May Winter Solstice mark a shift in consciousness, a change in worldview

AP People soak up the sun after its rise at the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge, in southern England, as … Continued


People soak up the sun after its rise at the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge, in southern England, as access to the site is given to druids, New Age followers and members of the public on the annual Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, 2012.

Winter solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. A time of ending and new beginnings as now the days will slowly begin to lengthen again. For Pagans, Solstice is symbolically the night when the Sun Child is reborn out of the womb of Mother Night. For the Mayans, this year marks the end of a 30,000-year calendar cycle. For pop culture, somehow this has become the end of the world.

We might laugh at that idea, but then something stops us. This year, we’ve seen the skyline of New York grow dark. We’ve suffered record droughts, floods, enormous storms: all the predictions of the climate change scientists coming true. Deep inside we sense that we are, indeed, approaching some kind of end: the end of our current way of life, fueled by cheap oil and the illusion that we can endlessly and thoughtlessly exploit the living systems of the earth without dreadful consequences.

We desperately need to make an end of our destructive practices, lest we leave our children a world that is at best impoverished and at worst, uninhabitable. And yet we often seem paralyzed, knowing what we need to do and unable to marshal the will to do so. Maybe the Mayans can help?

View Photo Gallery: As the Mayan “long count” calendar moves toward the end of a 5,125-year cycle, some people believe that the Dec. 21 event will coincide with a global catastrophe.

Twenty years ago, my husband David Miller and I spent our honeymoon at Tikal, exploring the Mayan temples and the ancient ball courts. He became fascinated with the mythology and archaeology, and my go-to for insight into the myths and the shift is his book, “The Cosmic Ballgame, What 2012 and Mayan Creation Mean For Us.” The Popol Vuh, the Mayan Creation myth, reflects a deep shift in culture and belief, away from the era when the Singing Garden Boys honored the Grandmother, to the time when the Cosmic Ballgame Warriors took control of her cycles of time, the calendar mysteries and the power they represented.

Now Grandmother demands her due again. No longer can we maintain the myth that we control nature. We must learn again to respect her balance and constraints, to live with humility—a word whose root is ‘humus’. We need to get back to the garden, get down and get close to the earth! Only then can we effectively make the big changes that we need—in our technology, our energy systems, our food growing systems, our economies, our communities.

And yet underneath all these shifts lies ultimately a change in consciousness, a shift in our world view. May this Solstice mark an end to the era when we saw the world as a bunch of dead, separate stuff and ourselves as isolated actors, and the beginning of a new day when we understand the world as a web of relationships. We are all Grandmother’s children, all interconnected in the dance of sun and moon and soil, of birthing and growing and reaping, of death decaying into fertility and new life.

When we make that shift, we engage the great forces of creativity and resilience that move through the universe. I firmly believe that what we need to do is doable. Germany with its gloomy skies already gets a fifth of its electricity from solar power! The world abounds with inventiveness: a light powered by gravity, solar films, wind generators that tremble like a leaf, a generator that runs on urine invented by four African teenage girls. The Singing Garden Boys—and Women!–of permaculture help Cuba transition away from oil when the Soviet Union collapses, restore the desiccated loess plateaus of China, reforest the Sahel.

Let us for one moment imagine that new era—how it would feel to come together and say “Yes! Yes, we are going to stop the stupid and destructive practices that are destroying the world, and all work together to make this shift right now! We will phase out coal and oil and close down the poisonous tar sands, and instead put the resources into ways we can meet our needs that will regenerate the natural systems around us. The sun, the wind, the water, the elements of life will give us power, and we will use it to build the new systems that will take us into a living future! Nature will be our model and our teacher, no longer our prey. Together we will shape a world that may have less stuff to waste but will offer us more beauty, more health, and more time to enjoy our deep connections with one another.”

If we commit to that world, if we put aside our fear of change, our clinging to old models that benefit a few while destroying so much, if we allow ourselves to dare to believe in a world of balance, justice, beauty and love, we can create it. May Winter Solstice 2012 mark the moment when we make that shift, within ourselves, within our communities and our larger culture. Then, truly, will the old world end and a radiant new era be born.

