We are approaching the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere.
In this week’s Gathering Gold episode, and in preparation for the winter solstice, I invite us to anchor ourselves in time and find communion with the luminous dark.
How might we celebrate the triumph of light, the gift of the sun, while also welcoming the wisdom of darkness?
How might we balance the need to rest and turn inward with the need to brave the cold, to go out into the world?
How can we cultivate peace within ourselves in the face of all that is treacherous in this world—including the double-edged winter months, with their shimmer and ice, their harshness and beauty?
This is what we invite you to explore with us in today’s episode, and at our upcoming Patreon Meet-Up on December 21st. If you’re planning to attend, please read through the journaling prompts that we shared in the episode and on the Patreon page so that you can prepare for our Solstice gathering.
And, in case the written format is a better way for you to receive information, here is the piece I shared at the beginning of the episode.
Anchored in Time
Time is like an ocean. Seen through one lens, it’s an endless sea with no beginning or end. But when we slow down and change lenses, we see that there’s a rhythm to the waters, places where the waves crest and fall, places where we can anchor into a still point. Without these anchors, we can feel like we’re drowning in the ocean of time, flailing in both the formlessness and the inevitable end-point of death.
One of our most reliable anchoring tools is to step into the rhythm of time, the cyclic wave that weaves through a year, a month, a week, a day. When we’re in the rhythm, we feel not only connected to nature but also anchored in time.
Yet most of us have been cast out of the natural rhythm that humans are meant to belong to.
How do we find our way back in?
The Container of Rituals
One way is through rituals.
Rituals help us anchor in time. They are containers that both catch grief and celebrate joy.
But in our ritual-bereft culture, we have lost touch with these time-honored ways of rooting through the endlessness of time. Without rituals, time becomes another place where we feel like we are free-falling. For many, we can become hyper-focused on the passage of time in a way that sends us into overwhelm and despair. The heightened awareness of the passage of time is not the problem; the problem is that we have lost the ways of marking time that have rooted humans for generations.
From the time I was a young teen, I have been drawn to rituals, especially around life transitions.
When I first started menstruating at age fourteen, I longed for a circle of wise women to gather me into their fold and instruct me on what it is to be a young woman.
At each graduation, I longed for something more meaningful than a cap and gown ceremony where we walked across the stage to shake hands with so-and-so and receive a diploma.
My longing for rituals burned so deeply in me that it became my thesis in graduate school, and eventually my first book, The Conscious Bride, which explored the underbelly of the wedding transition and how our refusal to honor grief through ritual truncates the transition into marriage. From there, I explored the transitions of motherhood, then of moving, of midlife, of death.
How to Mark Time
When our sons were young, I felt an urgent need to mark time with them. We created a homegrown family ritual on each solstice and equinox, as well as one to honor birthdays that went beyond having a cake and blowing out candles.
Solstice celebrations can sometimes carry a New Age connotation in our modern culture, but in fact, they extend back thousands of years to our earthbound roots.
Whether or not we choose to celebrate or acknowledge solstice or equinox, we feel it in our bones. We feel the earth tipping on its axis and delivering us into a new stage in the relationship between darkness and light.
There is a natural rhythm in our world that we can participate in or ignore. We have been conditioned to ignore it, but it beckons.
It calls to us because we are not separate from it and when we ignore the rhythm we are casting ourselves out of one of our most primal places of belonging.