These seven weeks between Samhain and Yule have been the most difficult season I can remember. There have been great conflicts abroad and gross injustices at home. There have been natural disasters, untimely deaths, and personal misfortunes. As for me, I’m completing a year that has been quite rewarding but that has also been extremely painful and stressful.
I’m sure other seasons and other years have been worse – both personally and collectively – but I have no desire to search through the Annals of Misery to see for sure. 2014 has been bad and I’ll be happy to see it go.
We are living in what Byron Ballard calls Tower Time, named for The Tower in the Tarot. The Tower brings sudden, drastic, dramatic changes. There is no sugarcoating The Tower – it’s going to hurt, and it’s going to hurt a lot. It already is. But The Tower is necessary. It tears down the False and makes way for the True.
At the Winter Solstice two years ago we marked the end of the old aeon and beginning of the new. The old aeon is dying but it is still alive for now and it is fighting to hold on to its power and privilege. Like the monster in a horror movie it will not be truly dead until we take its head(s) and burn its corpse, and that will not happen in my lifetime.
The return of the light at the Winter Solstice brings the return of hope. We do now as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. We continue their traditions and we are confident those who come after us will carry on our work after we’re gone.
The dark times we are experiencing now will not disappear when we light our Solstice candles. I cannot promise you a bright new calendar year. Yet we light our Solstice candles anyway. We do what we do not because it will make everything nice and easy but because this is who we are.
The lightning strikes The Tower, the glamour of the old aeon begins to fade, and the structures built on its false premises begin to crumble. Our job is to lay the foundations for the new aeon.
Honor your Gods. They are our oldest, strongest, and wisest allies. Make offerings to Them and tell Their stories. Support Their values and embody Their virtues.
Take strength from your ancestors. They survived times every bit as difficult as these. If they could get through wars, plagues, famines, and ice ages, you can get through this. Where they did right, honor them. Where they did wrong, make it right.
Honor the spirits of the place where you are. Speak to them, listen to them, make offerings to them. We have common cause with the beings who have been on this land far longer than any human. Show yourself to be trustworthy. Listen – then act.
Never forget you’re an animal. Do what animals do. Eat good food, drink lots of water, and enjoy everything else in moderation. Exercise. Sleep.
Never forget you have a higher calling. Do what people with a higher calling do. Read, study, pray, meditate, make offerings. Work to make the world a more just, more compassionate, and more sustainable place.
Hold your lovers and friends. They will care for you and they will let you down. They will thrill you and they will frustrate you. You will do the same for – and to – them. Hold them anyway. They will keep you going when you’re ready to quit, and you will do the same for them.
Gather your tribe. Who else is nurturing the new aeon? Who’s working to bring the old aeon to its permanent conclusion? Who’s honoring the Gods, ancestors, and spirits? You aren’t the only one, even if it seems like you are. Seek them out, in person if possible, on-line if not.
Build alliances. There are many who are not of your tribe who see the same problems and are responding in their own ways. Some are Christians and some are atheists. Some are Muslims and some are Buddhists. Some don’t know what they are and some don’t much care. If we cannot join together in common worship, we can join together to work for justice.
These dark times are hard and we do ourselves no favors if we pretend they are not. But our goal is not merely to survive, it’s not to simply get through this. Our goal to build a better world and to live honorable and even happy lives in the process.
Sometimes we do the right things because we want to. Sometimes we do the right things because others force us to. And sometimes we do the right things because to do anything else is simply too painful. This is such a time.
May your Solstice be blessed, but more importantly, may your New Year be a blessing to the world.