Solstice Nights Offer Winter Dream

©Jane A. Simington, 2014

Those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere will soon be experiencing the longest nights of the year. While interpretation of the ever-increasing darkness surrounding the Winter Solstice varied among ancient cultures, archeological findings indicate our ancestors believed that during the Winter Solstice the Earth is more closely aligned with cosmic forces and thus prayers made during these times are more likely to be responded to than are those made at other times of the year.In many cultures, during the winter festivals, symbols of the Great Bear were used to depict the Earth’s closeness to the cosmos and the appeal for the rebirth of the sun. Like the bear going into its earthen cave to hibernate and to digest during the long, dark nights what was previously ingested so it can burst forth hungry for newness when the sun again shines brightly, we, too, with the lengthening darkness spend longer hours in deeper sleep. For many of us, the longer hours of deeper sleep result in an increase in dreaming.

 winter sunrise

Dreams have been a topic of fascination and intense study throughout history. Carl Jung, the first psychotherapist to view dreams as soulful messages noted that a dream that is not interpreted is a letter from the Gods we have not bothered to read. Today, dream therapists recognize that the dreams which capture our awareness during the long winter nights are frequently those that hold symbols of change. The need for change is often symbolized by dreams of death. To dream that you or someone you know is dying rarely announces a physical death, but usually symbolizes that something is dying (or must die) so something new can be born.

Our Winter Dreams often come in three parts. In the first portion the dreamer is generally provided an overview of what has been. The second part symbolizes what needs to change so that, with the return of the sun, we, like the Great Bear, can charge forth from the darkness of our inner cave into the dawn of a new beginning. The third portion of a dream gives us a glimpse of what will happen if we take action on what is being symbolized by the middle portion of the dream.

The fading light causes us to acknowledge that this dormant time 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 it is always darkest just before daybreak, and that very soon a door will open through which the returning light will stream.

Join me on Friday evening December 19 as I lead a Winter Solstice ceremony to open the workshop, Exploring Our Winter Dreams taking place December 20 and 21.

 

The Winter Solstice: A Time for Inner Reflection

© Dr. Jane Simington Ph.D., December 2012

 

The winter solstice occurs when the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky. This usually takes place on December 21 to 22 and creates, in the Northern hemisphere, the longest night of the year because the hours of darkness on that day are greater than they are at any other time of the year.

While interpretation of the ever-increasing darkness surrounding these days varied from culture to culture, the physical remains in archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in England, and Newgrange in Ireland indicate that the winter solstice was acknowledged. The primary axes of both these monuments are aligned with a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise in Newgrange, and the winter solstice sunset in Stonehenge.  Some believe that these exact alignments indicate a belief by these ancient peoples that during the winter solstice the earth is more closely aligned with cosmic forces and that prayers and offerings made during these hours are more likely to be received and responded to than if made at other times of the year. Evidence also indicates that these and most other cultures in the Northern hemisphere held ceremonies in recognition of the event. Common to most cultures were rituals appealing for the rebirth of the sun gods because during the winter months when the sun did not provide warmth and light for the growth of grains, starvation was common.

solsticetreeCeremonies honoring the return of the sun after the longest night continued into ancient Greek and Romans times. The festivals most commonly occurred on the night of December 24 and December 25. Christmas, the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus the “Son of God,” is also observed on December 25. Many celebrations attributed to Christmas eve and Christmas day are rooted in the ceremonies and festivals held during the winter solstice, including the advent preparation of letting go of the old so that the new can be birthed.

As the longest night approaches we are once again reminded that the cyclical rhythms of nature, are also within us and affects us deeply. The fading light causes us to acknowledge that darkness touches every life. Each of us experiences times of metaphoric coldness, yet when we allow ourselves to seize the opportunity, we settle in and re-centre. As we do, we become aware that this dormant time 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 it is always darkest just before daybreak, and that very soon a door will open through which the returning light will stream.