Equinox Sunrise

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[remember to click upon the images to beautify your world]

For perhaps  18 years now, I have been conducting sunrise vigils on the Holy Days of the Earth, the Solstices and Equinoxes. For about 13 of those years I have been coming to this particular hilltop from which the pictures above were taken. As you can see, this vantage point offers a most spectacular view across the Minnesota landscape of prairie, woods, and lakes. The land itself is not quite public, which is to say that my pilgrimages here would be considered by some (most) people to be trespassing.

The land to the west of the hill is a residential area comprised of rather lovely homes on winding lanes. Years ago, on my second trip here, I had forgotten to look at a map before hand, and so I managed to get lost in the maze of streets as I looked for the lane where the trail began up the hill.

As I wandered about in my car, a dutiful police officer took note of my rather suspicious activity in the pre-dawn darkness and pulled me over. As he shown his flashlight upon my outdoorsy albeit rather scruffy appearance, he politely inquired if I lived in the neighborhood, and if not, what was that I was up to, driving so slowly up and down the streets at this hour of the morning. I explained matter-of-factly that it was the summer solstice and I was wanting to observe the sunrise from the top of the hill, but I couldn’t locate the cul-de-sac where a trail began.

With a rather blank expression upon his face, he studied me for a moment, scanned the interior of my vehicle with his flashlight, taking note of the mountain bike stashed unceremoniously in the back. Looked at me again, and said, “I think I know the one you mean. Follow me.” It turns out he did know the one, and within 3 minutes I was at the exact parking spot I had been looking for. So, with the aid the police officer I was able to carry out the trespassing that I had been plotting.

Since then, I have been up the hill many, many times, and know exactly how to get to the parking spot. And while I no longer require a police escort to get to my ritual site, each time I park outside one of the fine homes and wander up the trail, I wonder if another inquisitive officer might not be waiting for me when I come back down.

 

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Sunrise at 15 Degrees Below Zero

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The heart of the Sun beats as ardently as ever
though the Earth plays the coy coquette
averting her face from the intensity
of his smoldering gaze
lingering for months in a sidelong glance
as she slowly turns in her measured pace
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and we
perched upon her cold shoulder
of 45 degrees north
a halfway house of latitude
midway between equator and northern pole
the temperate zone, presumably
despite our intemperate extremes
alternating torrid and frigid
the tropics and the arctic
visit us in their seasons
but never, it seems, together
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the arctic now pays its respects
cold rushes in from northern reaches
storied land of the midnight sun
now the land of the midday stars
what a sequenced spectacle
to watch the stars wheel
endlessly across the velvet sky
hour after hour
night after unending night
as the earth pirouettes
beneath one’s feet
Ursa Major and Ursa Minor
chase each other’s tails
around and around the star of the north
polar bears, indeed
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but here
the wind rises with the Sun
and whale sounds erupt
from beneath the frozen lake
as the waters beat against the ice
breath condenses upon eyelashes
ice crystals dangle before ones eyes
illuminated by the sun in perfect orbs
like Christmas ornaments not yet put away
a sprig of Arbor Vitae lies upon the path
tree of life, messenger of life ever green

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This calls to mind one of my favorite things to say, but it’s so quaint I can only say it once a year, so here goes:
Glove-a-lees are lovely
but I’m smitten by mittens

Rise & Shine

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This Hummingbird greeted me on the sidewalk on my way home:

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The mysteries of the Hummingbird –

Never flapping their wings, but rotating them in a figure 8,

they reach near-infinities in flight –

Wingbeats of 70 times per second when casually flitting about.

Wingbeats of 200 times per second when in a high-speed dive.

Drinking of the nectar of life.

Heartbeats beating for joy 21 times per second.

