The Gift of Yule: An Illuminated Wheel
Author: Robin Fennelly
The night is cold and I stand facing the darkness; thick and almost opaque in its veiling. I think on all that has brought me to this point of the Great Wheel and call to myself the memories of lessons learned and shadowy places uncovered needing nurturance and cultivation. Each memory is illuminated from within and I feel the heat of my Inner Sun flaring out from center’s core; extending light filled streams of connection to each treasured sensation and image.
Tingling energy moves across my back affirming my growing anticipation of the promise held in the rising sun as I await the dawning of the Solstice Sun. I think on the moments of waiting I have seen at this same cycle of time the many years before and how each has held its own joy of new expression. I breathe into these thoughts, envisioning the flame of sunlight growing within myself. I breathe deeply into the joy of being able to turn the focus of that light outwards as the sun gains strength in the sky above and I attune to that same solar cycle within.
I look ahead and see rays of filtered light flowing around and through me casting their long slim finger-like beams on the snowscape in front of me. The time is now. One more deep breath in affirming the strength of the dark that has come before, and I turn to face the rising sun. Dawn of the Winter Solstice has come and with its rising so too does the rising of my illuminated self; forever changed.
As we celebrate the Winter Solstice and the blessings of the return of the Light that holds the promise of lengthening days we are also priming our Inner Light that has been in process of quickening during this waning half of the year. There are many stories that are woven through the cycle of the Wheel, the cycles of the God and Goddess primary among them. I would like to offer an interpretation of the Greater Wheel of the Year as a journey of Light that begins at the time of the Winter Solstice. We are all familiar with the concept of the Divine Spark, Inner Flame or Inner Sun said to reside within each of us. This is the aspect of our being that emits great light and connects us with the outer particles of light, in all of its forms, which surround us. This light serves as a beacon calling to itself the flow of Prana (the life force) that enlivens us and makes us identifiable by our own personal signature to all other beings of light. In rhythm with the outer movement of the Sun and its waxing and waning of energy from solstice to solstice we can attune to our inner sun’s rhythm and use the energy of the Wheel to quicken, enliven, sustain and renew its energy.
I like to use the analogy of a lighthouse, shining the brilliance of its massive light 360-degrees out over the waters as beacon and guide for all to see as they are carried on the waters towards the edge of shore. They have set their course and the light serves to offer up clarity and safety on their journey. We are the strength of that lighthouse and the beacon of light is that which emanates from our inner sun’s core. Each action we take from the time of that light being birthed and renewed at the time of the Winter Solstice is a step towards the brilliance of our own light radiating outward in dynamic outpour towards all whom we encounter.
At the point of its reaching its full spectrum of expression at the Summer Solstice, this light now begins its journey of turning inward. And, the fullness of this light now guides the way for navigation through our inner waters and landscape. It becomes the lantern of the Hermit as we move through the darkness of our fears and doubts and is fueled by those things we find in these spaces that are to be transformed and energized as seedlings of the greater light to be reborn at the Winter Solstice.
The Waxing Sun’s Light
The cycle of the Waxing of the Light begins at the time of the Winter Solstice. This is the space of our inner awakening. Through the energy of this cycle of rebirthing we have opportunity to experience the inner awakening of our own Divine flame. We light candles and wait in anticipation of the rising of the sun on Solstice morning and are uplifted in the joy of the Great Mother and her giving birth to the Sun King of Life. This Light of the Solstice is in process of renewal and what lay hidden beneath the shadow of the longest night and darkness is the time for reaffirming the light within and awaiting the birth of an awakened mind, heart and spirit ready to do the Great Work.
This inner light we have cultivated and called forth continues to grow and we welcome the fires of Imbolc as the sustenance of what the burgeoning of longer days holds as potential. The Goddess takes her place as new mother, fiercely protective of the light she has brought into being. And through the quickening of the fires of this light she begins the process of transformation and renewal as her energy shifts into the form of the Maiden. We guard and nurture the growing flame within as mother and anticipate with the fervency of the Maiden the maturing of what has been created.
We find ourselves now at the time of the Vernal Equinox. This is the pause of respite when there is equal balance of day and night. This is the point of integration and synthesis of the work and effort offered beginning at the Winter Solstice. The Vernal Equinox holds the product of renewal and the stirrings of the increasing state of awareness illuminated by the potential that is held within the fertile space of manifest form. We find the space of balance within ourselves and seek out the opportunity to shine that light more brightly as it has strengthened and we open to taking in more of the light that surrounds us. We begin the dance of enlivened exchange shifting eagerly between what has been and what will be.
