Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice.  What that means in scientific terms can be found here.  What it means on the surface is the first day of Winter.  What it means spiritually is up to you.

Commonly known as the shortest day of it year, today has the least amount of daylight. Conversely, that means that the darkness has been encroaching for six months, it’s now as dark as it will get and beginning tomorrow, the light will return in slivers and moments.

You’re taught that darkness is to be feared, loathed, ignored, and destroyed, but the truth is that both darkness and light live within you.  This time of year, you may try to plug up every crack of darkness with the blaze of artificial lights, to try to keep it as far away as possible.  But darkness and light are interdependent, each present opportunities, each carry gifts and challenges.

Sometimes, you just need to sit in the dark, even if it’s only to prove to yourself that you can. I see the solstice as a time to hunker down, to look within, to find what David Whyte calls “that small, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.” (The Journey, David Whyte) Today invites you in, to find that one eternal flame within you, and to choose to tend it.

A match strike in the darkness is a powerful thing indeed.

I was waxing nostalgic on Facebook the other day after listening to Sirius XM’s Nelson Mandela Remembrance channel. I was more interested in music than changing the world in the mid 80s, but went to an Amnesty International show and saw a local band play an outstanding version of Peter Gabriel’s Biko.  A line from that song stays close to me, especially today.

You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher

My advice, not that you asked, is to embrace this opportunity to look within.  Embrace your darkness – it makes you whole. Find your essential flame and help it catch. Today can mean a whole lot or it can pass by your door unnoticed and unexamined.  You choose.

Here’s a great poetic meditation to help you enter that sometimes uncomfortable space.

Questions Before Dark
~ Jeanne Lohmann

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?


9 thoughts on “Winter Solstice”

  1. I like this. I always thought it interesting that Hanukkah and Christmas hovered right around the Winter solstice. Have you ever read White Goddess? It explains how many of our traditions are really just a form of Paganism. The darkness… We try to fight it off don’t we? Oh and thanks for your comment of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I am so glad you liked it.

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for commenting. I haven’t read that book, but just put it on my reading list. Thanks for the tips. Yes, and the holidays are all revolve around the concept of light. Obviously, Hanukkah, but even Christianity is birth of the son, while paganism is the birth of the sun. I think Christians had to co-opt existing traditions of be accepted. It is really interesting to me because we consider ourselves to be so evolved and unlike our “savage” ancestors.

      I loved that you brought that Skloot’s book up on Simon’s site. It came out shortly after I finished cancer treatments and I was passionate about medical stories, particularly as they related to cancer. Still, I am astounded by two ideas — 1. that my healing drugs were probably a direct result of this woman, and 2. what in the heck happened to all the tissue I “donated” to medical research? I was so happy to see this year that Lacks’ family finally got some acknowledgement and control.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

      1. Great link. I had not seen it. Thank you! It is so complicated. I think Skloot has a foundation where the family has actually gotten some money for college education. They so deserve it. Happy light.

  2. Nicely said, Katie. Being a warm weather, more-daylight-is-good type, I like having shortest day of year correspond to 1st day of winter. Backstops an uptrend during winter slog.

  3. Niiiiiice………….never thought you would get so spiritual and esoteric but I guess the Winter Solstice brought that inspirational moment out of you. Very well said, duality is something I ALWAYS keep in mind day in and day out (Darkness is the absence of Light, there can be no Light without Darkness, blah blah blah…………)

    As a special gift here’s a mixtape I finished a few days ago celebrating both Winter and the holiday season, enjoy!

  4. Well said. I like the solstice. I like being reminded of the seasons, of the earth turning on its axis. There are so many things that can cause us to forget that we are mere specks, clinging to a tiny bit of congealed chemistry, occupying a small portion of a huge universe. It’s good to be reminded to put things in perspective.

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