This article was originally published in Italian in 2016
Solstice – an astronomical event with ancient roots in our body-mind
The solstice, literally “the sun stops”, is an astronomical passage but also one of the most important mystical and religious rites of humanity.
From an astronomical point of view, the sun is losing strength day after day and will reach its minimum between December 21 and 22, only to remain “suspended” there for 3 days. It will start growing again, in terms of hours of light and intensity, from December 25th.
December 25th is celebrated by Christians as the day of Jesus’ birth since the year 336 CE. Before that, December 25th was one of the major holidays of the Romans, the “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti”, the rebirth of the invincible sun. This rite of the eternal return of the Sun God precedes the Roman Empire by a few millennia, and has its roots in Mesopotamia, Persia and India.
The theme of death that contains life is one of the most powerful archetypes and in every tradition, pagan or monotheistic; it always comes from a woman, often defined (also) as a virgin. In Mesopotamia there was the cult of Ishtar/Inanna, in Egypt Isis, in Greece Persephone: goddesses who give birth from darkness. Just like Mary, “The true light that illuminates every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9)”.
A Virgin is not what you may think
The term Virgin does not indicate, as we are led to believe, a sexual connotation. The chastity referred to is a state of being, being uncontaminated, like a virgin forest, self-sufficient, self-determined and autonomous. It is to be complemented and measured against the state of the woman who depends on and on whom others depend on, often personified by the mother, or the bride. But this is not the whole story: in folk medicine, Alchemilla Vulgaris was prescribed to women to regain their lost “virginity”, whether they were married or not. Virginity was understood as a state of consciousness, not of the hymen. Even today it plays a very important role in the traditional German pharmacopoeia to regulate many dysfunctions of the female cycle and the physical, emotional and mental imbalances that may come with them. Virginity is therefore one of the four states of consciousness that every woman¹ goes through every month, whether she is aware of it or not. It corresponds to the pre-ovulatory and pre-menstrual phase, although with significant differences between the two.
Pause, mistery and rest as the origin of life
The message within the winter solstice is that pause, rest, darkness, letting go are the premises for new life, and that light is born when darkness is darkest. It is death that regenerates life, just as winter regenerates plants, and it is sleep that regenerates body and mind. Menstruation itself, or an empty uterus in a basal state, in the case of a young girl, is a necessary condition for the birth of the new cycle, because the endometrium must die for the eggs to start growing again.
When we thrive we live in rhythm, and when we live in rhythm there comes a time when it is necessary to stop, rest, let go, give up, give up something: the superfluous, the harmful, or simply, the obsolete. And it is rest itself that gives us the tools to recognize what to let go. This brings new sap, new strength, new clarity, new awareness. Everything has its time.
Surfing cycles and energies
Recognizing this rhythm means living in harmony. There are many cycles at the same time, one’s own body-mind, seasons, work and our enterprises, our relationships partner… and they are not synchronized. The trick is to train our “ears”, our radar, to discern the rhythm of four phases starting from our own, and then move accordingly; just as those who feel the music will be able to beat the rhythm of the percussions with their hips, the guitar with their shoulders, the chimes with their arms and the voice with their head, and to harmonize them.
If you want to learn to surf your own rhythm, you can learn to chart your cycles and learn their language with Medulla.
¹In fertile years, and in the absence of hormonal contraceptives, which instead suppress the cycle. Menopausal women contain, at the same time, the four states of consciousness. And let’s remember, not all women menstruate, and not all those who menstruate are women.