Leo Goddesses – The Cobra

“With power comes great responsibility.”

From Goddesses for Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around the World

The Goddess Sign for Leo is the Cobra, and she is arguably the Queen of Serpents.  Around the world serpents and dragons are connected with the wisdom of the sacred feminine.  Many cultures also imagine the apparent motion of the Sun, the ruling planet of Leo, crossing the sky as a serpent.  Dragons are creatures of fire, and in myth cobras are seen as “spitting fire” at their enemies. Leo goddesses include radiant solar goddesses, great cats from different cultures, and also those who represent the creative principle of fire in the form of dragons or serpents.  Leo goddesses represent nobility, the principle of light, and the fire of the Sun.  Sometimes these goddesses are daughters of the Sun.

Wadjet is an Egyptian goddess who was depicted as a golden cobra on the crown of the pharaoh.  Sometimes she is pictured as lion-headed and crowned with a sun disk and the ureaus, the cobra symbol.  She was a fierce fire-spitting serpent who was the symbol of mastery and regent of the northern part of Egypt.  Her name is the ancient Egyptian word for “cobra” and “eye.”  One of her aspects was the “avenging eye of Ra,” the Sun.  In a mystical sense she is like the Red Lion of alchemy who wields the magic of fire and burns away the impurities of our personalities.  Budhi Pallien is another great cat goddess of the Assamese people of northern India.  Their native language derives directly from Sanskrit.  She roams the jungles of the area in the form of a great tigress, protecting her territory.  She possesses a great deal of natural wisdom and is able to communicate with other animals and send messages to humans when necessary.  

Saule is the great goddess of the Lithuanian and Latvian peoples from the Baltic area.  Her name means “little white sun.”  She was also called Queen of Heaven and Earth and was envisioned as the sun itself.  She was also the goddess of amber, which comes from the Baltic region.  In contrast to some other capricious solar deities, Saule was loyal and hard working and was greatly admired.  Hae-Soon is a Korean sun goddess.  As she sets off on her daily journey across the sky people come out to look at her.  At first she blushes dimly, but as she feels stronger she burns brighter and lights up the day.  After a time she shines so brightly that people cannot look at her directly.  Akewa is a sun goddess of the Toba people of Argentina.  She journeys across the sky, bringing light to the world each day. Sometimes a great jaguar swallows her, causing solar eclipses.  But she is too hot, and the jaguar spits her out, returning sunlight to earth.

Python is a very ancient Greek goddess in the form of a great dragon.  Python was the original underground guardian at the ancient shrine of Delphi in Greece, long before the priests of Apollo hijacked the site.  Dragons are magical creatures of fire.  In myth she was born to the goddess Hera, without the participation of Zeus, indicating her antiquity. Mahuika is a Maori goddess of fire.  Like Python, she lives deep in the underworld where she preserves the secret of making fire.  Her story is called the “spark of Mahuika.”  To this day the Maori of New Zealand say rubbing together the dry wood of her sacred tree can awaken the sleeping child of Mahuika and bring forth a flame.  

Amaterasu is a Japanese sun goddess.  Long ago her brother savagely destroyed her garden and killed her animals.  She fled inside a cave to hide and deal with her sorrow, and the world became dark and desolate.  Over time eight hundred deities gathered outside the cave to coax her out.  The goddess Uzume performed an outrageous and bawdy dance, using a magical mirror called Yata no Kagami.  Everyone laughed and Amaterasu came out to investigate.  Her brilliance was reflected in the mirror, and she became convinced to return her much needed light to the world.

Sunna is a Scandanavian goddess whose title is Mistress Sun.  She carries the sun across the sky each day in her chariot pulled by horses.  Her mother’s name is Sol.  Belisama is a Celtic sun goddess whose name means “bright light.”  She represents the brightness of summer and is a goddess of fire, including sunlight, starlight, and the fires that forge metal for weapons and crafts.  Shapash is a goddess of the sun who was worshiped at sunrise, noon and sunset by the people of ancient Ugarit, part of modern-day Syria.  One of her names was Torch of the Gods.  Like many solar deities she has an affinity with serpents and was said to have the power to cure snakebites with her burning light.

We are close to the midway point between summer solstice and autumn equinox.  Already we can sense a shift in the nature of the light but the power of the sun, and the goddesses who serve and embody this fire, is strong and intense.  We can make conscious use of this fire to burn away what no longer serves us, freeing ourselves to radiate more of our own brilliant and purified light into the world.

http://www.JulieLoar.com

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA  www.newworldlibrary.com  

Gemini Goddesses: The Bee

“Community depends on pollination by each member.”

