Winter Trees — by William Carlos Williams
"All the complicated details of the attiring and the disattiring are completed! A liquid moon moves gently among the long branches. Thus having prepared their buds against a sure winter the wise trees stand sleeping in the cold."
Here in the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice will occur on December 21. The word “Solstice” derives from two Latin words meaning “Sun” & “Stopped/Stationary.” The sun — which has been rising & setting further and further south every day [or, in the southern hemisphere, further north] — appears to stop its southward path for three days before reversing its journey to move gradually further north, lengthening our days. There seems to be a pause in the sun’s travels, a stopping, a still point….
Excerpt from BURNT NORTON (No. 1 of ‘Four Quartets’) by T.S. Eliot
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where. And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
In our human world, this is a time of festivities and celebrations in many traditions. It is a time when we gather together to rejoice in the lengthening days & to strengthen relationships as we face the deepening cold. In our U.S. version, however, it has tended to become a time of blatant commercialization & frenzied consumerism. The simpler, beautiful, heart-inspired rituals of the season can too easily become buried, overwhelmed by the rush, drowned out by the noise.
For many reasons, this year I need to honor the Still Point, to step back, to stand quietly — like the wise trees — resting a bit, dreaming roots & paths & ways of being that I have not yet imagined.
I am taking the next two weeks off from Trickster’s Hoard. I’ll be back on January 6th — a new year, a time for new weavings of fibers, stories, and thoughts.
For now, I want to leave you with a poem by Pattiann Rogers that, for me, captures the way a cold winter wind can actually be enlivening, can carry to me the mysteries of the far north [a place that has haunted me all my life] & bring me the dreams of the Old Ones whose wisdom — born of their deep & sacred communion with place — kept them alive through times of ice and hunger.
THE FIRST NORTHER — by Pattiann Rogers
1. Arriving all evening, turning up the bellies Of oak leaves, parting the edges Of cotton hulls and spikelet shafts, it comes, Having swept first over deserts Of black tundra, having brushed the flanks Of the musk ox, descended into the dark Bubbles of the pipits’ lungs and out again. It has been slack in the wings Of the snowy owl, static in the webs Of a thousand firs, but it comes now Pressing particles of down And whale smoke, penetrating windows With spirits of cedar, frost From the lemming’s mouth. 2. Aware of its presence, what will happen to us then If we choose to leave this room together, If we walk out among the trees maintaining Their broken intentions against the wind And stop beside the wall, feeling the hiss Of Arctic lichen in our sweaters, the rush Of frozen grasses in our hands? You and I, tasting the same air that touched The eye of the caribou in migration, Taking into our lungs the same molecules That reckoned their motion over icy plains By darkness alone? Surrounded And utterly possessed, how will you speak To me then? How will I ever reply?
Sending you love & all the blessings of this season, however it enters your life and your heart — Margery
Quiet joys to you and yours as you go softly into this time of the coming of the light. Gratitude for being able to come here and learn and share and connect dear Margery. Forest Who Sings Herself Into Being touches me deeply, each and every day, and I thank you for sending her to me.
An old Celtic blessing for you and yours as the Winter Solstice draws near:
Deep peace of the running waves to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
May the beauties of the earth, sky and sea
Fill your heart with lasting peace and contentment.
“And stop beside the wall, feeling the hiss
Of Arctic lichen in our sweaters, the rush
Of frozen grasses in our hands?” Goosebumps! Looked up Pattiann (had a sister Pattimae) and going to read more of her. I’m yearning our eventual move back north where winter can surround me deeper once again. Solstice, a renewal and release. A happy yule to you.
the stillpoint. still point. the
may we rest.
reading The First Norther was a revelation … and now I wonder, where will my breath go next?
I have always been attracted to the north, the snowy forests, the dark time of year. Thank you for your wise reflections here. Wishing you a peaceful solstice.