At this time, after the Winter Solstice and moving into the New Year, we have a great opportunity to do some soul searching, using the lantern light of the coming year to illuminate the way. This time needn’t be about making resolutions, but rather synthesizing experiences and making more coherent sense of it all so that our foot falls on solid ground as we step into the new year. In my own Solstice-Tide Soul Search (because every good thing needs a fun name!), I focus on assessing my relationships with the Gods, Spirits, and Ancestors – the Holy Powers, cataloging the knowledge gained during my soul-flights, and noting lessons learned that have shaped my values and/or the way that I live my life. As a devotional polytheist maintaining multiple relationships with Holy Powers from a number of pantheons employing a range of traditional practices, it is easy for me to craft rituals, make regular offerings, have mystical encounters, keep copious notes about all of the above, and then become a bit lost from time to time in the sea of transformative experiences. In waves, I find that I lose sight of what I have experienced, how it has deepened my connection with each Holy Power that I work with, and what those powerful spiritual moments mean in the grand scheme of things. Soul searching at the time between the Winter Solstice and the New Year brings me back to what matters and why, and from that strong center I can step into new beginnings.
The Solstice-Tide Soul Search is very important for me personally as I am quite introverted and very meaning oriented. Cocooned with a cup of tea, a journal and pen, my ever ready Evernote account containing most of my magical notes for the year, a few different divination options, and a prayer, I settle in for the hard work of cracking the current year’s spiritual code. I have gone through this process for many years now and it has varied in its structure and formality, but I have found that if I fail to do it, I tend to feel confused and/or disconnected more frequently throughout the year. The Solstice-Tide Soul Search is one of the moments throughout the year where I collect my personal thoughts and feelings and also commune with the Holy Powers in order to crank out some kind of understanding for myself, and hopefully a little bit of wisdom. Of course this is not the only time of year that I do this work, but it is often the most powerful because in many ways it serves as the culmination of all of the careful soul searching that came before it.
No matter how you cut it, soul searching is time consuming. Over the course of any given year, my experiences with the Holy Powers are rich, diverse, dynamic, and often mind-blowing, as I believe is the case for most people with strong devotional relationships. The complexities and nuances of mystical connection, soul-flight, and other such practices take time to make sense of. Some of that process is unconscious and ongoing, unfolding in half-recalled dreams, the small death at the bottom of each breath, and the madness of uncontrollable laughter brought on by a conglomeration of sensations that the brain doesn’t know how to handle. Still other parts of the process emerge from consciously concerted efforts to take note, study, ask, and listen. The conscious and unconscious processes are not mutually exclusive; they influence one another in both seen and unseen ways. All of my Solstice-Tide Soul Searching is my (sometimes shockingly feeble) attempt to create a clear(er) conversation between both the conscious and the unconscious within myself, and also between myself and the Holy Powers who reach out to me.
Through the Solstice-Tide Soul Search process I also review and organize bits of knowledge that I gained from the Spirits about plant and animal lore relevant to my Work, things the Holy Powers told me about themselves and their worship, and lessons that I learned about the worlds while on my astral travels. In addition, I check-in with the Holy Powers who walk with me. I cleanse their altars, present offerings, and then I ask what has pleased or displeased them. I ask what more they would like from me. I share my own needs with them. And I listen to them through intuition and divination, and I take copious notes.
I have learned that the entirety of the soul searching process is complex, nuanced, and time-consuming, but rewarding and quite necessary for me. In my view, our souls are a part of the tapestry of being and they are the part of us that is most clearly and most directly connected with all things. Soul searching is a powerful gateway to knowledge and understanding of both Self and other, and it is one means by which we account for the past and make way for the future, two things that are quite relevant at this powerful time between the Winter Solstice and the New Year.