Today is December 21st and, like every year, this day marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as the shift in the Earth’s axial tilt in relation to the Sun, known as Winter Solstice. Solstice is derived from the Latin phrase for ”Sun stands still,“ because that is what the Sun appears to do before its arc starts moving back up until it reaches its peak during the Summer Solstice.
The actual shift does not take a whole day, it’s more like a second (occurring tonight at 6:38 pm EST, to be exact), but many cultures have recognized and celebrated this day for thousands of years with the sense of rebirth and hope that the return of the light brings (which, in practical terms, means longer days and shorter nights). On this day, we recognize that darkness is inevitable, but look forward to the light and the sense of renewal and warmth that it brings.
This Winter Solstice is particularly special, because it coincides with the Full Moon and was preceded by a full lunar eclipse in the beginning of the day (starting very early, around 1:30 am EST). According to the experts, a full lunar eclipse and the Winter Solstice hadn’t coincided since 1544 and won’t be seen together again until December 21st, 2094. But beyond the obviously unusual astronomical combination of events, I think it is important to recognize the symbolic and energetic nature of this “coincidence.”
A full lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth aligns directly with the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow on the Moon’s face. Any lunar eclipse is considered an important event in Buddhism, Hinduism, and other spiritual traditions, because the energy of the Moon is that of the feminine, subconscious aspects in all of us, and having it darkened by the Earth is viewed as a somewhat inauspicious time.
In many of these traditions, it is actually recommended not to go out during eclipses (either solar or lunar), but to remain inside and utilize the powerful energy of an eclipse to counteract any negativity within. It is not necessarily all bad; it is simply the recognition of darkness as a part of life (of ourselves) and of the eclipse’s energy as a powerful force; and it is also an opportunity to delve into the subconscious with the light of meditation and awareness to allow some of our darkest fears, feelings, and tendencies into the light. Plus, the Full Moon bestows a powerful, feminine energy that enhances both the subconscious and intuitive aspects of ourselves, and our efforts to acknowledge and embrace what lies within.
Now, this particular lunar eclipse announced the Winter Solstice, which happens during the darkest night in the Northern Hemisphere, so it was reinforcing this darkness, or adding an extra layer to the already naturally darkened Earth. In a sense, it is as if this day needed to mark an extra dark moment in our planet and ourselves, before letting us enjoy the renewal and hope of the coming light. Perhaps it is an extra dark moment in our personal history; it certainly seems like a very dark moment in our global human history. But we will not know how really dark it is until the light of awareness shines forth and we move forward.
And this is what this moment, this special combination of events, is really all about: moving forward, from darkness into the light and from the past into the future. Just think about it for a moment: the lunar eclipse brings the darkest in ourselves right before the Winter Solstice is about to shift the darkest night into a new beginning, while the Full Moon shines its powerful, feminine, intuitive energy upon us. This is a cosmic opportunity to really leave the old behind and look forward to a new beginning; to shed the mental patterns and tendencies that no longer serve us, and let them go; to face our darkest secrets, our darkest demons, and transform them into the change that we need now, to be at peace with ourselves and others, and to bring peace into the world. You may be thinking, well, isn’t this what we are supposed to do anyway? And you are totally right. Except that when Cosmic Consciousness and the Universe send us these special gifts to help with our spiritual progress, it seems foolish not to take advantage of the energy and clarity they can provide, if we remain open and receptive.
Yes, this is a very special Winter Solstice indeed. Perhaps it is also a cosmic projection (a preview) of the consciousness shift that 2012 may bring. In any case, it is a great opportunity to look at and ask ourselves: “What do I need to let go of, and what do I need to embrace, right here, right now, to move forward into a more conscious and fulfilling future?” So seize the day, sit in meditation (or do whatever practice you are used to), visualize a brighter future, and let the darkness, the sadness, the hopelessness go! Happy Solstice everyone!
© 2010 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.