The longest night
The Wheel is turning
What will we give to the night?
Tomorrow morning, December 21st, 2013, at approximately 9:11 am PST, the sun will hold its breath in the sky.
It is an invitation for us all to pause. To stop, actually. Stopping…does that sound inconceivable in the perpetual holiday rush hour? To invite silence, to rest, to curl up in a mid-winter’s nap…’tis the season. You are hereby granted permission to do nothing (unless it involves a warm cuppa of something). When the sun sets tomorrow evening, it is your cue to spiral in, and dream, while cold stars twinkle above you and the waning gibbous moon provides just enough light.
Here in Northern California, many indigenous tribes (Wintu, Achumawi, Atsugewi, Klamath, Shasta, Yuma) observed the solstices. For some, this was done by marks on trees or on the back wall of the lodge, where the sun would kiss with golden rays when it rose at its southernmost point. In the Santa Cruz mountains, it is only on the winter solstice that the sun sets at the base of Turtle Rock. But for many, the solstice was known without any kind of technology (e.g. the use of a tool outside of the self), but simply through direct observation. One’s home, land, place was so deeply understood that the winter solstice had a face like a friend at the door. When the sun rises above that rock, on that side of the mountain and shines in the lake in just that way, then It Is Time.
Adding to the list of 5,342 reasons of Why I Wished We Lived on Land is the sweet idea of making my own solstice and equinox markers on the landscape. For now, we content ourselves with familiarity from the back steps. Ah gee honey…that new highrise is blocking out the dawn this year, gosh how things change. If you have kids and a piece of dirt to call your own, won’t you take notice of where the sun hits when it rises tomorrow? Carve a little notch in stone and I will live vicariously through you.
This last week I was delighted to hear Caroline Casey in person. At the end of her knock your socks off talk, she led us in a chant she learned from Starhawk years ago, a verbal ritual to relinquish the old year and welcome in the burgeoning light. The longest night, the wheel is turning, what will we give to the night? At each round, someone in the audience would shout out something they wanted, for all humanity, to toss into the compost cauldron. Fear. Greed. Self Hatred. The illusion of separation (that was mine). Violence. And we would all call out together “___________ we give to the night!”
Tomorrow evening, when my family gathers in our tiny sunroom, we will do this together. For myself, I think I will be tossing in personal items from the themes of No-Fun seriousness, Wounding, Disconnecting Polarities, Magic Deficit Disorder and Stuckness.
And you? What will YOU give to the night?
May you have a warm, joyous and silent, yuletide.