The Great Work, Holding the Space after Yule

The Great Work, Holding the Space after Yule December 22, 2015

As part of my spiritual practice each year I choose an area of study or devotion to which I will dedicate myself for the course of that turning of the wheel. This is what I call The Great Work, and it is furthered through 8 sabbats of the sun, and at least 12 esbats of the moon. That is a lot of work! But it begins in the still darkness following Yule when we rest, cease striving, and hold the space.

Carpe Nocturn / The Great Work, Holding the Space, Painting by Heron Michelle
Carpe Nocturn / Painting by Heron Michelle

The Great Work

Beginning sometime after Samhain, which is the end of the cycle, and beginning in earnest during the Yule rites, which is the beginning of the cycle, I use various means of meditation and divination to open my perception to the Awen (divine inspiration) about what that next Great Work should be. Then I make the dedication at Imbolc like the planting of the seeds. Throughout the remaining year the work is fertilized at Ostara, empowered at Beltane, cultivated at Litha, harvested at Lammas, and the fruits of those labors applied and integrated at Mabon, before laying to rest at Samhain what aspects of my life no longer serve my highest good, in light of the new development.

That time of rest between Samhain and Imbolc becomes a very wide open, reflective and intuitive time. Without fail, once I broadcast to the Universe that I am open to their messages, the synchronicity, signs, symbols, and omens blaze and sizzle into my awareness like fireworks. It becomes almost comically clear what threads I’m meant to begin weaving into the tapestry of my evolving consciousness through the next cycle of the Great Work.

The way that I utilize the energies of the solar cycle that we call “The Wheel of the Year”  allows for a time to “hold the space” during that dark time of late fall, early winter, when we celebrate the mythos of the God/dess descending into the underworld and arriving at Samhain. For me, the waning Samhaintides, are a time of rest and reflection. It is a time when the lessons of the previous harvest are taken into account with gratitude, and in the silence I find conclusion to what the year taught me. Then at Yule I turn my eyes to the future, into the birth of the new cycle, to begin a new vision.

I feel that the most important aspect of the Yule tides, is this time of metaphorical “darkness,” to refocus one’s inner vision.  Just as when one sits in the dark back yard, when there is no moon, nor glare of artificial light, and your eyes can relax into the low light. Perception expands, deepens, and points of starlight previously imperceptible, now come into our view; the patterns of the stars take on new clarity and meaning.

a woman laying on the ground beneath a crescent moon
Wyrd Rider / Painting by Heron Michelle

“Speak ye little, listen much.” ~The Wiccan Rede

“Hold the Space” is the term I use more frequently than “be silent” when referring to the active principle of the elemental earth mysteries of the Witches’ Pyramid of Power.  To hold the space means that I hold open the void of potential.  Meanwhile, I withhold any sort of critical analysis, judgement, or action.  I merely PAY ATTENTION, gather the strands of data, and SHUT UP for a while (that is the be silent part.) Then, after Yule, as I shift into “resonance,” the receptive aspect of earth, I become the midwife to a birth, and deliver into the world whatever my Divine Will deems appropriate for me at that time.

From Yule to Imbolc,  I begin to formulate the new dedication to The Great Work.  All those strands of data begin forming a pattern, like a big arrow pointing in a direction that I can discern, but it is for the best that I still withhold judgement and just begin that journey with the first step, since there are no guarantees to be had, anyway. Truth be told, even if I think I have an idea where Spirit is leading me, I’m always amazed by the journey. I may THINK I have a map, but I’m not going where I’ve been before, that is behind me, and every person’s journey is unique, so other people’s maps would do me no good anyway. You know what is said about the difference between Religion and Spirituality, don’t you?

“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience.
Spirituality is having your own experience.”
-Deepak Chopra

Navigating The River of Wyrd

a woman with arms raised appearing to clasp the moon
Drawing Down / Painting by Heron Michelle

I’ve been consciously navigating this river of Wyrd, or my personal destiny, as my Anglo-Saxon ancestors may have called it, now for over a decade. I can trust that the boat I’ve made for myself is well-crafted and strong, because I built it myself, one bit of praxis at a time. I can trust that my Wyrd is flowing in accordance to Divine Will, and that the wisdom, skills and experience I’ve gained through my spiritual practice will be sufficient to navigate whatever rocks, eddies and rapids may lie ahead. I also know that as a sovereign being with free-will, I have choices:

  1. Do I cling to the edge in terror of the unknown before me; paralyzed by my fear? Am I so powerless and dependent on anything or anyone else to allow my personal destiny to unfold? I’m no sheep.
  2. Do I turn my boat around and paddle feverishly and pointlessly against the current, attempting to cling to the past or to old ideas, and outmoded ways?  We know that is an exhausting, frustrating, pointless endeavor at best, and is seething fundamentalism at worst, getting you no where. I am no fool.
  3. Do I allow myself to become diverted and mired in some murky bog of avoidance, self-loathing, addictions, heart-break, disillusionment, or entrapment in old ideas. Am I bound by systems that no longer serve me? I’m no slave.
  4. Or might I have the courage and open mindedness to take responsibility for my own evolution by pointing the prow of my boat into the future, flowing with the current of wyrd, my Divine Will, and using all the tools I’ve honed and wisdom I’ve mapped for myself, to tackle what new vistas and lessons are out there waiting for me? Yes. I am the Witch; I am the Magickian.

With gratitude to the mystery teachings and techniques I weave through the Wheel of the Year, I have a praxis through which I can build the strong boat, map the wyrd through my own wisdom, and learn the skills of navigation through magick.  I will not let fear paralyze me, nor will I waste my energy on the pointless avoidance of change. I am not blinded by personal ego, misdirected by personal will, nor will I let despair or let hatred bind me.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune

As the Yuletides wane, allow yourself to rest in the quiet darkness of Winter. I offer this bit of advice: give yourself permission to rest, cease striving for this time and hold the space. Allow the boundless possibilities of the sacred darkness to find it’s place within your process. Then, at Imbolc, set goals for yourself over the coming year, and make them known to the Universe in that special way that you do. Engage in the Great Work of Witchcraft.

Where do you want to go this turning? Aim high and then rise to the occasion. Witchcraft can be a wild ride down the river of Wyrd, but its a worthwhile trip! Send me a post card! I’d love to know what wonders you’ve found.

Yuletide blessings,

Patheos Pagan
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