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Article ID: 4539
Age Group: Adult
Posted: December 10th. 2001
The Return of the Light
The Tide of Solstice is fast approaching. For those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is December 21st at 14:03 UT (more or less and depending on where you are standing. Subtract 5hrs for EST). On this date, the longest night of the year will occur. Those who live in the Southern Hemisphere conversely will be celebrating the longest day as Summer Solstice. But wherever you might be upon this world and whichever event you might be celebrating, the solstices reflect the ever changing balance between the day and the night, the hot and the cold, the darkness and the light. And as Pagans we recognize these events not only as natural phenomena that mark the division of the seasons, but also as spiritual metaphors for the elements of both light and dark that exist within us and within our societies. It is widely believed in Pagan circles that the 'in-between times' are especially auspicious portals. It is a good time for divination. It is a good time to look deeply into the unknown or to explore the hidden realms. It is a good time to uncover that, which is normally hidden. So hang on to your broomsticks, folks, cuz here we go!
Like many Pagans, I have thought much about the balance of darkness and light over the years. I have celebrated the turning of the seasonal wheel in the ways that were passed down to me and have learned a few new things from my fellow Pagans along the way. But I think the one thing that has had the most impact on how I view the light-dark dichotomy was a statement that came not from a family member nor from a Pagan, but from a person who had real and consequential first hand experience with both the darkness and the light. This person of whom I speak is far from perfect. His role is one filled with controversy. His is a life enmeshed within a stark reality of unfolding events that few of us today can even imagine. But perhaps we should try to imagine it. Perhaps we as Pagans should make an effort to heave our noses out of the archaeological journals once in a while and try to recall what happened just not that long ago. (History is relative after all and unless the lessons from it are learned, very often it is also repetitive.) For this man knew what many others would deny: You don't need to go searching for the 'dark side'. You don't need to attend a seminar in order to learn how to find and embrace your shadow self. If you live in this world at all, it won't be long before the dark side comes looking for you.
There is no special super-charged energy to the dark side and those who embrace it are not more sophisticated, knowledgeable or powerful themselves because of it. The adherents of the 'dark' can hiss all that they want to about that statement and go on playing out their ooky-spooky fantasies ad nauseum for all I care. They can continue to scoff at those who choose to uphold a light in the hopes that it will guide some other traveler upon his or her way and call these people fluffy-bunnies if it helps them to shore up their self-esteem. These 'darksiders' can crow about their right to do as they like regardless of social or religious dictates and continue to pretend that it is they who are the rebels, the true path makers, the ultimate players of the game. But it is in the end all smoke and mirrors. For it is not the 'darksiders' who will bring forth change. They can't. They have chosen to throw their allegiance in with the one thing that resists all change and welcomes neither the independent thinker nor the innovative mind. Believing that they become freer they are in actuality (unwittingly perhaps) pledging their vow to further the cause of that dark thing which abhors true liberty and would make slaves of us all.
What is this darkness then? The answer is both stunning and yet quite unremarkable in its simplicity: The darkness is simply nothing more than the status quo.
The 'status quo' is indeed that dark shadow that lives within all of us. It is that which says, " Get used to it, everyone. This is the way that I am and there is no changing that. I was abused and oppressed. I was born poor, sickly or with a bad temper. My parents sucked. My school sucked. I was picked on. I am a victim of my circumstances. You're stuck with me the way that I am. I will never change. I cannot change. I don't want to change. Tough! Live with it! I do." The status quo wins every time that someone agrees with it. And people agree with it every day.
The 'status quo' shadow in society assumes many forms as well and some not so obvious as those espoused by our disenchanted fellow quoted above. But the message is still the same: "Give up. Give in. You can't change me. I don't want to be changed." Start shining a light into that abyss and see what happens! Well, we as Pagans know what happens, don't we? For the status quo god of religion is dogma. Religion has to have a dogma. You can't have a real religion without dogma and rules and people to interpret those rules for you. There have to be boundaries; there have to be well-defined definitions; there has to be a clear and concise list of do's and don'ts. For how else, they say, can we who worship the Status Quo know who is in or who is out? How we can know for sure what part of the Status Quo belief system that your religion is willing to uphold for us? How else can we know if you are going to willingly submit to the system or if you are going to start some trouble? Religions have rules, says the Status Quo God. And if you dare to try to upset what is, if you dare to challenge our set of definitions, if you do not want to draw up a set of instructions for your own followers that all of them must obey, well then, we will have no choice but to impose our rules upon you. We will define you. We will control you. We will force you to uphold our Status Quo. And if you do not, then we shall do everything that we can to stop you, to shut you down, to drive you out. The Status Quo is all. Long lives the Status Quo!
There are Status Gods in all areas of society. There are the Party-line Gods of politics that shut out any attempts at establishing a third (or fourth or fifth) political rival god. There are governmental Status Quo Gods that accept the offerings of the large industrial and commercial worshippers while scoffing (Ah! A telltale sign of a Status Quo follower, that scoffing business!) at the individual citizen who actually believes that these 'gods' care one lobby-dollar bought minute about him or her. The Status Quo Gods go on television each night giving 'alternative' viewpoints which are nothing but that which flirts about the perimeters of 'what is' but never actually crosses over into uncharted and unapproved territory. The Status Quo Border Patrol makes sure of that! One step over the Status Quo Line and you're never invited back, bucko. You might even lose your job or your television show or your opinion column. And sometimes, you might even lose your freedom.
That is what happened to that controversial man that I mentioned before. He spent 27 years in prison. His crime: treason. Treason against the state, treason against the system. Treason against what was and didn't want to change. Treason against the Status Quo. That man is Nelson Mandela. And here is what he said:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." Our light frightens us because we can live more comfortably in the dark. The dark is all around us. The darkness is what is. And if we decide to put on our light, we won't be part of the darkness, of the Status Quo, any longer. We will stand out. We won't be able to hide within the crowd. We will have to defend ourselves on all sides. We might have to stand alone. We will be under constant pressure to come back to the fold. "You can't change things after all", they will whisper in your ear. "This is the way things are and the way things will always be. Everyone else just goes along to get along. Why not you? What makes you think that you are so special anyway?" And if that doesn't get you back into line, there is always guilt or social pressure. And if those fail to move you, then we'll just see about those civil rights of yours! "Maybe we can take some of those away. Especially if too many people start actually believing in them. We like them there, you understand, just for show. We don't really expect that anyone will use them. Anyone who is part of the Status Quo has no need for them anyway."
But if it is indeed our own light that frightens us, you can be sure that this very same light scares the Status Quo Gods even more. Because light exposes the hidden things. Light shows clearly to just what lengths the Status Quo Guards and Gods will go to maintain their hold on power. And if enough people should begin to put away their fear, if enough people should begin to embrace their light and take on its transforming power, then these people too might one day come out and say as did Nelson Mandela when he accepted the Nobel Peace prize in 1993:
"We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our people who dared to rise up against a social system whose very essence is war, violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people. And that would change everything.
I am also here today as a representative of the millions of people across the globe, the anti-apartheid movement, the governments and organizations that joined with us, not to fight against South Africa as a country or any of its peoples, but to oppose an inhuman system and sue for a speedy end to the apartheid crime against humanity.
These countless human beings, both inside and outside our country, had the nobility of spirit to stand in the path of tyranny and injustice, without seeking selfish gain. They recognized that an injury to one is an injury to all and therefore acted together in defense of justice and a common human decency."
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
December 10th, 2001
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