Starhawk is a prominent voice in modern Wiccan spirituality and cofounder of, an activist branch of modern Pagan religion, and author of 10 books

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  • Jayden Draco

    Thank you for writting such and inspiring article. It is time for a real change.

  • SmarterNYou

    May I be (among?) the first to say that it is wonderful to see Starhawk’s words appear in this august forum. We’ve had quite enough of the predictable bleating about “the war on christmas”, so it is positively delightful to see this thoughtful and positive piece here.

  • WmarkW

    Our long-term energy needs will be met when we can distill a gasoline equivalent from inedible plant matter. Until then, our best bets are are the myriad fossil sources in the mountain states and provinces, and nuclear energy.

    We look forward to the day that we can wash our hands of the no-win geopolitics of the Middle East.

  • TheBogus

    Before you stop the “destructive practices that are destroying the world,” you’re going to have to convince corporate America that there’s more money in stopping them than increasing them.
    We live in the world of the Bottom Line and the mere threat of a world that’s unliveable won’t stop the incurable greed that marks our system.

  • Kaiszen

    The proof is out there it is just that there will always be money to be made through the promotion of violence, look at all the major sports leagues and how much violence is brought by them, look at the pharmacy corporations that get money from the spread of disease and other illnesses. To stop the destructive practices we can start by not with holding information to gain a profit, stop looking down on people because of how much money they have or how they are dressed, and come to some understanding between religious practices where they do not condemn each other for what they are doing.

  • katz523


  • brucemwilliams

    I’m an atheist, but I still find Druidism very interesting, and the main message is all the more powerful because of the challenges we are facing. If we are to worship anything, let it be the earth that sustains us!


    Starhawk is as egregiously and pompously wrong about everything as any fat baptist bible-thumper.

  • surferpl

    For the good of all, the harm of none, so mote it be.

  • Kilaya

    Hurrah! I am overjoyed to see the positive contribution of a wise woman in our daily news media. If just this type of contribution increases in the years to come I would consider that a big enough shift to herald a new era on Earth. Thank you, Starhawk! May your inspiration to help others by sharing your wisdom continue.

  • RJ999

    Change rises from the bottom, like the humble grasses, tender as they are reaching for the sun. They seem feeble at first glance, but then you see they are everywhere and indomitable. Perhaps the change we sense upon the wind, is a shift in consciousness. Humanity’s physical form may not be the only aspect of our nature that has been evolving over millennia. As we become aware that we are grandmother, that we are the One, things on the outer level which always reflect the inner, will gradually transform as well. But evolution is gradual and uneven. So, don’t hope for immediate dramatic change.
    Awareness of our oneness also brings trust in the way of things. As we grow in this awareness, the fear that causes us to cling to the old ways, and causes so many “problems”, will also fall away.
    We can do what we can do on the practical level and be at peace in the trust that the creative force, the intelligence that created this world operates as perfectly now as it always has. The new world dawns as we remember that we are that force – we are the One.

  • jfair1

    Oh, for sure, and we all want world peace, like eat your sprouts and use herbs.

  • Steve740

    and you are just a plain old idiot!

  • paukune

    Could a world end and no one know? Could a world end and no one had to die this time? When they cry peace and safety all is well. Then be afraid, be very afraid. Until then, enjoy.

  • Eduardo Chavez

    Gracias for putting together thoughts of good will and prosperity for all; just add: what we attend to, will grow. Be responsible to yourself and all will be well.

  • stevewoz

    The solstice does not occur on the same day in every part of the world, but we simplify things and say that it does.


    Paganism is as phony as mormonism and scientology, all basically just entirely made up and promulgated by hucksters and charlatans.

    At least the cargo cults are fun.

    And you are a credulous dupe.

  • LaraLoganDoesExist

    Starhawk, hilarious!

    This is just ridiculous.

    Christianity built modernity for people like Starhawk to do drugs and pretend Paganism isn’t a disgusting baby murdering cult belief system? (Oh yea, it’s perfect for modern leftists with all the sacrificing of innocent children!!)

