Until recently, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Solstices.
Previously published on The Wellness Universe, December 20, 2019
Except that many years ago, I had been told by a particular religious group that the Christmas holiday was celebrated at about the same time that Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice. I knew that astronomically-speaking, the Winter Solstice was the shortest day, (a day with the least daylight), that we experience during a year. So if this is your first dive into the topic, you’re not alone.
When is the Winter Solstice?
In the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs from about December 18th to the 25th; depending upon the year. Most people acknowledge the Winter Solstice only on December 21st or December 22nd. At the prehistoric sacred site of Newgrange in Ireland, the sunrise Winter Solstice will be observed and celebrated between the dates of December 18th to the 23rd, 2019.
Since many people from around the world revere the Winter Solstice as a deeply spiritual time, that reason alone makes it an interesting topic to understand. We all know how fractional religious matters can be. Yet, Spirit seeks to unify the fragmented parts of the whole.
Some think the Winter Solstice is a time of connection, quiet reflection, and profound joy. Others experience this time as busy, complicated, or even chaotic; and not just around planning celebrations or such. Sensitive or intuitive persons actually dream a lot or experience spiritual downloads of information!
Naturally, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season may make it difficult to find time for ourselves, but we can use the Winter Solstice as a way to excuse ourselves from some of the drama and overwhelm and take a pause. Yes, take some time and sit for awhile to reflect on your hopes, wishes and desires for the future.
It might also be a good time to contemplate about how your year went, and maybe set new intentions and realign your priorities.
Eastern beliefs offer an explanation of how the Solstices affect us. Not only symbolically, but in a very real sense; yin energy is the darkness before the Winter Solstice and then at sunrise, the dark opens to the lightness of the yang energy.
By seeking to first understand, we may actually give ourselves more space to live and let live, let go of the past and give ourselves a break from feeling the need to control.
Curiosity, Like Love, is Eternal
Like the spirals engraved on the neolithic and monolithic rocks at sites like, Knowth and Newgrange in Ireland and Stonehenge in England, humans have sought to leave their mark on the planet.
I listed Knowth first because some believe it to be the oldest of the astronomically-oriented structures built. Unfortunately, the caretakers of the Knowth site do not allow entrance into its chamber.
Thankfully, near Knowth you can visit the larger site of Newgrange and go inside its tomb. However, to enter the burial chamber during the Winter Solstice sunrise, you must fill out a lottery application and be chosen to gain entry. The lucky few who win the opportunity to go inside the tomb at sunrise, get to see the rays of sunlight fill the chamber via a lightbox cut-out of the stones above the passageway entry. Those inside the chamber during sunrise will watch as sunlight fills the entire chamber, (weather permitting), for 17 precious minutes. Yes, it’s a very big deal and a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Interestingly, Stonehenge may be the world’s most famous prehistoric monument and sacred site to host the Summer and Winter Solstices that is aligned to the Winter Solstice sunset; while Newgrange only aligns to the Winter Solstice sunrise. I find this dichotomy intriguing.
The opportunity exists for all of us to visit these sacred sites and stir our inner curiosity about who and why all of the etchings were made on these gigantic stones. And we can be grateful that we are alive during this time in history when it is possible to visit these sacred sites.
I have been forever changed by visiting the West Kennet Long Barrow, (an Avebury site), Knowth, Newgrange and Stonehenge. Where allowed, I stood, walked, sat near and touched, many of these incredible stones; marveling their presence.
Last July, while meditating at Stonehenge inside the stone circle, I came to know of our “rightness to BE,” in the world. The experience quickly put me into a meditative state; when I am home, it takes me many minutes to reach that state of meditation. At Stonehenge, I became aware of why certain sites are sacred, and why, if we have the opportunity, we should protect them.
As I take the next long and luscious deep breath, I reach for the grace to continue to live and travel to these highly energetic places for many years to come. I want to take my granddaughters to these sites when they are of age.
Marking the Time
Nature shows us the effects of time. The inner rings on the trees mark the passing of years. Very few things last forever and no one agrees on the age of the neolithic structures that still stand on the earth.
