21 December 2013
Dark Gate: Happy Solstice 2013
"The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light." - Joseph Campbell
I used to pretend to dislike Christmas, especially as a pretend atheist with an ongoing critique of consumer culture. But these days, I've changed my mind and plan on indulging in the festivities. This is essentially apart of my ongoing spiritual quest that started when my acupuncturist opened the 'Gates of Hell' (also known as Dark Gate and Hidden Doorway) few years back.
That for me was my darkest moment. A true moment of existential terror, whereby I had to accept that this being, my person, known as Pete Lewis who is carried around in this temporary mortal body is also temporary and will cease to be one day. As I walked through the Gates of Hell this prospect was absolute ego-crushing, fear inducing torment. However, it was also a wiping clean of my spiritual slate. A shrugging off of the final remnants of Catholic guilt. While I had identified as an atheist, mainly for political provocation before then, it was at that moment that I really was understood atheism and when I began to cease to be one. For then came the light. No, I was not born again. But I was able to take a renewed look at existence and see the value and joy in impermanence and begin an authentic spiritual adventure.
I remain deeply cynical of organized religion, religious leaders and authorities but this year, I will indulge, because I can sympathize with the need for ritual and tradition during these dark days. Not to bash Christians but they do not have a monopoly on end of December celebrations. First it is highly unlikely that Christ was born when they say he was born and second it is exciting to re-claim some of my own ancestors more pagan-like traditions that were co-opted by Christians to make Christianity more palatable to Europeans.
Historians say that between the 17th and 23rd of December was a traditional time for Roman Pagans to indulge in absolute debauchery during the festival of Saturnalia. I used to frown on the over-eating, drinking, revelry and excess of people who weren't Christians during the 'Holidays' but now I see the cathartic appeal. Not to mention a celebration of the very nature of our existence and the planet's path; a celebration of the darkness itself. Historians say, early Puritans in New England banned Christmas because of this and its remaining connections and nods to pagan traditions.
All this leads me to a new appreciation for this time of year. The indulgence and excess can be seen as an annual purge and cleanse. Contemplation of the darkness is like annual walk through the Gates of Hell. Because without the darkness, one cannot know the light. And it doesn't matter what faith you are, every healthy human being might do well to acknowledge that the unconquered sun returns tomorrow.
Now, that I've got the serious shit out the way some final things to get off my chest:
-Santa has more to do with Odin than Coca Cola.
-Coca Cola hired a Swedish ad company to re-write the historical truth in 1931, hence the red and white.
-Tipper Gore invented the birth of Jesus to discredit Monty Python.
-Shane MacGowan's birthday is the only reason to celebrate the 25th of December.
-I made some of the above up.