The Renewal Time
Animal Totem : Goose
Astrological Sun sign : Capricorn
This is the last of the cycles influenced by the spirit of the West with its qualities of introspection, and is the time of new opportunities.
This is the first cycle of winter and contains the Winter Solstice which brings with it a time for refreshment and renewal. At the beginning of the month, the shortest day and longest night of the Winter Solstice marks a potent stage in the yearly cycle. The Sun appears to have departed for good and the Earth lies barren and dormant, cold and neglected. And everywhere in Nature is the air of austerity.
Yet the darkest day is the herald of glad tidings, for that which appears to have departed is reborn and will begin the wax again and the turn of the Wheel of Life will soon indicate the new life which is now promised. The seeds of the new life are stirring within the womb of the Earth, though their quickening is not yet apparent.
In Northern Europe in ancient times, Yule was the joyous celebration of that which is dead but is now alive, of rebirth and renewal, of the beginning of a new cycle in the pattern of life. It was the Festival of Rebirthing which symbolised the coming back to life not just of the physical Sun, which was only a symbol but the newly risen sun of one’s own individual self.
This festival was replaced by the Christian Christmas to commemorate the birth of Christ which some scholars think took place at a different time of the year, but the spirit of goodwill, of family gatherings, feasting and merrymaking, continues to this day.
The Influencing Winds are the NORTH Winds. The North Winds are associated with purity and renewal and are at their most powerful when the Earth lies dormant and in the grip of winter. It is a time when man and animal seek shelter and warmth from the wind’s sharp and penetrating ~bite~ and withdraw from external activities to turn inward and to look forward to the warmer and brighter days to come.
The influence of the North Winds is paradoxical for it is not seen solely as the cold air that turns water into ice or causes the ice crystals to dance on the leaves of the evergreen trees. It is a hidden internalised power that works unseen and unfelt. It is the power whose energy penetrates down into the dormant seed that lays ~asleep~ beneath the Earth’s hard and frozen surface but is being purified and prepared so that it will be seen to burst into new life when the Sun returns to cover the Earth in a warm embrace.
The North Winds, then, encourage patience and inward growth and renewal of the mind and body. They help, too, to establish purity of intent and purpose.
This power of the North was represented by some Indian tribes by the totem of the buffalo. In times when the survival of a tribe was dependant on hunting, the buffalo roamed much of North America in great herds. Not only did it supply meat for food, but its hide provided material for the tipis in which people lived, and the clothes they wore, and its bones were made into the implements they used. The buffalo thus gave totally of itself so that the people could be renewed completed and for this reason it was revered above all animals.
The power of the North was seen as the great renewing force of sustenance and security and which was effective on all levels of existence. It is the power of a renewed mind, refreshed and alert and fast acting after sleep and empowered with knowledge and wisdom. It is the power of a body beautiful, nourished and strengthened, after sustenance. It is the power of a revived spirit, free to wander and explore and experience without limitation.
The power of the North is seen as the power that brings new thoughts, new ideas, and newness of life.
The influencing elements are Earth with Air. Air is the element that is associated with the mind, with thoughts and ideas, and with rapid and sometimes unexpected changes and movements. Whereas Fire energises, Water refreshes, and Earth sustains, Air enlivens and transforms. It is elemental Air that is seen as the influence that enables things to be transformed and accomplished through the power of new ideas and dreams. Elemental Earth brings the pull towards stability and security and with it the characteristics of predictability and dependability.
The Birth and Animal Totem for the Renewal Time is Goose. Geese are large birds with long necks and short legs and fly in large flocks making a loud honking noise. Their habitat is on moors and marshes and grasslands near lakes and rivers and though they are good swimmers they feed mainly off the land.
The goose was a favourite totems among the Celts of pre-Christian Britain, and its appearance as a major character in European fairy stories (Mother Goose, the Goose that laid the Golden Egg etc) is indicative of its significance in ancient lore, for fairy stories and fold tales contain the essence of the symbology of the esoteric teachings of long ago.
The high flying goose honking its way across the midwinter skies was associated with the powers of the North, (described above) and with the act of purification and renewal. Indeed, the traditional Christmas meal of goose may well have had its roots in a ritual feast of sacred goose flesh which emphasised the process of renewal.
There are many species of geese, but one revered by American Indians was the snowgoose, so named not just because of its snow white plumage but because its life on the North American continent appears to be governed by the snow. Indians referred to the snowgoose as ~the bird from beyond the north winds~ because it migrated from its nesting grounds in the far north of the Arctic when the snow began to fall in the autumn and did not return until the snow vanished in early spring. Like all geese the snowgoose flies in flocks but during its migration these flocks are vast, sometimes numbering several thousand. Some are said to travel 5,000 miles each year to and from their nesting grounds in the northern Arctic.
The Mineral totem is Peridot which is a magnesium-iron silicate found in igneous rocks and is also called chrysolite or olivine. It is a delicate green stone with a glassy lustre and the clear varieties are cut as gemstones
The American Indians regarded it as petrified ~heavenly~ radiance that came direct from the Sun force and as a stone of light was related to clear-sightedness and to clarity of mind. It was also related to the spiritual Sun so it was considered to be a stone to impart spiritual strength and spiritual discernment. Peridot is thus linked with intuitive insight and inner vision, and with the ability to see into the future. Peridot has a soothing sensitivity especially if worn in a headdress or at the base of the throat for it is reputed to affect the chakras in the head.