Astronomically-speaking, the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of longer days and shorter nights. This is why it makes sense that as we head into the dark time of year, with shorter days, we allow ourselves the luxury of some time to journey within.
The Winter Solstice is observed by various cultures; not only Pagans and Druids. Eastern and Western cultures give meaning to the Solstice, because it marks the transition from darkness to light, or cold to warm.
In Japan, the Winter Solstice is a celebration of all things pertaining to the fruit Yuzu; that typically includes taking hot bath soaks filled with different tart citrus fruits. This event ushers in an important change in season. Cleansing rituals like celebrating the Solstice are honoring, both to us and our ancestors, before the earth makes another journey around our golden and life-giving sun.
Balance and Synchronicity
For me, this will be the first holiday I’ve experienced without my dad and third without my mom; at least in the physical sense, and I am an only child. Perhaps that is why the Universe has gifted me with so much recently; I’m thrilled, no matter the why or how!
I am simply grateful that through the use of all the holistic tools I have put into my proverbial “wellness toolbox,” I finally feel centered and balanced; even when emotionally triggered. Yay!
As an aside, one of my blog articles, “Why Am I So Emotional-Tips for Grief” was scheduled to be published on January 6th, 2020; that is my parent’s wedding anniversary! When I read the email from the Wellness Universe with that publishing date, I immediately sensed it was because my mom and dad are still with me in spirit. Truly, you can’t make this stuff up!
Yes, I see the synchronicity more clearly and feel this statement that was given to me spiritually or psychically years ago, even stronger now; “We Are ALL Connected.”
I write this as an aside, and that it’s a big reason why I am personally going to spend dedicated and focused time before and during the Winter Solstice to unpack my thoughts and set a new course for adventure!
I hope this article has been interesting and informative and that sometime soon you can experience the joy that awaits for you on the Winter Solstice in whatever way you observe this time marker.
I won a place for myself and a guest, (out of 30,861 lottery applications drawn by children from three different schools), to go inside the Newgrange burial chamber for the Winter Solstice sunrise on Dec. 18th, 2019 in Ireland and we are going! Stay tuned for the next post to read all about what mysteries it unlocks for me.
I AM my ancestors (who continue to live in my DNA and blood), and Everything I’ve experienced up to this point since the moment of my physical birth–and perhaps from Beyond it too!
My physical body consists of “star stuff”: dirt and water, the elements of the earth and stars. I breathe, because our Creator Source once breathed a soul essence into a human being. No human has ever created another living breathing life from nothing. We make babies from a male and a female human BE-ing. Our breath originated somewhere. WE human BE-ings can only share breath. Our essence came from some ONE. That is logic.
Let me present some definitions to you, as you may need some context around this article before you can really “get it.”
Ancestors – anyone who shares my DNA and/or blood. I see this as a line, past, present, and future. What I experience today (in the Now), ah yes, is driven, or built upon, the foundation that all my previous living relations have experienced. This line allows me to affect change in the lives of those I am currently related to, as well as who will come down in the future–my legacy).
Blood – the viscous liquid coursing through my veins. It is a well established fact, and proven by my mother, that when a mother and father’s blood is incompatible a baby cannot naturally come forth from them. Yes, of course today it is known that with medical intervention a baby can be saved–but at times, there are still complications from the blood mismatch).
DNA – The biological, scientific explanation of the genetic carrier of information (deoxyribonucleic acid) that exists inside of each of us–not seen by the naked eye–which allows each of us to self-replicate. This substance is claimed to exist in “nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes.”
Aware / Awake person – One who has an open mind to acknowledge that there’s a lot more information around us than what our established five senses interprets on a daily basis.
Everything – All of one’s vibrations, energy, thoughts, ways of interpreting, and actions.
Why does it matter?
If I know who I am, then it gives me many clues as to why I’m here, and my purpose for living. Also, I feel it matters to my family, both past, present, and future.
