Lioness of the desert,
Belovèd daughter of Ra,
Queen Protectress of your people,
Fierce mother of Prince Nefertem,
Son of the first sunlight, Water-Lily of the Sun.
The energy of Winter Solstice is one that takes us down and in – downward and inward to the place of rest and recovery after labor, a time to get used to a new life, new responsibilities, and to focusing on others rather than self. The time of the birth is a time of radical change and readjustment. Traditionally, women had forty days of recuperation after giving birth and before going out into the world once more. In the rhythm of our own lives, we can align ourselves to the energies of each sabbat to create a balance between being and doing, activity and reflection. In this way, we can avoid burn out in our spiritual and in our material lives.
Preparing for Change
We face a time of radical change in the world. Old certainties are swept away. The dominant cultures find themselves no longer in the lead. World events shatter our illusions and challenge our values.
At such times, we need to find our inner fierceness. We need energy and strength to equip us to deal with whatever life is about to throw at us. If we are to protect all that we value and hold sacred, we need the fierce protective energy of the lioness for her cubs, of the stag protector for his herd. The time between Yule and Imbolc is a time when we can focus on building our strength, the strength that we will need to engage with world as the solar tide sweeps us forward into the year to come. What can we do? The elements can guide us.
Earth – Eat
Mind-body-spirit-heart – our Paganism teaches us that none of these is separate. Each interacts with the others to bring energy, clarity, resoluteness. Food is the body’s fuel and without it we cannot provide the vehicle that houses mind, heart, and spirit.
We can make ourselves stronger by eating well, giving our bodies the best food in the best combinations and amounts for optimal functioning. We would not run a car on the wrong fuel, so after Yuletide festivities, let’s give our body real nourishment. We all know what our bodies need, and what they don’t, so let’s be good to ourselves and nourish ourselves well.
Fire – Move
Walk, exercise, dance – the human body was never designed to sit for long periods. What is not used will atrophy. We need to move and to use our muscles if we are to be strong.
Air – Talk
Voice-to-voice and face-to-face interactions make us and others feel valued in ways that a Facebook posting never will. They create an energy exchange that builds our emotional resilience. We are tribal animals and are not designed for long periods of isolation. Interacting with others builds the immune system and given us the confidence to go on.
Water – Sleep
Many of us are sleep deprived and few of us get the eight hours sleep of earlier generations before electric lighting and electronics in the bedroom. Lack of sleep weakens body, emotions, and mind, especially in the winter season when we are more physically vulnerable. We need sleep for recuperation time to allow our bodies to renew themselves. We need sleep to give us time to dream, to process and digest all the experiences that have imprinted themselves on our brains. From our dreams, we will find sources of new visions and inspiration.
In difficult and challenging times, we need to strengthen our connection to our deeper values and our sources of spiritual strength. Our spiritual practice may be alone or with others, and ideally both. Times of silence, prayer, meditation and solo interaction with the Divine, together with group practice that give us a sense of shared endeavor and community.
So as we transition to 2017, let us seek harmony within ourselves, elemental balance. Let us give ourselves a gift at this season of giving. This is the gift of taking ourselves seriously, of thinking that our bodies, minds, hearts, spirits, are worth caring for and cultivating; just as we would care for someone else whom we love and cherish. When we are strong, we can be strong for ourselves and for others. When we are strong, we have the courage to oppose all that is not right and true.
The lioness-headed Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet is a Goddess that we may associate more with Summer than with Winter Solstice. Her energy can be found though at the sun’s nadir as well as at its strength. Sekhmet is patron of warriors. She is also a mother and a patron of healing.
Her priests and priestesses were renowned for their healing powers, but she was also invoked by Pharaohs seeking to defend Egypt, as well as by those seeking to drive out pestilence and disease. As we approach the solstice, whether in the northern or the southern hemisphere, we can honor and seek the strength and protection of the lioness-headed Goddess, belovèd daughter of the Sun God Ra, and mighty mother of the inner warrior within us all. Hear then her words:
I it is who comes to you with flaming hair,
I it is who give birth to the Child of Fire,
I it is who tends the Fire of my Perfect Love.
The Torch of Life is mine,
I am the Creator Mother,
I come to you as the Flame of Life,
I am Sekhmet.
I come to purify, to purge,
all the healing forces are mine
The heat of your hands comes from me to heal;
the heat that flows perfectly to purify away
the cancers and evil growths of your World.
Receive the life force,
the force of the blood that flows through your body;
receive the breath that cannot live without Fire
Establish yourself upon Earth.
Receive the Fire!
From: The Words of Sekhmet by Alex Sanders edited by Vivianne Crowley