"Festivals are not merely the commemoration of historical events or personalities. They are in and of themselves, each year, spiritual events carrying a significance that grows and deepens with the developing phases of human evolution."
— Rudolf Steiner
Day 182 – Thursday, December 21, 1995 – The walkers note that today is the cusp of the solstice, the point in time where the winter begins, where day and night are of equal duration, where the breath of the Earth is fully drawn in, and just ready to begin the slow seasonal process of exhalation.
At this time of the Winter Festival we are naturally drawn to contemplate the course of the Sun — it hangs so profoundly low in the sky we cannot help but notice it.
As the Sun conquers the cyclical darkness, which has been deepening from the moment of Summer Solstice, there is a sacred pause in the collective breath of Earth and humanity — a moment when we can recognize that we, too, may ultimately triumph over the darkness in our lives.
For most of us, for much of the world, the heart of Winter Festival lies obscured behind the veil of outer celebration. Yet the veil is translucent. Through it, with a willful gaze, we may behold the mystery of the low-hanging Sun as it seems to stop, heralding the onset of the north wind and the clear, hard bite of winter to blow the cobwebs of confusion from our minds. Through the veil we also may sense something else just beyond our grasp – something vast, poignant, resonant.
Annually at this festival point in December the celestial rhythm of Earth and Sun come momentarily to pause – an anomaly that moves us inescapably into the deep, the dark, the other.
|Arizona petroglyph - showing the pathway of the winter Sun.
Consciously or unconsciously, we set at this time an inner pattern to guide what we will weave in the outer world through another solar cycle. We dream the dreams that will flower in another season. How much more beguiling if we know nature is inviting us to peer through the veils? How much more powerful if we know we are dreaming?
Like reeds in a basket, human life is interwoven with the life of the earth. All our food, water, clothing, and shelter come from her body, and arise with her natural rhythms. Our skin and bones are likewise formed of her stuff. Our moods, thoughts, and capacities are not wholly independent of this relationship.
As earth has a rhythm, so do all the creations which inhabit her. Those rhythms are related. To lose or forget this relationship — as many people have in their modern lives and diets — is to invite discord into the individual life, and eventually into community life as well.
When entered into consciously and respectfully, festival can be one of our most powerful tools for bringing our lives into harmony with a larger natural rhythm. Festivals move our awareness into the upwelling streams of the life current because we are acting out and thus experiencing our dreams, our visions, and our aspirations.
Today at Winter Solstice -- as at every day in the long pilgrimage -- the Sunbow walkers gathered in a circle to pray, to set their intentions consciously, and to empower their dreams with thought, feeling, song, and action.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 183 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire