Late last night, while the brightness of the snow illuminating the bedroom kept me awake, I felt called to re-read this piece from 2017. A short writing, it encompasses so much to me about this time of year. And what it means to be a Witch. I felt new words swell and crest in my mind as the snow collected and winds howled outside.
The Shadows Among Us
This past year I have seen so much talk of shadows and shadow selves, spreading from one corner of the internet to another, like a cloud of octopus ink in an 10 gallon aquarium. While it’s fascinating to see Jungian concepts applied to Witchcraft practice, I see so many people tripping themselves (and others) up in the process. It is good and difficult work to address the problematic parts of ourselves and our society. But there are two things to keep in mind:
1) We do this work both because and in spite of those parts of ourselves. As human beings, it is our job to experience, to learn, to grow, and to change. We aren’t meant to be perfect and no amount of waiting will get us there. Just like dance, we can’t wait until we feel we “look good” in order to start learning how to do it. You have to move now in this moment, as the next big cue to move on is Death. Life, or a Witch’s practice, is not a choreography learned by watching or dictation. You have to get up and suck at it before you get to be any semblance of good. You have to figure out how it feels for yourself, without paralyzing worrying from inner or outer critique. And no matter how well you learn it, this magical dance of life is improvised, constantly changing with the music.
2) Not everything difficult is hiding in the shadows – so much of it is propped up under glaring lights, like stolen treasure displayed in a museum that so many walk on by. We have to stop blaming the dark, the hidden, the taboo, and the mysterious for our discomfort – whether it stems from ourselves or others. Some of the most intense healing happens in caves of shadows, and some of the greatest damage is caused by bleaching light. One is not inherently bad while the other is solely good. Blame, shame, and their associated baggage blind us to seeing clearly, causing wounds to fester that cloud the heart and mind.
Come to the Solstice
The Solstice reminds us that light and shadow, day and night – they define each other. That every day between them is a point of balance, requiring context and nuance. Every minute and detail matters, but so does a greater perspective that sees beyond the linear to encompass the entire pattern. In this we learn to respect both the threads and the weavers – who are one and the same.
The year to come will bring a lot of change. While most may not be able to celebrate in our usual groups and places, we are all connected and collectively observe the shift. We will need to be vigilant and strong, but also fluid and kind. We have to be able to see and hear each other. We must learn to guide ourselves not only by our eyes and mouths, but through our hands, hearts, and feet. What we move from within us, also moves without and beyond. The eye of the heart knows and beats the rhythm for us to follow. Together, we are the music.
I offer you this poem to help set the tone.
The Witches’ Solstice
Witches come in spirit and in flesh
To send off this year with sound and thresh
Melted snow, evergreens, candle flame
The wild within we seek to reclaim
Embrace the shadows, stoke the fire
Within the darkness, our heart’s desire
Death and mystery, wisdom and light
Dance alongside all throughout the night
Alone and together, our souls belong
Threads intertwining, weaving the song
Blending every voice, heartbeat and mind
Spellbound balance, dark and light combined
We are shadow and we are the sun
Through serpentine rites, the work’s begun
We mark bright nights and count the dark days
Knowing we must learn through winding ways
Hail the shadows, boldly kiss the dark
While scratch, words and wounds may make their mark
Thorn and blossom do come hand in hand
Whole and one with the heart of the land
We have no fear of the creeping night
For in the dawn we shall turn the fight
Bright stars aligned pull down the tower
With justice, love, magic and power
Blessed Solstice and Happy New Year to you.