Throughout the year in the turn of seasons, we celebrate manifestations of Goddess in all of her cyclical glory. Since we are in the Northern Hemisphere, please note that we honor the seasons from that perspective.
“Descend to Rise” – isn’t that what the Autumn season is all about? The Goddess is a bit languid now, drawing energy from the last days of summer in preparation for Her journey down and Her inevitable rise. We recognize the descent as the change of seasons and the onset of Fall and Winter. Nature provides the most stellar show of the year and begins to shed the lush beauty of summer. Goddess garbs Herself in vibrant oranges, yellows and reds as She retreats to a more internal and reflective time of the year. The air starts to cool and carries whispers of promise – promise of the coming darkness and winter.
The scale tips from the balance of light and dark at the Autumn Equinox (around September 21 each year) to the dark of Winter Solstice (around December 21 each year). The final harvests represent the fecundity of Goddess and Her ability to sustain us through the deepest parts of winter. Reflecting the dark face of the Goddess, we also focus more on the depths, that which sustains, and soul work.
Gathering in community at Mabon and the secular Thanksgiving symbolizes our ancestors’ reliance on family and community to survive the winter. Combining resources and stores gave them a better chance of seeing the first buds of Spring. While these necessities are not as present in the modern world, we still walk in the footsteps of our ancestors and the cycle of the Goddess. At Samhain, fires are lit and through the thinning veils, we reach out for communication and comfort to those who have passed.
The drama of the descent of the Goddess represents the balance of dark and light: Demeter and Persephone, Inanna and Erishkegal, Isis and Nepthys, and the sweet sorrow of the season that acknowledges that decay and death are always inevitable. Leading us through the innermost labyrinth are the the Dark Queens whose liminal natures signify the mysteries present in working the energies of life, death and rebirth: Hekate, Cerridwen, the Morrigan, Arianrhod, Coatlicue, The Fates. Their liminal natures represent the mystery of this season, the need for the downward spiral to connect with our deepest knowing.
Remember to take time from the busy, modern holiday rush to honor these ancient traditions and energies. Seek the depths of your soul connection to Goddess and treasure it as sustenance through the dark to the inevitable rise of light.
Beginning with Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year, it is time for us to tend our light and plant seeds of luminous hope for the coming year. In ancient times, when the agricultural calendar was the focus, people knew that Winter Solstice signified the halfway point of Winter. There was hope in the fact that half of the hardest, coldest months were behind them and the thaw was coming. Astrologically, the Sun becomes stationary and then slowly begins to move in an upward motion in the sky to culminate at the Summer Solstice. In modern times, we gather with those we love, or even in the silence of winter, to fan the flames that will sustain us in the next few months as we keep the promise of Spring and new growth in our hearts.
The Goddesses of Winter hold sway now (in all of their myriad forms) – it is the Time of the Crones and Wisdom Women. They circle the hearth fires, poke the coals and sustain us in the darkest night. We are halfway to somewhere so it gives us permission to lull (even for a moment) into the comforting bosom of the Grandmother. The Crones are feeding the fires and singing our souls home and giving us the strength to keep the faith – An Cailleach, Spider Woman, Baba Yaga, La Befana, the Norns and the Fates.
We honor the Mothers that have birthed the Sun Gods at this time of year – Mother Mary, Isis, Frigga and Maya; each bringing the Sun/Son into the world to be the symbol of Light across the continents.
The Goddesses that live on the snowy tundras are standing vigil and ready for the sacrifices of the past year. What do you need to shed and leave to the harsh energies of the tundra? This is an opportunity for assessment and to ask for the assistance of the Goddesses of Winter to help you make way for more light in your life, in your being for the coming year. Some of these Goddesses come with the impetus that you must transform or you will not survive the winter of your Soul. Connect with Freya, Skadi, Holda, and Demeter (who through her grief caused winter).
With the approach to February, we experience Imbolc, the “quickening”, the breath of life that infuses the seeds that have been planted to bloom in Spring and Summer. Fierce, Warrior Goddesses stand guard over this precious, mysterious process ~ Brigid, Oya, Athena, Shakti. They clear the path for creation and the inevitable cycle to Spring when Mother Gaia is adorned with new life.