Blending Traditions and the Power of the Winter Solstice
Today, December 21st, 2020, people around the world are celebrating the Winter
Solstice. This is a plentiful and rich tradition dating back thousands of years before Christ. Scandinavia to Egypt and Iran, the Hopi tribe of Northern Arizona to China and Japan have all developed diverse traditions throughout their history to celebrate the longest night and the rebirth of the sun cycle in the New Year.
Here in the Midwest, I’m compelled to find a sense of calm in the discomfort of winter. That usually happens after the joy of Christmas fizzles down. This is a slow time to conserve strength and celebrate sensitivities which run deep. There is hidden growth beneath the darkness of the days/nights of winter. I recently read an article from the Smithsonian about the secret communication signals of tree root systems in the forests of Germany. I’m imagining this happens in the woods behind my condo as well. I can’t fathom the complexity of signals in these networks under the earth during the solstice as preparation for the flourishing of Spring. They lie in wait to be expressed.
Not unlike nature, we plan out intentions for the New Year - resolutions that cause our spirit to develop with new purpose and inspiration.
Even though Christmas is important to me and my family, I can’t help but to be drawn into some of these Winter Solstice traditions I read about. Would it really hurt to take a cleansing yuzu (citrus fruit) - infused bath today, heat up some stew and glogg and eat some pomegranates and nuts? Couldn’t I spend the day (virtually) with my family and friends reciting poetry and stories and find some type of socially-distanced fire dance performance and lantern-making workshop?
As we pummel towards 2021, trying to make sense of 2020 and sort out our emotions, we can think of aligning our minds and sensitivities with nature for healing and strength. Water is considered by the Chinese to be the element of winter. It’s “yin” (female and fluid). Like winter and darkness, it’s engulfing and mysterious. It molds into any vessel and conserves its energy as we retreat indoors to find our safe and warm spaces to settle into.
Do you believe in beginning this new cycle of life with intention or do you flow with whatever happens? Like water, we sink into the vessel of our own thoughts and emotions during this time of stillness. The chill in the air compels us inward for warmth and protection.
After celebrations, we rest and regenerate to prepare for a post pandemic time.
Will we be decadent and enlightened? Will we live outside of our “boxes”, go on adventures, and pay homage to those that didn’t make it through the year? Will it be like the roaring 20’s after the 1918 pandemic, or will we hesitantly peek out into the world with fear in our hearts?
How will we let go of this trauma and become all the beauty of life that is in front of us?
This winter solstice seems poetic during this time. With isolation, comes reflection, growth and new beginnings. It’s exciting to think of what the future holds and how our communities can flourish.