As a child, I was afraid of the dark. I imagined all sorts of scary monsters lurking under my bed at night and saw frightening images in the shadows cast on my bedroom walls. Unconsciously, I think I must have taken some of those fears of the dark, basically the unknown, into adulthood. Perhaps you can relate?
Having spent nearly a lifetime dreading the onset of winter with its short days and long nights, I now hold this season of darkness as most sacred. Learning to honor Winter Solstice has transformed my relationship with winter and subsequently this entire season of long nights. I've gone from fearing darkness to embracing its rich possibilities where silence meets stillness and invites me to turn inward.
In the busyness of this time, with holiday parties, shopping, cooking, and rituals shared with family and friends, include time for stillness and reflection on the evening of Solstice to honor the pregnant possibilities of the dark.
With the Solstice approaching, and in the spirit of embracing its darkness, I share this replay of a post I wrote last year. May you find comfort here.
Solstice = Standing-Still-Sun
Dec. 21st, we enter the belly of the night.
Winter Solstice: We come to the portal that separates darkness from light. Standing in this arch of time where Earth takes a breath before facing us back towards the sun, we too, take a breath, turn inward, pause in this moment of fullness and let darkness reveal its gifts.
Winter Solstice: A time to look back at the year gone by, gather its lessons and put them in the stew of your life. Time to let the heat of your presence cook the stew. Render the lessons into the sweet nectar of wisdom. Then drink of it. One-small-sip-at-a-time.
Winter Solstice: A time to let the longest night of the year seduce you into stillness. Time to silence inner voices, listen to the beating of your own heart. Time to breathe slowly, become the breath. Linger here. The night is long.
Winter Solstice: Time to savor the sweetness of the dark. Nothing to fear. It's only you. And millions of years of Earth's turning; away and then back, away and then back towards the light. It's all you. The dark, the light, the fire, the night: it's all you. You're all it. Sweet oneness, savored in the dark.
Winter Solstice: A sacred link, where Earth's veil thins, the unseen, seen. Images of ancestors and ancient roots threading back beyond time. Back to first humans, their fires still burning to call back the light. We are the ones who hold them sacred. We honor their struggles, their triumphs. We're here due to them. They gave us our blood.
Winter Solstice: A time to reflect on your life in this moment. Like never before, or ever again, reflect on this sweet, fragile moment.
Winter Solstice: A time to let go of what burdens. Empty out stones sitting heavy in the heart. Let bygones be bygones. Acknowledge. Forgive. Begin again.
Winter Solstice: A fertile time, a time to ready the womb; a time for pregnant possibility. A time to sow seeds of imagination that germinate in the darkness. A time to tend the inner hearth; be warmed by the coals of creativity.
Winter Solstice: The union of opposites. Fullness: emptying. Emptiness: filling. The shortest day meets the longest night. Celebrate the dark. Greet the light. We've journeyed long; we've journeyed far. In summer, we rejoiced in the sun, now absent. In winter, we settle into the night, now present. We draw inward, tuck in our wings to keep warm. All flights are canceled.
Winter Solstice: A time to check inner weather and road conditions. Are you cold? Are you hot? Are you merely lukewarm? Is it stormy? Is it balmy? Are there blue skies inside? Does the road rise to meet you? Are you on shaky ground? Is it smooth? Is it rocky? Can you see where you are?
Winter Solstice: Can you be with it all, just as it is? No fighting, no trying, no pushing the river. It flows by itself, so you watch it. You notice. You see twigs and branches submerged in the stream of your life. Without effort, the water flows over, under and around it all. Nothing can stop it; it goes on forever. Like you do. Like I do. Like we do.
May you go on forever, like this most pregnant night of the year.
A brief ritual to include in your observance of Winter Solstice:
1) Set aside at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, but whatever works for you is fine.
2) Include friends, family members, or celebrate alone if you prefer.
3) Turn off all the lights. Settle in to the darkness.
4) Spend time with your eyes closed, breathing slowly, watching the breath.
5) Let your awareness settle down in your belly. Feel it fill and empty. See your life coming and going on each inhale and exhale. Feel the strength and fragility of each breath.
6) There's nothing to do but let go into the dark, allow it to hold you. Feel its safety. Thoughts arise and fall. Just watch them come and go. Return to the breath.
7) Remain in silence for several minutes after you've finished. Savor the moment.
8) At the end of 30 minutes or whenever you're complete, light some candles, build a fire, have a warm cup of tea or a hot drink of some kind and celebrate with yourself or those around you the possibilities found in the dark.
The Blessing of the newborn Sun God:
"Out of Darkness Light is Re-born. Carry the hope of this moment like a torch in your heart through the coming year. Let it sustain you in your times of darkness, and be a symbol of blessing in your times of joy. Let Peace be with you.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Solstice! May you find peace in the night.
Please come visit my personal blog and website, Rx For The Soul. For personal contact, you can email me at judith[@]judithrich[dot]com. I'd love to hear from you!
Blessings on the path,
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