As a difficult mission lies ahead – to write an article dedicated to all of you, dear readers, and also to the return of the sun, the Winter Solstice, I am trying to let all the whirlwinds of my mind settle, so that something meaningful, important, precious could be voiced. Something sacred, because I feel this time is highly special, deeply sacred. It gets to the bones and it resides inside them. With a winter that cuts deeply and with a fire of the hearth that burns and sparks deeply. With all the descending and quietude that lays ahead, before a new cycle can be born, with stillness that gives birth to something new.
Yet I am not able to find calm, not this year. I feel how much I do want to celebrate the old good Yule, both peaceful and a bit scary – after all, it is winter, which brings challenges like darkness and illnesses. How much do I want to channel a bit of my calmness and spiritual awareness, so that we can share the best of this time of the wheel of the year.
I asked all of my helper spirits for advice, for inspiration, I asked if they could be so kind and make me stronger so I would be able to see more light in the darkness and to feel hopeful even if there is so much hopelessness around. But they replied that it is not my mission to be reassuring if the time is not right for being lenient. They told me that I have to learn to speak what is in my heart. They said that humans have fallen into the pit of demanding positiveness over truth, over honesty, and in the end over sympathy.
And they pointed out that we, who call ourselves Pagans, are not necessarily more connected: ‘Some of you bring us offerings and for sure it is well-meant. But most of you no longer know the true price of what you are offering. You buy it and that´s it. Very often it hurts more than it brings.’ The spirits said: ‘You, people, destroy nature and our homes and then some of you come and bring bits of this fatal industry. Should we be pleased when we are being offered the carcasses of our own kin? We know we can´t fight ignorance. But modern people forgot how vital is to adhere to wisdom, how vital it is to acknowledge wise people. You forgot there are people who live between the worlds, you forgot sometimes we come to your world in the shape of your fellow human beings – also you can be born into our world, but you lost your memory of all of this.’
I am not happy about this. Still, I see more flashes of fairly coloured shapes, and I know Tomtes are around, familiar spirits, mischievous too. But I feel how nervous they are. This time was also their time. We, people and other kinds of beings, did share one world, although we tend to exist in various layers of it. Fishes in the water, birds in the air, in the bushes and woods, spirits in the Otherworld. All of this mingles with ‘our’ world, and together this all makes up Existence, the Universe.
When I go outside into the world of people, I see rushing shadows, mindlessly purchasing this and that, vessels driven by weird and almost alien forces. Almost as if there is nobody home, the heart being just a muscle propelling biomechanoid puppets. Even if you try, there is no way to touch, to evoke feelings. As if there are less and less people able to grasp what is a living being, as if there has been some change happening, and all living creatures are treated like things. Like expendable things. Many people can´t tell the difference between machine and living, sentient creature. If it stops functioning, they will simply replace it. Who asks every day questions like “How does it feel?“, “Does it feel right to me?“ Who really cares? Doesn’t it feel like some kind of enslavement? You are told you can do almost everything, but are you happy? Are you powerful? Does your way of life make sense to you?
For the first time, this year I managed to travel to Austria to see the famous Krampuslauf, run of the Clawed ones. I read some articles about this custom, one of them was written by Christian Brunner. It stated that the Krampus – the mask – makes it possible to tease and punish even the noble and powerful. It is a feature that can be found in other places and feasts, for example Saturnalia.
Is this just me? Nice as this idea may sound, I find it a bit too compromising, too domesticated, if equality is allowed to exist for only a few weeks every year. Still, it is more than is generally seen in this day and age. Too many people forgot that they are still living in an unequal world. They get distracted and consumed by a very shallow culture of volatile sensations. They think that there are no major problems and injustice, not in our lifetime. That there is no need for revolt and fighting for autonomy. An illusion that we have it all and that we have to fear losing it. That if we would experiment with our lives and thoughts, if we would question authorities, paradigms, common truths, established orders, we risk losing this imagined safety.
What I consider to be this year´s winter solstice gift is the speech of Greta Thunberg, which was held in Katowice during the COP 24 climate conference. She is only 15 and she is brave and genuine. She shines her light into the world. Not bending down, surrendering. This is what is needed now.
Astrologically, the Sun is reflected in us as the ultimate shine of consciousness, the presence, pure awareness, it gives us the momentum to live, to move through, to embody our destiny, to weave it at the very same time. The Sun brings the Life to life. It is an enormous source of energy. And the only thing we need to do to get it is to look up, to raise our heads towards the sky. To straighten up, not to crouch. To say “I am“. To feel it. Can you remember times when you were filled with enthusiasm? Why aren’t you experiencing such a time right here, right now? Do you still believe you have the right to dream? Do you still believe you have the right to make your dreams come true? Do you feel you have the right to feel infinite love?
