The Winter Solstice, which in the Northern Hemisphere takes place on the 21st December, marks the shortest day and longest night of the year and is the time of year when the sun is at it’s lowest point in the sky. It is associated with ritual, ceremony and symbolism which some say originates from ancient cultures who feared that the sun would not return without these.
For me, I welcome this time of year. I love light, sun and long days so the fact that the year is turning back towards these makes me very happy. I also like to use the symbolism of the day for reflection.
Bringing Light to the Darkness
Nothing symbolises this better than the Winter Solstice illumination at Newgrange Passage Tomb. The tomb, which comprises of a entrance passage and burial chamber was designed to capture the first rays of sun on the morning of the solstice but remains in nearly total darkness for the rest of the year.
“However on the 21st of December something very special occurs (and a number of days either side). As the sun rises above the eastern horizon a single beam of sunlight creeps slowly up along the tomb’s passageway until it reaches the dark confines of the burial chamber. The near perpetual darkness is broken and the inner and most sacred confines of this ancient tomb are, for a short time, illuminated.” (www.irisharchaeology.ie)
I see the winter solstice as the announcement of a time of self-reflection, of shining a light inwards and of illuminating parts of ourselves that are in darkness. The winter is a perfect time to do this. The shorter days, the colder and darker nights makes it a natural time for a hibernation of sorts, a time to conserve, rejuvenate and renew physical, emotional and mental energy and to build strength and resilience for the future.
Of course like all good adventures, be they inwards or outwards, it needs a good party first to mark the occasion and for some Christmas serves this purpose nicely. So for me, the Winter Solstice arrives and is quickly followed by a short period of celebration, extraversion and indulgence and this then naturally flows in to a longer period that is marked by rest and calm, moderation, self-care and reflection. A time to allow my mind, body and pocket to rejuvenate and to begin the New Year with a little bit more of the light of consciousness shining on my world.
Wishing you a Happy Winter Solstice.