Winter Solstice begins this week at 10:59 am on Tuesday, December 21st, when in the relationship between Earth and Sun, a mighty pause takes place, as though the Sun waits on Earth, who is tucking herself in beneath layers of leaves and snow and blowing cold, and there, while resting in her Winter bed, she gazes deeply into the night, and the stories unfolding in the stars overhead, like a child filled with wonder, joyfully anticipating happily ever after.
Winter Solstice inaugurates the season of initiation into the innermost secrets of being human, known as the birth of inner light in the year’s darkest night. This mystery is indicated in the “Celtic Wonder Tales” when the king asks the stranger what knowledge he has, to which the stranger replies: “I know where the Sun goes when the Earth doesn’t see it.”
By answering this way, the stranger reveals that he has witnessed the Midnight Sun, which is only revealed in the darkest hour at the darkest time of year. In the ancient mysteries this was the time when the initiate was led by sacred processes to an experience of beholding the Sun through the Earth.
This experience of the Midnight Sun is later likened to the birth of one’s own, inner light, the light of consciousness, a birth that can only happen when we take time throughout the cycle of the year to understand the mystery of being human.
In the Christian tradition, the birth of this inner light is celebrated as the birth of the Christ Child at midnight December 24th, which is then followed by the 12 days of Christmas, as a journey to self-knowledge through the stars. By observing these 12 days, we join the Earth in its seasonal gesture of contemplating the stories in the stars, and how knowing them unlocks the secrets of knowing the self.
May we all know the deep peace of the season as a healing balm for the year ahead,
Mary Stewart Adams
Hear this episode on Interlochen Public Radio and at The Storyteller’s Night Sky podcast.
I took this image above on the shores of Lake Michigan, and I am imagining it here as catching the Sun’s waning light, in anticipation of the world winter night.