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

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

winter solstice poem

I wrote this poem for the longest night 5 years ago. I still like it; and I like it better than the one I wrote earlier today, also for the solstice (a friend and I have been writing a poem each on each solstice and equinox for around 5 years, too, now) – even though this one is darker. And – the world feels pretty dark right now; but after tomorrow in the northern hemisphere we are creeping imperceptibly back towards the light, with the sun rising and setting just a little further north each day now, till the spring equinox when it will be rising due east and setting due west.

So here's to the returning light; and a glass to midwinter's turning, and to friendship – one of the things that might pull us through these dark times. Thank you all who accompany me on this journey.

Winter solstice 2011

First you need to shed all you know
or can name
then you need to step out of
your shoes, your shadow, your own
light, and your home. Strip
naked as the four winds
and forget being upright
unless you want to dance, and then
dance the stone row to the stone circle
and allow the sky to take your voice. 

This is the season of yew and periwinkle
of Persephone's descent 
to the winter god.
Watch for the barn owl
and Hecate at the crossroads
and prepare to hang from the World Tree
until you are sobered by silence
and stillness, and the great
white unending song of the spheres.
Kneel on the earth until
you become a reed, a snail, a fox,
another word for truth.
Be the berry in the dark stream
that the water bears away.
Transformed into all
you may be, step forward and cross
the threshold, gateway to gods
and ancestors, to what will endure
beyond all that you can imagine
of the play of particle, of wave –
take the hand that's offered, step through 

this gateway to the light that burns within
which now you’ll never lose again.

© Roselle Angwin


  1. This is a beautiful poem at what is a sad time for me. My 6-year old Irish Wolfhound has been diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Drugs are managing it at the moment but as the wheel turns things will worsen. Sorry to offload on you.

  2. Oh Angie I am SO SO sorry to hear about this. What a heartbreaking time for you, and 6 is only late middle age in a wolfhound, isn't it? What's the prognosis? - Glad at least it's manageable.

    My own best beloved dog has not been at all well the last few months - losing blood - and has a new heart murmur, but she is bright and comfortable, still eating and alert etc, though we don't walk far (nearly 13 is truly ancient for a mostly-deerhound type as you'll know) and every week feels like a bonus. Herbs plus meds are helping.

    I would love to think your poor dog has a while to go yet. My thoughts will be with you and the dog over this period. x

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I hope your beautiful lurcher stays alert and eating - it's a good sign I always think. I know you've had ongoing problems with her and send her my love. Rosie's prognosis isn't good - the data they have on this sort of heart condition is mainly done on smaller dogs and the vet says maybe 8 months for a smaller dog. Every day will be a bonus as with you and yours.

    2. Angie, I'm thinking of you and your beautiful dog. x

  3. I love the idea of walking towards the light and the hand that reaches to accompany. Some of the ideas are new to me, but nothing wrong with that!
    Have a happy Christmas! love Marg xx

    1. Thank you, Marg. All of the images are to do with archetypes in myth. The old god 'dies' at the winter solstice. Some say e.g. the image of hanging from the World Tree is an image to do with letting go of the past in order to empty yourself for the present and future. It's not gruesome in the way it sounds.

      Lovely to hear from you and love for the turning year. Rx

  4. So much here in this wonderfully purifying poem, Roselle. 'Light burning inside, dancing and the need to shed all that you know'. I love its energy and flow, like the rush of a beck after rain. And I hear echoes of Four Quartets which was discussed on Radio 4 yesterday am on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time. Maybe you heard it? Far too short a programme to do it justice and it made us crave for those long, meaty seminars of Graham Fawcett. I feel an urge to go to them again.
    Have a regenerative Solstice and happy, healthy new year to you.
    Love, Miri x

  5. Miri, as always thank you for being such a warm part of the conversation. And what a compliment, having echoes of TSE in the poem (as long as you don't feel it's derivative??). NO! I missed Melvyn Bragg! And our download is so slow/unreliable that Listen Again isn't always an option. I might try though. Love to you both for this season; and do point Jeremy towards my vegan blog []- contributions always happily received! Rx

  6. Absolutely not derivative!! It's very much your style.
    Shall certainly tell Jeremy about your vegan blog. He does visit this one but, like J, isn't so inclined to reply as I am. I'll tell you more about his news when I next email, perhaps.
    M x


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