Well, you should have been warned off by the title, but you're a brave soul aren't you. Wishing everyone a warm and wonderous day and night as we move forward to increased amounts of daylight, but until then, Embrace the Dark! It has much to offer if only we open ourselves to it. The winter solstice, also known by its ancient name, Yule, signifies the the beginning of the winter season.
Now that it is officially winter it is an opportune time to reflect. Winter has long been the season related to death. Leaves fall off of the trees, flowers shrivel, grass ceases to grow, birds fly elsewhere and days grow dark. Although many do look at it as a time of beginning now that the pendulum has swung as far into the dark as it can go. The book Circle Round notes that in pagan cultures adults would stay up the entire night to keep the Mother Goddess company while she is in labor preparing to give birth to the sun from her night sky womb. I love this book and have referred to it over the years as it is filled with information on the seasons, tradition, ritual, and the life transitions. It provides some grounding, interesting interpretation and (in my ritual-deprived adulthood) a knowledge that the cycle goes round and round.
Just as spring is viewed as a time for rebirth, winter is an opportunity to rest, dream, plan, and steep ourselves in our desires, creativity, hopes and allow ourselves to nest, enjoying our homes and private spaces. Through this we prepare to germinate again in spring. Whilst looking at the patterns in my life, I am struck by how my three most significant romantic relationships both ended just as winter began, giving me the break I needed to heal as well as an opening to transform from what I had learned. In all three cases I came forth in the spring, renewed. I still had more healing to do for a couple of those relationships, but I had grown in ways that I may not have had the time nor inclination to be quite so self-attentive had the weather been more conducive to being out and about.
Though I view the death symbolism of this season as a metaphor, many are loathe to consider this time of year, after the gift-giving and fellowship of Christmas and the celebratory nature of the new year, as worthwhile. In the Midwest the weather is frequently drab, the temperature cold, the landscape brown and in a nation where depression is probably at an all time high, this season isn't for sissies. It can be tough. I've rebirthed myself a few different times and there was pain, the gestation period seemingly long, but there was joy too. When I did make it through towards the light of spring, I've been arranged a little differently. Wiser, stronger, more confident, and better able to witness levity and allow the joys of life to fill me.
On second thought, I like this pregnancy metaphor more and more. I can blame my holiday weight gain on my self-pregnancy. Yes, I have yet to take responsibility for my complete and utter lack of will power when it comes to my mother's homemade confections. Sadly, the candy helps little with easing of the rebirthing process though the near sugar coma could mask other pains. In fact, I'm probably moving towards gestational diabetes. Oh well, as they say, this too will pass.
Over the next week I am contemplating how I am gestating during this lovely frosty season, which I will probably post about soon. How do you use this season? Do you recognize it? Revere it? Curse it? Make friends with it? I'd like to know.