Winter Solstice 2019
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Rise and Follow Me ...

Rise by CJ Shelton

Winter Solstice 2019 - Rise by CJ Shelton
She speaks her truth.
She knows the wild within.
She is magic.

Snowflake Mandala by CJ SheltonIt has become a tradition for me to create a new piece of art at the Winter Solstice that reflects the energies I feel are currently operating in the world and will influence the new year ahead. For this Solstice in particular, it is also about the energies that will be influencing a whole new decade.

As we come to the end of 2019 we are witnessing more and more polarization of dark and light, old and new paradigms, selfishness versus selflessness. It has been an extraordinarily challenging year, full of uncertainty and fears on every level – personally, politically and globally. While none of it is anywhere close to being resolved, 2019 does indeed mark the end of an era. And with such an ending come unprecedented opportunities for both us, and those who govern our world, to make different choices.

Whether those opportunities are acted upon comes back to one essential question we each must individually ask of ourselves:  do my choices serve only my own immediate interests or are there more conscious actions I can take that will serve the greater good – the children, the community, the planet?

With the dawning of 2020 and that question in mind, the new piece I created is called Rise. 2019 and the decade we are leaving behind sounded many alarm bells with one of the most urgent being the drastic consequences of climate change. No other figure represents the immediacy of this plight than Canada’s own iconic Polar Bear.

Mother Polar Bear by CJ SheltonThe Mother Bear in my image is caught in a threshold place between the world she has always known being severely threatened and the even more uncertain future being forced upon her babies … but those babies represent the potential that lies between the two extremes.

Just as in Nature, everything in our personal lives, our communities and the global arena, moves in a constant cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Change is the only constant and every turn of the Wheel marks the opportunity for a new beginning. This threshold place between what was, and what potentially can be, is where hope lives.

What we must recognize is that what we are doing to the polar bear and her children reflects what we are doing to ourselves. Whether you see the Mother Bear as crying out in despair for the future of her cubs or praying to a Higher Power for respite and the salvation of her icy world, she is a deeply spiritual figure of sacrifice and redemption. More importantly, she represents the rise of the Divine Feminine, an energy desperately needed in these troubled times.

The cooperative and gentler feminine energy is the energy of being willing to stand for who and what we love and believe in most, no matter what the personal cost; because this is no longer just about what is needed for our own sake, but what is needed in order for future generations to thrive and, indeed, the entire planet to survive.

Greta Thunberg - Time Magazine CoverDespite the bleakness of this predicament, there are indications that such feminine power is indeed rising, from there being greater representation of women in government, to movements that rail against practices that subjugate and objectify women, to young female activists like Greta Thunberg taking on world leaders.

Even from a numerological standpoint, the turmoil we are witnessing in the world is connected to the millennial transition from the masculine 1000s to the feminine 2000s, the age of truth. But until true balance and equality is reached (represented by the number 2’s of the new millennium), the chaos can only continue.

What the Polar bears can teach us is how to live and survive in the harsh and uncompromising environment we humans are also now beginning to find ourselves in. Bear “medicine” is that of strength and endurance, as well as acceptance and surrender, reminding us that we must persevere, even in the toughest and harshest of conditions, because this is how we will eventually overcome, and hopefully succeed, in turning this “titanic” of a challenge around.

Like the Mother Bear in my painting, we must do everything in our power to cherish, take care, and watch over our loved ones and all else that we hold dear. She encourages us to pray for peace and guidance, despite everything around us being toxic, chaotic, and confusing.

Just as it is the polar bear’s predicament to find a way to adapt to this new paradigm, it is possible we too can find a level of peace in adversity; and if not peace, perhaps transcendence. I painted the Mother Bear and her cubs in an ethereal and almost transparent manner for a reason – to suggest that they are either transcending their current situation or perhaps, more ominously, their energy is beginning to withdraw from this realm and move into the light where they will live on in spirit only.

No one seems to know the exact origin of the saying “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”, but it encapsulates the wisdom of many centuries of indigenous teachings. It has been adapted and used by numerous conservationists and in various contexts to urge us of the need to wake up and recognize the magnitude of decades of excess and unthinking actions that are raping our planet of its future.

Polar Bear Cubs by CJ SheltonWith that in mind, the Mother Bear and her two cubs form a strikingly new and different trinity of faith, hope and love for the decades ahead. One cub is looking backwards and questioning the consequences of his ancestor’s actions. The other is rising up trustingly towards her mother, who she knows has the power to choose her next steps more wisely.

The rise of the feminine, not at the expense of the masculine, but with its support and in harmony with it, is what we need to embrace. And we need to do it now. It is time that we too rise up and be like the Mother Bear at the edge of our ice-flow, defiantly proclaiming, “this is my home and here is where I make my stand.”

As the Winter Solstice marks the return of the light and rebirth of the sun, we face a new decade with an urgent sense of a very long and dark winter still yet to come. In celebrating the season though – perhaps with heavier hearts than normal during this time of turmoil and change – we must listen for the prayer of the Mother Bear on the wintry winds. For she speaks her truth. She knows the wild within and she is magic. She has seen the light and is able to reassure her children by saying, “rise and follow me, for I will show you the way out of the darkness.”

To each of you who support and follow my work, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my gratitude and say a heart-felt thank you. Many of you have expressed how much you enjoy this newsletter and the weekly Soul Snippets I introduced this year, so it is now my turn to thank all of YOU for allowing me to share my creative journey “under the dancing moon”.

As we give thanks on this Solstice for the darkness it honours and the light that it births, my wish is that hope and goodness flow through you and through your choices and actions, as it does for all those who believe …


Wishing you all the Blessings of Christmas, a Happy Solstice and much Peace and Joy for the New Year and new decade ahead.

CJ Shelton
Artist & Facilitator

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