Winter Solstice ceremony is about celebrating the fullness of the dark, which involves at the same time the birthing of light. This fullness of dark may be understood as the fullness of emptiness, which many religious mystical traditions and poets have understood as a quality of emptiness: that is, that emptiness is full and sentient. Indeed in our times, quantum physics has a similar take on the “vacuum/void”, noting that elementary particles will spontaneously emerge out of “nothing”. Cosmologist and physicist Brian Swimme, prefers to express “emptiness” as generosity. He says:
The ultimate source of all that is, the support and well of being, is Ultimate Generosity. All being comes forth and shines, glimmers and glistens, because the root reality of the universe is generosity of being. That’s why the ground of being is empty: every thing has been poured forth; all being has gushed forth because Ultimate Generosity retains no thing.
This spontaneous emergence can also be felt in the breath, as the emptying peaks, the urge to take breath again arises.
By way of some contrast Summer Solstice ceremony is about celebrating the fullness of the light, which involves at the same time the birthing of dark. This fullness of the light may be understood as the fullness of being: it is a time for celebrating the ripening of fruits, grains and beings – manifest form. In such ripening, purpose is fulfilled and the fruit may be consumed, the being may pour forth their essence: it may be named as “radiance”, and it is indeed what the Sun does in every second – pours itself forth. In this act of radiance, the being gives away self, pours forth self, enters into dissolving, This spontaneous emergence can be felt in the breath, as the fullness peaks, the urge to release again arises.
Both Solstices share the celebration of a “giving away”, a pouring forth, through the Gateway that these transitions are. The Winter Solstice is a giving away of “emptiness”, entry into being – the Alpha. The Summer Solstice is a giving away of being, a radiance, an entry into dissolution, a return to the ground of being – the Omega.
I find both of these Moments, poetically a great mystery to contemplate, how one is in the other, how fullness gives birth spontaneously, how innate it is to both fullness of being and fullness of dark space: thus how fullness of being or emptiness are both qualities that are desirable to cultivate. So much of some religious traditions are about self-abnegation, whereas the self needs to be full to truly radiate beauty and essence. And so often emptiness is understood/felt as a poverty, whereas it may be a fertile and rich space for gestation of appropriate and compassionate action.
May we understand how desirable it is to immerse ourselves in emptying out, and also in fulfilling our purpose of being, our role in existence: and celebrate these qualities at the Solstice Moments, these sacred interchanges, Gateways of entry either into being or into all-that-is. May our birthings have the grace and ease of pouring forth out of a fullness.
© Glenys Livingstone 2018.
In Vajrayana Buddhism Space is associated with Prajna/Wisdom – out of which Upaya/Compassionate Action arises. Space is highly positive – something to be developed so appropriate action may develop spontaneously and blissfully. See Rita Gross, “The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism.”
Gross, Rita. “The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism.” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Vol.16 No.2,1984, pp.179 -182.
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: a Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. New York: Harper and Row, 1999
Swimme, Brian. The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos. NY: Orbis, 1996
_____________ The Universe is a Green Dragon. Sante Fe NM: Bear & Co., 1984.
(Track 5 and 6, CD 1 of PaGaian Cosmology Meditations)
(Track 1 and 2, CD 3 of PaGaian Cosmology Meditations)