[From the Archives] Written by: Martha Aguilar
During the Winter Solstice we experience both the shortest day and longest night of the year. This time of extended darkness can bring about discomfort on several levels, as we instinctually push away from pain of every type. However, there are times when moving toward pain is a loving act towards healing. When we sit with our emotional discomfort, we honor our experiences and ourselves, and break the pattern of dismissing our needs (that is often developed in childhood). Holding our emotional pain in a loving manner provides a safe space to not only identify our needs but also grieve losses in order to make room for what is to be. The Winter Solstice and it’s lingering darkness provides us this opportunity to grieve what we desperately grasp onto (and which consequently holds us back), as well as facilitate a stillness we can harness to turn inwards, reflect, and connect with ourselves. This deep and dark space of Winter is not an end to life, but resting space as we transition into another beginning where our inspirations, desires, and dreams quicken in their gestation before unfurling into visions, ideas, and actions towards what we want and where we want to go. There is rest and renewal here to prepare for the conception of our Dreams in this place of darkness.
It can be scary to trust this process, yet we can look towards the powerful rhythms of nature for reminders of the need for darkness. Daily and seasonally, periods of darkness are necessary to allows rest and rejuvenation, which is required to sustain life. Although many plants feed on the sun’s energy, it is the restful break from the light that supports on-going growth, balance, vibrancy, and in many cases, resurrection. With this in mind, the Winter Solstice becomes an invitation to access the gifts that darkness brings by taking a pause, turning inward, reflecting on what is, and birthing dreams of what can be.
If you are not a glutton for pain and/or if it becomes too painful to take the conscious plunge into darkness, you may find more solace in knowing that the day after the Winter Solstice, we begin to shift into longer days and shorter nights. We gradually feel more of the sun's light and energy allowing us to move forward from our dream state. In these days after the Winter Solstice, we can be in the planning stages of manifesting our newborn dreams, and begin to take action on bringing them to light.
I invite you to take this opportunity to make time and space (if possible) to connect with yourself, especially if you are about to step into the rush of holiday festivities surrounded by others. Even a moment of connection in any manner (prayer, mediation, journaling, etc.) may help ground you before stepping into relationships with others.
The Winter Solstice varies annually in the Northern Hemisphere, between December 20 or 22. For the exact day/time in your area go to: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html.
Below are suggestions on ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice:
This ceremony is best done outdoors. An indoor option is also offered in the instructions.
What you need:
Welcoming the Light Ceremony:
What you need:
Intention Setting Ritual:
This is best done after doing releasing work. You can do this days or weeks after a releasing ritual, which allows you to the space to grieve and clear out space for what is to be.
What you need:
You can also do this ritual at every New Moon and collect manifested dreams throughout the year. At the end of the year, open your container to review what dreams you manifested.
Some common herbs to consider:
Rose: Love, Healing, Protection, Courage
Rosemary: Protection, Rest
Lavender: Healing, Love, Anti-depression
Basil: Family harmony, Wealth, Courage
Mint: Strength, Healing, Prosperity
Sage: Protection, Longevity, Money
As with all rituals, feel free to improvise.