Indigo Sky

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under twilight skies
between the tides
of black velvet night
with its sequenced stars
and the flaming colors
of the silken sunrise
ere morning has broken
when dawn is just a gleam
on the horizon’s eye
an indigo veil
of the celestial Dancer
drawn as a curtain
between the worlds
a pause betwixt
starlight and daylight
we withdraw our pleas
from the distant heavens
and release all hopes
for what the day may bring
there is nothing to remember
there is nothing to imagine
abide in the crystalline moment
of indigo sky

Breathing Into The Sun

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Since the darkest of nights
the sun has not shone
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overcast days
for overcast hearts
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when at last the pale shroud lifts
that first ray of hope pierces the sky
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as sifting through the ash
a glowing coal resurrected
from the bon fire of surrender
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the sun emerges embryonic
from the womb of the earth
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breathe into the spark
of one’s own inner sun
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kindle this ember
coax it to waken
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breath after breath
it burns brighter and brighter
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breath after breath
it burns brighter and brighter

Into the Dark of the Dark

The Earth has turned it’s face from the Sun, and the Moon has turned its face from us.  It is a rare convergence, the dark of the Year coinciding with the dark of the Moon, but in the Northern Hemisphere this is our experience as the Winter Solstice aligns with the New Moon.   The darkest night, made all the darker with no Moon to shine.

The dark of course, has two faces.  In the closing lines of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, Dylan Thomas writes of himself as a young boy saying his prayers at the end of Christmas Day, “I said some words to the close and holy darkness.”   This may be my favorite line from the entire story.  It is such a moving sentiment.  So often I have loved the holy embrace of the dark, that mysterious void in which one feels intimately connected to the Divine Source, in which magick is conceived. But there is the other face of the dark, the free fall into the abyss, in which there is no embrace and all hope seems lost.

Some people live with chronic physical pain.  Some live with chronic emotional pain.  Some live with both.   My heart goes out to them all. While I count myself fortunate that I live with only the chronic emotional pain, it is still a hard truth.  My daily universe is punctuated with multiple black holes of hurt.

So it is another interesting convergence that in this season of dark speaking unto dark, I have experienced another deep wound. There are those moments that one feels utterly betrayed by the Universe, that just the simple desire to be loved is denied one. Those moments when not only the light of the Sun and the light of the Moon are gone, but even the star shine has been torn from the sky. Those moments when the void is devoid of mystery, and there is no heart in the darkness.  

Too many times in my life I have been brought to identify with the poignant message of  the song “For Vincent”, by Don McLean.  Paraphrasing its central line, “This world was never meant for one as gentle as you.” As gently as I seek to touch others, too often I have been roughly handled.  So many dark nights.

Though, bringing to mind words from my invocation of the Sacred Directions that I’ve shared before, North, the direction whose energy we are now immersed in, is the direction that challenges us – and through that challenge instills Faith:
~ Faith that the light will return after the dark.
~ Faith that warmth will return after the cold.
~ Faith that life will return after death.

One of the great mysteries of the cyclic nature of the phases of the Moon, of the seasons of the Year, of the flow of the Universe, is the simultaneity of endings and beginnings.  The moment that one cycle ends is the same moment that another cycle begins. The solstice is at once the point in our orbit that we face the furthest away from the light and the point at which we turn back to the light. The dark of the moon is the cusp between its waning and its waxing.

The interesting thing is that the physical cycle cannot be disrupted. The light simply will not return until the lowest point and utter darkness has been reached.  In some cases, the same may be said for the emotional cycle.  As has been said, “The only way past the pain is through the pain”.   So, if one finds oneself being sucked into the abyss of a black hole, sometimes, rather than finessing one’s way out of it, the best thing to do is plunge in, and allow it to shred you apart.  Eckhart Tolle said it best:

Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form and erodes identification with form. A lot of it is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego–but not until you suffer consciously…. Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego….

As long as you resist suffering, it is a slow process because the resistance creates more ego to burn up. When you accept suffering, however, there is an acceleration of that process which is brought about by the fact that you suffer consciously…. In the midst of conscious suffering there is already the transmutation. The fire of suffering becomes the light of consciousness.

Marilynne Robinson, in her novel “Gilead” explored this another way:  “To be blessed is to be broken, and to be broken is to be blessed.”

In this moment of the nadir of the Sun and the hiding of the Moon, in which we all are plunged into the dark of the dark, for some it is an encounter with the close and holy darkness, for some it is an encounter with the heartless abyss.  In either case, we are blessed with the opportunity to do some work at the deepest of levels, enabling us to bring renewed life into the new cycle.

Which ever darkness one is facing, as always, let us be gentle with experience of others, for, as Bob Dylan wrote, “You’ll never know the hurt I suffered, nor the pain I rise above, and I’ll never know the same about you.”