The Time of Angels
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
The Bible, Hebrews (ch. XIII, v. 2)
In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the depths of winter right now. The frosty mornings — pale sun gleaming through mist, hoar white icing covering the land, stilled trees giving their calm silhouette to the low skyline — are beautiful in their stark purity. The hedgerows are noisy with the scuttering sounds of chilled birds hunting for food, but the air is icy stillness. It’s magical, mysterious, and full of the promise of eventual renewal.
The ways we honor the Winter Solstice have two strong opposite-yet-complementary flavours – we enter a period of outer, extraverted, family-and-friends celebration, yet this is also the most deeply inward moment of the year. Some sources say that this is the time the angel realm is closest to the people of the earth. It is a wonderful opportunity for communion with the angelic spirit of endless kindness and protection.
The Winter Solstice is a natural time for inner musing, for taking stock, for seeing what worked in the past year and what didn’t, what we want to keep and what is ready to be surrendered, which processes are complete, and which ones just beginning. When the flickering flame of the new cycle of the year is kindled, we can set our intentions for the coming year and allow our deepest dreams to show themselves to us in the long winter nights.
The new flame brings with it renewed hope, just as the birth of a baby brings renewed hope into the heart of the family. One of the versions of the collective dream of this renewed hope is the symbol of Jesus, the child of our humanity and bringer of lessons about love and open-hearted relationship between all people. (Before him, the sacred baby appeared as Mithras and Dionysus.) Whatever way we depict this child, it is the rebirth of our own consciousness that we celebrate, and the renewed life cycle of our world. In this darkest period of the year the new seed of the new year is born.
The Winter Solstice occurs when the Sun enters the part of the zodiac known as Capricorn, and it is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely acknowledged of all the ancient festivals. Most cultures in the Northern Hemisphere honor the window of the Winter Solstice in one form or another, and have done so from time immemorial. (For a good list of Winter Festivals of Light, visit http://tinyurl.com/48ott)The exact moment of the Solstice this year is on December 21 at 11:15 am GMT, 6:15 am Eastern, 3:15 am Pacific, and at 22:15 pm in Australia, where of course it is the Summer Solstice.
After the moment of the solstice the Sun stands still for three days (solstice means standstill) meaning that it rises in the same place for three days running. This period is a sacred window, an opening, a gap in the fabric of the year, during which we can come to terms with our past, connect with our purpose, listen to our guidance, and prepare psychologically for the gradual movement into the new year.
Just as the Sun stands still, so we echo this in our holiday rituals, pausing from the routines of work to feast and gather together. If you can organize your holiday season in such a way as to allow for open, soft, unscheduled time, for rest and relaxation, so much the better.
One of the best meditations for this time of year is fire-gazing. Whether by candles, fairy lights, or firewood, in midwinter sources of warmth and illumination are all important. Fire is the medicine we need at Winter Solstice time, providing outer and inner warmth, and giving us the spark for new ideas and inspiration. If you don’t have an open fire, you can light plenty of candles at this time, and allow the softness of the gently flickering light to soothe and inspire you.
I send you my wishes for a beautiful holiday season, whichever traditions, old and new, you celebrate. It’s a natural time to celebrate something, even if it’s simply the moment of the Sun turning back towards the light half of the year. If you can also bond with family and friends, with angels and avatars, the season becomes a celebration of love and connection. What more can we ask for?