More widely known as the Midwinter Solstice, today is the shortest day of the year (that is, the day with the least amount of sunlight and the longest night time*). Tomorrow, the days will start getting longer again, slowly but surely. Before we know it, springtime will be here again.
But it’s not here yet. Oh no. In fact, today we find ourselves in the deepest depths of winter. It is a dark time, quite literally. Sure, we are assured that warmth and light is on its way, but we still have to bear a couple more months of dismal winter skies. The midwinter solstice festival therefore symbolizes peace and comfort in times of darkness, as well as hope for the light to come. Peace, comfort, and hope are certainly needed by many during this time.
On the Wheel of the Year, as presented by the Wildwood Tarot, we find ourselves halfway through the time of Stones. The Wanderer continues to guide us. And on this day, it is none other than the Hooded Man, the Hermit, who greets us. He holds his lantern and his staff, lighting the way and offering support. He invites us to stay a while in his abode, to rest and warm our bones for a spell before venturing back out into the cold. He tells us that now is a time for reflection and recuperation. It is time for rest. We can do nothing else until the sun rises again.
In a grander sense, the Great Bear has a similar lesson for us. This large beast crouches atop a burial mound, guarding it. We are facing North, the quadrant associated with winter, as is evident by the constellation Ursa Major and the aurora borealis shining bright in the sky.
The Great Bear is the 20th card of the Major Arcana, which means in more traditional decks this card would be called Judgement. Certainly the open entrance to the tomb here is reminiscent of the open graves on the Judgement card. Past this, though, it’s difficult to see how these cards are connected.
At this time, the time of rest, we can do nothing. The year is over; our seeds have been sown; our harvest has been reaped. Perhaps this is not what many think of when they hear the word “judgement”, but that is indeed what’s going on here. It is time to own up to who you are, to face the terrible polar bear with an honest heart, for good or for ill. It is time to learn from the year behind, and prepare for the year ahead. There is no turning back.
The Hooded Man offers comfort and rest, but the Great Bear reminds us that we can’t sleep forever. It’ll soon be time to wake up from winter’s reprieve.
*Assuming, of course, that you and I share a hemisphere.