We find ourselves once again at the Winter Solstice. The darkest day of the year, awaiting the return of the light.
Years ago, I wrote an essay about the Winter Solstice in which I reflected upon the message of faith this sabbat brings:
"...That no matter what is happening tonight...that sun will rise above the Earth and fill it with light once more...it teaches me to hold on, to recognize that tomorrow is a new day, a solution is on its way. It fills me with Faith. Faith that since the sun surely will return, that dark situations will too resolve into new horizons and opportunities..."
This is not THAT solstice.
A fellow priestess in our tradition, Mikaela, wrote this essay about the time around the Solstice in which she reflects upon the messages of rest, rejuvenation and slowing down that we learn from the Earth slowing down for the winter:
“Slow down. Stop even for a moment. Breathe. Close your eyes. Listen. Feel. Empty your mind. ..Rest. Relax. This is the time of year for those things..."
This is not THAT solstice, either.
The sabbats are meant to help us recognize the cycles and lessons of the Earth, but they are also meant to help us to recognize those cycles and lessons in our own lives. In 2016, this darkest day of the year finds us in one of the darkest times in our nation's history. This is not a time to slow down or relax. Nor is it a time for blind faith, it is not a time for waiting, praying and hoping for the light to return.
No, this Solstice, we must BE the light.
Like most things in Paganism, the Winter Solstice has many aspects. Yes, at times it speaks of faith, at at other times it speaks of rest, but this year it speaks of fire--it speaks of perseverance. In this Solstice, I am reminded of the tradition of community balefires lit on Solstice eve. I've heard it said that communities would gather together and light gigantic balefires to persuade the sun to return. But I take a different perspective. I imagine our ancestors saying, "If the sun will not return, then we will make our own light. Our community will come together to create our own warmth. Together, we will tend this sacred flame. "
Look, folks. Nobody is coming to save us. We can no longer depend on a force outside of our circle to protect and provide for us. The Goddess and the God help those who help themselves. Our circles must come together, join with others who know their gods by other names, and light the metaphorical fires of resistance. We must help eachother and work tirelessly to keep the flame of freedom alive.
Some of us will be the Fire Masters. They will lead the marches, and will speak and write truth. Their voices and names will be heard across the nation and will go down in history as those who opposed darkness and heralded the return of the light.
Others will be the Fire Tenders. They will add fuel to the fire and keep it blazing. They will do research, fact-check and leverage the law and rule to bring forth change. They will apply for permits, coordinate efforts, activate phone chains. They will work tirelessly, leaving the warmth of the fire venturing out into the cold and return with new hope to keep the light alive.
Still others will be the Keepers of the Flame. Should the time come when the flame threatens to go out, when the blaze dies down--they will scoop up the embers and carry them to their hearthfires. They will be the teachers and sages, the mothers and fathers, the Grannies and the Opas. Just as our fore-witches in the days when wands became spoons, cauldrons became kettles and Yule logs became Christmas trees keeping our traditions alive--these members of our circle will keep the tradition of justice and light alive. They will seek out the cold and weary and tend to them, and through service, teach love. They will instill in our children a love of the Earth, a freedom of conscience and a sense of community with all of mankind.
This Solstice, I invite you to reflect deeply about what you love and honor; what you value and uphold--and I invite you to consider your place in this circle as we kindle this Solstice balefire and endeavor to keep it blazing for years to come.