When we embrace darkness, we embrace rest, nourishment, and the letting go of the unneeded. We practice embracing all parts of ourselves and others, parts that we may usually try to push away. With out the darkness, nothing would grow. Seeds rest deep in the darkness of earth before they grow their way into the light. Babies grow in the deep darkness of their mothers’ wombs. And in the darkness of sleep, dreams move through us.
Bronwyn Michaelis, my friend and teacher, writes, "Winter is the time when Big Yin is free to develop, unhampered by yang's effects of doing, being busy, and moving quickly. In aligning ourselves with the seasonal cycles, we are wise to take our cues from nature: The animals are in hibernation. The plants are going down into their roots - some of them digging so deep as to reveal nothing of themselves above ground...Winter time is an opportunity to fall deep down into the depths of the ocean of the unknown, the Mystery."
At solstice, the balance has tipped as far as it can into the darkness. We are in the mid point of the Winter darkness. As the darkest night falls, the sun begins to return! And we get ready to welcome the light. And each day passing after will have more and more light, until we reach the summer solstice. The light brings promise of visible and quickened growth, spaciousness, and newness.
I invite you to mark this time of year for yourself and your family. Children are so deeply nourished by celebrating the changing seasons. They love having ceremony and art making in their lives. It is truly a gift to raise your children in ways that keep them connected to themselves, their family, and the world in tangible and meaningful ways.
Here are some ideas for celebrating solstice! I hope you find ones you will try.
- The exact moment of solstice will be at 8:28 on Thursday the 21st. So, I think, Wednesday will technically be the darkest night of the year. Wed-Saturday will all be potent days to celebrate.
- Make a Solstice Altar: Find objects that embrace the darkness and celebrate the light. Place an object representing the Sun or big candle in the center of your altar. All surrounding the sun and light, you can put animals and plants admiring and thanking the sun for making their lives possible. Your kids can put their animal stuffies on the altar! Put animals on the altar that teach us about hibernation and rest. I like to use a dark cloth underneath and around to acknowledge the holding and embrace of the darkness. You can also place found nature pieces, like fallen leaves, acorns, and fruits and vegetables.
- Make suns and stars with paper and hang them around the house to remind you of the returning light.
- Through all the holiday business, make time to SLOW DOWN by yourself, and with your family. Put aside evenings, or whole days, to stay at home, sit around a fire, or snuggle up on the couch. Turn off electronics and rest.
- I like to make gratitude lists with kids to add to the altar. It helps bring their minds to the themes of the celebration. You can make a “thank you” list to the sun/light and a “thank you” list to the darkness. Brainstorm together and write it down as you go.
- This time of year is a powerful time to dream! You can paint pictures of your dreams, gathering in circle to share your dreams with one another, or journal about them. For older kids or adults, you can have slumber party where you make a dream altar in the center of the circle and all sleep with your heads towards to middle to invite new and exciting dreams.
- Make a dark colored dessert (like brownies or gingerbread) to represent the darkness. Decorate them with bright colors to welcome the light and creativity.
- Sing songs that embrace darkness and celebrate the light. Make them up if you can't think of any. I know a few good ones I will try to post this week!
- Watch the sunset on Wednesday night, and acknowledge that the sun is setting and moving into us into the darkest night of the year. Gather on a place where you can appreciate the sun setting.
- On solstice morning, wake up early to welcome the sunrise! If you are feeling ambitious you can find your way to a hill, where you can really welcome the sun as it peaks over the horizon. Bring warm tea and snacks! You can sings song about the sun, light, and birth as you welcome the morning sun on it’s journey of increase!
- Connect to what nourishes you. The darkness, in it’s vulnerability and depth can actually bring clarity to what you need. Feel into a parts of your life that nourish you. Find a way to give gratitude to what nourishes you and invite more of it into your life. You can put an object on the altar that connects you to nourishment. Over the next few months, let it remind you to continue forward towards what nourishes you.
Let me know if you try them out and if you have any other ways you love to celebrate!
Wishing you deep rest, connection to what you love, and an easy welcoming of light.
**Many of these ideas came from a book StarHawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill called Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions