On the Winter Solstice eve, set up a cozy, private spot in your home where you can be warm and comfortable. Turn off the lights and have a candle close at hand, but do not light it. Close your eyes and begin to track the movements and sounds of your body with breath.
On every in-breath, infuse yourself with the still, quiet darkness that surrounds you. On every out-breath, release any stress you may be carrying from the holiday season. Soften your facial muscles, loosen the stiff, tight places in your body, and empty your mind of thoughts and concerns. Be with yourself in the all-encompassing dark.
Open yourself to the natural world energies of this longest night of the year and the awakening tendrils of new light and new beginnings that will soon be birthed from this deep darkness. Imagine taking these energies into your body and sense them calling forth your inner darkness and emerging light. Let your soul longings bubble up to the surface, stirring up the seeds of new beginnings waiting for you in the belly of the dark.
Stay in your center and observe any emotional reactions that you may have. No matter what arises, be it fear, anticipation, pain or joy, just keep your breath slow and steady, and your body and awareness open and receptive. Winter Solstice work can be edgy, awakening painful, fragile places in your psyche. You travel these pathways by your free will, so set the intention to be guided by your highest good and only go as deep as is right for you at this moment.
Continue to breathe and ground, slow and steady; let go of your emotions and settle into the empty silence within you.
Like Inanna, turn your mind to the Great Below, seeking out its rebirth magic to guide your journey of soul. See a portal before you with a passageway that leads down, down, down to the realm of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. As you make your descent toward Ereshkigal’s throne room, sense yourself traversing a series of gates where invisible hands strip you of your worldly masks and pretenses, and anything else that stands between you and the new beginning awaiting you this Winter Solstice eve.
At each of these gates, notice what is being taken from you, and how it feels to be free from its influence. Know that the ways you have learned to deny and hide from the truth that is your life, both the beautiful and painful, will only block your pathwork with Ereshkigal. But you engage this pathwork at your own pace, and need only strip yourself as bare as feels comfortable.
When you reach this point, you will find yourself on the threshold of Ereshkigal’s throne room. Look deep, deep inside: is there one more thing that you are still clinging to that must be surrendered to the dark? Name this thing and gently let it fall away.
Step past the threshold and stand before Ereshkigal, empty and humble. Take in your surroundings: the look and feel of the Great Below, the fearsome and beautiful presence of Ereshkigal on Her throne, and your physical, emotional and energetic responses to this sacred, powerful place.
Bear Ereshkigal’s scrutiny in silence, waiting for Her to speak and direct your engagement. This is Her sovereign realm, and you are here by Her grace and consent. Yet also stand proud and sure of yourself; you have made this descent and brave this encounter of your own volition.
There is no hiding in Ereshkigal’s presence. She knows why you are here and what you seek in the deepest dark of this Winter Solstice eve. Speak words of respect, and humbly request that She help you activate Her rebirth magic and discover the seeds of your beauty and wounding waking within you.
Ereshkigal descends from Her throne and directs your attention to a mirror of polished, black stone. This mirror has special powers; it can reveal the parts of your inner landscape and life story that are ready to return from the shadow places in your psyche to the light of your conscious awareness.
Focus your awareness on its reflective surface, and whisper to the mirror, “show me my beauty and wounding.”
Open yourself to the images and energies the mirror reveals: the hidden gifts, dormant potential and secret desires of your beauty, along with the repressed and forgotten pain, losses and suffering of your wounding. Do not deny or push anything away. But do practice self-care, and only delve as deep into your wounding as feels right for you.
Remember that your wounding is your ally, not your nemesis, and that the dark holds the lost jewels of your Deep Self and authentic humanity that have long waited to return to their rightful place and purpose in your waking life. You cannot move forward in reclaiming your beauty without also reclaiming your mirror wounding.
See the intertwining of your beauty and wounding, and the blessings and challenges offered by each. Spend as much time as you need to connect with these vital roots of your life story and spiritual unfolding. Then reach for the parts of your beauty and wounding that are meant to guide your journey of soul at this time, and imagine them transforming into warm, fleshy seeds in your cupped palms. From these seeds, your pathwork of new beginnings will be born.
Hold the seeds outward for Ereshkigal’s perusal. Like Inanna, surrender yourself to Ereshkigal’s wisdom and ways. Heed Her words of guidance on the potent pathwork offered by these seeds, and let Her presence and rebirth magic settle into your flesh and bones. Though She can be a fierce and demanding taskmistress, Ereshkigal’s sacred intention is to help you transform into the fullness of your Deep Self.
If you are ready to do the pathwork revealed to you this Winter Solstice eve, bring these seeds of beauty and wounding to your lips and swallow them as a conscious act of receiving and ingesting their transformative energies. And in this powerful act, know that you have truly begun the work of mending and reclaiming your beauty and wounding, and of birthing a bright new beginning on your journey of soul.
Look one last time into Ereshkigal’s eyes as you bid Her farewell, seeing beyond Her ferocity to Her infinite love. Bow and offer Her your gratitude and reverence, for it is She who has guarded these lost parts of your life story and Deep Self, and the rebirth mysteries of the sacred dark, for the time when you would remember Her sacred presence and your own.
Use your breath to bring yourself back to waking consciousness and your physical body. Open your eyes and sit for a few minutes in the enveloping darkness. Then light a candle as a symbol of the new light and new beginning that will be born of this Winter Solstice magic with Ereshkigal. Take this light into your core, infusing the seeds in your belly with the hope and promise that from death comes new life, and from the darkest night of your wounding, the new dawn of your beauty is born.
[Excerpt from Path of She Book of Sabbats: A Journey of Soul Across the Sabbats, now available on Amazon and iBooks. Visit the Path Store for details]
The Path of She is published on alternate Saturdays; follow it via RSS or e-mail! If you like Karen’s work, like her page on Facebook or maybe buy her book, Tale of the Lost Daughter, a fictional spiritual adventure into the life-changing world of magic and the sacred feminine.