This opening to receiving the downpour of the light of growth is the preface to the union of the polarities at Beltane. These take the forms of male and female, God and Goddess and are the positive and negative charges needed to generate sufficient electrical current of vibrant and pulsing Light to flow and move towards a state of overt Life. This is the time of procreation and as such the continuation of what has been seeded within is ready to be conceptualized and brought forth into manifest form. Like attracts like and we use the electro-magnetic attraction of our inner sun to create the cycle of connection and flow to the physical sun. We open to receiving and mirroring back the life giving properties as above, so below, as within, so without.
We continue this expansion of our inner light and reach its apex of form and intent at the Summer Solstice. In opposition to the longest night of the Winter Solstice, the brilliance of full sun and illuminated action holds the power of this outpouring. It is at this point that we have fully ignited our Inner Sun and it is now the time of full expression of the strength and power of its dynamic energy that will carry us forward into the waning light of the year. This lengthened day is the pivotal point of beginning to turn within. The light will begin to dwindle in outward expression and the need to cultivate, and nurture the inner space of light we hold at our core becomes the focus.
I stand in a fragrant field bursting with Summer’s flowers. The sun shines brightly overhead and I feel the radiance of warmth and the pulsing of vibrant light moving through me. I am a reflection of that sun and all that has been nurtured and tended within has grown into the abundant field of beauty that lay before me. I breathe deeply into these thoughts. Affirming my own strength and the longevity of my solar outpouring.
I breathe deeply into the inner space of warmth and see the flaming sun at my center’s core. As I continue to breathe into this truth, the sun begins its descent into the evening. The sky darkens and the final light of sunset retreats; the darkness moving in shadow and drawing this hidden light inward; moving through me as I stand strong and resilient in receipt. The time of the Solstice is at hand and the work of refocusing the brilliance of summer’s light becomes the breath of my intent.
The Waning Sun’s Light
The Waning half of the year supports the process of redirecting the inner light we have brought to its fullness and sending focus inward. We celebrate Lammas and eat heartily of the grain of life, cut down at its peak and offered up as sacrifice to fuel our hunger. As we move through this turning within the need to cull and harvest what will act as the fuel to sustain the brilliance of its fire is the task of intent. In the physical world we gather our food and energy stores and offer up to sacrifice those products which did not thrive in the heat of the spring and summer sun. We look carefully at what we think will nourish and sustain us in the dark months ahead and we choose wisely where we shine our light so as not to exhaust its outward presence.
If we have chosen well and have done the necessary work to maintain that which will carry us through the long night’s journeys those inner fires burn brightly at the time of the Autumnal Equinox. This point of balance offers another time of integration and rest from the efforts laid forth. We begin to settle in as the days grow shorter and the cooler air fulfills the promise of winter’s hold. We spend more time in reflection and stoke the fires of our inner hearth lights, feeding them from what we have brought into this inner space from our plantings during the waning light. The balance of light and dark is the fertile womb that begins the transition of what has been revealed by the inner flames and is ready to become the seeding of wisdom.
The growing darkness consumes the fullness of day and we look to our ancestors as the veils part at Samhain. The fires of the cauldrons and candles light the way for their return to this world in shadow and as specter; and our own inner light shines brightly as beacon to welcome their wisdom into our hearts, minds and bodies. This is the calling to the Midnight Sun and the deep transformation that will illuminate the way of the mystic. This is the sun that burns hot and intent-filled within the earth’s core. This is the hidden sun that although we may not see its face at the midnight hour in our geographical location, the sun has reached its apex of noon at the exact geographical polar opposite. This is the sun of the Great Work that glows its brightest within the fuelings of our will and intent. And, it is within this shadowy landscape that those parts of self which have eluded the sun’s full light are analyzed, refined and embraced as we clear the way for what will be birthed anew at the Winter Solstice.
This journey of Light is one that contracts and expands, much like the astrological retrograde of planetary energy. There is opportunity to reach back in time and space before turning full thrust ahead. And there is space for hovering in momentary pause, not stagnation, but dynamic pause during the balance of the Equinoxes. Each of the cross quarter days offers the point of flexible expansion towards the next contraction or pause. Each is a mini-birth of sorts of the refined energy in preparation for what lay ahead. We return to the Winter Solstice as the cycle begins anew, but we have been changed in the process. Our inner light has transformed every space it has reached and the you that stands waiting to call forth the Light of return emerges from the longest night blazing in full glory.
The night is cold and I stand facing the darkness; thick and almost opaque in its veiling. I think on all that has brought me to this point of the Great Wheel…