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The Underworld Diaries: Winter Solstice / Keeping The Vigil

the underworld diaries Dec 22, 2017

I've been afraid of my gods. Not of what they would do to me. Not because of which gods they are. But because of what it means to openly represent them. I'm sitting here at 5:AM in the morning. It's dark outside. There is no hint yet, of the rebirth of the sun on the horizon.  The long winter solstice night is not quite over. I woke up about a half an hour ago, with restless thoughts going through my head, and a little bit of depression. So many fears running through my mind. What if I can't make it? What if it doesn't get better? What if everything I have invested in comes to naught? What will the new year bring? These are the thoughts the darkness keeps. This is why the light has to stay lit until the dawn. 

I sat up in bed, and saw that my jar candle in my altar was almost out. I had just a few seconds to grab a stick of incense and reach it into the bottom of the jar before the flame had extinguished itself and then lit what was left of another jar candle, from the incense stick. I had just made it. As the flame kindled in the second jar candle, the first flame died out. Keeping the Solstice vigil, it is imperative not to let the light die out before the sun rises. I couldn't help but to laugh. This is kind of the story of my life at the moment. Just barely scraping by, able to hold the darkness at bay, with remnants of what little is laying around the house. Not thriving... surviving. I keep thinking one day I will be able to thrive. But it hasn't really happened yet.

I contemplate my household God. The shadow of Hades flickers in my fireplace altar. The fireplace isn't actually safe enough to light a fire in, being an older mobile home. The very nice chimney sweep man, recommended that if I wanted a fire to look at, I should light a candle in the fire place and purchase a furnace. So I figured if I can't have a literal fire in my fireplace. then the underworld might as well move in to the space. It's a perfect altar really, and it's totally appropriate to celebrate the origins of my call to service to these Eleusinian Gods. It is the 28 year, Solstice anniversary tonight, celebrating the dream which abducted me into the underworld.   The dark moon was in Capricorn then. This year, Saturn and Pluto are in Capricorn and Mercury is Retrograde. A lot has happened in 28 years. I keep thinking I should write a book. The astrologer in me notes that this is officially a Saturn Return cycle of completion.  It's a biggy this year. 

He scared me then. Hades. To my bones. To the level of my soul. I woke up that night years ago shivering in terror from the post traumatic nightmare stress. I remember making tea, and sitting by the heater, in the dark, till the sun came up, because I was too afraid to go back to sleep. This year, 28 years later, I think it's the first time I've gotten out of bed on the Solstice to make tea in the wee hours and sit by the heater. This time I'm chatting him up as I stare at my altar. We've come a long way he and I. Now I'm traversing through his labyrinth like somewhat of a pro, producing trans-formational rituals in his name, which is apparently, according to the feedback I've had, having amazing impacts on other people. I'm skrying in his realm, vacuuming his altar and lighting his candles. Go me! But I realized I still haven't fully committed. I've always just stayed on the edge of not going all in. I've come closer this year. Closer then ever before. But I think there is still one final leap I have to decide to make. Something I'm still afraid of.

There are a lot of heavy things on my mind. Donald Trump. The state of American politics. The economy. The things that are going on in the house across the street. None of them too good.

Pluto/Hades sits astrologically on the throne right now, running the whole show with the Capricorn transit. I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the influence of Hades is wreaking havoc in the white house. Donald Trump and his 12th house Pluto. I shudder. So as I'm chatting Hades up in my fireplace it's hard not to shake my finger at him and say.. “what on earth am I going to do with you?”  How do we fix this?”  I somehow feel like it's my spiritual obligation in this temple to deal with a renegade Plutonian current of force running out of control. I'm not sure what the answer is. But if Hades has taught me anything at all, he's taught me that the only way through the fire, is actually THROUGH the fire. Go big or go home. He's kind of an asshole like that. But he's also what happens to you when things have gotten so bad, for so long, that he has to come along and wipe it all out, so it can get better. It's really not his fault.  He's just the messenger.  It's one thing, this upheval, on a personal level. But it's even more intimidating on a national level. I look at my altar and I ask him... “did you install an “oh shit handle” in this temple for your priestess to hang onto when you orchestrated this thing?” He just stares at me. All cryptic. It's what he does best. Sometimes instead of prayers and offerings I comment to him in passing.. “Dude here's your mantra for the day...don't be dick!” and I don't feel too bad about it, because I belong to Persephone as well as to him, and I'm sure she's said the same thing to him many times. So when I can't come up with any good ideas for the masses, I resort to the personal tasks at hand.

This weekend I am preparing to dedicate six people to the craft in a formal ritual on Saturday. We will be celebrating Yule a couple of days late, since practicality states, Saturday is the only day we can all meet up. I've taken on six magic students, in person, over the last year, three of whom had to drop out this last year, for personal life reasons, but it doesn't mean they can't still be dedicated to their own personal path and join us in the festivities. Three of those people will remain with me for this next year for their first degree initiation which begins in February. They are ready to get this train rolling for real now.