Goddesses for Every Day

Gemini is a Mutable Air sign that embodies the principle of motion.  The energy of the third zodiac sign is the result of the irresistible force of Aries impinging on the immovable object of Taurus.  Spinning motion on an axis is the result.  Gemini’s expression is to adjust and adapt in an ever-widening collection of data and a search for meaning.  Learning to tame the mind is the quest of this sign.  Geminis are curious and social, desiring to make connections and form relationships, and they are rarely still.  In traditional astrology Gemini is represented by the Twins, showing the sign’s dual nature.  

The Goddess Sign for Gemini is The Bee, which like curious Gemini, flies from flower to flower, drinking nectar, preparing to make honey.  The Bee is an ancient symbol of royal power and the sacred feminine.  This Goddess Sign teaches that community depends on pollination from each member.  Myths of Queen Bees, and priestesses who tend her hives and shrines, exist in diverse cultures.  Bees pollinate flowers, which bear fruit and yield seeds in a perpetual cycle of renewal.  The industrious Bee, who is not supposed to be able to fly, is an appropriate symbol for the pollinating nature of mental Gemini.  The goddesses who are included in Gemini encompass magicians, clever tricksters and shape shifters as well as those who are gifted with words, language and the power of sound.  Gemini goddesses are animated, verbal, mental, versatile and magical, and there is often an air of mystery about them.  

Melissa was the name of the goddess Artemis when she was worshipped as the Queen Bee and honey goddess.  Melissameans “honeybee” in Greek and was also the title given to a high priestess of the goddess Artemis.  The plural is Melissae, and there is evidence that there were thousands of these priestesses.  Honey was seen as the sacred substance of the goddess, and the honey jar, the pithos, was a symbol of the Divine Feminine as the womb of creation.  

Sara-la-Kali, of Sara the Black, is a spirit being of the Romani, or Roma, people who are more commonly known as Gypsies.  Every year in May thousands of Gypsies go on pilgrimage to Sainte Sara-la-Kali’s crypt.  Her shrine is located in the church of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in southern France.  The same site is also the location of relics dedicated to the three Marys:  Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome, and Mary Jacobe, who according to a mysterious legend, were cast adrift in a boat after the crucifixion of Jesus, along with an enigmatic figure called Black Sara. 

The Cherubim were originally female angels of the highest order who supported the throne of God and were associated wit the goddess Asherah.  These powerful winged beings bear little resemblance to the small chubby angels who appear on greeting guards.  Dione was a goddess of ancient Crete who was the Titan goddess of Gaia and Ouranos—earth and sky.  Later sources claim Dione was the first consort of Zeus and also the mother of Aphrodite, suggesting both her antiquity and her exceptional power.  Laka is a goddess and ancestral spirit whose domain is vegetation, herbal lore and wild forests.  She is thought to have blessed the ancient Hawaiian people with the sacred dance of hula.  Her domain is also the powerful tradition of the flower lei, which connects her to bees and pollination.  

The Rusalka are Russian or Slavic nature spirits, similar to elves and fairies.  Wherever their feet touched the ground the grass would grow green and thick.  They are talented shape-shifters and are known for their beautiful and captivating voices.  Renenet is an Egyptian goddess of great power who in ancient times gave newborn babies the gift of their name, called their Ren.  The name she bestowed was an aspect of the eternal soul, and it was said that a baby had Renenet on its shoulder from the first day.  Zoe is a deity of the Gnostic Greeks who is said to possess a fiery breath.  Her name means “life,” and she is mentioned in part of the Nag Hammadi library, codices found in Egypt in 1945.  She was the daughter of the Great Goddess whom the Greeks called Sophia.  

Vach is a Hindu goddess called She of the Thousand Forms.  Her name means “voice,” and she was once a goddess of thunder.  Vach is the goddess of the word, language, and both divine and human speech.  Laima is a goddess of fate and good fortune from Latvia and Lithuania and is seen as the personification of these ideas.  Her name actually means “luck,” so she is well cast as a Gemini goddess.  To this day, the people of Latvia still use the expression, “Laima willing.”  Canola is a particularly ancient Irish goddess who is said to have invented the harp, one of the long-cherished symbols of Ireland.  In Greek myth Penelope was the wife of the hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca.  She was also cousin to Helen of Troy.  But in the older stories she was a powerful spring fertility goddess whose role was to choose the annual king.  Penelope was famous for her cleverness, and while Odysseus was fighting the Trojan War and believed dead, she defied many suitors by saying she couldn’t marry until she finished weaving a funeral cloth for her father-in-law.  Each night she unraveled what she had woven the day before, so the cloth was never complete.  

