Winter Solstice: Honoring the Darkest Night and Embracing the Return of the Light
In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, ‘solstice’ is derived from the Latin ‘’solstitium’ for ‘sun’ and ‘to stand still’, for at this time the sun appears to halt in its incremental journey across the sky and to change little in position.
This pause is a 3-day portal from 20th to 22nd December but Winter Solstice heralds a season that stretches to Imbolc 1st Feb. The Southern Hemisphere is at the same time honoring Summer Solstice so we see the perfect balance of light and dark.
Winter Solstice Wisdom: Learning from Natures’ Rhythms
Do you tend to rush from Autumn to Spring to avoid the long dark days that Winter brings? Do you forget to tap into the beauty of this time of year? The unloved season of winter guides us to access the deep wisdom within as she teaches the need for withdrawal so you can be renewed.
By following the rhythms and cycles of the Celtic Wheel of the Year & Mother Earth, we can bring harmony and balance to our ourselves, allow ourselves a pause to review, reflect and release at the turning point of each season and know we can start afresh from any moment. We remember that Nature is always here guiding us.
We are at the mid-point of winter and at this turning point we begin to gently and slowly move out of darkness and into the brighter days (slowly as it’s not until Imbolc that we’ll be blooming into the first taste of Spring). We are acknowledging the return of the light and the hint of new beginnings, a new cycle for us to embrace and co-create.
5 Winter Solstice Themes to Contemplate
1. Honour the Darkness of Winter
Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again,” resonate deeply during winter.
The Winter Solstice has traditionally been a time to honour darkness and journey deep within to reflect, restore and nourish from the inside out. It’s a time that calls us to be still and we often feel this calling deep within us. It calls us to slow down, to stand still, to let go and embrace this moment. Easier said than done, when the outside world is calling you to keep busy!
If we look at nature, animals hibernate to conserve their energy, plants are busy deep within the darkness of the soil and it’s not really to Imbolc where we see the first little lambs leaping around and the sleepy heads of the bluebells and snowdrops appearing from the ground, that we begin to truly sense the awakening from slumber.
The beauty of winter is we can use this time to travel within and go deeper into our inner world so we can get a sense of our dreams, and visions calling to be birthed in the following cycle. If we don’t pause to review, reflect and integrate we often end up carrying forward the ‘baggage’ that we no longer need, that is weighing us down and preventing us from experiencing our full expression in the world.
This is the perfect time to weed out what isn’t working for you and focus your attention on what you are calling in. By reflecting and releasing, you are creating space for something else – new opportunities, fresh ideas, supportive ways of being, empowering habits etc…your dream seeds.
We all have seeds within us.
I love the quote “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.” by Richard Bach. It reminds me that we have the seed of our dream already within us as much as we may doubt it. We can learn to nurture it, tend to it and give it time to grow so it can eventually rise above the soil and bloom towards the light.
2. A Season of Gratitude
Winter Solstice is a perfect moment to be grateful for all the things, people, events, and challenges that have got you to where you are. There is much power to be able to sit with the parts, patterns and beliefs that are limiting us and give thanks to them for the work they have done i.e. these patterns are trying to keep you safe but they might no longer be needed. Take time to thank them and let them know that you are ready to let them go.
3. Celebrate All of Life
Celebrate all that you have achieved this year and I don’t just mean the external accomplishments but also the challenges you’ve moved through, the openings you’ve navigated, the new experiences you gained, the kindness you’ve extended to yourself and others… the things that we often forget as we’re trying to accumulate the outer rewards. Celebrate all of you.
4. Dream life into being: Envision the Future at Winter Solstice
While you sit by the warmth and light of a fire when the sky is dark – take the time to dive into your dark depths. Listen to and use the stillness to feel deeply into your soul without the distraction of the outside world or need to ‘do’. Tune into this darkness of the Earth, reach into the seeds in the ground.
What will you dream into being from within your soul?
Allow yourself to explore bringing forth your deepest yearnings and the dreams closest to your heart.
It is a perfect time to set intentions, which may take form and shape in the year to come. The intention is the seed; the stillness of winter solstice is the earth, the fertile soil, in which that seed is planted. The return of light and the eventual coming of spring allows the seed to grow to its full potential.
Take time to contemplate on lists of intentions for the coming year.
Ask the hard questions:
- “Am I living the life I want to live?
- Or am I measuring myself by somebody else’s idea of a good life?
- What place are the intentions coming from?
- Are they in alignment with your life and purpose, or are they pulling you away from it?
You’ll discover that intentions aligned with your life and purpose, that support life and others, will come into being much easier and with more grace and they usually also feel brighter and lighter.
5. The Dance of Light and Dark
The Winter Solstice, the mid-point of winter reminds us of the darkness as well as the return to light. It is the darkness that people fear. The main words associated with darkness are depth, shadow, unknown, pain, hurt, the abandoned parts of self, silence, go inward, endings, transition… the parts where we have not allowed our light to shine out of fear. And of course, death.
For me, the light and the dark as equally powerful and beautiful. They are a natural part of life. The winter reminds us that we may be afraid of endings but sometimes we are also afraid of new beginnings. We forget the cycle of life, death and rebirth. We get stuck in a certain part of the cycle or we are drawn to try to stay in the ‘high’ of life.
Can you look over the last year and see where in the cycle of life, death and rebirth you flow and where you resist or get stuck?
Keep an eye on the year ahead to see this pattern as it plays out again and invite yourself to enjoy the highs and to sit gently with the lows. Begin to know if you get lost in the lows or stay too long in them (remembering we also can’t rush our way out of the depths either).
If so, what support do you need so you can move through it with grace and ease?
Begin to see if you cling to the highs and find it hard to surrender, to let go and let things come to a natural end.
If so, what support do you need so you can learn that in letting go you are creating space within and all around you for new potential to spring forth?