Winter Solstice

It is the land’s New Year and the night is clear and cold. The stars break open a dome above the village, a cluster of huts and lodges and fire pits. The village is well established and functioning in its perfect lineage that is beyond memory and kept whole for centuries.

From a bird’s eye view, eight silhouettes move separately and noiselessly, sneak from their homes and to claim a nearby hill. It is  strangely shaped with four equal sides rising a hundred feet in a steep incline to a plateau no larger that the foundation needed for a house.

By daylight they would have a full circular view of the surrounding valleys and forests. They gather in a circle and hold hands. No one, not even their husbands, know they are meeting, yet they gather on behalf of everyone. Every year,  they meet to enact a secret ritual that has been passed  through a lineage of women  until infirmity or death prevent them and another woman is found to replace her.

The cold whips at their cloaks, chilling them as they open the vortex of a healing circle with prayer. There is one who is above the others, who guides the village in many healing arts, and it is she who removes a clay bowl from under her garments and fills it with a  brew (?) which she carries sunwise to each woman who drink and call  on the spirits to come and help in the service of The Turning. As the intensity of their prayers builds, as the energy of their intention takes them, they strip their clothing and dance and chant naked, oblivious to winter’s chill on their bare skin.

This is the annual dance to honour the dark, to sacrifice themselves to Death and pain so that the light will return. They pledge themselves to what is hard, brutal and mysterious. Theirs is an erotic love-making to the night itself. They dance until the drug of the brew, of the trance, of the circle is spent, until the cold wakes them to their bodies, until their visions are complete.

After they dress, they build a fire to warm themselves and gather around to share their visions for the coming year of village life. They offer gifts to the fire which are from the past and seek release. They drink a hot tea  (fireweed?)  to warm themselves and to ground their vision in their bodies and in the earth. Many of their visions center on attaching old with the new, of creating new energy out of stale or completed forms. Before the sun slips from the horizon, they part and wordlessly return to their beds.

(channeled after visiting Oxford, England)

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