from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 20 December 2012


Tomorrow, the winter solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere – a turning point, a time of inwardness, reflection, tending the inner fires or preparing the soil ready for the new growth.

What a fuss there has been about the ending of the Mayan calendar (which might of course simply have been to do with running out of stone, or stone chisels, or elbow grease; and since there are few people equipped these days to read the glyphs it's hard to be certain of the translation) and its association with the 'end times' (again). (see also

There is, though, an exact relationship (by degree) on 21-22 December between Jupiter (planet symbolic of expansion), Saturn (planet symbolising maintaining the status quo), and Pluto (symbolising explosive transformation), so it will be interesting to discern in the following days how these encounters might pan out.

As you will know if you read this blog sometimes, I take the position of 'as above, so below': that the movements of the cosmos will have correlates in the microcosm, including in our own little lives. We can attune ourselves to this 'music of the spheres', attempt an alignment of our own life with greater harmonies than we can imagine.

At this point of maximum darkness, I will be holding a small personal ceremony, with fire, water, earth, air and the six directions as 'containers', making a mandala of the year just past with its many changes, losses and gifts. In the middle I shall put a beautiful representation of life, my life; whatever I find, have been given or own that seems appropriate this year. I shall look at what needs to be let go of in my life, sacrificed to the darkness to feed the soil for rebirth – maybe my fear, my anger, my sense of loss, my uncertainty, the ways in which I hold back too much or rush forward too impulsively, ways of being that no longer serve me, ways in which I cause suffering to others. I will offer out loud prayers for those whom I love, and prayers for those who suffer. I will invite in the bigger light to meet my small candle. I will be thinking about the small cycles of change since the autumn equinox of my birthday, the bigger cycle since the last winter solstice, and the bigger cycles again, widening out throughout space and time.

And then I will write the poem that my friend Rose and I commit to writing each solstice and equinox.


Whatever we personally think or believe rationally, it's hard right now not to be infected by a kind of end-time scenario, superstitious and irrational though that may be. We are not, after all, simply creatures of the neocortex.

And then there is also the great consumer-fest that the rebirth of the Light has become, with its attendant pressures, anxieties and heightened tensions.

There seem to be an unusual number of crises and breakdowns/breakups going on in the lives of people I know and also the wider world. Each of us, of course, is plugged into the collective, and we all have more sensitive antennae than we sometimes know. How to hold still when the world around you seems to be crumbling?

In such uncertain times, the best thing one can do, maybe, is to be rooted in the way a tree is: standing in its own circle yet part of the greater forest, canopy interwoven, all limbs fluid to the wind, nourished by sun and rain impartially.

I like the tree image. But in Buddhism, the image of a mountain also symbolises this holding still; as Reb Anderson puts it below (from Tricycle Daily Dharma: The Buddhist Review):
'Living in harmony with all beings is flexibility. It is a kind of cosmic democracy. Each of us has a role in the situation and gets one vote. You cast your vote by being here like a great unmoving mountain. Please cast your vote completely: that is your job. Then listen to all other beings, especially foreigners, especially strangers, and especially enemies.'

~ Reb Anderson, “In It Together”


  1. A lovely and interesting post Roselle. It made me feel a little more positive about the world than I have lately. I like the tree analogy and had read before of the Buddhist mountain analogy. I like to feel that I am tied to the earth and to every other being, sentient or non-sentient, that inhabits it along with me. I will try to spend some time thinking about these things on the day of the winter solstice.

  2. Angie, thank you, once again, for commenting. A happy midwinter turning to you.


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