Last week we had high winds and multiple tornadoes in the middle of December, in Minnesota. Almost everyone I know had high anxiety that evening. The entire experience felt like a violation of something sacred. We aren’t supposed to have 60 degree weather with tornadoes in December. We’re supposed to be enjoying (or complaining about, depending on who you are) the soft quiet of the snow. We’re supposed to be gearing up for our holidays and wearing warm socks and relaxing. There’s an entire scene around it, it’s like a mole-person’s version of cottage-core.
Well, my mole-person’s cottage-core was ripped to shreds. Thankfully we didn’t have damage to our property, although many of our loved ones and their local communities did. I could make this post about climate change (which would make sense) but that’s currently beside the point for me. The point is that I felt very strongly that I don’t need another comfort ripped from me. I’m an idealistic person and I’m very discerning about who and what I let into my life. This storm resonated as a metaphor for how much control I don’t actually have. I felt incredibly resentful when the storm passed through.
Weathering The Storm
I realized that this time of year is usually difficult for me for one reason or another. It’s a Saturnian time for me, restricted, with the breaking down of patterns and systems that no longer work. In tarot terms, December is often a Tower month. The first two weeks were really rough. Can we talk about how unhelpful all the metaphors are when you’re going through it? “Life is change,” “you’re leveling up,” “like the seed in the ground, blah blah blah.” I appreciate the general reminder to practice trust and to root down in my connection with my ancestors. But the rest of the fluff I could do away with, because it’s not helpful. A reminder to trust is helpful. A reminder to that I’m not alone is helpful. Telling me that difficult things are for the greater good or to look on the bright side is not helpful. Henri Nouwen said it best:
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
There’s such an emphasis on light this time of year, because the days get shorter. We need the reminder that it won’t last. Today is the shortest day of the year. I think, this year, that it’s worth it to ruminate on the dark, to sit with the difficulties and the pain and the sorrow. To take time to acknowledge what isn’t OK, where we are angry and hurt, and why. The return of the light is important, but so is the wisdom of the darkness. We can’t skip over what needs to be healed. We can’t pretend these feelings aren’t there. If we can learn to accept it in ourselves, then we can learn to make space for accepting it in others, so that we can really be there for our loved ones when they are walking their own paths of darkness.
No one can take our pain from us, but to have someone beside us who won’t minimize it, rationalize it or invalidate it is an invaluable gift. It’s the gift of connection, support, strength, love. It’s the gift of compassion. So this Winter Solstice I’m not reflecting on the return of the light. I’m reflecting on the gifts of the darkness.
Jessica Ripley is a Hekatean witch of the Faerie Faith, writer, herbalist, and spiritual advisor from MN. She also writes for Witch Way Magazine, and owns Owl in the Oak Tarot where she works as a tarot reader. You can connect with her on Facebook or via her website
featured image via pixabay