The Winter Solstice brings us the bittersweet blessing of a long, dark night in which to reflect on the year that is passing, the year to come, and the deepest parts of ourselves. While this work is often uncomfortable, it is a necessary part of personal growth and transformation. From this point on, the days promise to lengthen — each day, we will have another minute of sunlight. Winter Solstice reminds us that even the longest, darkest nights end — that light eventually returns, even when it seems that the world would be bathed in velvet darkness forever. This message is especially poignant this year, as many of us face an uncertain future for the first time — and as many others face yet more uncertainty.
Winter Solstice falls in the midst of a Mercury Retrograde this year, which brings its own blessings and gifts. Astrologically and magically minded folks often express fear about Mercury Retrograde, with its communication hiccups and delays, but I have often felt that this reaction comes because people know they’re supposed to worry about Mercury Retrograde. We don’t really understand exactly what it is that Mercury does, other than gumming up the communication works, but we know that it is a Bad Thing.
But Mercury Retrograde — and all Retrogrades, really — also offer us the valuable opportunity to just stop for a moment. With nothing moving forward, Retrogrades offer us a time to breathe, to evaluate, to take a much needed healing rest. Winter Solstice invites us to do the same — to take a pause, to breathe, to heal, to reflect. We are often in such a hurry to get on to the next thing and the next and the next that we don’t always value moments of rest and respite. Mercury Retrograde gives us this, and invites us to reflect on unfinished business, on that which may have fallen away that we still miss, at that which is distracting or weighing us down and needs to be released with love and compassion.
The work of Winter Solstice — going within, conducting an inventory of our values and goals, releasing that which no longer serves us to make room for that which will best support us on our journeys — is in many ways the work of Mercury Retrograde. I see Mercury Retrograde as supporting us in our work this Winter Solstice. If we can shift our ideas about what Mercury Retrograde means, begin to think of it as just another type of energy that we can work with rather than an adversary to be avoided or feared, we can truly move into the next cycle of the Wheel with a growth mindset, ready to let go of that which needs releasing and embrace that which flows in to fill the empty space.
Safe journeys into the darkness on this longest night. Goddess grant you safe passage, and let us meet again on the shore at sunrise.