I just received this wonderful note from my friend Laura in Nashville. She shares a fantastic take on the Solstice magic… Elephant and I thought all y’all might enjoy the read….
Dearest Everyone, Good Yule!
For whatever reason in Nashville this has been the most ironically refitted of Solstice seasons. At least in the circles I have been running with, this Yuletide is abundant with cultural detritus: bad sweater parties; _Black Christmas_, the 1974 Bob Clark horror movie, playing at midnight our local arthouse cinema; a show at the Exit/In where young rock bands scorched through twee pop Christmas songs of the past few decades; a Dr Sketchy’s drawing event where the burlesque model trussed herself up in Japanese bondage. Yule is light and dark and this year in particular seems to sport playfully with the darkness.
Definitely this holiday tide calls up many disparate and sometimes warring feelings! But why is that and what is going on? What is that about?
Recently a friend and mentor of mine posted on her networking page a collection of old European paintings and illustrations of the Krampus, a horned German demon spirit who is the antithesis of Saint Nicholas, with whom he travels. The Krampus has his counterpart in Black Peter, in Ruprecht, in any of the shadowy pranking sidekicks who are responsible for playing bad cop to Father Christmas’s shining mercy. Their tidings are the tidings of discomfort: switches, coal, broken glass, dead spiders, and we now tend to make ourselves ignore them in this season, in favor of the abundant light that is coming.
If I am honest, there can be something a little itchy, a little trussed, about Yule. Maybe that is what the art-music-hipster contingent in Nashville is sensing and wrassling with: the pressure to be light, light, light, to have too much sweetness pushed on you like trays of ribbon candy when you haven’t yet eaten your darkness, and the darkness has no place to go.
The Winter Solstice is a time of creative and fruitful tension: folklore brings us the battle between Holly and Oak; the contest of robin and wren; the defeat of the waning light by the waxing. Something is being worked out, now. We burn our regrets, make our resolutions, and take with us all that we can’t leave behind.
Choosing what you want to manifest in the new year implies deciding something that you want to leave behind, or transform. Setting a New Year’s resolution when the grid calendar changes over is this same intention: choosing what we want to be is the inverse of something we want to give up being. The old is implicit in the new. The Holly King and the wren give way to the Oak King and the robin. Saturn with his scythe yields to the Child of Promise. And this year on the BBC, one Doctor regenerates into another. Time is re-set, with a change, but first you have to face the Holly King, the wren, the cold and hooded hermit, the Krampus.
But I think there is more to letting go than just a rejection. You are supposed to integrate your lessons instead of spurning them, so that you can be in the totality of your being and not just a greedy light-rusher.
The Krampus, Ruprecht, Black Peter, are the shadowy parts of ourselves, the messes we made over the past year, that until we integrate them and turn them into wisdom won’t let us go. They will resurface in an unfulfilled resolution, or worse, in regret. Unless you love on the Krampus, he will keep coming back. You are supposed to absorb something in order for something new to be able to happen, that is not blocked by the old.
Carl Jung says that to be enlightened, you have to eat your shadow. You can’t skip the Holly King with his thorns. Father Christmas may be immortal, but he still casts a shadow, and that shadow is the Krampus.
Dark feelings are okay this time of year. Even if you have nothing to complain about, they are simply nature working itself out. If you let them wash you, even if they don’t have words or concepts and you do not know why you are feeling what you are feeling, they will give way to light.
To get the presents we have to accept the broken glass and dead spiders. And once we do that, we see that the coal is transformed into diamonds, that Saturn had a gift for us, and we will realize that what we actually received was grace. The itch goes away, and the bonds break. And we are free to embrace the light.
This Yuletide, have a soft heart. And when something itches you, gives you discomfort and you get set to shed it for a change, for a new sundrenched skin, before you let it go see it for a lesson, for a grace. Draw it into your heart and think on’t a while. And watch it turn to gold. The Holly King and the Oak King are one and the same.
May all grace shine on you this new Solar Year!
Blessed be and love,
Laura Marjorie Miller is an Anusara Yoga teacher living in Nashville, Tennessee