[CORRECTION: Janis McCall is the author of this post.]
Here in the wilds of Argyll in Scotland, high in the Northern Hemisphere, close to the Arctic Circle, the depths of Winter are very evident. The days grow ever shorter, and darkness is the norm for 18+ hours per day. However, this is not a time of despair but a time to celebrate, to give thanks and to travel inwards. Nature shows us the way, trees let go of their leaves, go quiet, animals venture out rarely, turning to hibernation and seeds lie dormant beneath the soil, nurtured in darkness, gaining energy to burst forth in Spring. Humans if left to natural rhythms would do the same. Take time to reflect on the bounties of the year just past, to rest and dream of the year to come.
Samhain – A Time of Reflection
I just spent a wonderful time with friends celebrating the Celtic New Year of Samhain (Oct 31-Nov 1), when our year begins in reflective and grateful darkness. We visited sacred sights of standing stones, some of which mark the sunset on the shortest day (winter solstice) or the moon rise on this date. Both of which are important in this part of the word as it marks the time the year turns, the darkness retreats and the light begins to slowly return, a promise of Spring to come. (More information at www.stonesofwonder.com.) This is a time to give thanks for the year gone past, the things achieved, the bounty shared. Enjoy this time of rest and reflection, slow down, tune into the natural rhythm.
Winter Solstice – Welcoming Back the Light
I am in the process of organizing a get together in my local community for the Winter Solstice, December 21st. We have a Peace Gathering, taking a quiet pause in this busy holiday period to meditate and share thoughtful readings and a cup of tea. The energy of a contemplative circle at this time ripples out into our lives and the wider community. We light a central candle on our altar and then individually ignite a tea light to place around the center. This symbolizes shining a light through the darkest hours of the Solstice, welcoming back the Light into the world. Here in the Northern Hemisphere this is a big deal as the sun comes up about 8.30 am, rises barely above the horizon before it dips back down again about 3.30pm. The Winter Solstice is a real turning point—it means the days will get longer from here on in. The return of the Light—a promise of Spring. The Year is turning. At home, I light a fire and burn a candle in the window to welcome the return of the Light.
~by Lula Garner
Remember well blessed ones to settle deep within the dark,
To feed the soul’s inner heart.
Believe the sun’s return will come though light’s journey to us yet be long
Its promise holds strong.
Gather ye loved ones close to rejoice at the bounty we hold-
At this stillpoint, may our thanks be told.
Before the growth begins again, at the centre let the watcher dwell
In the knowing that all will be well.
Winter darkness is part of the natural cycle. Everything needs dark, quiet time to gather energy. We sometimes forget this in our 24/7 society. Take time to rest, recuperate, nurture ideas and projects for the coming year. Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Interested in finding out more about the Celtic Calendar? See prior blog posts on Celtic Wheel of the Year and How I Celebrate the Celtic Year . Find the interview on the archive in the Living the Present Moment Study Group.
The Native American teachings also hold wisdom on the cycles of life. Join the free online class by Dr. Joel Ying, Medicine Wheel – Move Your Life Forward. Next teleconference is Wed Dec 6, 2017, at 7pm.
Join the Release and Renewal Retreat in Sedona, Arizona, this January.