear that she assumed that we would know that the location of the fire had been changed because of a recent fire that had broken out further down the Bosque, and that no joke of any kind had been intended.
My perception and that of my companion’s had apparently been totally distorted.
I took responsibility for the distortion.
But I was floored.
I became a psychologist because I am a person who needs to root out underlying truths. I am like the proverbial dog with a bone, unable to put down an issue until I have unraveled it – even if it takes years. No dream came to me to help me unravel this conundrum. I have been sitting with it for a year, and have used the incident twice to demonstrate to others how perception can be skewed in ways that sometimes appear incomprehensible.
The closest I can come to an explanation for this drama will be difficult for most folks to comprehend, let alone accept. I have been a ritual artist for almost 40 years and have participated both alone and with others in these eight yearly turnings of the wheel and know from countless personal experiences that extraordinary happenings can and do occur during these times of what I call “natural power”. Sometimes these energies move in a positive direction and sometimes they move in reverse. I think what happened that solstice night was an example of cosmic energies constellating around a gathering in a negative way. Everyone was apparently impacted. That fact combined with the astounding synchronicity that my companion and I experienced – the weird sense of being tricked in some way – gives credence to this explanation. Stunning synchronicity, is in my experience, almost always associated with these forces of natural power that can manifest for good or for ill.
When my friend and I discussed this unfortunate experience today she wanted reassurance that this kind of dissonance would not occur again at this year’s fire. Everyone had gotten hurt she said. This remark surprised me because up until now I had assumed that this issue was between us and didn’t really involve others. I realize I am not clear why these people were so upset. It wasn’t as if I said anything to anyone else. Still, I was only too happy to reassure her.
But her remark about everyone being so hurt gave me a clue. Apparently everyone had been negatively impacted.
When I hung up the phone that I heard that nagging inner voice saying ‘you are assuming too much responsibility for this incident’. My telepathic bird Lily b started bellowing.
Whatever happened that night may remain a mystery but I believe that all of us were unwitting players in the dark side of a winter solstice drama.
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.