Winter Solstice – Talvipäivänseisaus
The old calendars, old stories, old worldviews – maybe the word best to describe “old” is indigenous? Or perhaps earth based? Or perhaps original – as in the first ones, the beginnings?
Stories that I have heard have to do with the Deer Mother – returning with the sun in her antlers. I met that story thirty more years ago in a shamanic journey where a great female deer – reindeer – was running across the sky with a golden shining disc in her antlers. I learned later that there was some truth in this for across the northern hemisphere there are stories similar to this. The Deer is the Give-away- the one who feeds all peoples. And she races across the sky pulling or carrying the sun. Some say this is her child, some say her lover, some say they are one and the same.
Maybe going out on a limb here! Thinking of Finnish stories – the Hiiden hirvi – here we have the moose or reindeer depending on versions, who is now “of Hiisi” and creates disturbances and hunted across the sky – The male courtier (little one of Lempi) of Louhi’s daughter is supposed to capture the moose/deer/reindeer, hunt in order to win the bride. What if the Hirvi is this ancient one, the Deer Goddess – the Earth herself in this form – and the hunting is the beginning of killing off the mother? Always thought this story was taken out of the roots – and that this moose- this deer- was the wild, the chaos, the one who stirs up everything and everyone when let loose, that she was just another form or side or voice of Life and the crazy patriarchs went after to tame, kill, subdue and pair off.
Then there is Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, and how she hid from the other gods and goddesses, master and mistress spirits because her brother wanted to marry her. He of course being the moon! And she the sun. Well Amaterasu had no interest in marrying her brother so she hid in a cave, with a rolling stone covering the entry. All methods used to get her out of there to no avail. And then Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto felt that she would be able to entreat her to return to them. So she turned some barrels over (some say they were more like sieves) and began to dance rudely gesturing, taking off her clothes, and drum with her feet. According to stories, her dance was quite the show because she caused all of heaven to roar with laughter. And Amaterasu’s curiosity got the better of her to see what was happening so she opened the stone door a crack to peer out. And they had a mirror there, she saw herself, the golden light and hearing the roaring of all heaven laughing – and of course someone was quick and kept the door open so she had to come out and show her beautiful face, which was laughing with delight at the rude gesturing and dancing Uzume and so golden light returned to the earth, and laughter, and fecundity accompanied with dancing and drumming. Uzume is known as the goddess of Dawn, the giveaway to Amaterasu.
Where there is give-away then I think maybe we are at the roots of indigenous and earth-based knowledge pathways – returning to our roots. Which means there is not continual taking, extraction nor hoarding.
The sun rises in the east. The place of beginnings. And at this time She arises in the south east (Finland), travels low in the sky. And for three days she stands still – or rather the Earth’s position is in a place of the big inhale! And the exhale will be on the third day. And believe it or not! The Earth, she makes her way around and begins the dance once more. Sun becomes more visible in the sky, rising higher and higher, daylight a minute or two longer each day. And by Imbolc, or mid February – we are already moving into spring for March is the time to celebrate Spring, the time of the moose crossing the heavens.
Without this cycle we are doomed. Nothing has rest, nothing has a chance to gather, settle, form, deepen, have a moment to think even! Then the cycle begins again and we are swung out into movement from dark to light to dark to light again and again. The swirling modulating changes in winds, air streams, currents and tides are cyclical also – especially when not prone to visible radical darkness and lightness changes as here in Finland.
Light a fire if you can. Give offerings of tobacco, chocolate, milky tea, hard alcohol even. Maybe even some delicious foods set out. What does it mean to be still for three days? To welcome in stories and fire and song and dance? Pray, parley, praise and entice her to return! To grieve even for the loss of the sweet darkness of the womb, the cave, the den? Arise up and greet her with joyous noise – on the 22nd or 23rd!
When someone celebrates/praises your existence, how do you feel? Maybe perhaps that celebration/praising encourages you to live another day or another year or get on with living? What if we were to celebrate/praise these beings (places, non-humans) because when we forget to celebrate and praise, they fade, die, grow ill, waste away….