The Winter Solstice happens tonight, the longest night of the year. Then the light will slowly begin its return. While the Solstice celebrates the return of the light, we should remember that it doesn’t return all at once. The seasonal shift is a liminal period; we are crossing a threshold. Even as the light begins its return, we are aware of the beginning of winter. For some weeks ahead, we are still deep in the heart of the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere.
At Winter Solstice, the Sun enters Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn, aka Kronos or “Father Time.” We contemplate the end of one year and the beginning of another. This focus on endings and beginnings leads us to be hyper-aware of the passage of time. And because of the holidays, we are also especially connected to the past through memories of celebrations gone by. There’s a reason that Dickens wrote about the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future in his famous short story, “A Christmas Carol.” It is inherently a time where we are immersed in memories of the past and hopes for the future simultaneously.
No matter what your spiritual persuasion, it is likely that the holidays hold a wealth of associations. Perhaps they are all good, and perhaps not. But this time of year is inherently a time for reflection, and memories will come. We tend to compare our present life with the past, and a mixture of intense emotions often ensues. To process some of these emotions, we can honor our attachments to the past through tradition and ritual. At the same time, we can create new rituals to help us to appreciate our connection to our present life.
In my blog entry for Samhain at the last seasonal marker (the peak of fall), I wrote about honoring the dead and healing the living. I shared the story of my mother’s passing, and how I am dealing with it 13 years later. I set an intention to reclaim the joy of Halloween time, even though it coincided with my mother’s death anniversary. Christmas time has also been challenging for me in the years since her death, as it was such an important holiday to her. She had always made it magical for my brothers and I growing up. No matter how little we had, it felt like a time of great abundance every year.
I had a miraculous thing come from that writing. My mom’s former partner contacted me, having read the blog. She felt moved to reconnect, and gave me all of my mom’s original artwork. Having my mom’s art originals, which I never expected to see again, is helping me to feel more at peace this year. The sadness is still there, but I feel comforted in having these things to remember her by.
Something I intend to do over these first couple weeks of winter is to write down the memories that are flooding through me at this time. For me, writing them down helps me to process them, and also helps me to release them. I then will spend some time journaling my wishes for the year ahead.
Here are some questions for Winter Solstice:
What are the memories that are most poignant for you at this time of year?
What are you most grateful for in the present?
What are your hopes for the year ahead?
Let yourself simply dream and reflect, not needing to take action yet. Allow yourself this time to take a pause before the call to new beginnings.
For more about working with the energies of Winter Solstice and the Wheel of the Year, check out Cycles of Wisdom.