Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year and given the sorry pass we’ve come to in the world, I’ve been contemplating the darkness a lot lately. Last night, standing in a circle of people atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean as the sun went down and Venus appeared bright in a pristine sky, I watched the dark creep in and take over the world. The cold crept in with it, and the massed stars of our galaxy poured over us on this longest night of the year.
It is a dark time altogether, and I am frightened. We’ve pushed our Earth just a little too far and She’s pushing back hard. Since we’re on an edge, it wouldn’t take much to push us all the way over, but that just may be what finally wakes us up into concerted action.
It’s more than time.
For years, sensing this would happen in my lifetime – actually, hoping it would - I have been getting ready for it in various ways, one way being through reading young people’s books about the battle between forces of the Light and forces of the Dark in which children are always the heroes, many of them girls.
Susan Cooper’s trilogy, THE DARK IS RISING, is one of my favorites and I am reading it again now, holding my breath as young Will confronts the Dark forces and almost doesn’t make it, but I know – because I’ve read it before - that at the last moment the Light wins out. Of course it does.
I take great comfort in this.
I felt like one of those children last week on my birthday just before Winter Solstice, with a few friends who gathered for it.
“What’s your wish for yourself this next year?” Rona asked. I was surprised to hear what came out of my mouth, because it was the first time I’ve acknowledged this out loud:
“I want to reassure people that there’s a positive side to what’s happening in the world.”
That’s what keeps playing in my mind, that the world is dual in nature, and that everything exists because its opposite exists: light and dark, day and night, birth and death, hot and cold, good and evil… It’s all about balancing, about cycles that swing between opposites and intersect rhythmically through time and space on every level of our beings.
The dark time is rising now, which to me means that we have to counteract it with every act of light we can dream up, in order to balance things out. Will’s father says it well in THE DARK IS RISING,
“You can’t convince ‘em and you can’t change ‘em. You can only do your best in the opposite direction.”
Actually, the process is built into our bodies. The autonomic nervous system with its Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branches, works by alternating the functions of each one. The Sympathetic keeps us wired and alert, and the Parasympathetic calms us down, back and forth, back and forth about 1000 times a day. That’s how, together, they keep us in balance.
I’d like to believe the world does the same thing.
It reminds me of a night I spent camping on top of Mt Marcy in the Adirondacks when I was about 15. The sun went down on one side of the mountain, bringing in the night, and to my astonishment it came up in the morning on the other side of the mountain – of the world - bringing in the day!
For the first time in my life, I got it!
And still I’m scared for what’s to come, and wonder at the best scenario, given the fact that we are at a dangerous crossroads. As a healer, I know this is the point in an illness where we hope for a ‘healing crisis’, an episode like the lancing of a boil, where the body flares into purge mode, spewing out infections and toxins all over the place. These angry messes are neither safe nor pretty but they have the potential of effectively clearing out poisons.
That might be what we have to look forward to on the world scale.
Years ago, I saw how it worked with a little boy when I was in France – the child of the owners of a B&B where I stayed in Carnac. He had a nasty cough that had been going on for over a month, his mother told me. Snotty and croupy, he lay on the floor coughing and rolling a toy airplane around. Asking her if I might try to help, I stood near him and made airplane noises, ‘listening’ for his healthy tone and growling it back at him until we were both racing around the kitchen being noisy airplanes, he coughing, me singing that one note, and his mother totally bewildered.
Later, when I returned after a day out at the megaliths, she met me at the door full of wonder. He had spent the day choking up wads of greenish phlegm, she said, wouldn’t let anyone near him and had kicked and screamed for hours until he was exhausted. Finally, he had one good, last cry and then fell asleep clutching his toy airplane.
“He is breathing easily now,” she told me in awe. The next day, his cough all gone, he followed me around like a puppy in love. When his mother asked what in the world I had done, I had no answer, except to say that I had followed my intuition and simply did what came – what I was intended to do.
As Bran says, in THE DARK IS RISING,
“If you have seen the raising of fear and the killing of love and the Dark creeping in over all things, you do not ask stupid questions. You do what you are intended to do, and no nonsense.”
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? You just start, follow your intuition, reach for the Light however simple that may be in the moment – a smile on the street, a word of comfort - and do what you are intended to do…
…and no nonsense!