This is the time of greatest light in the northern hemisphere.  Our days are longer and we steadily approach the turning point in the wheel of the year and the return to the darker times.  It’s a good time to ask ourselves what needs to grow and brighten in a big way.  It’s also a great time for a festival bonfire and a ritual of fertility.

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA www.newworldlibrary.com  

http://www.JulieLoar.com

Taurus Goddesses: The Tree of Life

 

Goddess Tree

The Tree of Life Grows in Every Garden   Goddesses for Every Day

Taurus is a Fixed Earth sign and embodies the principle of pure substance.  Taurus is the matrix that absorbs the impact of the energy projected outward by Aries.  Energy is action.  Matter is reaction.  Alchemically the matter of Taurus is precipitated from the water of Pisces, the twelfth sign, by the fire of Aries.  The nature of Taurus, traditionally symbolized by the Bull, expresses stability and permanence.  The spiritual path of Taurus involves cultivating higher values versus seeking purely material motives. Taurus natives tend to be builders and sustainers and rarely act without reflection.

The Goddess Sign for Taurus is the Tree of Life.  Trees, especially those that bear the fruit of immortality, are connected with the Goddess in cultures around the world.  She typically lives in a western garden with a serpent that guards the Sacred Tree.  Gardens located in the symbolic west, the place of the sun’s daily death, connote immortality in numerous cultures where the goddess holds the secret to resurrection.  The energy, which sinks sustaining roots deep into the Earth, describes the grounding and stabilizing nature of Taurus. Taurus goddesses embody the element of earth, and many are also symbolized by cows or other strong, protective mammals. Qualities of Taurus goddesses are abundance, sustenance, manifestation, security, growth, the establishment of roots, and fertility.

Green Tara is Mother Earth in her oldest form and is the most revered of all the pre-Vedic goddesses of India.  She is a female Buddha and one of the aspects of the Great Goddess Tara, who encompasses all manifestations of feminine divinity.  She is sometimes called the Mother of the Buddhas.  Her name means “star,” or “she who ferries across,” and we can call on her as we move into the spiritual-growth aspect of our lives.  Gaia is one of the oldest creation deities from the area that much later became Greece.  Her shrines were built in mountain caves and in sacred groves of the oldest trees.  In myth, Gaia’s temple at Delphi was given to her by the great serpent being Python.  Thousands of years later, when Zeus took over as king of heaven, the Greeks still swore their most sacred and binding oaths to Gaia because they were still subject to her law.

Asherah is another vastly ancient fertility goddess who was worshipped in both Egypt and Canaan, the biblical Promised Land.  She was the consort of both Ba’al and Yahweh.  She is a benevolent goddess who gave her love freely and was called Mistress of Sexual Rejoicing. In Israel, archaeologists have unearthed thousands of terra-cotta figurines of Ashera, some of which look like pillars or tree trunks.

Maia is the Greek goddess whose name is the origin of the English word May.  She embodies the forces of growth and brings the seasonal warming of the earth.  The Greeks knew Maia as the Grandmother of Magic. Some stories say she scorned marriage, preferring to be free.  Lakshmi is a well-known and beloved Hindu goddess usually equated with wealth.  Although most people may believe this refers only to material wealth, her nature is far-reaching, and includes the deeper idea of spiritual riches and alignment to divine wisdom.  Her name comes from the Sanskrit word laksya, meaning “aim” or “goal”.

Hathor is one of the most ancient Egyptian goddesses. Her sacred animal is the wild cow, and her magical implement is the sistrum, a type of musical rattle.  One image of Hathor is a winged cow that gives birth to the whole universe.  When the goddess manifests as the Seven Hathors, who foretold a child’s destiny at birth, she resembles the Greek Fates and other goddesses of fortune.  Callisto is another pre-Hellenic goddess whose name means “fairest one.”  Like the later Greek Artemis, who took on her qualities, Callisto is a goddess of the hunt who possessed keen instincts.  One of her forms is a bear, one of the oldest symbols of the Great Goddess, reaching back in time at least seventy thousand years.  She survives in starry form as the constellation Ursa Major.

