Embracing the Power of the Winter Solstice to Heal Self and Others

©Jane A. Simington, PhD. 2017

 

The darkest day or the longest night of the year is near. This annual planetary event is known as the Winter Solstice, and occurs this year on December 21. At the Winter Solstice, the sun begins to return, shifting the balance of dark and light, bringing promises of increasing warmth and new beginnings.

 

  • This is a powerful time to reflect on our seen and unseen darkness, so we can release some of that pain.
  • As we come to the close of this year, let us heal our emotions and spirits and thus release the darkness within ourselves to make room for the returning light that can bring with it, and fill us with, what it is we desire to manifest in 2018.

1. Embrace the calmness of winter evenings and nights. As you sit alone in the darkness, allow yourself to feel the peace within the stillness. The quiet calm of a long winter’s night provides a great opportunity to look within and nurture Spirit Connections. Acknowledge how much energy gets poured into the external preparations for the winter holidays and then use the stillness of a quiet calm winter night to honor your inner world, and to refresh and renew your Spirit.

2. Reflect on the need for change. As the sun changes course, ponder the direction of your life and determine if you need to, and/or are ready to change direction.

 3. Awaken to higher consciousness. The return of the sun following the Winter Solstice has long been compared to the growth of inner light and thus, to the awakening of higher levels of consciousness. As we shed our darkness and brighten our inner light, we are more able to contribute to the healing so needed in our world; and by so doing, we honor the energy of the Winter Solstice.

4. Connect with Universal Energies, Spirit Guides and Angels. Many spiritual masters teach that the Solstice is a time when there is an increased alignment between the Earth and the other Universes, creating an opening that allows for easier entry of Spiritual Guides and Angels “bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold,” and thus increasing the possibility of our prayers to be heard and answered in more immediate and miraculous ways.

 5. Enjoy the Celebrations of the Season. Since ancient times, the returning of light has been held as a sacred time of the year and marked with festivals and celebrations.

6. While it is unclear for how long people have been celebrating the Winter Solstice, we know that ancient stone structures were designed to align perfectly with the sun at dawn and dusk, during the solstices. Some believe that the Winter Solstice was more important to the people who constructed the Neolithic stone structures, than was the Summer Solstice, for their livelihood depended upon the returning sun. Stonehenge located in the south of England, is aligned on a sight-line that points to the Winter Solstice sunset. New Grange, in Ireland, points to the Winter Solstice sunrise. The Winter Solstice was a time when most cattle were slaughtered (so they would not have to be fed during the winter) and, most of the wine and beer were ready for consumption. That in itself seems like a great reason to celebrate the season.

7. Wear Amber The ancients thought Amber to be a power stone, for they believed this fossilized resin trapped the sun. They wore it to maintain their personal power and to draw the power of the sun god into their lives.

8. Use the Power of Light and Fire. Mid-winter was a time of concern for our ancestors. They believed the darkness to be filled with dark spirits. To keep them at bay, they lit many candles and built their fires high. They swept their homes with pine branches to cleanse it of darkness and to make room for good luck and prosperity.

 

 

Revisiting the teachings surrounding these seven ways to honor the Solstice can help use the power of the solstice energy to rekindle our inner light and to help brighten the glow in those we walk beside in both our personal and professional lives.

 

I wish you a joyous Solstice and a very blessed holiday season.

 

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox
©Jane A. Simington PhD

Summer has ended and during this week we are in the energy of the Autumnal Equinox. Since ancient times, the Earth’s Peoples have re-enacted rituals to draw in the energies of these days believing that during the equinoxes, the universes are more directly in line; and thus celebrations of gratitude as well as rituals for supplication were more likely to be received and responded to by the heavens. According to NASA, there is indeed a change in geometric activity that takes place during the September Equinox. These changes actually increase the chances, for those of us who live in the higher regions of the Northern Hemisphere, to view the Northern Lights.


No matter how far removed we are from the soil and the smells and colors of this beautiful season, each of us is affected by the movements of the planets; and thus each of us can purposefully harness the energies of these days for our own life shifts. Here are some ways to draw into your own as well as into your groups, the power available to each of us during the Autumnal Equinox. Remember that rituals and ceremony do not have to be observed following any particular tradition or religious ceremony. In my experience, the best outcomes of any ceremony are achieved when they result from actions based on pure intentions that flow from my own Spirit to serve my personal needs and those of my groups.

 

  1. Examine the Balance in Life

This year the official day of the Autumnal Equinox is September 22. On that day the hours of daytime and nighttime are relatively the same. This has long been interpreted to mean that during this short period of time the world is in balance. Metaphorically, we can use this time to determine and re-establish the balance in our own lives.
 

