So, here’s the thing I notice: There is a whole lot of cultural, media and commercial emphasis during this time of year on light, joy, happiness, and of course spending lots of money and affirming the supposed perfection of our families and society.
But in mythic terms, in psychological terms, in terms of the cycles of nature and life —this is a much richer, more soulful and multi-faceted time.
I know I am in California, so to speak of “Winter” is a bit of a stretch…
But still, think about it: we are in the earth-cycle passageway from the cold, dark, hibernating phase of Winter toward the new life of Spring. What will blossom and be born as the days start to get longer, the fertile ground warms up, and the new year begins will be a direct reflection of what has happened in the darkness, of what we have allowed to die and turn to fertilizer, of what dreams and feelings and self-reflection have found expression in the inward turning moments of a life examined and re-focused based on the year that was…
The earliest forms of mythology arising in the newly metaphorical minds of our ancestors had to do with nature —with sun and moon, light and dark, the fierce and majestic birds that ruled the sky, and the ever-reborn, skin-shedding snakes that slithered on the earth and mimicked the moon’s own cycle of death and resurrection.
The ever-copulating bunnies, newborn chicks and other fertility symbols that have come to be associated with Easter bear a direct link back into this time of year and our dance with darkness, our time in the cave, by the fire, our facing up to the inevitable cycles of life, the passage of time and the rich ways in which our psyches can orient themselves to our place within those cycles, as part of our tribe, on the blue planet and as part this vast and mysterious cosmos itself.
But in an extraverted, commerce-driven, persona society, these possibilities are often all-but obliterated by the happy, happy, joy, joy chorus of spend, spend and pretend everything is perfect —or by the religious overtones of death and darkness being supposedly conquered once and for all by the holy baby born without the sin of animalistic sex…
Don’t get me wrong though, I love buying gifts for my friends and family, I love sharing an indulgent and delicious meal around a candle-lit table….
These lines from the Radiance Sutras speak to me directly:
Wherever, whenever you feel carried away,
Rejoicing in every breath
There, there is your meditation hall.
Cherish these times of absorption—
Rocking the baby in the silence of the night,
Pouring water into the crystal glass,
Tending the logs in a crackling fire,
Sharing a meal with a circle of friends.
Embrace these pleasures and know
—This is my true body!
But for this time of year, given the under-representation of inwardness and embracing the dark, doing the shadow work, accepting the cycle, I want to also offer you this from David Whyte:
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
I would like to offer the spaces I hold during December as a sanctuary for exploring this season’s themes in whatever ways they show up for you. No pressure, no agenda, just know that the dance of shadow and light, the journey from darkness toward new life, the necessity of drawing inward, reflecting and reorienting, and the celebration of community, gift-sharing and love are all honored and allowed in our circle of sincere intention.
All the best to you and yours in the holiday season.
PS: the powerful image above is from THE LOST COMMANDMENTS: 32 ways to Save Your Soul – http://tinyurl.com/ph4rpqa