Out of darkness, light: Solstice and the lunar eclipse

Winter Solstice–the shortest day and longest night of the year. For Pagans, Wiccans and Goddess worshippers, this is one of … Continued

Winter Solstice–the shortest day and longest night of the year. For Pagans, Wiccans and Goddess worshippers, this is one of our most sacred holidays. As winter closes in, the darkness grows and the light recedes. For Pagans, darkness is the necessary balance to light. We don’t conceive of the dark as evil, but as a place of potential, of gestation–the black, fertile soil where the seed puts forth roots and shoots, the dark womb where new life is nurtured. But being humans, we also have a natural affinity for the light, the time of growth and new beginnings, of warmth and color and bright new hopes. Solstice reminds us that no darkness, no loss, no grief or disappointment is final. Out of darkness, light is born. Every ending gives rise to a new beginning. Out of disappointment and despair comes new courage, new hope.

Three snow hikers watch the almost full moon rise behind the Weissfluhjoch in Arosa, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro Della Bella)

This year, Solstice coincides with a total lunar eclipse. The last time this happened was in 1544. The earth aligns directly with the sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the moon’s face. The moon is a Super Moon, at its closest to the earth. And, so my astrologer friends tell me, we are also directly aligned with our Milky Way’s Galactic Center, where the galaxy gives birth to stars. We are in a great birth canal, on the night when mythically Mother Night gives birth to the Sun Child of the New Year.

What does this all mean? For those of you who like to align your meditations and your magic with the movements of the stars, we stand tonight between the past and the future. For the first hour and a quarter of the eclipse, (starting at 1:30 am East Coast Standard Time), it’s as if we step out of time. We are free of the past, and we can consciously create the future, for ourselves, for our communities, for the earth.

It’s a night to take a good look at what you want to shed. What are the behaviors, the beliefs, the patterns that no longer serve? Let them go. Make the commitment to change.

And it’s a night to envision the future you want to create. What world do we want to see? How will we step up to face the huge challenges of healing our communities, our economies, our climate and our environment? What risks will we need to take? What will we need to let go of, and what will we need to embrace?

And hey, even if you think all astrology is bunkum, take a moment tonight to go out, to marvel at the moon with the mark of the earth written across her face, to let go of what you no longer need and call in what you want. And if you can do this with friends, and family, in community, with good food and a warm fire and a few candles, and raise a cup of gratitude for all we have and all we share, you may find that the courage, the support, the power, the love and luck you need for this New Year are born in the depths of the night, and awaken at dawn with the rising sun.

A blessed solstice to you all!

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  • robinlandseadel

    Dear Starhawk,I’m working on two paintings that will be presents this season—one is of Quan Yin under a big silvery moon, the other Our Lady Of Guadalupe, standing on the thin crescent of a purple fingernail moon. Seems like the least I could do. There’s always something about a full moon on the solstice, this one should be spectacular. Blessed be,

  • thebump


  • lepidopteryx

    Gimpi, I’m not technically Wiccan, but I’d call what you did magic. The way I see it, magic is nothing more then the focusing of one’s spiritual energies toward a specific goal – in your case, improving your friend’s health.

  • gimpi

    Lepi, Thank you for your response. I understand the idea of repetitive motion being a meditation aid. I know of some meditation styles that use repetitive motion or dance. I always assumed it was just for ritual purposes. Perhaps the folks developing those styles had something going for them.

  • vantom

    I took the once in a lifetime opportunity to dance with fire during the darkness of the solstice lunar eclipse. Out of the darkness, light is born. It is up to us.

  • dragondancer1814

    A full moon and a total lunar eclipse combined with the big magick of Yule…it doesn’t get more blessed than this! This Yule will be extra-special for us! Here’s hoping everybody has a wonderful Sabbat, and may the coming light bring many wonderful things everybody’s way! Like the rising light at the dawn of each day, may our ideas, contributions to society and family, and seeds for harvests of all kinds be nurtured and readied for the growth of the new season!Blessed Be!

  • Delongl

    Winter solstice aligns with a full lunar eclipse. Must be the birth of another North Korean dictator.

  • lepidopteryx

    Too bad we had beaucoup cloud cover in our area last night – couldn’t see the eclipse. But looking forward to a Yule ritual with friends tonight.

  • obcat

    Happy Solstice to you, madam. In that darkest moment of the darkest night, it’s up to us to be the light.

  • gimpi

    The eclipse out here on the West Coast was lovely. It was actually clear in Seattle, a semi divine act in and of itself. I appreciate the beauty, and enjoy the science behind it. The Earth’s shadow and all that. I also find reading about the spiritual aspects interesting. The idea of using something like this as a meditation aid is intriguing, and I kind of wish I had read this Monday instead of Tuesday. I don’t really know if there is anything to the astrology, but from a psychological standpoint, meditating on things you want to weaken in your life, while focusing on a moon beginning to wane, and going into the earth’s shadow seems to make sense.I didn’t really do anything, just got a good look at a beautiful, full HUGE moon being shadowed by our own earth, thought “How cool is that,” and went back to bed. (Pacific time and all.) However I found this commentary refreshing and beautifully written. Thank you, Starhawk.

  • gimpi

    To the Wiccans on this blog; I have a question. I may have inadvertently perfumed “magic” as it is understood in your beliefs. With your indulgence, I’ll describe what happened, and If anyone could comment on it, I’d appreciate it.A bit of background, my husband and I own a duplex, and we have a fellow renting part of it. He has recently been diagnosed with gluten intolerance. He’s had to learn a whole new way of eating. He’s always been “TV dinner guy” and never really learned how to cook. I’ve been having him to dinner and giving him informal cooking lessons a couple of times a month, making something with him that he likes and can eat. One of the problems with gluten Intolerance is the inability of using anything pre-mixed. You really have to cook from scratch. For Christmas, I decided to mix up a few spice mixes I think he might like, and give them to him, along with some simple recipies for their use.This morning, I was working on this. I had spices laid out all over the kitchen and was sorting out the individual mixes, pouring whole herbs and spices into my pestle, and grinding them with a mortar. I found myself thinking about our renter, seeing him getting stronger and gaining weight and enjoying the healthy food he makes for himself. I do meditate, and this was similar in sensation. I seemed to stay very focused without effort, my thoughts didn’t stray. (Most unusual.) The grinding movement seemed to almost become automatic. I didn’t plan to do it, it just seemed to happen as I was working with the mortar. I just kept grinding, mixing and finishing each mix, thinking how happy and healthy the recipient was going to become.When I finished the last bottle and set it in the gift basket I seemed to feel a outpouring of energy. I felt exhausted, like I had just been on a long hike, not just hitting seeds in a bowl with a club. I didn’t feel bad, however. In fact, I felt good, just like I wanted to sit down and have a nice cup of tea and relax.The spice mixes look great and smell even better. The bottles almost seem to glow with color. They really seem special. Is it possible that I somehow managed to do something to them? Or have I just inhaled too many pepper fumes this morning?

  • wiccan

    Gimpi,Just read your post about your friend and the spice mixtures you made. Scott Cunningham, a Wiccan sage, described magick as “the use of natural energies to effect needed change”. You combined the natural energies of the spices with the desire to help your friend, and worked magick. The outpouring of energy was the natural conclusion of your effort. (I usually feel my seven chakra points “fire up” from root to crown, something like the Lady playing my spine like a xylophone.) I’m sure your gift will benefit your friend in many ways.Brightest Blessings, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all. So Mote It Be!