  • alltheroadrunnin

    Starhawk — before you offer your opinion again, I suggest you check the definition of the word “consciousness.” Consciousness is merely the recognition of the state of existence. There is no right or wrong in “consciousness.” — do whatever you desire, no consequences. “Conscience,” on the other hand, is recognition of the existence of right and wrong. I understand your feelings may not easily accept this fact, but reason does.

  • The Favor of God

    You are sadly mistaken about these “magic words” you speak of. Jesus Dies for everyones sins over 2,000 years ago, no one needs to ask for Him to pay, He already did! That is the beauity of loving the Lord, not being a Christian….I mean how many Christians do you know that claim to be….but don’t live the life. Therefore, I have a personal intimate relationship with the Lord Jeus Christ, who die for my sins…..and I am forgiven not because of the “magic words,” but rather because in my heart, I am truly repentant and will turn away from sin.

  • The Favor of God

    I pray that before this world ends, and Jesus Christ Returns…that someone enters your life and changes it… introducing you to Almighty God the Father, and tells you about His Son Jesus and how Jesus introduced us to the Holy Spirit……You need so much love, and God is Love! Have a happy holidays!

  • The Favor of God

    ROTFLMBO….are you serious? I am not sure whether to laugh or cry…..We are One? One what? A bunch of people who think that we are all powerful? Laugh because we aren’t even capable of realizing as we donate blood…we give ourselves to others..but we can’t come together and agree on much of anything…but we all think “it’s ok to agree to disagree,” where is the progress in that? What was solved…oh right peace….What peace..there will never be peace until the return of Jesus Christ…so please confront ignorance and indignation…I promise that is the only peace you will have….and cry because you too are sadly mistaken…only God, Jesus and the Only Spirit are the ONE and only…only through Jesus will anyone enter the Kindom of Heaven or “afterlife for you,” not through man. I too pray that you come to realize the true ONE and give up New Age…what is New Age? It is nothing new about it…understand the babylonians were New age…that was before Christ…how is that new? There is nothing new under the sun…but ever changing are we .

  • The Favor of God

    What? How is paganism at all related to Christianity…please go do some research..please. What is ironic about your statement, but it isn’t remarkable…We, people, want all the knowledge, yet when knowledge is offered…we choose to make comments like yours…Please go to the internet and search paganism…then search Christianity….never have the two tangeled.


    I probably know more about “paganism” than you do. For instance, that “paganus” essentially means “country bumpkin”.

    You can be as pompous as christians at their worst. You are as willfully ignorant of the reality of the world around you and intolerant of science as any southern baptist.

    And you let people like Starhawk lead you around by the noise. feeding you stories that you never investigate for their validity (like this Mayan nonsense.) Just like any other herd animal, like the christians.

    That’s how you are related to christianity.

  • WileE

    “I firmly believe that what we need to do is doable.”

    Fer sher. Were it not doable, it could not be what we need to do.

  • alltheroadrunnin

    Samscram – you “…see those kind of statements…” and you are “…reminded?” That’s a pretty magic act, right there. I’ll grant that your thinking is “re-minded” alright.

  • Catken1

    Honestly. I’ve known many pagans, and the most sentient thing any of them have ever sacrificed was an apple tossed into the forest for the deer, or a loaf of bread shaped like a pig, or some herbs sacrificed to a communal fondue (that was an interesting ritual, very cheesy…). Whereas Christianity assumes that a human sacrifice was needed before God could forgive any of us just for being human.

    And please, we’ve all heard the Christian propaganda before. It’s not going to convince anyone who isn’t already convinced.

  • alltheroadrunnin

    ayousayin’ — if Jesus wanted, maybe rapid fire lightning from his fingers, and out of other places, like Darth Vader’s boss. But, as an absolute pacifist, Jesus advised against any hurt to another human. So, don’t you worry, Jesus has no followers today. Or, maybe because He has no followers, you should worry.

  • ThomasBaum


    You wrote, “Whenever I see those kinds of statements, I’m reminded of the fact that some religions do not require a conscience; for instance Christianity, which holds that one can commit any number of horrific crimes and yet, if one says a few magic words and asks Jesus to pay for his crimes, you get to enter into the Glory of Heaven, Scot Free.”

    Why would anyone even think about saying “a few magic words”, as you put it, if they didn’t have a conscience and made an attempt to use it?