Two of them are in charge of handling the Yule festivity details this weekend, while I handle the dedications. I've been participating in a whirlwind of phone texts with my “phone coven” and attending to the last minute requests for suggestions and assistance for the Yule ritual working. I sat reading the ritual they came up with. It's lovely. I'm so proud of them. I don't know where they got it from, possibly modified it from the internet. Maybe a book. Maybe they partially wrote it. I didn't ask. I was more impressed with one of the details in the ritual that stood out to me. There is a part where the triple goddess must light the flame in the cauldron to give birth to the sun. The Maiden and the Mother start the process. They assigned themselves in those two positions. They gave me the black candle, to stand in place of the Crone and light the candle for wisdom.

I don't know why but that kind of stopped me in my tracks. The fact that they saw fit to put me there, the fact that it seems to be how they truly see me? Something about it was shocking and touching at the same time, as I read the rough draft of the ritual on my email. Holy crap I thought to myself. I've become an elder. How on earth did THAT happen?

I decided to keep the mystery alive and not ask where they got the ritual from. I made a couple of very minor tweeks to the order of things, and texted them back my approval. One of them who has a talent for singing, is going to sing the sun in for us at the end of the ritual. Did I mention how proud of them I am? They are amazing students to have. Already creating amazing rituals and they are not even formally initiated yet. The kind of students that make their teacher look really good. Every teacher should be blessed to have students like these. Dedicated, intelligent, kind and wonderful people. They are “my girls”, and I look forward to making magic with them for years to come.

It's a relief to me, especially now, when I feel so overwhelmed with everything that is going in the darker astral planes. It's nice to know that I can delegate important ritual details to them, with full knowing that they will always come up with something amazing and sing the sunshine back to life when I don't seem able to do so myself. It frees my time up to handle the class outlines, and the technical details of the stuff that only I can do at this time, like the initiations and dedications and facilitation for the underworld “process” rituals. They are the kind of students that I'm realizing, it is hard to keep ahead of. They will advance quickly and they force me to “up my game” to stay a few steps ahead of them so that they always have something to move onto next when they complete a cycle of study. It means I have to get cracking. It means I have to go back to being an advanced student again and keep up with my own mentors. It means Hades and I have a lot of things to talk about with regard to my new responsibilities in this temple, because as I just realized, I just became an elder and it really snuck up on me. I have some catching up to do with the things I've let slide over the years.

I'm thinking maybe this is what I've been afraid of all along. Stepping up. Being accountable. Being unapologetic about my underworld affiliation or my call to service on this magic path. Reaching a place inside myself where I don't feel the need to explain or justify what I do to anyone anymore, let alone ask their permission. I look back on the friends, or even boyfriends over the years who were afraid of my spirituality; the ones that tried to take it away from me, the ones who made fun of me, belittled me for being a “fuzzy headed mystic”. The one who was embarrassed to bring his friends into the house to see the things I owned because of what they would think of him. That's how I lived for many years. “Behaving”. “Complying”. “Being someone I wasn't for the sake of someone else's comfort level, and for the sake of approval so I wouldn't be alone. Hard underworld lessons. It was a hard pill to swallow to realize that the people I loved were ashamed of who I was.

I think I realize now that it's only moving into your calling that allows you suddenly to not feel so alone. Because when you are a fish trying to ride a bicycle obviously you are not going to be in company of too many other fish. You have to go back to the water to meet your tribe, where you always belonged, and you have to stop worrying about what it means to the rest of the world, to be yourself. It's only now after all of these years that I actually understand that.

I've also learned that you have to walk your path for the right reasons. I've taught magic before. I did it for the wrong reasons. I made genuinely innocent, but disastrous mistakes. I floundered because I was floundering myself. I created some monsters on the way I could not control or banish. Then I crawled in an underworld hole for many years and hid from the world. Now I think I've done something right finally. I can tell because I'm seeing the fruits of that knowing in the integrity of my current students. I saw the proof of it in writing, in the ritual that just came through the email to me. For the first time, everything is right. I can start to look at my battle scars with a little less shame now. Those lessons and mistakes put me here in this place to learn how to do things differently and improve on the things that went so terribly wrong in the past. It's probably why I feel so damn uncomfortable and terrified again this Solstice but for a whole new reason. Precisely because for the first time, everything is “right” and I have to actually step into THAT new fire. Before, I had to sacrifice myself. Now instead of sacrificing myself, I have to sacrifice all of the reasons why everything shouldn't be right. I can't ever go back. When Pluto/Hades comes along to claim you, you can't ever go back again to the way things used to be. I looked out the window just now, the sky is beginning to show signs of light. The Sun will be here soon. One more cup of tea will help comfort and warm my soul, while I wait for the rays of the sun to warm the earth.


Light In Extension!

Monique Lockhart

Copyright December 2017

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