Quaker Universalist Conversations

What shall I tell you about Winter Solstice?

Stasa Morgan-Appel is a Quaker Witch: Quaker in the unprogrammed tradition, and Priestess and Witch in the eclectic feminist Roses, Too! Tradition. Stasa has been involved with ministry since 1986, has been a Priestess and Witch since 1991, and has been active in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) since 1997. She is a member of University Friends Meeting in North Pacific Yearly Meeting.

Stasa has spent most of her life in the Mid-Atlantic area of the US, except for a few wandering years when she and her wife lived in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. Now their family lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a sojourning member of South East Scotland Area Meeting of Friends.

Stasa’s blog is Musings of a Quaker Witch.

Shall I tell you about the holiness of every day, of the sacredness of each of the four seasons? Shall I tell you about how tracking the seasons helps me understand, in a deeply physical way, the sacredness of every day, each season? Shall I tell you about how spring, summer, fall, and winter all have different spiritual lessons for me?

Shall I tell you about sitting in the Meeting room for an hour each week, and how the angle of the sun changes over the months? Shall I show you where the sun falls on the wall at the start, and then the end, of Meeting for Worship in late December? Shall I show you where those places are in late June? Shall we talk about how they are different, and why?

Shall I tell you that Winter Solstice simply is, completely apart from any meaning we as humans find in it, any myths we assign to it? How in the Northern Hemisphere, on Winter Solstice, the sun rises as far south as it does all year, and that the sunrise starts moving north again after? How once each year, wherever you are on Earth, there comes a day with the most number of hours of darkness, and the least number of hours of daylight, and that after that day, without fail, the days start getting longer, and there is more light?

First Lights, by Mike Shell

Shall I tell you about the many years during which the dark time of the year seemed endless and pointless and depressing, except when there was snow? How for me “winter” and “dark” no longer automatically mean “long and hard and challenging”? Shall I tell you of my delight when the dark time suddenly made sense, came clear as part of the cycle of life and the rhythm of nature? How the Dark comes and leaves predictably, regularly, rhythmically? How I can hear the voice of the Divine in the Sacred Darkness, and appreciate the gifts of Darkness and of the dark time of the year?

Shall I tell you about That-Which-Is-Sacred inherent and immanent in nature and in the seasons? But I can’t, really – that is something which can only be experienced. Shall I tell you about the ways She speaks to me in the spring? How Her voice is different in the summer, and then again in the autumn? How She murmurs to me in the winter, or on the longest night and shortest day of the year, or when the days begin to lengthen?

Shall I tell you of the life-sustaining work that depends on Darkness and the Dark Months? Of the gestation of babies and the germination of seeds? Of rest and sleep, of fallow fields and gardens, of leaves that fall and compost that happens? Of silence, of deep introspection, self-knowledge, healing, becoming whole, dreaming? Of connection with the Divine?

Shall I tell you of the magic of community, when we spend time in the Darkness together, and share the Light with each other? Shall I tell you of community as a Quaker testimony?

Every day, every season, is sacred.

What spiritual lessons does nature bring you this time of year?


The image is First Lights by Mike Shell – James Street, Jacksonville, FL (12/12/2011)

The image seems chilly, yet these warm, loving neighbors with their two toddler kids are the sweetest youngsters on the block. The warmth of the kitchen window in the back lets you know.

Comments

“Shall I tell you about how tracking the seasons helps me understand, in a deeply physical way, the sacredness of every day, each season?”

Friend Stasa,

This in particular is something I carry with me from my early years of exploring the pagan perspective: taking my sense of time and season from what the moon and sun and earth actually do with life.

I feel autumn at the beginning of August, spring at the beginning of February. I pause to let go and wait at the dark of the moon. I long to sleep in winter…when our culture makes us scurry and work.

Blessings,
Mike

Mmmm-hmmmm. /nodnod/

“We would hibernate, if only the word would let us.” (from ‘A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual’)