“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”
– Hugh Macmillan
This year the Winter Solstice falls on Thursday 21 December and marks the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year with almost nine hours less daylight than there was at the Summer Solstice in June. And from then on, the days start to get longer again.
Solstice actually means ‘sun standing still’ as the sun seems to stop at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverses its direction. This turning of the sun on the Winter Solstice and the upcoming longer days has been marked throughout the world for centuries with festivals, feasts and holidays marking the triumph of light over darkness and the promise of Spring, rebirth and new life.
People in ancient times thought that if the sun kept sinking lower and lower, soon all would be in darkness and life would end, so the Winter Solstice is a day for celebration as the sun starts to climb back up into the sky and life can go on.
The goddess or archetype of Winter is the Wise Woman, Crone or Hag. She represents the transition from darkness to light (wisdom) during a time of stillness and going within. She is often thought of as the face of death as not everything will be renewed in the Spring, some things will wither and die. She’s not about action; she carries the seeds of your dreams for you to nurture through the darkness, so they can grow roots in the Spring. Just as the trees are bare and stripped of leaves during Winter, there is no outward growth at this time just a space to be filled as the warmth of the sun returns. Winter is the time of becoming a human being not a human doing.
Working with your inner goddess, the Winter Solstice is an ideal time to both reflect and look back on your journey since the Summer Solstice, acknowledging your achievements, insights and understandings about yourself and also set your intentions for the months ahead before working on achieving your goals every day with the increasing day length.
Reflecting upon your journey since the Summer Solstice, ask yourself:
- What has been important to me?
- What have I learned?
- What is it that I have been incubating during the dark half of the year?
Stopping in the now, ask yourself:
- What do I need to let go of?
- What do I want to leave behind in the old year?
- What do I need to sweep out to make way for the new?
And then looking ahead:
- What is important to me?
- What do I value?
- What do I want to bring out into the light?
- What do I want to achieve?
- What do I want to realise?
- What are the projects that I want to come to fruition?
“It is out of the darkness that flowers eventually emerge, babies are born, and inspiration for poetry and ideas are nurtured on the page and through our voices. Surrender to your dreaming and celebrate the dark where your inner life is honoured and nurtured. Relight your inner light. What dreams do you carry inside? What are you visioning or hoping for?”
– Ruth Barrett, Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries
Within your Yoga practice at this reflective time of the year, try to stay in the poses longer to find that stillness and space, focusing deeply inwards while relaxing into the pose on each exhale.
You could celebrate the returning sun with some flowing Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) sequences working slowly with the breath.
Or you could try a lovely relaxing Savasana, strengthening and grounding Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana), inward focusing Eagle Pose (Garudasana) or some simple Restorative Yoga poses such as, Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani), Dragon, Seal (Yin version of Bhujangasana), Pigeon (Kapotasana) or Supported Child’s Pose, surrendering completely, following your breath inwards and then just hanging out where you find yourself.
Forward folds are very reflective poses, allowing you to turn into yourself, so why not give Standing Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana), Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana) or Head to Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana) a go?
If you want to make real changes in your life to give your body more love, you’re concerned about your long term health and wellbeing or you feel you need some nurturing allwoman support, please get in touch.
I specialise in working with women one to one and enjoy being part of their journey of reconnection and self-discovery. I support women to find more balance and harmony in their lives by deepening their inner connection to their own body’s needs, helping them cope pre-conception, with fertility issues, prenatally, postnatally or during times of transition, grief or loss and helping alleviate the symptoms of menstruation, perimenopause or menopause.