In the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, usually December 21, heralds both the time of deepest darkness and the beginning of the return to light. It is a liminal day offering a transformation from darkness to light.
In the mid-latitudes in the ten days after the winter solstice the hours of sunlight increase by only a few seconds up to a minute or so. The world slows down allowing a time to relish the quiet of long nights and the inspiration of winter dreams.
One of the most well known stories about the transformative nature of this time of darkness is the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter, Earth Goddess of Grain had a daughter, Persephone. Persephone lived in the golden glow of her Mother’s love and protection.
But like all youth she was compelled by curiosity and divine force to begin a journey of completion. Persephone was walking in a meadow one day and she saw the beautiful narcissus flower – the flower of death. As she reached down to pick the flower, the earth split open, releasing Hades, the Lord of the Underworld. Hades then took Persephone, willingly or otherwise, in a Spiral Dance into the shadows of the underworld.
Read my full essay on Winter Solstice, Persephone and two other Goddesses in their dark aspect, Inanna and the Cailleach on the Feminism and Religion Blog. Click here.