It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Why? Because just at the moment of maximum darkness, when the days cannot get any shorter and nights any longer, the light is reborn. Is it any wonder that, for as far back as we can see, our ancestors marked this event? 5,000 years ago in Ireland, people of whom we know next to nothing built Newgrange. This UFO-like burial mound features a narrow shaft through which the Sun shines but once a year, on the morning of the Winter solstice, to illuminate the inner chamber — and that only when the Sun is not hidden by clouds, which is a rarity in Ireland. Can you imagine how important the Winter Solstice must have been to these people to go to all that effort, with so little payoff?
Almost 5,000 years before Newgrange, in Turkey, near the end of the last Ice Age, whoever built Karahan Tepe — one of the oldest sites yet discovered — similarly marked the Winter solstice. Whatever we feel about winter these days, it is easy to imagine that it was a lot rougher during the Ice Age. But how far back does this go? We cannot know, but it’s safe to assume that people have been marking the solstices for a very long time.
Though we may feel remote from them, we are not. 10,000 years is a blink in cosmic time. Though we easily forget our connection to the web of existence, that connection remains. Is the solstice really any less important to us today?
In this world of manifestation, everything moves through cycles, again and again, at every conceivable level. “Everything flows out and in,” says the Kybalion. “Everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left. Rhythm compensates.” As far as you go to one extreme, rest assured you will come out the other side. Keep walking in a straight line and you will return to where you started — on Earth and perhaps, if it were possible to keep it up, through the whole universe.
The solstices mark the poles of the seasons, which are related to the poles of the globe, as the Earth orbits the Sun. The New Moon and Full Moon mark the poles of the month, as the moon orbits the Earth. The rising and setting of the Sun mark the poles of day and night, as the Earth rotates on its axis. Your breath goes in, your breath goes out. Your heart beats and relaxes. You wake and sleep. Thoughts rise and fall and so do moods. You live and die. Always, a constant flow between dark and light.
Dark is not “bad”. It is one half of existence. Know that contraction always precedes expansion. Death always precedes birth. Never worry. Observe the cycles of nature, life, and mind. Understand that transmutation is constant and that as your awareness expands you learn to ride the cycles with more grace and ease. At this Winter Solstice, meditate on the Divine Child. What wishes to be born through you this year?
21st century alchemist Alex helps people to discover just what their consciousness is capable of. Weaving together practices from ancient and modern traditions, both Eastern and Western, Alex helps people let go of their limitations, discover powers they did not know they had, and open up to whole new dimensions of experience and manifestation. Alex lives in Benicia, CA and is currently pursuing a PhD in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
Learn more at http://twentyfirstcenturyalchemy.com/