With the approaching solstice, the dreaming is stronger, if for no other reason than the nights are long. In pre-electric times, and traditional societies today, this is nature’s ways of saying go ahead and sleep in.
Meanwhile, hundreds of folks in Brittany will converge on the major megalithic sites for a time-honored solstice celebration. Stonehenge is open to the public. And, in Ireland, a lucky few will no doubt witness the shaft of light that makes it inside the Newgrange tomb, as it does every winter solstice without fail.
The solstice is the most ancient of holidays, and is the root of many winter festivals, from Brumalia and Saturnalia to the D ngzh Festival and, of course, Christmas. But the best description of why we celebrate the longest night comes from a more modern voice:
“They say the darkest hour is before the dawn.”
– Bob Dylan
Solstice is a time of facing the shadows of life. A harsh midwinter appraisal of how many potatoes are in still in the cellar. Solstice is also the traditional time to listen to what our nightmares have been telling us, those voices we usually push away. The long nights of winter lean towards them without mercy, but remember those dark forces are only trying to get our attention.
As the daylight turns its back on us, we have the blessed opportunity to turn toward the shadows and be attentive to their whispers. Bringing these voices out of the root cellar of consciousness is the real reason for the season.
As Carl Jung wrote, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Carl Jung (1989), Memories, dreams and reflections.
David Lewis Williams (2005), Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos, and the Realm of the Gods.
Bob Dylan (1975), Blood on the tracks.