Winter Solstice: the Annual Stillpoint

by Vivian Hadleigh on December 16, 2012

light-in-darknessThe Winter Solstice is the deep, quiet stillpoint of our annual cycle, and every year I welcome this powerful, poignant moment as an opportunity to begin anew, quietly, thoughtfully, introspectively. This year in the Northern Hemisphere it is at 6:03 pm EST on December 21.

The following look at Winter is an excerpt from my book Embracing Life in a Challenging World.

We often think of getting through the winter and surviving it rather than understanding the true magic hidden in the long dark months of the year. In addition to being the season of many holidays, and the delights of cold weather sports, winter can bring us spiritual renewal and teach us resilience.

Winter is about new life quietly beginning while the world appears barren and cold, and about the magic of introspection, dreaming and the power of the unconscious. Here are some ways to get in touch with the power of winter.

Outdoor magic

Grab some friends who are open to fresh experiences (sometimes kids are your best bet!). Find snow if you can, but at least go to a place with space and trees, away from the sounds of busy streets. Play a while, walk or hike, or gather winter greenery instead of buying it. Stop and listen to the winter silence, breathe the crisp air, feel the cold, look around at the bare (and snowy) winter landscape, and think about this:

Bears are a symbol of winter, deep introspection and dreaming. Bears sleep lightly during winter cold and scarcity, give birth and nourish their cubs in a quiet, isolated cave until time to emerge in the spring. But cubs are not the only new life which begins, hidden in the dark, during winter months. Plants which produce the most seeds actually germinate in deep winter.

Earth’s energy cycles

Farmers and gardeners, astrologers and emergency room staff are very aware of the power of lunar and solar cycles. As the dark and new moons are quiet times on earth, the winter is the sun’s quiet time. The month preceding and the month following the Winter Solstice, which occurs between December 20 and 22, are the sun’s ‘dark and new moon’ period.

New Year’s resolutions

So, it follows that New Year’s resolutions, which are typically action plans, usually fail because they are begun in times of introspection. Action plans do best in spring and summer, so try applying winter wisdom to your New Year and begin within.

Go deep

For example, rather than map out a rigorous diet and exercise plan to achieve perfect body and perfect health, begin with a question, such as “How can I develop a healthy, loving relationship with my body?” Then use the winter months exploring this and other questions using meditation, tarot, astrology, dream journaling and even daydreaming. In our practical, hard-charging world, carving out time for this kind of introspection can be difficult, and sometimes the actual act of dreaming or imagining is even more difficult for ‘reality’ oriented people, but it’s worth a try.

A cozy night in

Consider this great way to encourage your imagination, your non-linear brain capacity for visioning, while at the same time deepening connections to family and friends during the winter months. Host evenings of storytelling or reading aloud or listening to books on tape in front of the fire. You can even combine it with stargazing! Get each person to find a different constellation myth—the more cultures the better—and tell the myths as you relax together.

In long-ago times, when people spent the winter months huddled around the hearth fire in lodges and mead halls, the most welcome visitors were the wandering bards and storytellers. Cocooned in the warmth of community, occupying their hands with repairing and spinning and weaving, people heard tales of heroes and gods, stories of little people overcoming impossible odds, and, listening, dreamed great dreams in a way that modern movie and TV watchers rarely do. So break out the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Grimm’s Fairy Tales and let your imagination take flight.

Nourish new life

As you settle into winter quiet, even if for only an hour or two a day, your body and subconscious mind will begin to relax enough to entertain imaginative new ideas. And as your non-linear dreaming capacities begin to flourish, an organic process of healing and renewal will begin, almost invisibly.

Ideas and feelings begin to emerge to answer questions like: “How can I be happy?” “How can I thrive in today’s world?” “How can I find love?” and “How can I make a difference and contribute to the well-being of others?”

At first, some of those answers might seem surprising or outrageous (the dreaming, imaginative aspect of your brain loves outrageousness). Even so, be sure to welcome even the zaniest of your answers as gifts of possibility from your inner brainstorming sessions.

While you use winter’s introspective energy to nourish these flashes of inspiration, the viable ones will grow into concepts ready for a plan of action. By the time spring rolls around you will emerge refreshed from introspection, energized by new ideas, invigorated by dreams and visions and ready to create your future.

My book Sacred Cycles: Ancient Doorways to Inner Space contains a Winter Solstice meditation that can lead you straight to the center of the power and possibility of the winter season.

Originally published on the www.CaliforniaPsychics.com ® blog as “The Allure of Winter” © 2008-2011 Outlook Amusements, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

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