On December 22nd, a full moon will also occur. The Lights will face each other and so there will be a great opportunity to confront our consciousness with our dreams, our less conscious layers, to ask politely to ripple the waters of our unconsciousness, so we can transcend ourselves, we can grow out of our habits, armour, our shells.
The hell is to get stuck in our shells – in Kabbalah they are called the Qliphot, the Shells which conceal or block the Holiness from being directly experienced. It is the illusion of duality that casts the Sacred out of our world and leaves us poor and proud and fallen into almost complete oblivion. If we want to survive and to live, we have to awaken from this oblivion. We need to bring Holiness back into our minds, souls, lives, we need to do this personally. There is no authority who could do it for us. We need to mature and become parents to our environment. Parents who still can childishly enjoy the world!
I suggest some practice to be performed on these two days, of winter solstice and full moon.
1. As you wake up, do not hurry. Try to become aware of your feelings, of the smells and sounds of your environment. Stretch out!
Try to awaken your curiosity and sensuality. If you are sad, do not hide it away – better ask yourself honestly – “Why am I sad?“ You have the right to feel whatever it is you feel. You have the right to feel love and to be loved. You have the right to be light-hearted, elevated, happy. Yet you have no duty to feel so. Say: “I am complete.“ Try to see the world not as flawed, but as full of diversity. And you are part of the world, so do not forget to include yourself in that!
2. The first piece of your breakfast will be given to the spirits, to Tomtes, to familiars, to the spirits of your particular place. Even if you don’t have breakfast yourself, try to give some bits to the spirits. Say loudly: “With every gift I am giving I am receiving, I feed you with food and you feed me with spirit and soul. I am not alone.“
3. Light a candle. Try to light it during daytime, so that you can bring some of the daylight into the evening darkness. Try to find some time to stare into the flame. Be with yourself. Say: “I burn from inside with passion and so I light up the world with true feeling.“
4. Try to find something that bothers you and try to bring more light into that issue. Do a little thought experiment, visualize yourself as stepping out and changing or swapping your position. Try to feel real sympathy towards someone or something. You can do it also with trees, plants, places, animals. Just try to see more and interpret less. Set your preconceptions aside. If you own a tarot deck, you can pick and observe the Sun card. Or you can google a picture of it. Child-like curiosity and openness can be very healing and you never grow too old for it.
5. Take an oath that you will try to be more authentic, more you, more alive, more emotional and less ashamed for your true self. The world and Earth needs you alive! It is the greatest gift you can give, to become yourself, to shine, to be alive! If we all would be sensitive to one another, to every piece of Existence, there would be no brutal violence. Be good to yourself and be good to other beings.
You can take a piece of paper and write: “I am alive. I am a sentient explorer of the worlds to come.“ Then store it in your wallet and read it the next day and then again from time to time. Dream, because it connects you to Spirit. Only if you give credit to something that has not yet happened, this something can happen some time in the future. It is this way we create the world.
Because you know what? Earth needs us to be alive. Life is not possible for anybody who is insensitive to it. If we are ignorant, we will cause killing and extinction and pollution, material as well as spiritual. If we lose our dreams, we will lose more than just our lives.
I really try to reach you, I really beg you, I really want you to know every one of you counts. You are needed. There is no-one else who could do it. So, please, shine. Be powerful with the Sun and be sentient with the Moon as your celestial backup. Talk to the trees and animals and brooks and bushes and birds and clouds and stars! Recognize they are alive. They are special. And you are as well.
Sometimes we need to rumble first in order to get encouraged to raise our voices. Be inspired by the wild Krampus who comes with the strength of a he-goat and ram, who dances his way to living. Who is not afraid to claim what he is thinking. Even if it is not convenient. Even if it is unpleasant in the first moments. It is needed to crack our shells and let the light in – and out. Because we are One with the Sacred. Deep inside us there burns the Sun of the Spirit, ready to gain its power again.
I wish us a very blessed Winter So(u)lstice; may we be revived!
Text and illustration by Anna Wilhelmina Saxlova
Anna Wilhelmina Saxlova is an animist, artist & seeress practising shamanism, herbalism and the art of being . She specializes in healing domestic animals and helping nature spirits. She lives in the Czech Republic on a small farm where she runs (not just) a farm animal sanctuary called Heidrún located next to a brook where ancient Celts panned for gold – the land here still whispers and shimmers and remembers these times, old gods are weaved into her body.