Seasonal Salon


It is the longest night…Winter Solstice. A small evergreen tree fills a corner of the room; lights twinkle and silver balls reflect flames in the hearth.

Oh Tannenbaum. Oh Tannenbaum.

The crakling fire ignites remembrances of the year past. Grief. Sorrow. Loss. A dear friend, our Priestess, tragically gone, too young…too soon. Another friend endures the long nights grieving the death of a son—the second to die too soon…too young. A mother should not outlive her son, her sons.

Death comes suddenly for some, is prolonged for others—leaving in its wake an awful sadness. Sorrow. Grief.

Those of us left offer our sympathy. We search for words, for the right gesture. But are there ever the right words (no, not even our hearts and prayers are with you) when all we can respectfully do is to bear witness. Oh, we may bake a ham, cook a casserole, order flowers, make a donation. Yet, we wonder, can any of these offerings ever ease the sorrow?

Barbara Kingsolver, in her most recent book, Unsheltered, writes, “When someone mattered like that, you didn’t lose her at her death. You lost her as you kept living.”

We live with grief, whether with the loss of someone we loved or a necessary loss. We grieve for those who have lost homes, their livelihood, their dogs, horses, and cats, their memories, their loved ones. Apocalyptic fires and historic hurricanes have taken a terrible toll…as have yet more mass shootings and still more gun violence and drug addiction and…. We grieve. How can we not?

In her book, The Wheel of the Year as an Earth-Based Spiritual Psychology for Women,* Kim Duckett shares with us these words…

Grief is a tidal wave that overtakes you, smashes down upon you with unimaginable forces, sweeps you up into its darkness, where you tumble and crash into unidentifiable surfaces, just to be thrown out on an unknown beach bruised, reshaped…
Grief discriminates against no one. It kills. Maims. And cripples. It is the ashes from which the phoenix rises, and the mettle of rebirth. It returns life to the living dead. It teaches that there is nothing absolutely true or untrue. It assures the living that we know nothing for certain. It humbles. It shrouds. It blackens. It enlightens.** 

*Kim Duckett, The Wheel of the Year as an Earth-Based Spiritual Psychology for Women,(Lulu Publishing, 2018.)

**Stephanie Ericsson, Companion Through the Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief (New York: William Morrow Morrow Paperbacks, 1993.)

Nancy VanArsdall is an ordained Priestess of the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess. Her recently published novel, The Thousandth Telling, the story of three generations of women is now available by contacting In 1996, Coming Full Circle, Honoring the Rhythms of Relationships, was published and is available through RCGI. She has returned home to Indianapolis with her beloved.

Category: Winter Solstice 2018