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The Oak King and the Holly King Revisited
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Article ID: 14016
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Rose Hollow
Posted: June 20th. 2010
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“A little longer...what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.” my mantra while I meditate during the heat of the day. I am becoming one with the plants at midsummer. My roots are in the ground, my petals collecting sun rays and preparing for my own photosynthesis. I have to push past my barrier, my own comfort meter screaming and about to burst.
“A little more....”
I am sweating profusely with my eyes shut tight, a practical measure more than metaphysical one due to the fact that sweat burns when in your eyes. I am focusing on the heat, feeling the rays hit me and shine down into my skin, down deep into the inner recesses of my being and bringing light into the dark caverns of my soul. I look there for things I don't want to face, things that no one wants to face there, really. Memories that were secreted away hoping to be forgotten, acts and deeds that we want to forget, all illuminated for me to see.
Yes, I am doing shadow work at Litha, and why not? There is so much power and illumination during the longest day of the year. This is one holiday where your inner star is set to shine and your own personal power is at its height. Leaving it rest is like raising a cone of power and not releasing it. Doesn't make much sense does it? While I am busy doing my self-discovery mission, the old Gods of nature are, too. The Oak king is slain by the Holly king; they are one in the same. The Oak king symbolizes growth and expansion. One can only grow and expand for so long before the experience is complete.
When I was a child, I asked my grandmother why old people died. She told me that it was because they had used up all of their life and their experience jar was full. The Holly king represents withdrawal, lessons, and reflection. The Holly king is taking the Oak king to a place where he can dump out his experience jar and look at all the neat stuff he has collected and sort through it-- getting rid of things he doesn't need want, and keeping those he does. Not every experience is a good one, but it can be learned from if reflected and examined upon.
The feelings from each memory and situation come flooding back to me. Shame, inadequacy, over achievement, under achievement, and disgrace, just the same as when the memory was buried. Tears start to well up in my tightly shut eyes. I let them spill onto my face, but they do not stay long. In my moment of despair I feel the liquid gold of the sun hit my head and dry my tears. I feel the power of Litha and the Sun God seep into my skin and slowly sink down into me. Everywhere it touches, negativity and unforgiving self-criticism clings to it and in its wake is left positive energy and self-love. I feel the sensation with building excitement as it goes deeper and deeper into me. Finally it reaches the forgotten memories. I walk up to each one and watch what is happening. I see the golden ooze wash over the memory and take away the pain associated with it. The most amazing thing has happened! The memory is still there, but I no longer feel negative toward it. I examine it more closely. I realize a lesson has just been learned, experience has been gained, and I am able to move on from this memory. Self-forgiveness has been attained.
You will be pleasantly surprised that you can forgive even the most egregious mistakes once you learn from them because then the things that happened now have a purpose. Be careful that you do this objectively. If you go and find deep hidden things in the path, don't dwell there and become their victim. People who live in the past reside in “shouldawouldacoulda land”.
The past is there and there is nothing we can change about it but our perspective of it. Just like we can't be constantly expanding and growing, we can't constantly be reflecting on the past. Once our lessons have been learned, we must go out to grow and expand. Just like at the winter solstice when the Oak king slays the Holly king, he has a new chance and lease on life. He then in turn grows in his power until midsummer when the cycle repeats itself. The powerful symbolism of their relationship and seasonal play is an important lesson that isn't taught in enough pagan circles these days. It gets a brief mention in beginner books and is left at that. It teaches an important balance between inner and outer, light and dark.
Each memory gets purified and with each one, I feel more whole and more content. After the last memory has been cleansed, I see the golden liquid sink down deep into my roots and into the ground. I am left in a moment of comfortable content, my photosynthesis complete. I took sunlight, used my spiritual waste, and my tears and turned it into energy for growth. I open my eyes and feel renewed. I feel like I can take on the world. I feel alive.
Litha is the perfect day to look for things we normally don't want to see. It's after all the longest day of the year; we might as well use all of that sunlight for something, right? I challenge you to look into your experience jar and use the power of Litha to illuminate those you may not want to remember, change your perspective, and turn them from mistakes to lessons. Then take your new knowledge and use it to strengthen your subsequent harvests. Never be afraid of those bad experiences, they are just lessons that haven't been learned yet.
Happy Litha and Blessed Be!
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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