Asase Yaa is a goddess of the Ashanti people of western Africa.  Called Old Woman Earth, she is a creation goddess who gave birth to all of humanity.  She also reclaims her children at death as they return to the earth, which is her womb.  Hou Tu is a Chinese fertility goddess who is similar to the goddess Gaia and represents the deification of the earth.  Her domain is earth magic, and the ceremonies and rituals performed in her honor were believed to bring people into resonance with their Divine Mother.

White Buffalo Calf Woman is the daughter of the sun and moon and comes to earth as a wakan, a holy woman, in critical times to reach humanity.  She is Whope, “falling star goddess,” to the Plains Indians, and Ptesan Wi, or “white buffalo calf woman,” to the Sioux.  She is a sacred being of supernatural origin who appeared out of a mysterious cloud two thousand years ago, blessing the Sioux with a sacred bundle of seven rituals.

At this time of year in the northern hemisphere the signs of spring are everywhere, and our thoughts turn toward our gardens and growing things. These ancient and powerful Taurus goddesses remind us of the sacredness of the earth and her creatures.  We are reminded to walk gently on her body and to respect all life.  There is power in the knowledge that the Goddess renews everything in an ever-repeating cycle of death and rebirth.

(Image from snappy goat.com)

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA www.newworldlibrary.com

 

 

Saturn-Pluto Conjunction Jan 2020

“We are living in what the Greeks called kairos­­–the right moment ­­for a ‘metamorphosis of the gods,’ of the fundamental principles and symbols.”

                                                                                    Dr. Carl G. Jung

The Return of Persephone Lord Frederic Leighton (1891)

Saturn and Pluto will form an exact conjunction in a single intense pass on January 12, 2020. The two planets conjoin roughly every 33-38 years as Pluto’s eccentric orbit causes the timing to shift by zodiac sign. The conjunction will contain five planets at 22 degrees of Capricorn that includes the Sun, Ceres, and Mercury. It’s a powerful lineup as the planet of structure combines with the energy of hidden influences and is fueled by the force of the Sun. This rare concentration could trigger a redistribution of power globally and nationally. Corrupt structures may be revealed, and we may see deconstruction and reconstruction based on tests of integrity and unraveling moral fiber. The conjunction will also offer a preview of the Pluto return in America’s horoscope in 2022. 

Earlier interpretations of Saturn/Pluto conjunctions have focused on the dark side and chronicled violent upheavals. These energies cannot be denied as this planetary combination can bring things to a dramatic end. But there is potential for an expanded view of this energetic combination based on a re-examination of their myths. 

Before telescopes only five planets were visible to the naked eye. The Greeks called them asteres planetai“wandering stars” as they appeared to be bright lights that moved against the background of “fixed stars.” They named these moving stars after their gods, and the Romans followed the Greeks. The fastest moving planet was named Mercury, after the swift-footed Messenger of the gods. Venus was bright and beautiful, so she was named after the goddess of love and beauty. Mars looked red in the sky, so it seemed apt to name that planet after the god of war, and Jupiter was king of the Olympian gods.

Saturnus was an old Roman agricultural god who ruled in a past golden age. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid. The Romans equated Saturnus with the Greek Cronus, although their natures were quite different in some ways. Saturnus taught the Romans agriculture, and his annual winter solstice festival called Saturnalia bore hallmarks of our Christmas and New Year celebrations. We do not know why the Greeks named the planet we call Saturn after the elder Titan god Cronus rather than  another one of the Olympians. We can suppose the Greeks acknowledged the idea of time, since this planet was the slowest moving of those visible, and therefore signified the slower motion of old age. 

Astronomy has retained the Roman planetary names, and astrology still uses the archetypes of Greco-Roman gods, complete with their flaws and foibles. With increasingly powerful telescopes we can now see the planets and peer deep into space. Our ability to experience the influence of planetary energies has also grown, and modern changes in society should be taken into account. Therefore, I believe it is time for a “metamorphosis of the gods” and a re-examination of symbolic identities. The Saturn-Pluto conjunction offers just such an opportunity.

Since 2006 Pluto has been designated as a dwarf planet. Pluto’s moon Charon is half the size of Pluto, and is tidally locked, so the two are considered a dynamic binary dwarf planet. The other known moons of Pluto are Nix and Hydra, Kerberos, located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, and Styx. All of Pluto’s moons were named for mythological figures associated with the underworld, a naming convention begun by 11-year-old Venetia Burney in 1930.    

