“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” — Gary Zukav
As a child I was scared of the dark … I would even say petrified! And I’ll admit, early in my spiritual journey I was also scared of the dark … that is my spiritual (read mental and emotional) darkness.
When I became serious about my spiritual journey I was forced to sit in and with my darkness. To look at it, to acknowledge it, and to feel it. The resistance came from the pain and shame I felt around that part of me. Practice, self-inquiry, and a lot of self-love revealed much to me about my darkness … it wasn’t as scary as I thought and it showed me where I was lacking love within myself.
You see, darkness is the absence of light, much like fear is the absence of Love … it’s not the other way around for either of these situations, so when we sink into the darkness, we actually find out where Love is missing. It is then up to us to bring it.
It is this very reason that I love the Winter Solstice. Aside from the fact that the Winter Solstice means the days start getting longer and the warm weather will return, it also gives me the opportunity to stop, sit, and be. It’s the perfect opportunity to sink into our darkness and discover where Love is missing.
As I mentioned in my last post about the Winter Solstice, when we look at it from a physical/nature perspective, it’s the moment when one of the Earth’s poles is at maximum tilt away from the earth. At this time of year animals hibernate, trees are dormant, and humans also begin to turn inward. We spend more time indoors, our digestion slows down, and our bodies require more rest. Nature tells us to slow down which is the perfect time for introspection.
Of course our modern day lifestyles coupled with the festivities of the season contradict this notion, (and there’s nothing wrong with being social during this time of year), however it is up to use to intentionally carve out space for us to take inventory of our lives, identify the darkness and choose to call in the light.
If there’s one thing I hold sacred during this time of year, it’s my Winter Solstice ritual. For the past 15 years, and more deeply over the past 6 years, I’ve used these three rituals to help me close off the old year and welcome the light of the new.
1. Go dark from sunset to sunrise
Being the longest night of the year, one of my favourite things to do is an electronic (or energy) detox. Consider disconnecting from your electronics and (some forms) of electricity. Personally, I turn off my smartphone, shut down my computer, turn off all the lights and electronics in my home, and just be with myself. I’ll enjoy a light meal as the sun goes down and then drink tea throughout the night. Surrounded by candles, I do the next two things before going to bed.
2. Out with the old
Before we can welcome new things into our lives we must make room for them. One way to do this is through a releasing ritual. Here you let go of everything that has served you and no longer does. Similar to how a tree sheds its leaves in autumn before going dormant in winter, it’s best to release everything that doesn’t enhance your joy. Say goodbye to the relationships that are no longer supporting your growth, make the decision to search for a new job if your current one no longer fulfills you, and put an end to the habits that are draining your life force. We don’t have to stay with everything forever, and we don’t have to give it up right away either. Start by making the decision to walk away from the joyless and in a new direction. The next step will support us in making those changes.
3. In with the new!
I consider the energy of the New Moon and Winter Solstice to be similar. The New Moon is a time to set intentions that will take us a step forward in the direction we’ve chosen. The Winter Solstice is where we decide the direction.
An example: we may decide at the Winter Solstice that within one year you will make a down payment on a new home.” We then break down that goal into smaller tasks and use the New Moon intentions to complete those tasks. Maybe you need to save $2000 a month, your New Moon intentions will help you achieve that monthly goal.
This step tends to take a bit longer and might require an additional day or two to map out, but setting the intention during this period and carving out time to create your plan in the coming weeks will set you in the right direction.
I always get asked “what happens if I miss the Winter Solstice? Will my intentions work?” Of course! Truly, every moment, every breath, is the right time to set an intention, but doing so with the energy of the Winter Solstice will give your intention that extra support from the Universe that makes it much more powerful.
If you’re looking for a moment to pause so you can get clear on setting your intentions for the new year and new decade ahead, consider joining me for my upcoming Midwinter’s Light Retreat in Innisfil, ON on December 20-22, 2019. Want to know more? Click here.