At this time of the year, with the Winter Solstice behind us and the new year around the corner, we are assured a return of the light. We’ve lived through the shortest day of the year and have made it past our descent into the dark. While we are still fully encapsulated in winter, daylight becomes more and more prominent from now until the summer season.
These seasonal cycles were once honored by ancient cultures for the distinct energy they would bring into our lives. Spring is a time of rebirth, summer is a time of youthful exuberance and planting seeds, fall brings the harvest and decline of the light, and winter is a time of hibernation, contemplation and gathering our strength for the inevitable rebirth.
Cultures, like the ancient Druids and other pagan traditions, who celebrated Solstice and seasonal rites of passage were wise in their recognition of the seasonal cycle as representative of the human narrative as a whole. There are seasons to our lives, descents and ascents. There are times for deeper lessons and karmic experiences and times for jubilation, emergence, and a celebration of cycles completed. As we deepen our winter burrowing, we are in preparation for the the journey back to our rebirth in the Spring.
The welcoming of a new year is the foreshadowing of this celebration of new life. We celebrate with fireworks and sparklers the sparks of light that are just beginning to show through surface through the winter months. January is traditionally a transitional space, a time when we welcome new changes and wipe the slate clean from the year gone by. While frozen landscapes, cold temperatures, and grey days tend to permeate our consciousness during the winter months, there is a magic just behind the facade of the season.
Sparkling white snow give hints of the light to come and cozy comforts allow us the necessary rejuvenation for our next steps ahead. Persephone may still be caught in the underworld, but she has now seen the pathway out. She has made it through the most difficult of her trials and tribulations and looks as much forward to the journey upward as her eventual emergence.
The key to welcome the new year is a release of the old. Old ties to stagnant people, places and ideas, even old versions of ourselves must be being swept away, as we are prepped for new upward journeys our soul has to offer. New versions of ourselves that once seemed like distant wishes can now be possible, with only a little belief and surrender. If we can flow with the changes that wish to emerge in our lives and release our tight grip over the exact outcome, these higher pathways become our reality instead of merely our imagination…and perhaps even better than our imagination.
For this New Year we too can embody the spirit of Persephone and the cultures of old who recognize the hope and embers of emergence that the winter months contain. Hope is an essential part of the human spiritual journey. There is always an upward spiral contained within the depths of the descent. We’ve been through a lot as a country in the past year: changes in leadership, an unearthing of the truth behind gender relations, and a deeper cultural questioning and purging of emotions on a broader scale. But even within the darkest night of the soul the upward journey begins its formation.
We’re each, in one way or another, traveling through our own individual life lessons and changing seasons. And sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, you can’t always feel that you’re already on your way upward. You’ve already laid the foundations for your own hero’s journey, your inevitable emergence, which is all the sweeter, given what you have seen and where you have come from. And from out of this darkness comes a savoring of the light that would not be possible if each had just stood on its own.