The Void and the Empty Chalice

Winter has joined us here in Oregon and nightly covering us with her blanket of deep white frost. If there was any moisture in the air, we’d certainly have snow. Since the beginning of Samhain (right after Halloween), I have been slowly moving deeper into my personal cave, covering up with warm blankets preparing to hibernate for winter. For me it’s just instinctive… weather turns cold… hibernate! Give me a snuggly blanket, a book and a pair of knitting needles and I’m one happy bear!
As Yule approached quite a few years back, a teacher of mine, Patricia Ballentine (, explained this to me with the idea of the Empty Cup or Challice.

“Long ago and far away in the land of my Scottish ancestors this time of the year was recognized as the end of Smahian (SOW-en) and the beginning of Yule. It was the season when we had completed our harvest, drawn our animals in from summer pastures, stocked our pantries, piled the wood, and we snuggled in for the winter. Our time was purposefully spent pausing from so much ‘in the world DOing’ and focused more on BEing connected to those in our homes and ourselves.

In the lives of those of us today who still embrace a relationship in a spiritual sense to the seasons of the year and the ‘old traditions’ this is the time of the void (the empty chalice)…the very holy pause from which new life will be birthed from the divine spark of inspiration when Spring draws near. It’s not a time for DOing things and going places, but a time for BEing with our selves, nurturing our integrated aspects of body, mind and spirit and WAITING with a deep sense of trust for what will surely come in due time.”

Yup, I’m convinced, hibernating is hard wired in our DNA! Hibernating is entering the void…But how many of us avoid this yearly draw into the void, into the depths of ourselves and the Great Mystery and spiral into the frenzy that has become the “Holiday Season”? Not only is all the DOing activity exhausting, but we are going against our true nature! It’s like paddling upstream! No wonder we get so exhausted this time of year!

What keeps us from stepping into the void, into the emptiness? Is it fear? Or guilt? Or…? Fear is a pretty big deterrent for most of us humans. But what is it we fear in the void? If you’re reading this, you’re grown up and most likely not afraid of the dark (and who says the void is dark?). Oh yes, there it is…I see it…it’s the fear of CHANGE. Change requires letting go of what we’ve always known and done to allow in something new. It’s unknown and uncomfortable! But with like anything, the more time we spend being “uncomfortable” the more “comfortable” it gets. We learn to trust ourselves and Spirit to unfold a new reality for us. We learn to welcome the gifts and new opportunities that the void brings to us. It is only in emptiness of the void can meaning, intuitive guidance and our truth arise.

Certainly our modern work ethic doesn’t recognize, let alone honor, the idea of rest. We are taught to feel guilt or shame if we are not DOing. BEing, is slacking, lazy and unproductive. Boy do they have it wrong! If we don’t have a place to BE, we can’t dream and grow and invent. These seeds of creation all begin in darkness, in the womb, taking in the energy that they need to grow. The void is that place of silence, calm and rest that we need to grow.

>We want to invite you to begin making an annual pilgrimage to the void beginning this winter. You may not want to stay long at first, but it’s okay to take baby steps. Journey to the open doorway of the void if that’s where you need to start. Ask your Animal Guide or other Spiritual Guides to accompany you. Explore that place of potential, the place with no expectations.

If you are working with your Aspects, check and see if you have an aspect that is driving your DOing. Do you have an “Energizer Bunny”, or the “Over Achiever” somewhere? If so, move them to your heart center and let your other Aspects teach them the ropes and how to play well with your group. Then, take your journey into the void.

What seeds are being charged for you? Experience the peace of reconnecting to the Great Mystery, of simply BEing. Allow yourself to be that empty chalice that is simply waiting to become filled with your dreams…The dreams that are ready to burst forth with life as spring approaches. For now, let your cup remain empty and ready to receive them. And don’t forget to return each winter when you hear the void’s call.

So, as we prepare the altar for our Yule celebrations, my chalice remains empty, upside down, with a candle to represent the spark of inspiration that will come through the void. May your chalice also be empty and at rest this Yule.

See you in the void!
Mitakuye Oyasin (A Lakota prayer reminding us we are all related)
Debbie & Gary

PS- If you’re looking for a special celebration for the Winter Solstice (Yule) check out last December’s post.