The Rewilding Wheel: Turning Towards the Dark

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Today is the Solstice Eve, the night before the shortest day and longest night of the year. This time of the year is rich with deep symbolic meaning and has been celebrated for its spiritual and physical realties for thousands of years. As humans in the northern hemisphere, we are invited to identify with the natural world and embody the impact of the lengthening night and deepening dark. And I'll say that as one who identifies as a Celtic Christian, the solstices have taken on increasing importance, and not a value that conflicts with my Christian hermeneutic. I see these cosmic movements as ones from which we can listen and learn much of universal truths and ways of being. 

My personal Rewilding Wheel practice as been an attempt at just that: an intentional way to listen and learn from the sacred within the natural world and that which is within the cosmic design and order. This past autumn I have been engaging the nature symbology associated with the cardinal direction East and the element of water. These associations are based on the universal wisdom of indigenous traditions. The Rewilding Wheel brings these pairings to a particular place, one's on bioregion.

 

Locatedness informs the practices and postures that reconnect one to their local landscapes and remind of how the elements, the directions, the seasons are all our greatest teachers, and in the words of Thomas Merton, " [They] make us as stable as the land we live in."

 
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A sacred Solstice liturgy held out time together on the beach as we bade farewell to the Autumn season now past, filled with gratitude for the experience of this quadrant and looking forward to what wisdom the Winter will bring. We lit lanterns and headed into the woods, just north of the beach, a symbolic act that embraced the darkness and acknowledged the journey of transformation yet before us (woods are always symbols of transformation in myths and legends). When we returned home, we kept all our electric lights off, lighting only candles as a way of further embracing the shadows, and night-shades. Our family intuitively kept to one room--the kitchen, the hearth place of our home--where we did hand work, made soup, and told stories. I was struck how the ancient ways still move about in our bones, needing only the darkness and the flame to manifest them.

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This past Autumn Equinox I initiated my Rewilding Wheel year on this beach that looks west over the Salish Sea. To this beach I returned at twilight today with my daughter to participate in rituals that would connect us to the importance of the darkness, and while not rushing too quickly through the night, and turn us towards the soon-to-be-coming Light. We cheered as the sun set behind the back of Vashon Island. We broke blessed rosemary biscuits (rosemary is a wonderful winter herb you can still harvest fresh!), and drank tea together.

I leave you with the Night Shielding Prayer and Solstice Blessing from Tess Ward's The Celtic Wheel of the Year we imparted with the sea this Solstice Eve. May it bless you, and the darkness, while we wait for the coming light.  


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Night Shielding

This is the long night,

where I kindle the flame of your presence O Faithful One

with firelight without, and candle flickering on sill within,

with crackling log on hearth within and starglow without,

I welcome you to my house and hearth.

Give me grace to cherish the darkness that I may know my need of light.

Visit all who need to feel the beam of your hope lengthen this long night.

Give us courage to meet the finds and foes of our night fears,

so when the new day comes I may awake with gratitude and praise.

 

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Blessing 

Like the moon stippling on the face of dark waters,

like the Spirit hovering over my deep,

like a seed ending the dark to grow in the light,

like the darkest hour coming just before the dawn,

like the new life ready within the womb,

may God's face shine upon me as I wait in hope for the returning light

in the dusky daylight hours of this short day, 

in the deep dark hours of this long night.