The Winter Solstice
December 21 marks the day when the sun will reach its southernmost point in the sky, also known as the Winter Solstice. In the Northern hemisphere, this means the longest night and shortest day of the year. In the Southern hemisphere, this means the longest day and shortest night of the year.
The December Solstice is a sacred day when nature asks us to turn inward, reflect, and explore deep feelings. In Chinese philosophy this refers to the Darkening of the Light. S/he/they veil their outer light but still shine from within. It is also a time to prepare our moods with good foods and absorb the light generated by chlorophyll-rich foods.
For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice asks us to embrace darkness and what it means to spend time in the dark and to explore hidden obscure places of our consciousness. We are often conditioned to associate a lack of light with fear, or negativity. But the dark is just the necessary polarity of the light. If we align ourselves with nature, we are guided
In my new certification course PTSD, Complex Trauma, and Traumatic Brain Injury I address how to use both the light and the dark for healing for trauma. Below is one of the methods I teach. Celebrate the Winter Solstice with me, embrace the dark and learn this powerful healing practice called NightWalking. I learned this method in the deep, dark night jungle of Mexico. It can be practiced anywhere and ideally with a small group of fellow seekers.
Night walking is an activity that includes walking over remote terrain in the dark of night as a way of developing second sight, also called peripheral vision, or insight. This ancient method of walking meditation is a tradition of the Tibetans, Japanese, and Chinese and likely occurs as a matter of daily life for those who live in rural and remote areas of the world. Night walking can be done by individuals but is best done in pairs or small groups; the experience leads to deep relaxation, heightened senses, improved balance, and elimination of fear, anxiety, and physical pain, all seemingly associated with focused vision.
The “not looking but seeing” that night walking engages helps redirect hypervigilance and autonomic arousal. Night walking is a way to consciously “scan” the environment and reclaim peripheral vision among those for whom scanning is a daily unbidden imperative. When a person is exhausted by a constant state of alertness, the surveying for hidden dangers narrows the focus. Night walking restores peripheral vision and thereby returns it to the seer’s authority.
Night walking will not be for everyone, though, and that is okay! Participating in your own unique ritual is a wonderful way to honor yourself and the Solstice. These might be rituals that are a longstanding part of your cultural heritage, newly introduced into your family, or self-created.
The Role of Rituals in your Life
During the December Solstice, take some time to consider the role of ritual in your life and how it might help you take on new perspectives and grow as a person. Some questions to ask yourself to facilitate this reflection include:
- Did I grow up with any rituals?
- Do I have pleasant, neutral, or negative memories of rituals?
- How did those early experiences inform my attitudes and feelings today?
- Do I currently have rituals that I engage in individually or with others?
- What rituals do I want to explore?
- What rituals might make me uncomfortable?
Create Your Ritual
Take some time to create a winter ritual and invite some friends. You might consider foods and herbs that are special to this time of year. Depending on your locale, these are often root vegetables that ground us to the earth. Or prepare a special Bhang Lassi with CBD, see my book Natural Woman for the recipe. Gather beeswax candles and some essential oil of frankincense lavender, citrus and rose. Consider a question to ask everyone to consider and respond to. Perhaps, As you reflect on this year, what did you learn? Invite the deep dark as yet unspoken feelings to emerge. Have fun with a ritual. There is no right or wrong. Only one that you make meaning.
I will be “seeing” you in the dark…
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