.I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life studying God, in many names and costumes. If I’ve only learned one thing- and it is quite possible that I’ve only learned one thing - it is what so many have said: humans are pumped full of fear. The role of God is to move us out of that fear. When fear freezes us in that small place, God makes God’self known, coaxing us out of the fear and encouraging us to remember the bigger truth: that we are made just as much of love as we are of fear. If God ever weeps, it’s because we choose fear again and again and again. If God ever rolls God’s eyes at us, it’s because we spout eloquent words about God and love and yet still live from fear. If God ever angers, it is because we encourage others to act and live in fear and call that faith. If there is a single phrase that I think the teachings of Jesus try to get across to us, it is this: Fear not. On this day that so many people celebrate the teachings of Jesus, I send my profound wishes, hopes and prayers to you that you can feel the presence of love in this world, whether it be through the touch of another human being, or from the caress of the wind, or from the majesty of the silver stars appearing each night. I wish love to you, around you, and washing through you, today and always.
What do the plant spirits of the Amazon jungle, the 12th Century European "Black Madonna," The Celtic "Old Bone Mother" and the Great White Reindeer Spirit have in common? They are embodiments of the "Dark Divine Feminine." And what they have in common for me is that they are all present in the Winter Solstice Blessing, which opens in two weeks.
The "Dark" feminine refers to a type of energy. Life needs both light and dark energy to exist. One driving metaphor of our culture thinks that darkness is lesser, and is tied to evil, and light is greater and tied to purity. This has left us with all kinds of "light pollution," a state in which urbanites literally cannot see the stars because of 24-hour-a-day lights.
The Dark Feminine - like, for me, the shamanic path - calls us away in nearly every way from the spiritual assumptions and foundations that have been taught to most of us our entire lives. She calls us to re-sacralize what has been de- sacralized by American culture.
She calls us away from our addictions to small and shallow things, and toward our depths - the darkness of dreams, intimacy, imagination, creativity and compassion. She reminds us that life is the marriage of grief and praise. She calls us away from tribalism and anthropocentrism, and she awakens in us a cosmic perspective.
Before you misinterpret that to mean she calls us to "bliss out" and "escape," she also calls us away from capitalist exploitation of all bodies - the bodies of the poor, of women, of indigenous peoples, and of the body of the earth - and into communion with the Great Mother of creation. She calls us into biophilia - the love of creation - and not only a love of it, but a commitment to protecting and nurturing creation, sacrificing our whims and desires on Her behalf. She calls us into being rooted in wonder, she calls us into the soil of discipline, she calls us to compost our envy and fear. (Read Matthew Fox's long piece on the Black Madonna for more.)
My several years' work with power plants in Peru has been a long swaying dance back and forth between working with Dark Feminine plants and then Dark Masculine plants. This balancing of energies has been very powerful for me. But the vast majority of my spiritual work for 35 years has been with the Feminine Divine.
At this charged time in our history, where fear, confusion and sorrow are so abundant - and where these energies are used to manipulate us - the Divine Feminine is calling us to reinvent our world, to renew it, to re-capture what has been stolen from us, to re-awaken our birthrights of beauty, compassion, creativity, connection to Spirit, and joy - for all, not the few. So many people have written me lately expressing that they feel they are in a fight. A fight has two aspects: what you are fighting against and what you are fighting for. If we forget what we are fighting for, or if we don’t articulate it clearly enough, we're just fighting. In this time, I'm trying hard to remember the vision that is worth working for, and worth fighting for, and I hope my work can help you with that also.
More than twenty-five years ago, the reindeer came to me when Ailo, a noaidi ("shaman") from the Sami people of northern Scandinavia, ceremonially stabbed me in the chest with a reindeer antler, as a way of inviting and installing the Reindeer into me. I will never be able to explain fully how or why, but that ceremonial act blew open an energy center in me and the Reindeer danced her way in.
For me, the Reindeer Spirit carries and delivers the power of new vision, the power of protection from confusion and the power of connection to Life. As a 70-year old woman of Sami ancestry told me in an email, the Reindeer also wraps herself around us in the storm to mother us and keep us warm, so we can survive the night. That is why I've done this solstice event for so many years.
Well, there is another reason I present this event: the reindeer asked me to "untwist her story" for my people. "Untwist," meaning guide people into the depth and healing power of a spiritual story far more magnificent and helpful than "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and "my people," meaning whoever shows up.
Ailo said urban westerners seem to spend a lot of time obsessing on our failures and traumas. He said we ride our traumas like horses, everywhere we go. He said we spend so much time tuning our instrument to disharmony because we haven't been taught to listen to the harmony and tune ourselves to it. Even our religious traditions tune us to the disharmony of guilt and shame and obedience and failure. And I want to be clear: often, we are manipulated with disharmony in order to keep us weak, so we cannot stand up and allow our "bones to turn to dark emeralds" as the poet James Wright says. Well, all of this is why Ailo stabbed me in the chest with the antler, so that the Great White Reindeer could have an opening to dance into.
So I heartily invite you to the annual Winter Solstice Blessing. No one gets stabbed with an antler, I swear. And even though right now I'm may be sounding awfully spiritually serious, I also guarantee many laughs during the evening, great ideas to chew on, and everyone plays drums! Yes! Dancing, glee and ecstasy are allowed, but not required. Here is an opportunity to get re-tuned and protected for the whole winter.
Wahoo, dear Humans. Wahoo indeed.
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Jaime Meyer is a writer and Shamanic Worker living in Minneapolis.