As many of you know, I have been out of town due to the death of my father. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family. While it is a sad time and a time of transition, as a long time journalist (he wrote his last blog just a few weeks before he died!), he would no doubt be shaking his head if I didn’t get back to the work in short order and Solstice seems a good time to return although with the holidays and catching up, it will be a bit sporadic for the next few weeks.
Over the years, I have written several pieces about the season of darkness. In the Archetype of Darkness: Revisioning Faith, written in the aftermath of the 2004 election I wrote these words which seem worth a re-visit as we now have hope of exiting that particular period of political despair:
“In delving into our past and reclaiming our female spirit, it is interesting to note that darkness was revered and honored in the ancient Goddess religions. Darkness represented both the earth and the womb, the sacred sources of life. Yet with the advent of the patriarchal religions, darkness took on the connotation of evil, perhaps to justify the right of men to rule over those who have darker skin and women who possess the dark womb. It was no accident that patriarchy devalued that which is dark in its religious symbolism. Today we still see those whose skin is darker than ours as less than. Our images of the divine are predominated by aged white maleness, goodness is always light, evil is dark.
Because these patriarchal perversions (with all their toxic ramifications) continue to persist today, it is helpful to return to our pre-patriarchal past for guidance in reclaiming the spirituality of darkness. If you dig back into many religions and beyond that to the Goddess cultures that preceded patriarchy, archetypes of the dark spiritual abound. One archetype that seems particularly useful is that of the Black Madonna simply because she appears within the dominant religion in our country. I do not claim expert knowledge of the Black Madonna (nor was I raised as a Christian) but I am entranced by the stark contrast she offers to those whose faith allows them to blindly hate and kill in the name of God. In the darkness of the Black Madonna I see the paradigm of another faith, a faith that recognizes the importance of nurturing the sanctity of the world we inhabit and all that is within. The Black Madonna and the many other archetypes of darkness offer us a path towards the spirit of the Divine Feminine that we will need to nurture our strength for the days to come.”
Last year in Thank You Alice: A Meditation for the Winter Solstice, I ended with these lines:
“The Christmas legend talks about three wise men. But in our own time, and in the times that came before, there have been and are many, many wise women. This year, in the darkness of the Winter Solstice, let us resolve not only to listen to the wisdom of these women but to have the courage and strength to raise our own voices, to say that it is time to stop the damaging, time to heal the wounds and affirm what is truly sacred, the lives of all and the earth on which we live.”
To this I add the wise words of Carol P. Christ, who wrote these reflections in a piece published last week:
“Many contemporary Goddess worshippers and Pagans celebrate the Winter Solstice as the time of the rebirth of the sun. Though acknowledging that this is the darkest night, we often focus our rituals on the returning light. I suggest that this reflects the fear of darkness and orientation towards the “light” including the “light of reason” and the “light of salvation” that is the legacy of Indo-European cultures.
Must we focus on finding light in the darkness?
What could it mean to enter into and embrace the pregnant dark?
To accept the cycles of light and darkness and to appreciate both equally?”
Every year when we make our wish lists, I ask for peace on earth. My youngest son informed me last year that it was on backorder. May you find renewal, strength and joy in this season of darkness and let this be the year when Peace on Earth is finally in stock.