The underworld idea took root. Astrologically Pluto governs the symbolic underworld–what has not yet been redeemed in our psyches. This includes hidden and dormant conditions that need to be brought to conscious awareness, purged, and transformed into new sources of power. Pluto is the urge to regenerate and transform. Pluto rules those who work under the surface such as miners, psychologists, nuclear physicists, and undertakers. Certainly the darker side of Pluto can’t be ignored as the idea of plutocracy, an elite class whose power derives from wealth, stems from Pluto’s misuse. Gold is the source of wealth and the origin of greed–it is an axiom that power corrupts. 

The standard interpretation of Pluto can be expanded and deepened if we look at earlier myths, as Pluto was not always the god of the underworld. Pluto is cognate with the Greek Plutos, which means “riches.” He was the Greek god of wealth, giver of gold, silver, and other subterranean substances. Because these gifts were mined, Plutus became recognized as the god of the physical underworld, which in turn became the spiritual underworld, and therefore death. In Greece, this earlier god was sometimes called Hades, which was also the Underworld itself. 

According to Hesiod, Plutus was born in Crete and was the son of the goddess Demeter and the Cretan Iasion. Sometimes he was the child of Pluto (Hades) and Persephone, where in the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries, he was regarded as the “Divine Child.” In art he usually appears as a child with a cornucopia and is shown with Demeter and Persephone. 

Demeter and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and lasted for 1,800 years. Similar rites occurred in agricultural societies of the Near East, Egypt, and Minoan Crete. The mysteries were secret initiatory rites that represented the symbolic abduction of Persephone by Pluto-Hades in three phases: descent (loss), search, and ascent. The marriage of Pluto and Persephone was at the heart of this religion, and the main theme was the ascent, or return, of Persephone and annual reunion with her mother. This cycle is parallel to the archetype of the heroic journey described by Joseph Campbell. 

Within the Olympian pantheon, Pluto-Hades was permanently confined to the Underworld. It was Persephone, the feminine aspect, his wife and queen, who made the annual depth journey and return to the surface of Earth. Each year Persephone descended into shadows and dark places, the realm of death and buried secrets. Symbolically, she is soul and psyche, representing the psychological work of the shadow. She always returned to the surface, bringing light and warmth, while Pluto remained below as king of the Underworld and all it contained—gold and old bones. 

In the case of Saturn, the astrological influence is the embodiment of form, and the dramatic rings surrounding the planet represent the idea of limitation. Saturn is the cohesive force that binds. The ringed planet gives form to our life experiences and also provides our lessons. Saturn constructs, deconstructs, and reconstructs—no form is permanent. When we deal with Saturn we deal with authority, both our own capacity to wield authority, and our ability to be led by and learn from others.

Saturn’s influence by transit brings a reckoning, facing payment of what has come due. If we squander our resources we become bankrupt, but if we are prudent our assets can grow. This is not a cruel or vindictive figure wielding a scythe, but rather a principle of equilibrium, seeking balance. This law is a self-correcting mechanism that brings an end to structures whose life cycle is ending and are beginning to decay.  

An alternative mythic identity for the ringed planet could be Demeter. Like the other visible planets, she was one of the twelve Olympians, goddess of the harvest who presided over grains, agriculture, cycles of the year, and the fertility of Earth. More importantly, she was the goddess who presided over sacred law and the repeating cycle of life and death. One of her titles was Thesmophoros, “Law Bringer,” an apt name for the planet said to be exalted in Libra. Sacred law, like karma, is not punishment but the direct consequence of choice and action; we reap what we sow. 

There is precedent for Saturn being a feminine planet, even among the Greeks. In an early text by Hellenistic astrologer Dorotheus of Sidon, Carmen Astrologicum, he states “the feminine planets are Saturn, Venus, and the Moon, and the masculine planets are the Sun, Jupiter, and Mars.” Mercury was seen as both. This brings more balance to the planetary gender polarities. Isabelle Hickey, author of Astrology: A Cosmic Science, describes Saturn as both the Dweller on the Threshold and the Angel of the Presence, the testing and teaching agency by which we learn and master our life lessons. She describes Saturn as a feminine archetype and penned a poem about her, saying “freedom is only found through Saturn’s discipline.”

In Qabalah, Saturn corresponds to the Sephirah (sphere) Binah on the Tree of Life. Binah is the Great Mother, matrix of form, and the template of the manifested universe, whose limitation and form-giving power are the womb of creation. The word matter stems from the same root as matrix and mother. 

