There has been so much darkness in this, our winter of discontent. I am impatient for the return of the sun and will welcome it, along with other astronomical alignments, tonight. What makes this Solstice so sweet is that there is a return of hope along with the return of the light. I will go to bed knowing that as the sun shines more and more each day, fewer and fewer of my fellow passengers on this Earthship will be disembarking because of COVID.
WHO LOOKED UP FIRST?
I wonder how long it took the first astronomers to plot the pathways of the stars? Did they assign themselves to certain parts of the sky and make drawings? Who first named the stars? If history truly repeats itself, I suspect those who first discovered these pathways and began to predict where and when they would show up were probably put to death. Only after stargazing was normalized, did every Og, Edow, and Chuhary claim to understand it all. It was then the sorcery was replaced with belief systems that evolved into rites and rituals now claimed by religions.
I can make a case that we have lost much of the mystery associated with this celestial turning. There are positives and negatives that go along with that.
POSITIVES and NEGATIVES
The positives are that we can pinpoint our location and send humans and machines beyond the binds of our gravitational holds. We then can return them to their loved ones who were holding their breaths out of fear or waiting in eager anticipation of the data collected. These efforts have spawned song and poetry, as well as untold inventions and discoveries that have benefited virtually every aspect of our lives. While all this is positive, what we truly have come to understand is how inconsequential we really are within the greater scheme of things.
The negatives are that we don’t spend as much time looking up. We don’t let our imaginations do the exploration and create meaning out of what we don’t understand. We believe we are a universe of one and we lose sight of how our thoughts and actions impact others. This has resulted in loss of community and mysticism.
How many of us have ever spent a night looking up at the sky and seeing the drama that is there for all? I hope and pray it is most of you who are regular readers of this blog. And I hope that you have instilled the joy of sky gazing into your progeny! I invite you to continue to connect with this extraordinary and splendid array of the billions and billions of gaseous explosions that have resulted in what will be seen on this blessed night.
Today’s priests and priestesses are often disguised as astronomers or weather reporters. Their rituals involve interpreting radar screens and making predictions in terms of hours, days, and weeks or plotting orbits that extend over centuries. Perhaps some still bring trees into their house and light the Yule log. There are those who in past years gathered at midnight and watched the sunrise surrounded by huge stones on the Salisbury plains. This year such gatherings will be limited, if held at all. And only a few will engage in the ancient rituals. But for all of these (and myself, too!) I can act as a conduit for my foremothers and forefathers and be present at this conjunction anno domini 2020.
And what a conjunction it is! Changes in the sky (Saturn, Jupiter, and the Ursid meteor shower!) Changes in leadership in the United States. Changes in attitude. Changes in strategy for containing and stopping the pandemic. Much like navigating a roundabout for the first time, we may initially find ourselves disoriented and searching for familiar signposts to guide the way. What I invite you to do, however, is let go of that kind of gazing. Tap into an alternative way of “seeing” and give yourself permission to lie on your back and gaze skyward. See what patterns emerge. See what connections are made between the great infinite, your heart, and your mind. Listen to the hum of the universe as it aligns in dimensions we have no map of as yet. Pay attention to the story you are constructing.
Then return. Go within and light a candle, whether it be within your home or your heart. Let the glow of that light shine into whatever darkness may reside there. And once again, look out and seek to find the lights shining in all other beings. We can see these more easily now because it is Solstice; because it is dark. This is the gift of the longest night.
I have allowed my mind to wander and wonder at how those early beings who walked the earth in the darkness thought to look up and mark the passage of time with such precision. Perhaps it was something like this:
SCENE: Cold, dark night. Camp fires seen burning and groups of people huddle near them. Little talking is being done because it is too cold. Off to one side, a child wrapped in layers of cloaks is sitting next to a large furry animal (perhaps a wolf?). The child is resting against the beast, looking up at the sky. Her eyes are wide as she tries to make sense of the glittering stars above. The wolf/dog raises its head as an old woman approaches.
OLD CRONE: (Cornish accent) Whacher seeing in that sky, little one?
YOUNG GIRL: Are those who have left us on the other side of that sheet? Are they watching us as we look up at them?
OLD CRONE: That’s not a sheet, precious! It is the sky ocean. Those sparkles are trails left behind as the inhabitants of the sky ocean make their way through the seasons, just as we go about our days here on Middle Earth.
YOUNG GIRL: I want to go there and be with them.
OLD CRONE: Then you must learn to follow the paths of stars and pay attention to the rhythms of the ocean during these dark nights.
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us — listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.