  • Purchase two candles for each person who attends your equinox ceremony. Select one candle for each in a bright autumn color and the other in a dark color. During the celebration each person in turn, lights first the brightly colored candle and speaks of how and in what ways, since the Spring Equinox, they have been able to balance their soulful and personal needs and desires with their commitments to the outside world. The colored candle is then placed on the centre altar and the dark candle is lit. As the dark candle burns the person speaks about what actions are needed during the upcoming dark days and nights, so that the balance that is already achieved can be maintained; and so that there can be, by the Spring Equinox, a celebration of having achieved an even greater balance, between soulful and personal needs and desires, and their commitments to the outside world. The dark candle is then placed on the central altar. When all members have spoken and all the brightly glowing candles are on the centre altar, lead a group prayer in which you honor the balance in the universe; express gratitude for the balance each member has found, and request that each receive whatever they require to achieve the further balance they seek.

 

  1. Make a Wreath
     Invite each person to pick a piece from the bowl that you have previously filled with items representative of nature in autumn. After each person has picked their item, ask each in turn to speak of the significance of that particular piece to them and what drew them to select it; and to then place the item on the empty wreath (which you have earlier either purchased or created from willow, grape vines or birch bows). You will want to have a good quality glue gun available for the purpose of gluing the items to the wreath. Once all of the items are secured to the wreath, place it on the centre altar. Invite members to join hands and form a circle around the altar and then lead a closing prayer of gratefulness for the gifts of the Earth; acknowledging that as we celebrate the gifts of the Earth, we also accept that Her growing time is dying. Pray that each member of your group is able to embrace the dark times ahead as opportunities to be more inner-focused and from that, to place their newly gained strength and renewed purpose in readiness to meet the light of the Spring Equinox.

The Earth grows cold.
The soil lays barren. Six months of dark
Without dark we do not know light.
 Without barrenness we do not know growth.
Without death we do not embrace life
Without sorrow we do not appreciate joy
Great Mother, in your dark time, support me in mine.

Honoring Darkness Prepares Us to Welcome the Returning Light

©Jane A. Simington, PHD. 2015

As the winter solstice approaches we are once again reminded of how the seasonal changes in nature mirror the cyclic rhythms within our own lives. When we pause to examine our interconnections in the web of all existence we acknowledge that times of darkness fall upon every life. As the light fades and cold settles in we recognize that each of us experiences times of darkness and isolation.16426_882031781829415_5278592370910128062_n

As the world around us lies mostly dormant, if we allow ourselves to seize the opportunity, we settle in and re-centre. As we do so we become aware that this time of stillness allows us to amass energy for our next great movement forward. Being thus connected with the seasonal changes in our own lives, as mirrored by the cyclic changes in nature, we bless the darkness knowing that the balancing messages of the Winter Solstice promise that it is always darkest just before daybreak, and that very soon a door will open through which the returning light will stream.

Winter Solstice celebrations are a meaningful way to gather with like-minded friends to honor the spirit of darkness and the spirit of returning light. The following ideas for a Winter Solstice ceremony acknowledge what has been gained from our times of inner darkness so as to find the new seeds to plant during the times when the sun returns to our outer and inner worlds.

Honoring the Darkness
Allow some time at the beginning of the celebration for participants to sit in almost total darkness as a way to allow them to ponder the dark times they have experienced during the past year. After this time of stillness invite them to reflect on and perhaps journal what they have gained from their darkest time/s. The following questions can help in their reflections and in the acknowledgement of the gifts and abilities resulting from that darkness.

1) How has your darkest experience of this year changed your life?
2) What strengths do you now have that you did not have before that experience?
3) How has that experience influenced what you view as important?

Honoring the Light
After each participant has responded to one or more of the reflective questions, pass a jar of seeds. Have each pick two seeds and reflect on the following question:

1) What new seeds are you now able to plant when the sun returns, as a result of having that dark experience?

As each responds, invite that person to light a candle representing the return of light into their inner and outer worlds. As each candle is lit, ponder the increasing brightness each light brings into the darkness.

As a parting gift, you might offer some of the evergreens and pinecones used to decorate your ceremonial centre. A small Rosemary plant can also be a meaningful parting gift since they were known to our ancestors as the “herb of the sun,” and were included in early solstice celebrations. To close your solstice celebration, a prayer of thanksgiving for the cyclic teachings of nature will allow each one present to ponder how year after year, nature generously repeats her cycle.

As a gentle mother, Nature annually reminds us of our interconnections and of our constant potential for renewal and regeneration. As we begin our winter celebrations, many of which are rooted in early solstice ceremonies, may each of us receive the blessings of both the Darkness and the Returning Light.