How might we recast the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto if we include the Eleusinian mysteries and alternate myths in the interpretative mix? If Pluto has an aspect of giving gifts mined from the deep parts of our psyches, how might we view his energy in a different light? And, if Pluto is seen not as the vile abductor of an innocent virgin, but rather as acting in concert with his wife Persephone, it’s possible to better understand the nature of cyclic loss and symbolic resurrection. 

If we consider Saturn as Demeter, something profound can be understood in the mythic encoding of the cycle of the year. Death does not triumph but is rather a change of state, offering a time of rest and renewal. A wise teacher once said, “All pain is caused by holding on.” Willingly letting go, we can gracefully surrender the forms that need to die, trusting the process of rebirth and reformation. 

Perspective is what matters. After the harvest we do not weep for the death of the wheat. Instead, we celebrate the abundance of crops and move with the cycle of the year until spring returns and it’s time to plant again. Likewise, if we have been good stewards of our symbolic fields, we can rejoice. If we have made poor choices we can learn from our mistakes and move on. If we embrace this wisdom we can face what has outgrown its time and be courageous enough to stop clinging to the past. Our openness will make room for new life, and we can make a fundamental course correction.  

However we choose to cast the characters in this morality play, the Saturn-Pluto conjunction offers a powerful time of reckoning. We must face the truth of structures of power that have become corrupt, and we can expect some chaos. Collectively we must clear the fields and winnow the wheat, making way for new structures for the next cycle. We should take care at the dawn of a new age what seeds we plant for the future.  

Winter Solstice

christmas-tree-christmas-sparkle-354258.jpg

Kindle Your Inner Fire

Winter Solstice is the rebirth of the Sun and is an important turning point in the year as it marks the longest night. Winter Solstice occurs at a specific time, not on just a certain day. This year on December 21, at 11:29 AM EST and 8:29 AM PST, the Sun will shine directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the southernmost point the Sun reaches in its apparent annual journey, causing colder temperatures and shorter days in the north. In the Southern Hemisphere, days are long and it’s high summer. On December 21, North America will see only nine and a half hours of daylight and fourteen and a half hours of darkness.

After Winter Solstice, the Sun seems to rise and set in the same place in the sky for three days. That’s why December 25 is significant as that’s when the Sun begins its northward motion. Many scholars believe the Christian church selected December 25 as the symbolic date of Jesus’s birth several centuries after his death, mystically linking him to many ancient and powerful solar deities and holidays such as the Roman Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun.

Winter Solstice, or Yule, is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year; it is the seed time, the longest night, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King. In many cultures Winter Solstice was associated with the birth of a “divine king,” a god of light. Since the Sun is considered to be a male divinity in many traditions, this time is celebrated as the “return of the sun god” as he is born again of the Goddess. At this time of year, the Goddess is in her dark Crone aspect, ‘She who cuts the thread,’ ‘Our Lady in Darkness’, severing the old year and calling back the light. At the same time, she gives birth to the Son who will fertilize the Earth, bringing back light and warmth to the world.

Fire festivals, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, held on the Winters Solstice can be found throughout the ancient world. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was held on the Winter Solstice. Boughs of evergreen trees and bushes would decorate the house, gifts where exchanged, and normal business was suspended. The Persian Mithraists held December 25th as sacred to the birth of their Sun God, Mithras, and celebrated it as a victory of light over darkness. In Sweden December 13th was sacred to the Goddess Lucina, “Shining One,” and was a celebration of the return of the light.

On Yule itself, around the 21st, bonfires were lit to honor Odin and Thor. The festival is also associated with the birth of older gods like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus, and even Arthur with a cycle of birth, death and resurrection.

Culturally, we do not allow enough space or value to darkness – the night’s deeps, Winter Solstice, dreaming in a cave, Yin energy, the formless, infinite, indefinable, unknowing realms of unconsciousness and shadow. Yet this is where creativity and energy are born. In a poetic sense it is on this, the longest night, ‘the dark night of our souls’, where a new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, is reborn within.

Take time this December 21 to welcome back the light. Many solstice rituals include lighting candles, incense, and setting intentions for the new year. It’s a perfect time to write down what needs to be released and burn the paper in a fire, releasing the old energy and liberating bound patterns. Meditating at the moment of solstice, settling into the deep and silent darkness, then lighting a single candle with intention, brings in powerful energy as a profound shift to the return of light.

Fan the spark of your inner fire and let it blaze with joy and inspiration. Joyous Solstice!