The Solstice Shadow

The Winter Solstice is upon us! This means we experience the longest night of the year, and it also means that each day thereafter will bring us to a longer stretch of daylight by just a few minutes, until Spring finally arrives! Up here in the northern part of America, we truly feel the depths of hibernation, and what it means to burrow in for an extended period – pandemic or no pandemic.

This year, I will make a special effort to honor the benefits of this quiet time. Today, I will intentionally walk in the daylight, all bundled up, even for a brief time. This evening, I will eat the warmed crusted breads, salted nuts, dried fruits and savory meats of my ancestral heritage, setting out a plate on my windowsill for the divine gods of the greater realms! I will ask for enduring strength and unwavering hope. I will light candles, tell stories of remembrance, and read poems of the bards! I will sway and twirl to Celtic drums and flutes! I will hold my cats among bells and pine boughs, and dream my mugwort dreams. This is a sacred night.

One of the beautiful notions of the winter solstice is that our shadow self is embraced. That part of us that has suffered and battled and longs to heal, waiting for the light and its warmth to return. Within each of us is a balance of our glory and our struggles. We must not deny the darkness, but go into the parts of us that need solitude and the salves of love. We recognize that we, like winter, are only here for a spell of time, and we are meant to accept our fleeting time on earth, we begin to treasure all that life brings. Nature is wise and relentlessly powerful. Let us accept our true, human nature, that which can only experience glory because of the struggles. No struggle, no glory. And the struggles are not only beyond our individual shells, but often a mirrored internal one, which requires our greatest courage and an iron-clad faith. The winter solstice reminds us to stop, rest, and reflect.

In December, the ice now thickens and protects the earth, so that come Spring, we are blessed with a melting saturation, the water needed to drench the soil and restore its growing once more. These cycles, these aeons of time, bring renewal and the fortitude to once again unfurl. We put our past to sleep, then we awaken to a new beginning.

Mirror Magic: Attracting One’s Tribe

The day I turned 50, something important happened which had little to do with my age and a whole lot to do with how I was living. One of my closest friends, a person I had loved and respected for many years, had posted a message on social media that was intentionally degrading toward me.

In light of my shock and dismay, I phoned my friend. This “friend” was quite unapologetic; in fact, she was emboldened and claimed several others felt the same. She claimed I was “arrogant”, as in self-involved, too big for my britches, superior, narcissistic, full of myself. Through the course of the day, I came to learn from a couple people involved that I had been the target of some fierce hate for the past couple months. These women had collectively determined my value as a human being. Apparently it was quite low.

I had lost my core network overnight. This event became a gateway into more tragedy; the death of several family members, my son’s month-long psychotic break, the abduction of my cat, and the epic finale: my fourth husband’s demand for divorce.

It was a shit year to turn 50.

I spent that year watching the tower of All I Believed reduced to ash and rubble.

I didn’t pick myself up and get better like in the movies. No. I gave up on the love and life I thought I had. I stopped caring. Caring didn’t seem to bring good things. Caring only seemed to bring more pain. Instead, I turned in on myself and raged, brooding in a silent and eerie calm for the next few years. Think Maleficent. In some ways, things got downright twisted.

But there was still a tiny spark that seemed to eventually grow: The Spark of Curiosity. You see, I was a thinker. An intellectual indeed. And the only thing greater than my relentless, vengeful ideation was an honest wonder at my own part in all this. I knew I had been wronged. There was no doubt about it, but I couldn’t figure out why. Were these people really just cruel? And if My Best People were this cruel, how could I trust anyone ever again?

So I hired a very expensive shrink. And I paid her to be my friend for the next 2.5 years. I mean, I paid her a lot. After all, I was 50 and there wasn’t enough time to mess around, but there was still a lot of time to make it worse.

I didn’t figure out everything there in that office, but I figured out a lot. Meanwhile, I got spiritual in a big way. I mean obsessively. I read, practiced, discussed, sought teachers, listened, meditated, took a dark journey of the soul, deep shadow work, made sacrifices to the gods, mixed potions, stomped to moonlit drumming and warrior cries, drove alone across the country, subjected myself to mystical trials, and slowly built a whole new tower.

After seeking the counsel of about five strangely powerful people who had no need to destroy me, they each suggested something that would change me forever; it is this: We attract people who will treat us exactly how we treat ourselves. We are mirrors for each other. If you don’t like yourself, you will commune with people who do not like themselves as well. They will mirror your self-evaluation. I had built my old relationships on an idea that measured me poorly. It is true that I loved them, but it is also true that they would make jokes at my expense and I was always compelled to laugh it off to prove that I was not too “full of myself”. Yet, as my self-esteem rose, the people I had known for years did not like it very much. They resented my newfound self-love, my bigness, my confidence and my glory, and they wanted me to stay put in the little dirty box from which I came. Therefore, when I got too big for their comfort, they exiled me. They demonized me. They ruined me. Some people passively stood by. Others never spoke to me again. They might have simply talked to me, but that would not have done the trick.

The only way to heal from that is to start from scratch.

I was afraid I wouldn’t find any real friends, and it took a while. Slowly, one or two emerged and I held that loosely. I didn’t want a big circle anymore. It was too risky. Just a couple maybe’s was plenty. But the new circle grew anyway. These people were interested in something that ironically humbled me. They wanted me to win. They wanted me to shine. They cheered me on when I succeeded and they held me when I was sad. I had a new tribe now and mine was filled with people who didn’t feel threatened by my power. They felt that my power matched their power and together, well, the combined power was magnificent.

I’m not sorry about any of it now. Had I known I was meant for more, I’d have sought it out to begin with, but I didn’t realize I was meant for so much love! I had found a love that was not competitive, nor mean-spirited, nor cowardly. And I intend to spend the next 50 years loving all the golden-lit souls that come my way. I will not ask them to snuff out their light. I will sing their praises just as loudly as they sing mine.