Winter Solstice Thoughts & Ritual...
Winter solstice happens tonight at 8:19 pm. Shortest day and longest night. The hours of dark are more than the hours of light but from that moment on, the sun begins its slow return. Each day the light staying a little bit longer.
This is a deeply quiet time in nature and the feeling of stillness is palpable. This hush of quiet is the hallmark of the winter solstice, of the winter season. Nature absolutely and utterly embraces it. No resistance. No complaining about the cold, the dark, the bareness of the trees. We are part of Nature and so invited to experience this stillness by mirroring her if we dare. Napping is welcome and wise during this season. Giving in to the temptation to be still, be quiet, and hibernate despite the bustle that is going on is also wise... The invitation is to go inward and cocoon, to take care, to restore... Even the beautiful, usually loud and hustling with life willow tree outside the yoga studio has become empty, still and silent. She has released her leaves to the ground to blanket the soil, to break down to compost and feed whatever will emerge after this resting time come spring. The willow knows that restoration and this cycle of death must happen before she can become wildly busy with new growth, returning birds, squirrels, butterflies... New life in spring cannot happen without this necessary dying off, releasing, resting to renew... This is an unending cycle of life found everywhere we look, including within. Each part, each season, perfectly placed to let go what needs to go to make room for what needs to come... As with her, so it is with each of us.
Our ancestors would honour the solstice with ceremonies and rituals. So many moments in life, ordinary everyday moments were noticed, remembered and celebrated with ritual. Up-levelling the ordinary to the sacred. As Richard Wagamese writes:
"When we allow a sense of wonder to inhabit us, something magical and universal happens within us. We feel. Something 'of the spirit' flickers to life in us and we feel spiritual. Within that elevated spiritual feeling we begin to believe we can transcend our difficulties and old pain. We can. We seek out ceremony to help us rekindle that sense of awe and wonder and hope. We attend ceremonies in churches, mosques, temples, meeting houses, gurdwaras, jinjas, fire temples and Kingdom Halls. We also attend them in yurts, igloos, teepees, kivas and wigwams. No one way is the definitive one. Each way is merely a path toward the fulfillment of our common dream - communion. When my people speak of communion they do not refer to religious ceremony. Instead they refer to the act of aligning personal energy with Earth energy, universal energy and, ultimately, eternal energy... Wonder is the gift we share - if we allow it..."
Ice Ritual for the Winter Solstice ~ (adapted from Arin Murphy-Hiscock)
This ritual is a physical reminder that spring will always follow winter... You will need:
Bowl (preferably metal)
Ice cubes or chunks of ice and snow from outdoors (approximately 1 cup)
1) Place the snow or ice cubes in the bowl and sit or kneel next to it. Light the candle and place it behind the bowl so that you can see the flame's reflection dancing in the ice or snow.
As the season turns, and the sun shines,
I hail the light that returns to the land.
Darkness ebbs, light again flows,
And day by day the land will grow warm.
Welcome again, bright sun!
May your beams caress the land and transform ice to water,
Snow to rain, cold to warmth,
And winter to spring again.
3) Allow the snow or ice to melt until it is water. Look at the reflection of the candle flame on the water in the the bowl and think about what needs to go to make room for what is to come... What shedding or dying off must happen so that we are not bogged down by the weight of things that are no longer serving our highest self? What habits, narratives, thoughts, relationships or limiting beliefs need to die away so that they may compost or make way for something new that will better serve us, serve others, serve the planet? Feel the energy of the snow as it melts and makes way for water, the energy of the flame as it emits light and heat. Observe what is coming up as you meditate on this necessary and natural changing of states...
4) When you have finished, pour the water outside at the base of a tree. (Mine will be offered to the Willow tree above :)
Happy Winter Solstice from the Women of WILD! May the peace and calm of the season surround you...