To ease feelings associated with loneliness and loss, both for myself and others. And my hope is that the more we research and discuss our Connections, the better we can use our experiences to heal ourselves, and loved ones.
I’ve been interested in my genealogy for many years, and in particular my Native American roots since I love and am drawn to so many things said, and made by Native Americans. However, after my mom passed away (transitioned to the other side), I began experiencing stupefying co-incidences. Actually, I began experiencing incredible synchronicities even before, mama crossed over. And as an “aware” person, I began noting these occurrences and writing them down.
Before my mom passed, but after dad had called me to tell me she wasn’t doing so well, I had decided that I needed to find a piece of jewelry mom had given me years ago. In looking for the item though, I didn’t find it. Instead, I found a beautiful old watch of hers and a pocket watch, which I think had belonged to my grandfather (though I’m not sure).
I placed both items on our coffee table and felt better having these pieces near me. Call it a vibration thing, I don’t know. But I felt a bit better.
It was only a day or two until I got the call from dad that mom was unresponsive. My mind still wasn’t sure that meant she had passed though, so I’d reached out to my nurse friend to ask. I had kept busy for several hours that morning, pacing, and waiting on a confirmation from dad. I knew I wanted to get to where they were and be with dad–it was a “pull” that I’d not quite felt before. While preparing for the multi-state drive, at some point the thought came to me, “It was my time.” And bingo. That’s when it hit me. The synchronicity of the items I’d found was mom’s spirit telling me that it was her time to go, and for me to be okay with it–since she’d confirmed it by having me find not just one, but two, TIME PIECES!
She used to tell me as a teen that I was thick headed. So, I laughed out loud because I knew this was her way of reminding me of that also! That if I didn’t “get it” from finding her watch, then she’d make SURE that I understood that it was her time by having me find that second time piece! Aha! Mom was with me. I had even told someone a week or so prior that mom’s dementia sort of had her “one foot in this world, and one in the other.”
When my husband and I arrived in West Virginia, my dad was outside of the local hotel to greet us! No time was wasted! And as the Universe would have it, as we walked into the lobby of the hotel and conference center, a lone man was sitting there softly playing his guitar and singing. The song? One of mom and dad’s favorites, “Unchained Melody.” There was also, at this same time, a taxidermist convention going on–and my paternal grandfather was a taxidermist! It caused me to ponder, is mama (in the Great Beyond) hanging out with my grandparents? What a comforting and cool thought.
We spent several days with dad, but then it was time to go home. Before we could get out of the state however, my uncle would not take no for an answer that we needed to come to his home because he had something of mom’s for me. My aunt even got on the phone to tell me there was a mink coat amongst the things mom had put in their cedar closet. I couldn’t imagine my mother having a mink coat, so yes, the curiosity got the best of me and I did one of the purely selfish things I’ve ever done. I decided we’d drive a 3 to 4 hours out of our way, and go see my aunt and uncle and pick up whatever mom had packed away. My uncle also surprised us by calling my cousins and had them come to the house to visit us–something I’d never imagined would happen, but oh, how joyous that reunion was!
Finding mom’s wedding suit, and many special coats that I remembered mom wearing, along with other clothing she’d put aside, was all so very comforting for me. And as I spent weeks looking at old photos and seeing mama wearing these clothes, totally made me feel as though she was guiding my efforts. I poured through many photos in order to put together mom’s eulogy and photo slideshow.
In the weeks that followed, we would all discuss what kind of service to have for mom. My dad, so overcome with grief, would call me almost daily, and often I could hear the shakiness of his voice on the other end of the line. I tried my best to reassure him that he had more to live for, a purpose yet to fulfill.
Eventually, we’d agreed to honor my mama by having my uncle, mom’s brother, facilitate a memorial service for mom. I wasn’t going to go, but when I learned that my dad’s sister (who lives in California) would be there for her reunion during the same week, and wanted to also attend mom’s service, I began looking for a flight up. Initially, the airline I normally use, didn’t have any direct flights in. I tried to console myself that I’d just have to miss the service. But, out of the blue, the thought came to check ALL airlines, and I was able then, quite easily actually, to book a flight up with one airline into one city, and the return flight home with another airline out of a neighboring state–in the same town as one of my cousins also, whom I’d always wanted to visit with at her home!
