Time-In-Between December 13, 2016

Moon over the water, cover of 2017 Lunar Calendar, used by permission of Luna Press.
Moon over the water, cover of 2017 Lunar Calendar, used by permission of Luna Press.

Today is the thirteenth day of the month and last full moon of the year. There are thirteen lunations in a year which is one of the reasons the number thirteen is given special significance in some earth-based spiritual traditions and esoteric philosophy. It is also the darkest period of the year, the last week in the interval between Samhain and Winter Solstice. At Samhain and for weeks following we honor the dead. Winter Solstice marks new beginnings. This combination gives this day and the next week a unique intensity.

The Solstice As Time-In-Between

This time-in-between is ideal for gathering the power of our reflections on the year that is about to end, as well as shed light on the future. Remember the dark is an intuitive and introspective stretch when we place down our roots for coming growth. The power of the ancestors is still strong while we are also preparing for the commencing six-month cycle when the light will be increasing again.

We can utilize this fertile period to gather wisdom about the complex events of 2016, including the election results in the United States. Uncertainty about what is actually going to happen in the future has made some of us question whether our past actions made any difference. It is important now more than ever to acknowledge to ourselves and each other that over the last fifty years social movements have enlarged options within the civil society of the United States. This advocacy has provided strength, connection with visions, community solidarity and tangible adjustments to social policy.

Liz1612bThese movements have given us the ability to live fuller and more authentic lives. We must celebrate our victories. The recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was indeed a victory gained during this dark time. Calling themselves water protectors these brave indigenous people and their allies emphasized their world view while educating about the workings of our natural systems. The Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Congregation and national UU leaders were present and deeply committed to this cause.

Liz1612cEven as we re-double our efforts to protect and expand our free and democratic society, we must value all that has been done up until now. Drawing strength from our own past efforts that have succeeded, we also need to recognize the significant contributions of those who have become ancestors.

Goddess 2.0

Liz1612dThere are stunning resources recently published that can aid this process. The first is the anthology Goddess 2.0: Advancing a New Path Forward by the popular author, lecturer and ritualist Karen Tate, who hosts the long-running radio program Voices of the Sacred Feminine. She has carefully selected highly readable essays which are organized into two parts: Sacred Wisdom and Sacred Action. They are brief, poignant and inspiring. Four Unitarian Universalists are included: Shirley Ranck, Nancy Vedder-Shults, Elizabeth Fisher (this author) and Bob Fisher. New work by Starhawk, Riane Eisler, Carol Christ and Barbara Walker among others round out this gem.

The themes include partnership, compassion, fresh spiritual viewpoints and social justice. One way we can support one another is to have discussions that help each of us formulate our best next steps. Using this book as a focus would be a powerful activity. You can purchase it directly from Karen at Goddess Gift Shop and see more reviews on Amazon.com.


The ’17 Lunar Calendar

The second resource The ‘17 Lunar Calendar: Dedicated To The Goddess In Her Many Guises has been created by Luna Press. The stages of each lunation are presented in beautiful graphic spirals. Original art and poems highlight the theme of the month. As the back cover proclaims: “This 41st annual edition features the work of 23 artists, poets, and writers as well as full astronomical and astrological moon-data. A refreshing synthesis of art and science, it teaches the tree-alphabet as inspired by The White Goddess by Robert Graves.” I have used this calendar for years with great pleasure.

The time-in-between also has a much larger meaning. It calls upon us to use our imaginations, that magical ability to envision, and travel to earlier epochs as well as the far future. What did our ancestors do at this time of year? This darkest phase will end in a week. The Winter Solstice marks this conclusion and new beginning.


Liz1612fNewgrange Ireland is a place where celebration of this moment has gone on for millennia. At dawn, on the mornings surrounding the solstice a narrow beam of light enters the 62-foot long passage and lights the floor. It moves along the ground, until it illuminates the rear chamber. This Neolithic lightshow lasts seventeen minutes. Ancients placed the bones of their ancestors in the path of this light so their spirits could pass between the worlds, believing these special moments created a portal.

Local expert Michael Fox told National Geographic, “Archaeologists have classified Newgrange as a passage tomb but it is more than that. ‘Temple’ is a more fitting label: a place of astronomical, spiritual, and ceremonial importance.”

I invite you to celebrate the coming Winter Solstice by viewing the oil paintings by Christopher Castle, who is especially adept at communicating the power of Newgrange and other sites. He was interviewed in the 1980s about his feelings for these places he visited, commenting on the sense of timelessness one gets at Winter Solstice. This feeling is one we need to connect into when the chaos of modern events and social realities impinges on our sense of purpose and commitment.

If you want to know more about Newgrange itself, Ancient Ireland: Newgrange 5,200 year old Megalithic Passage Tomb, a ten-minute video, is an inviting introduction.

Let us then take time to renew our creative abilities and ponder ways to embrace cooperative, organic and just possibilities. Let us honor those individuals past, present and future who embody these passions and feel their presence among us. May we also respond to one another with the goodwill we feel; and let us continue to value our feelings of joie de vivre in this sacred season and into the future, whatever the challenges.

Art Credits and suggested related columns

Honoring the Dark by Liz Fisher

Moon over the water, cover of 2017 Lunar Calendar, used by permission of Luna Press.

Figures with signs. Courtesy of People’s Oral History Project. From their wonderful book Voices of Change. People’s Oral History Project, Monterey County, Calif.

Defending the Sacred. Courtesy of KALW Local Public Radio 91.7, San Francisco.

Book cover of Goddess 2.0 used by permission of Karen Tate.

Newgrange passage tomb, County Meath. Close-up of part of the passage stone. Image found at PIXNIO Free Images  [August 2010] Image is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use picture for any personal and commercial use without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

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