The sun set behind a cover of clouds and because of that, it seemed that the shortest day was holding on for every moment that it could. It was as if the day shared the fear of our ancient ancestors – that the longest night would never end and the sun would never be reborn. Or maybe it was just my bright imagination enriching the richness of the twilight. There was a feeling of hanging on, and it got me thinking (and isn’t that the most wonderful part about ritual, when we move beyond the words and movement to a better understanding?) of the things I’ve been hanging on to over this past year.
I’ve talked a few times about the losses our family has experienced in the last year plus, and I’ve grieved – hard and gently. But I realized tonight that I have held onto my grief rather than letting it go and moving on. I think part of it is, how do you know when you’ve grieved enough? I don’t mean, how do you know your heart is healed; how do you know you’ve grieved enough to honor those who’ve been lost? Tonight I realized that this is a selfish idea. By hanging onto our grief “because they deserve to be mourned”, we aren’t letting them rest. Those who move on ahead of us don’t want us spending the rest of our lives mourning them! They want to be remembered and honored, but that doesn’t require holding onto them so tightly, keeping that grief fresh and raw. And I realized for myself, most of my grief was a hold over of guilt I felt – some self-afflicted, some family-afflicted – from the times I missed. Don’t misunderstand, there are still pockets of grief from missing them; I imagine it will be years (if ever) before I never have a pocket of grief open. But I don’t have to grieve every time I think of them. This makes perfect sense, and yet, I feel guilty if I’m able to think of them and feel no grief. How strange is that? With my grandparents, I’m grateful they are together again; the same with Uncle Art since his wife passed several years ago.
So I stood in the deepening darkness, barefoot on the wet concrete of my back porch and felt the pulse of the earth up through my feet and the dance of air as it seemed to pull me into the sky; and I realized in that moment of pure happiness that I could release that guilt and that grief, that I could release my sorrow and my anger over things that have happened this year and years past. So I embraced those parts of myself – because we can’t let go of these things until we acknowledge them – and I let them go. I felt lighter. If you have things you’ve been holding on to that aren’t helping you or anyone else, just let them go. You don’t need to wait until next year, you don’t have to wait for a holy day; day or night, full moon or new moon, outside or in – just take a moment to acknowledge that within you that no longer serves a purpose or is a negative influence in your life, and just let it go.
Then, I got the candle that Joshwa and I used the last time we did an actual Yule/Solstice ritual and I lit it as I stood on the back porch. I walked into the house and began lighting candles (okay, so technically I didn’t use the old candle to light the others…it’s a pillar, so sue me X-P ). Then I just sat, enjoying the scent of the candles – a combination of wax and a variety of scents – and a playlist on Youtube that I put together of Pagan music that I enjoy.
I made solstice cookies – my Choco-mmm Cookies, with cocoa powder and chocolate chips – and we shared one with the fairies before we chowed down. We didn’t end up hanging out with our friend, but I have her a cookie for today. All told, it was a beautiful, soothing night. Welcome, returning sun.