The hours of daylight have shortened over the past six months and the daily length of darkness is reaching its peak. This time encourages us to draw inward. It is a gift, and the inward turn reaches its most intense at the Winter Solstice on December 21-22. Have you felt it, this inward turning? Many of us have, but if you haven’t, embrace the gift and try to consciously connect to it. The darkness calls us to withdraw, rest, find quiet, and reflect. Through this we are renewed and readied for the emerging light that comes with the end of winter.
Most world cultures and religious traditions celebrate this time with major holidays and this in itself hints at its important spiritual power and purpose. Whatever holiday you celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Soyal or Yalda, or Dong Zhi, its origins are found in the celebration Solstice. So how can we understand this cycle and its relevance in the larger pattern of our lives?
A Great Cycle of Breath
I find it helpful to think of it in this way: The energetic expression of a full year cycle corresponds to one great breath sequence. The flow includes one six-months long in-breath and one equal out-breath. These great breaths are separated by a pause, which we call the solstices. The pause before the out-breath is the Winter Solstice and the pause before the in-breath is the Summer Solstice.
These pauses are critical points of psychological transition for us. When we coordinate our own rhythms with the natural rhythm of this greater cycle, we move into a synchronistic flow with the greater life. The summer solstice transitions us into the full ripening of summer, harvest, and storage, and the shortening of the period of daylight (in the northern hemisphere). Whereas the winter solstice transitions us from darkness into growing light.
The Stillness and the Dark
The long darkness of each 24-hour period provides us with opportunities for solitude, quiet, and self-reflection. We benefit enormously by using this time to reflect on what the year has brought us. Reviewing what we have done well and what has held us back is essential to moving into the next cycle more successfully. This year’s Winter Solstice is particularly powerful because Saturn, which in its home sign of Capricorn, is providing energetic emphasis for honesty, truth, and resolving problems. Combining with the solstice energy of turning inward, makes it particularly important to be personally honest and accountable so that old patterns are resolved.
When we are willing to be in our stillness to reflect, we move into the next cycle with new purpose. Now, as we reach the end the great in-breath of 2018, the Winter Solstice with its cyclic, energetic, pause is again available to us. Its gift, when accepted, is renewal, revitalization, and an opportunity to let go of old habits that no longer serve our growth and awakening.
Here are some questions that might help you get started in your reflection.
What has manifested that I am grateful for?
What has been especially difficult and why was it so hard?
What am I being called to change?
How, as I live longer, light-filled days moving forward, can I transmit more of our light to the world we live and breathe in?
The use of rituals can be an important tool for letting go of what no longer supports you so that you move into the next cycle with vitality and freedom. Check out some of Soul Bridging’s suggestions for a ritual to release what no longer serves your growth and awakening.