Midwinter Tale by Mary Burton

by | December 31, 2019 | Articles, Visual Artists

This is a series of images that came to me over several days in midsummer July 2019 depicting a story or journey that takes place during midwinter.  The images appear to follow a queen or goddess figure at the darkest time of the year while she reaches out for someone in the underworld who could be her ancestor or a daughter.  She is connected with the sun and the time when light starts to come back into the world.  A crown figures prominently in the drawings, representing the wheel of the year which the goddess or an angel directs.  This story does not have a detailed narrative and each viewer is welcome to compose their own narrative.

Sol and Sol – A Mother-Daughter Goddess Story

Sol is a hard working goddess.  Every day, Sol drives her chariot of the Sun across the sky drawn by speedy celestial fire horses. Sol is the Sun herself, as well as the goddess who steers the chariot pulling the Sun.  As if her work isn’t hard enough, Sol and her chariot and horses are closely pursued by a ravenous wolf who threatens to eat them up.  Despite the speed of Sol’s horses, the wolf occasionally manages to take a bite out of the Sun causing a solar eclipse.  It is predicted that at the end of the world (Ragnarok), the Sun will be swallowed whole by the wolf, causing the destruction of the world.  Afterwards, a new world of peace and love will arise from the ashes, and the Sun’s bright daughter (also named Sol) shall outshine her mother.

This is a story about how the daughter Sol trains every Winter Solstice eve for her eventual role as savior of the world after Ragnarok.

Midwinter Tale #1 (c) Mary Burton

The story begins long before the end of the world.  Each morning, the daughter watches her hard-working mother from a cave deep down in the cool earth.  Unwavering and constant, Sol drives her solar chariot, providing nourishment and light to the world, allowing living beings and plants to grow, enlightening the darkest of places and healing all wounds.  Sol wears the crown of the year on her head. Each point of the crown represents one of the festivals of the year. The crown turns as the seasons turn so that the point of the crown for the current season is centered on her forehead and a brilliant light streams from it.

Midwinter Tale #9 (c) Mary Burton

The two goddesses are each their own person and prefer keep to their own spaces, the mother in the sky above and the daughter in the underworld below. Sol is concerned about her daughter and uses her crystal ball to check up on her in the underworld.  Her daughter always appears content living in a glittering lower world realm filled with ancestral companions, wise, sparkling, jewel-mouthed serpents who move with the speed of crystal.  They mentor the daughter, telling her stories of rest and riches, and easy ways to do things.  This is not a hellish world, but a lovely place, although slower, darker, and colder than ours.

Midwinter Tale #7 (c) Mary Burton

The daughter supports and loves her mother, but feels inadequate. The mother’s responsibility seems so overwhelming. On one hand, the daughter perceives herself as unwilling or unable to do her mother’s work, and on the other, she questions this self-belief.

The months pass. It’s the waning part of the year, the days are shorter and darkness is increasing.  Mother Sol finds it harder and harder to pull her chariot.  She is aging. The fun game of outrunning the wolf in the spring and summer has turned into a chore.  The wolf is getting closer as the nights grow longer.  The daughter sees her mother getting tired and calls upon the guardians of the directions, the angels (angles) for help.  The angels circle around Sol and support her, first by moving her crown to Winter Solstice.  On the eve of the Winter Solstice, they provide a dense cover of clouds and space dust to hide Sol from the wolf. Sol lays down on a cloud and gets her beauty rest. She becomes youthful again.

Midwinter Tale #6 (c) Mary Burton

From the dark crystal world below, Sol’s daughter is pulled up by the angels followed by an entourage of spirits bringing in the future.  The wise people living on the earth look forward to these messengers from the underworld and honor them with offerings of wine and merriment, while the foolish and sinful quake in fear. Wearing a blazing candle-crown as she ascends, Sol’s daughter becomes Lussi, who some call St. Lucy, lighting up the world in the darkness.

Midwinter Tale #8 (c) Mary Burton

For a few hours, moments, seconds, she takes her mother’s place as the blessed Sun, and is revered and honored.  For Sol’s daughter, each Winter Solstice is a preparation for the end of the world and the beginning of a new world.  However for now, once the feasting starts to get boring and the daughter longs for home, she descends back into the underworld for another year.

Midwinter Tale #10 (c) Mary Burton

Refreshed, Sol awakes, moves her crown of the year to Imbolc, and resumes her place driving her chariot of the sun, enjoying the game of outrunning the wolf.

Mary Burton (B.A., SUNY Albany; M.F.A., School of the Art Institute of Chicago) grew up on a farm in upstate New York where she was blessed to be immersed in the beauty of nature and life forms.  Observations of light and dark, trees, the seasons and natural phenomena as well as an ongoing quest for meaning inspired explorations of form and line in drawing, printmaking, painting, videography and video image processing. A lifelong searcher and student of mysticism and spiritual sciences, her studies include comparative religions, mysticism, yoga philosophy, and spiritual astrology. She is a graduate of the Life Force Arts Shamanic Training program.  Mary’s artwork has appeared in several LFAE  exhibits including The Creative Soul: Art & The Sentient Being. Mary’s family has been in what is now the U. S. since the 1600’s. Her ancestor, Mary Bliss Parsons, was accused and acquitted twice for witchcraft in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts.

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