Far more than just another date on the calendar, Winter Solstice is a power portal for blessing for the planet and enriching our inner and outer lives. Of all ancient celebrations, it is one of the most universal, its remnants resonating in the contemporary emphasis on the December holidays. Pagan practices from Asia to America shared surprisingly synchronistic metaphors for this time of year, which heralded the special force of the sun, symbolically born again as a sacred child or being after the longest night, on or around December 21. Mithras, Horus, Helios and Dionisius, all millenary sun-sons, were also born on December 25, the day the sun begins its return.
Some researchers assume that festivities like these were the rather simple workings of societies dependent on the whims of nature for their sustenance, somehow trying to convince the fire-king to return and bless them with food and warmth. Closer scrutiny reveals that diverse civilizations understood themselves and nature as interconnected, vehicles for a Higher life force, and saw these cyclical changes as opportunities to quicken Its presence.
In his monumental work, The Secret Teachings of the Ages, Manly P. Hall reveals a forgotten element of native solar wisdom:
In the majority of cases, the religions of antiquity agree that the material visible sun was a reflector rather than a source of power…This sun reflected the light of the invisible spiritual sun, which was the true source of life, light and truth.
The Mexica oral tradition provides one of the richest examples, most detailed examples of the subtle relationship with the sun. Winter Solstice marks the birth of the Precious Child, Huitzilopochtli, also known as The Warrior of the South, The Lord Who Gives Us Will Power in Spite of Adversity. (His sister is the Moon.)
The mystical meaning of warrior is: one who knows how to fight in life and to overcome the lower self. The will that achieves is the divine and human strength generated by the Higher Source, Ometeotl, and expressed through the Sun Lord. As the latter begins his return northward, he rises as the solar Huitzilin (hummingbird), a being whose characteristic achieving will is evidenced in its ability to sustain itself in the air, incessantly beating tiny wings. The ancients welcomed him: You have come here, Precious Child, Sun-ray that ascends. Each person would review the passing cycle to identify how they could have exerted greater will-power. Then, with a beautiful ceremony and prayers for absorbing this characteristically solar vigor, they would establish goals of virtue for the coming year.
At Christmas, Judeo-Christian practices honor the child Jesus, the divine son (who in esoteric traditions is an expression of the spiritual sun). A few days later, we establish our New Year’s goals, reflecting the collective intuition that somehow this period may renew our discipline and “achieving will power.” In Western astrology the Sun is associated with will and purpose, and at solstice it moves into Capricorn, sign of goals, direction and discipline.
Throughout the Far East, this same portal is an important time of rest and regeneration. The I Ching associates Winter Solstice with Hexagram 24, The Return, a time when “transformation from the old becomes entirely easy.”
An anonymous author has said that the most common desire among people of all conditions is the desire for a new beginning. Each year’s end brings a special chance, as we still the rush of daily duty during this unique crossroads of earth and sky. The archetypal forces of beginnings, of achieving will, of light and love, of all that we hold most dear, conjoin and can be accessed as we clarify our intention and open ourselves to the assistance from the divine.
Note: For each solstice portal during the last nine years, the author has been sharing different ceremonies and prayers that integrate ancestral and contemporary metaphysical knowledge with Daykeeper readers. This year’s New Year’s Shift Ceremony to connect to the Highest and the Best of 2010, is one of the features available to Premium Subscribers. More information…
Cleary, Thomas, translator, The Taoist I Ching (Shambala, Boston, 1986).
Hall, Manly P., The Secret Teachings of the Ages (Tarcher/Penguin NY 2003).
Matthews, John and Gaitlín, The Winter Solstice (Quest Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1998).
Pennick, Nigel, The Pagan Book of Days (Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, 1992).
Van Renterghem, Tony, When Santa Was a Shaman (Llewellyn, 1995, St. Paul).
Wilhelm, Richard, traductor y comentarista, I Ching, El Libro de las Mutaciones (Hermes, México 1983).