As if, the audacity of the synchronicity of finding two of mom’s time pieces wasn’t enough, don’t you know that when I got to West Virginia for mom’s memorial service, my dad presented me with another time piece of mom’s, her favorite, “footprints in the sand” wrist watch!
Also, what really knocked my socks off, was that as soon as dad and I arrived at my uncle and aunt’s home for the service, I saw my uncle and he was wearing an indigo blue long sleeved dress shirt! If you haven’t read one of my previous posts called, “That Tiny Blue Dot” then you won’t understand the significance of this synchronicity, but the importance of it was not lost on me!
As well, the tables set up to be used for mom’s memorial service all had indigo blue plastic table cloths on them! I couldn’t have been more wrapped in love during that day, knowing mom was with me.
Nature chimes in
At one point during the service an eagle or hawk flew directly over head! And after the service, I learned that the beautiful blooming tree (that can be seen in the videos I took of the service) is a crepe myrtle, and more than that, it had been brought back by my grandparents after a trip they’d taken years ago to Florida! I’d never known them to take a vacation in their lives, especially not all the way to Florida! I was astounded!
After the service, dad and I checked into the hotel. Quite purposely I had booked us a room at the same hotel where my dad’s sister was staying so we could visit more with her.
As it turned out though, it seemed mom had a hand in this from the other side, as while dad and I walked into the hotel restaurant area, he is looking around and tells me that he hasn’t been there in years—since he had picked up mom and one of her friends when they had imbibed and didn’t want to drive home! I was stunned! I had heard mom say she used to sell Avon at one of the hotel restaurant lounges during a particular span of time (when I had moved away and was busy raising my kids), but I had never gone there with her, and all these years later the hotel’s name had changed. Turns out we were right where we needed to be, as the friend dad mentioned, joined us for a cocktail and a beautiful conversation later that evening after my aunt left to attend a reunion function.
The morning after we’d returned home, I had awoken with a song in my head. It was an old song. Gilbert O’Sullivan’s, “Alone Again” would play over and over in my mind, and with it came the feeling that mom was giving it to me, to help me cry and release the grief.
I continue to notice and enjoy the many synchronicites that mom’s provides me. Most recently, it was meeting an artist friend who paints using a lot of indigo blue, that she herself had not realized she was using!
Writing it down
Historically, the church I was raised in kept intricately detailed genealogical records. They are publicly known for this. Because of this, and since it was always the church’s practice to offer their members something called a patriarchal blessing, mom had learned that she was from the tribe of Manasseh.
I also know, but as of yet have been unable to prove, that my mother, and her mother, carried the blood of their Native American (Cherokee) relatives. Since the Native American lineage is traced via the mother, and recorded on tribal rolls, I’ve bought many books on the Cherokee tribes and have found my grandmother’s maiden last name, but not her mother’s maiden last name. So many of the tribal rolls don’t even show a first name, or only first initials, making proving my Indian heritage nearly impossible. Please reach out to me if you have any suggestions. My great grandmother’s name was Hannah McGill Calhoun of West Virginia and her mother’s name was Louisa McDonald McGill.
Since I’d give anything to find some handwritten family history by my ancestors, I began writing, and later, blogging, so my granddaughters will have something to be able to know and understand a bit about their grandmother–me.
The importance of learning and continued growth
You know, while writing my mother’s eulogy these words came to me, “I could burn a lot of people.”But I felt, based upon everything I’ve learned and accepted up to this point in my life, that it would be better to honor mom’s memory, life, and who she raised me to be, by choosing instead to elevate, and take the high road so to speak, because I am not angry anymore. I’m not.
For three weeks I poured through pictures of mom and my relatives. I cried. I got angry. But, I employed tools and tactics that I’ve learned over the last 10 years or so, to press on, release, and let go. By the end of the time I spent preparing my loving mother’s eulogy, I got to the point where I could just say, “Thank You.” Not just to my mother, but to many relatives and friends who, over the years, came and went, and taught us all many lessons.
