These specific last days before the winter solstice bear a strange mix of stress and melancholy for me. They make me remember former years when my family was still together – in a very awkward, unhealthy, dysfunctional way though – and how much things have changed since then, mostly for the better. It’s a time where I tend to re-examine decisions of past years and although I keep in mind that it is not fair to reevaluate a decision with an increased amount of information I still experience questioning myself. And then I go back to remind myself how useful some of those decisions actually have been, even if I’d choose to call them mistakes now. So I rather have a glass of wine and stop thinking to much.
However, stepping back a bit and taking some time for oneself is something that feels pretty natural to a lot of us this time of the year. It is the time when our ancestors gathered around the fires of their homes and told stories that needed to be passed on. There was no crops to be harvested, no houses to be built, just a few animals to be hunted. So they sat around the warmest place of their homes and told stories, maybe did some woodcraft and worked at the spinning wheels. I remember myself being a child enjoying listening to stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass or the Grimm’s Fairy Tales on vinyl while sitting there drawing castles under the sea and mermaids with pointy teeth. In hindsight I feel like I entered a different state of mind which would be probably called ‘mindfulness’ or ‘flow’ in terms of these days. I knew all the stories by heart, but as it was always a different picture I was working on somehow the words took on different shapes or colors. The end results had very specific moods and names I gave them. Those hours were magickal in their own ways.
I also remember loving those dark hours in winter afternoons when I had to turn on the lights in the house to do my homework or read anything. It felt like entering a different area of the world where the normal rules were a tiny bit different and as Christmas approached the rules were bent even more until the whole tension culminated into the presence of a supernatural being that could not be seen or heard but was somehow nevertheless responsible for joy and laughter and for a short time everybody seemed to be merry. Light was something that I never missed back then. If you take away the lens of a child and the world gets a bit less magickal and more practical there might be this longing for a seemingly perfect world of darkness but merriment which wasn’t quite real but it was still beautiful enough for me.
It is a dark time of the year, one that might call upon us to withdraw a bit from the madness outside. Maybe even to sit down and make something with our hands, whether it’s artistic or not doesn’t matter at all. This inner voice might come from something that is buried deep within our collective memory quietly reminding us to rest and to ‘recreate’. To ‘create things anew’ with/within our minds, words and hands, to paint, to write, to sew, to tell, things that are ‘recreational’ in the modern sense of the word. Isn’t this a bit magickal as well? Like we are re-creating the world around us with these actions during this darkness to ensure that nature will awaken again. This is magickal (re)creation. No need to conquer the world now, just to make sure that its gears are still turning until the light comes back again. It is not a time to reach out but to reach within, to open up instead of drawing boundaries.
What does this mean to magick though? For me personally, it’s about going a few layers deeper into meditation, taking a bit more time for it and not being too demanding with progress in general. It feels good to leave things resting for a while so they can decompose or recharge themselves. Sometimes it helps to bury stuff for a while and leave them in the cold ground until spring comes again, it’s a good method to cleanse. During this ‘sleep’ one might discover that certain things are not needed anymore, then you can leave them there. Speaking of which, it doesn’t make sense to me to cling to relationships that are outdated, no matter whether it’s about a partner, family member or friend. Some of these strings that attach us to others might very well be buried.
Looking at the soil I stand upon as something that might seem hard at the surface but indeed is an organic system on its own with a kind of energy that I’m inclined to call a mind is quite comforting. This mind feels like something forgiving. ‘Bury it here, within me, I’ll take care of it, you don’t need to worry about it anymore, dear.’ This is what I hear when I’m in the woods in winter. It is in this specific voice which whispers hoarsely, coming from way below my feet but at the same time also around me, sounding like the crunch snow makes sometimes if you are lucky enough to be the first person to walk upon it. It’s cool, understanding and comforting, it knows about the cycles that are necessary to keep us alive. Maybe I’ll whisper back: ‘Thank you for taking so much, so I don’t need to carry it.’
A few days ago I found a dead deer that had been hit by a car. It was raw and open and must have been around for at least a day I guess. Its organs were partly scattered around it. I said a prayer and called the gamekeeper to take care of the poor creature. It was an experience that touched me deeper than I was prepared for. We all know pretty well that sometimes things have to die first to make space for others and we’re so fucking enlightened that we keep preaching how life is a continuation of phases that change and how we should take the best out of everything that happens. We keep meditating and doing magick and teaching ourselves how to accept our egos’ and also our bodies’ deaths at some point and how to deal with the deaths of those we love. But the truth is, no matter how long our paths have been, how much we think we’ve come, how many things we’ve experienced, it will be totally different from what we expect.
I’ll weave this darkness with the image of the deer’s blood on the forest soil, accompanied by that hoarse whisper from below into an image which will turn itself into a story about a winter solstice that was always meant to be a celebration of life, a re-creation of the worlds within and in-between, a fire that always burns no matter what happens.