And so we sink into the depth of winter, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa. Whatever your beliefs and traditions, I wish peace and joy to you and your loved ones.
Our family tradition is a quiet, modest holiday. It begins for me when my son comes home from university. When we’re all together, everything feels right in my world. And I am acutely mindful right now that, next year, I’ll be here alone awaiting both of my children (gulp).
I always do a late night, solitary Winter Solstice ceremony to honour the depth of the season (more on that later). There are a few gatherings with friends though, since we moved south, there are no more tobogganing or skating parties on the lake. And then there’s our little Christmas, just us three, a tree decorated with woodland creatures, gifts opened slowly by the fire, fuzzy blankets, warm drinks and simple hearty food.
I know that, for many, this is a season of rushing and doing, and my heart goes out to you. For me, it’s quite the opposite. I go slower and slower. Into the darkness. Into the stillness. This is my time for honoring the ground that I have travelled through the last four season.
My self-reflection begins with a glancing through my calendar and taking a surficial view of the year. Where have I put my energy? Who have I connected with? What has been let go and what has been added to my days and weeks?
And then I delve into my journal. I’ve been writing journals since I was ten years old. Some days I write for hours and sometimes I don’t write for months but there are always plenty of pages to re-read. There have been many years when I have read with my attention on mistakes, disappointments and failures. Now, honestly, I read with curiosity.
I am fascinated by the last year version of me, what was landing in her and what was frustrating her. Her tender, ever-opening heart, her expanding edges, her perseverance, stumbling and trying again, glowing and fading, stepping forward in the mystery of it all.
And as I re-read, I ask myself important questions:
What truths, both sweet and hard, arose for me this year and what were they asking of me?
When was I truly being myself? What were the contexts? What was I drawing upon, what were the impacts and what did that make possible for me?
When I stepped out of my truth, dignity, sovereignty and/or choice, what was steering my steps and what were the consequences and learnings?
What blessings did I receive, what support did I give and how did I give and receive?
What is complete and, as this year closes, what is my way of ending?
Self-reflection fosters loving acceptance of where I am and what I’m learning in this lifetime. Patience for the abilities I haven’t yet built and knowledge that hasn’t yet alighted. It boosts my faith that what has happened was exactly what I needed to be able to continue to grow. Seeing the gifts of the struggles and confusion. The ongoing emergence of Me.
The second part of my solstice preparations is about recognizing and choosing what I would like to happen in the coming year. It’s not resolution and it’s not request. It’s sensing into what’s next in my growth, listening deeply, feeling toward new insights and abilities that are already on their way, and naming the seeds I’m planting for the coming year.
What is calling you? What quiet but insistent voice has not yet been heard and honoured?
In what moments have you trusted the calling and been rewarded beyond what you could have imagined?
What do you desire, intend and envision for the coming year?
The darkness, nearness and silence of the solstice are a beautiful time to hear that voice of what’s burning inside you.
The third part of my Solstice tradition is a ritual. I do it late at night when all is still and quiet. I create an altar with candles, dried berries and evergreen boughs. I call in the spirits of the four directions and elements, as well as my ancestors and guides. I sing and sink into my deeper knowing.
When the time is right, I give thanks for all the blessings, both sweet and sour, of the past year and really anchor in my heart all that I’ve learned. Acknowledge what has changed.
And then comes the seed planting. I see myself tossing these hopes and intentions into the future, trusting that, as I walk forward, they will land in fertile soil and sprout in my life at the right time. As always, I close the circle with gratitude and slide into bed for a night of deep dreaming.
There is a wish deep in my heart that each of you will take time to acknowledge where you are in your life, the ground that you’ve travelled over these past thirteen moons and the direction you’re tossing your seeds for the coming year.
May you be blessed with peace and knowing that you are ever growing into the Light.
With you on the journey,