At Winter Solstice....

a solstice/equinox ritual
copyright 1996 by Torrey Philemon
(Ancient Sites alias for Tracy Marks

MUSIC: Paul Winter, Earth/ Voices of a Planet- Cathedral Forest
or Holst, The Planets- Saturn

Let us take a few silent moments to turn inward, to contact the place of winter within us - the cold, contracted places and the familiar enclosed haven in which a part of us has begun to live since fall began....

WINTER - Telling the Story

Demeter and Persephone: Abduction into Winter

Once upon a time, Demeter, the Earth Mother, made the earth fruitful all year round. Birds sang, and flowers blossomed. The days were warm and light, and even the nights nurtured us. 

Demeter was devoted to her daughter, Persephone - maiden of eternal springtime, innocent and exuberant like the flowering meadows, untouched by darkness and the depths of experience. Safe in the arms of her beloved Earth Mother, Persephone frolicked in the blossoming fields with her companions, until she was beckoned by a flower she had never seen - entranced by the strange exotic beauty of narcissus on a distant hill. 

What erupts in the depths of Persephone as she heeds the strange, new yearning and plucks a narcissus from the soil? What erupts from the depths of the earth, when with a sudden roar, the hill splits open and a chariot led by thundering horses emerges? In one wild, reckless moment,Hades, god of the underworld, reaches out, seizes Persephone, and thrusts her into the chariot. 

Hades, god of death. Hades, dark brooding god of winter. Hades, at home in subterranean experience, dank and cold and deep within unconsciousness. Hades, who lures us to the prison within, domain of our despair and desolation, gateway to our grief, and the seed of our rage and passion. 

And the earth closes over Hades and Persephone. 

How Demeter mourns! She weeps, she storms, she raves with volcanic fury. Everywhere, relentlessly, she seeks Persephone. And in her grief, she withdraws her nurturing presence from the earth. Flowers wilt, fruits die on the vine, and the world becomes cold and barren. As the daughter is ripped from the mother, the mother from the daughter, both are bereft, stricken with loss, railing against that inevitable separation, that inevitable rift in all too fragile oneness.

How Persephone mourns! Torn from her mother, from the innocence of eternal spring, she is raped by Hades.. Trapped deep within the bowels of the earth, face to face with the horror of the unknown - subterranean demons, she is prisoner of her own despair. Persephone is lost in the underworld.

It is winter - eternal winter, a winter that appears to have no end.


WINTER - Drumming Deep

The child is born in the darkness of the womb; the chicken hatched after incubation. Birth begins in darkness, as dawn follows the long night, and spring springs from winter. We must not interrupt the incubation period within us, or force it to bear fruit before its time. To pull a seed out of the earth before it sprouts, to open a chrysalis before the emerging butterfly forms its wings may prevent new life from awakening. (DRUMMING

We associate darkness with death, depression, isolation and evil. We forget about the darkness preceding birth or the rich fertile blackness of the soil, teeming with nutrients, or the quiet inspirational darkness of night when intuitions and visions emerge. We cling to waking consciousness and devalue the third of our days that is sleep, and the third of our years that is winter. Feelings we associate with darkness - fear, pain, anger - we seek to avoid. Rather than value darkness for its own sake, we endure it only for the sake of the light that follows. (DRUMMING

The Sun's light cannot face the darkness; it dissolves into night, and reappears only after night has passed. When our unconscious threatens to overwhelm us, our solar conscious- ness loses power. Healing can then only come from lunar and earth consciousness - from the deep creativity and fertility of surrender to instinct and feeling, to the intuition at the ground of our beings - and the ground of the mothers who bore us and the Earth Mother which feeds us. (DRUMMING)


WINTER - The Poetry

Winter is icumen in, 
Lhude sing Goddamm, 
Raineth drop and staineth slop, 
And how the wind doth ramm! 
Sing: Goddamm. 
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us, 
An ague hath my ham. 
Freezeth river, turneth liver, 
Damn you, sing: Goddamm. 
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm, 
So 'gains the winter's balm. 
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm. 
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

from FOUR QUARTETS: East Coker by T.S. Eliot
O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark. 
The vacant interstellar spaces...... 
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope 
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love 
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith 
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. 
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: 
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

HAIKU by Basho
Turn this way, 
I also am lonely 
This evening of winter. 

from OUR QUIET TIME by Nancy Wood
In our quiet time 
We do not speak, because the voices are within us. 
It is our quiet time. 
We do not walk, because the earth is all within us. 
It is our quiet time.... 
We rest with all of nature....

A Cheyenne Poem
I am singing the cold rain 
I am singing the winter dawn 
I am turning in the gray morning 
Of my life 
Toward home.

This is the first part of a winter to spring ritual developed and facilitated by Tracy Marks in Arlington, Massachusetts during 1996. All rights reserved. 

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