I thank each of the people who have touched my life, for good or bad, for my personal growth. I believe the word “lessons” and the word “blessings” have a lot in common. And that either by the sins of commission or the sins of omission each of us can learn, if we are open to learning. Oh, we could bury ourselves in the dirt of these so called sins. But I make a conscious choice to learn from what’s happened to me. And now, I believe after we cross over in the ALL, that we then are able to see all of the intricate Connections, and come to know of the Why things had to happen in every circumstance, the way that they did. All learning produces strength of character and more importantly, strength of spirit.
Do I still get mad sometimes? Yes.
Do I want to get revenge? Yes.
Would it change anything? No.
So, this is why I practice self-help, self-care, prayer, meditation, and other mind-body-spirit modalities. And slowly, I let go of the anger–and I get another side benefit from all of this work too, the resentments vanish.
You know, it’s ironic that mom’s remains are in her old bedroom of the house she was born in.
The place she would attempt to come back to once, and my grandmother (according to what mom told me) said, “You are welcome, but not with Sheila.” Either because she said this, or my mother interpreted her words to mean that because I was a part of my father, my grandmother did not want me to live in her house. My grandmother (at least at that time) did not like my dad, and I guess, that was the reason for her answer to my mother’s request.
These are the kinds of things I can’t seem to forget.
I believe the reason some memories nag us, is not to heap guilt (which is just another kind of thought) on us, but to remind us that we’ve missed a legacy lesson.
Mom always taught me to turn a thought about a problem, “over and over in my head” until a solution presented itself. Well, I sat with this for some time until a new thought came to me, “Let go of my hurt feelings, angst, even anger towards my granddaughter’s father. As I mentally released him from the prison I’d constructed in my mind for him, I’d break the spell (so to speak) of my grandmother’s words about me! Thus freeing my grandmother, my mom, myself, my daughter, my granddaughter, and so on! This is one small, or huge, example of the lesson I needed to learn. Perhaps I could apply it similarly in other situations?
Have I made mistakes too? You betcha.
Once, I talked with mom and dad about somehow helping them to buy them a new double-wide or other kind of trailer on their property, and they said, “No.” I replied something to the effect of, “Then, you can stay here in this place and let it fall down around you.” Ugh! My words came out the way that they did based upon the helpless feelings I felt at the time. I almost found it hard to live comfortably wherever I was living at the time, while watching my parents live in what I deemed was substandard housing. Plus, I had felt so much sadness that I couldn’t somehow free my mother from the trappings of her then painful life. But I realized later, there was nothing for me to feel guilt about since I did offer, and my offer was met with much resistance. Because I haven’t worked on freeing myself of these particular thoughts (resistance), you guessed it, my son is now going through this very same “clean up the property” experience with my dad.
You see? We each have a choice. We can accept offers of love and help, or we can choose to turn our backs and do it all ourselves.
Of course, now my mother is free. Free at last. And me? I will continue to seek solace in God and every living creature. Not in ashes. Not in trying to change the past.
While visiting Marie and my beautiful granddaughters over July 4th week, I said that perhaps mom’s strong faith, returned to her as her dementia progressed. She lived in utter gratitude daily for papa caring for her and any and all things my son, Matt, and his then wife, did for her. Total gratitude.
I believe the gratitude my mother displayed taught me to place great importance upon healing (with love and conscious awareness) those who carry her blood. All of her love beats within my spiritually open heart.
I Am Free.
Blessed be. OM
Check out this original song, Forever. It’s one of my favorites as my love will go on for my husband and my family forever. It was lovingly written by my husband and performed and recorded in a Nashville, TN studio. You can download it (it’s Track 11) from this link: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/chevyfordband
A bit about me:
An Amazon bestselling author of two co-authored books: “Transform Your Life Book 2 Inspirational Stories and Expert Advice” and “Energy of Receiving”, available on Amazon.