Welcome friends. If you are familiar with Goddess or earth-based spirituality you no doubt know or have been hearing for over a month about the Winter Solstice and the returning of the light. We have heard that our northern European ancestors called the holiday of Winter Solstice, Mother’s Night, when the female ancestors and Goddess were celebrated and their guidance sought out by the people. We know it is the time to celebrate the Roman God, Saturn, as well as Mithras and Jesus. We tell tales of the Yuletide Goddesses such as Lucia and Holda and how the Druids celebrated their “festival of liberation,” a time when the soul is set free to dream a new world. The returning of the light from Winter Solstice forward for a time, is not just about whether we see more darkness or light in the sky. The light actually symbolizes the potential for life and new beginnings.
That said, let me share a little story with you with a new perspective on the season. A myth I don’t think gets so much play at this time of year. It’s about the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, a Shinto Goddess whose sacred sites are on the island of Japan.
Her myth shares similarities to the Greek Goddess, Demeter, and her bawdy and unrestrained counterpart, Baubo. You see, in her sorrow, Amaterasu, like Demeter, withdrew from the world causing the land to become barren and bleak. In her grief, Amaterasu secluded herself in a cave. No amount of coaxing could get Amaterasu to come out and restore fertility and vegetation to the land. Until, like in the story of Demeter and Baubo, Amaterasu was also coaxed out of hiding and despair by her counterpart in the myth, Uzume. Legend has it Amaterasu peeked out from the cave, her curiosity aroused by the laughter and clapping inspired by Uzume’s dance - but this wasn’t just any dance. You see, like Baubo, Uzume was “lifting her skirt, “ a nice euphemism for showing her genitals or yoni.
Why? You might ask. Well, on the exoteric level, it might seem funny or lewd to watch someone dance an erotic dance, or strip tease, if you will. I can’t forget the woman on the stage popping ping pong balls from her yoni in the movie, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Or the curious Japanese men holding their mini-flashlights hoping to get a glimpse of the yoni of female performers spreading their knees on stage. The yoni then and now holds great power and mystery. These stories of the dances of Baubo and Uzume are not meant to be lewd. They are, in fact, meant to be sacred. They are from a time when procreation and sexual union were still considered sacred and sex had not yet become something shameful or taboo. A woman’s body held the mysteries of the cycles of life and death. You might recall those sacred statues in museums highlighting the public triangle, that part of the woman’s body known to be the gateway or threshold of fertility and new life - until Christianity turned what was normal, natural and sacred on it’s head.
Baubo and Uzume’s yoni dances were the catalysts jump-starting Demeter and Amaterasu to once again spark new life. Think about the last time you really had a belly-laugh. Did you not feel alive and vital? Seeing the dances of their counterparts brought Amaterasu and Demeter such joy that life was re-kindled. Vegetation sprang forth once more and humanity could once again eat, sustain itself. People and creatures would live and not starve.
In the story of Amaterasu, it is said that as she peeked from the cave to look upon Uzume’s dance she caught sight of her own image in a bronze mirror and as became she dazzled by her own radiance, light and fertility was restored to the world. Some scholars believe this myth reflects the regenerative force. It is the power and awe inspired by the yoni across cultures as a catalyst for creation, change, healing or protection. Let us remember also, that women, as life givers, were associated with Goddess, herself, the Creatrix of the world and everything in the universe. Life springs forth from women’s bodies and women bleed without dying. Simply put, without the yonis in these stories, without the yonis in our stories, life ceases to exist.
Specific to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu’s, story, and in many other spiritual traditions, as well as in science and nature, there is usually no life without light.
That brings us back to this season of the returning of the light. The days and nights are of equal length with the days continuing to build in length and the nights shortening until the Summer Solstice in June. We too are coming out of the darkness and building momentum and energy, or gather light within ourselves, to do things and to manifest our desires in the world.
If we are in sync with the cosmic forces, this is the time for our own awakening and transformation, and our evolution as people and spiritual beings. Each turning of the wheel at this time of the year enables us to renew ourselves, be who we always hoped we’d be and hopefully see things more clearly as we grow in wisdom. We have the juice to re-invent ourselves, if you will. The light helps us see the world and ourselves more clearly and our role in the cosmic dance. Light shines forth, offering illumination that might give us clues to our destiny and purpose in life. This is the time that we take the ideas and seeds we planted in the dark fertile ground of winter and we nurture them to burst forth in the world.
So with all that explained, can you see why this is the time of year when we make resolutions? Can you see how that tradition is based on actual natural, cosmic and spiritual laws? Let us use this time to fill our vessel with the light that nourishes our potential, fills us with life, with incentive to accomplish positive change.
I would be remiss while we are talking about light and motivation to not mention the Goddess or Saint, Brigid of Ireland. She is both fire Goddess and Goddess of the healing waters. What do you get when you mix heat and water? STEAM. And what’s steam? Steam is a force that propels you forward. Think too of Brigid’s steam as a catalyst around this time of year that helps us renew ourselves, transform and succeed in the resolutions we make.
You have the natural energies of the universe working with you in these months leading up to Summer Solstice to see your resolutions through. Here are a few suggestions to help you accomplish your goals:
1) Make sure your resolution is reasonable.
2) Do not try to make to make more than one change at a time.
3) Tie a string to your wrist or put post-it notes on your computer to act as a trigger to keep you focused on your goal.
4) Have a deadline to accomplish your goal.
5) Have a strategy how you’re going to accomplish your commitment.
6) Get help if you need it to accomplish your resolution.
7) Keep a diary of your progress and success.
8) Show gratitude for your accomplishments.
So as we go forward, it’s also important to remember our thoughts are powerful tools of manifestation so nurture your attitude and thoughts with love. We must be the change we want to see in the world - cliche as that might sound. We must resolve to live our lives according to how we would like to see society change. So as we look within and outside ourselves, let us be filled with a certainty that the light will shine forth in the coming months providing transparency, healing, balance and enlightenment not just to ourselves but to humanity. Let us ride this roller-coaster of a paradigm shift not white-knuckled and in fear, but resolute to be filled with hope and excitement for the new world we can create together.
-- Excerpted from Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages and Meditation of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate, which can be pre-ordered from Amazon.