The original version of this meditation was published in Mother Earth’s Winter Solstice Colouring Book, 1989. This version amended 2017 – may be used freely with acknowledgement
You can use this meditation as part of the Winter Solstice celebrations I’ve described in my earlier post, or as you wish. Read slowly!
To begin, first disconnect all phones, then extinguish as many lights as possible. If you have a fire or stove, damp it down so as not to produce bright flames. If sharing this with a group, make this darkening part of the process. Lie down, or sit yourself comfortably, as you prefer. Close your eyes.
Imagine the that the world about you has shifted, you are no longer in your own warm and comfortable home of today. The world is as it may have been long ago, and you are sitting in the meeting lodge of your village. It is is the night of the winter solstice and all the people of the community are gathered here together. It is very dark, except for the last embers of a fire at the centre of the lodge. Children are asleep. All is quiet. Darkness and silence enfold you in their wings.
Slowly the village shaman is moving among the people in the lodge. You remember how, during the short daytime, before the last sunset of the year, you searched for a stone to bring to the lodge. Some searched the hillsides, some the stream, some looked among the stone heaps cleared from the fields, some went to the seashore, all looking for the stone that would call them. After you had found the stone, quietly, you told it of all that the past year had brought you, the hungers and the fulfillments, the sadnesses and the joys. The stone you chose is in your hands now. The stone has become your year that has passed. Parents hold those of the sleeping children.
The fire grows lower, and the darkness deepens. The shaman kneels in front of you and takes the stone from your open hands. She places your stone into the sack she carries. You can barely see her in the darkness, but she seems old and tired, bent almost double with the weight of the sack, for she carries the burden of the past year for all her people.
The last embers of the fire go dark. You can see nothing at all within the lodge, but you sense that the shaman has gone. None knows where she travels. Some have said that she rides the last of the smoke up through the smoke-hole, out to the place of the Old Ones, carrying the years of her people.
There is less smoke now. Your eyes rise to look out through the smoke-hole, and you can see the pin-points of starlight. Your spirit rises like the shaman’s, until you can see the whole Earth beneath you, blue and green and brown and white against the starfields, spinning onwards, circling the unquenched fires of the Sun.
After a time that is not a time, your spirit returns to the lodge. Though it it is still completely dark, you sense that the shaman has returned, and is moving again among her people. She carries no burden now, moving easily, almost with a skip. She stands before you again, and this time she presses something against the centre of your forehead. It feels like a tiny crystal, very cold. You feel it pass through the skin into your body. No words are said but you know that this is the gift of the Old Ones, taking the offering of your past year, the sadnesses as well as the joys, giving back wisdom as their gift, and a promise for the year to come.
Suddenly at the centre of the lodge, fire flares brightly. You can see people’s faces again. The shaman, standing by the fire, straight-backed as an arrow. Smiling, she tells how the Old Ones have given their promise that the Sun’s warmth will come again, that life will be renewed. It is time for the midwinter feast to begin, and in the dawn, everyone will greet the Sunrise renewed.
For us, we must take our leave of the lodge and return to our own place. You bring back with you blessing of the Shining ones, looking forward to your own Solstice Dawn.
Become aware once more of you own floor beneath you. Stretch your limbs, open your eyes, greet your friends. It is time for the midwinter feast to begin!.