There are gifts hidden in the bare cold and silence of the Winter Solstice that can lead you to life-changing personal insights and breakthroughs. In 2009 the Solstice begins 9:47 am PST on December 21.
Myths Teach Us
As we have learned from popular mythologist Joseph Campbell and psychologist Carl Jung, folk takes, myths and stories of gods, goddesses, heroes and villains are more than pure entertainment. They are also guidebooks, revealing universal truths about personal self-discovery and self-transcendence, about how to realize and then individualize your place in the world, in society, and about how the inner journey and outer expression nourish and enhance each other.
Jung called mythical gods and heroes archetypes, and he and Campbell believed that the archetypal stories which appear in folklore and mythology of ancient and modern cultures around the world illustrate basic psychological truths and demonstrate how to achieve emotional maturity and personal well being.
The Cycle of Seasons
Stories of gods and goddesses which have grown up around the Sun’s annual progress, whose stages are celebrated on the Solstices, Equinoxes and Cross-Quarter Days, are my particular favorites. The Sun’s annual cycle is actually much like the Moon’s monthly journey from new to full to dark and back to full.
In these stories the months from Halloween (Samhain) to Candlemas (Imbolc) are the domain of the feminine force, or the goddess. Like the Chinese yin-yang symbol, in these old stories the energies of the earth’s seasons cycle from Winter’s quiet, inner, reflective domain of the “dark” goddess (yin, right brain, creative, receptive) to, at Summer Solstice, the energetic, active and outer-directed expression of the masculine force, the god (yang, left brain, logical and positive). At the Equinoxes the masculine and feminine influences, like night and day, are balanced. Jung believed that these archetypes represented inner psychological forces which he called the anima (feminine) and animus (masculine).
Winter Solstice Meaning
The rebirth of the light, the masculine force, like the seeds which begin to sprout deep in the womb of the Earth at Winter Solstice, promises the renewal of Spring in due time. In psychological terms, the spark of light or rebirth that occurs at the Solstice moment, when the Sun’s light begins to increase again, symbolizes the power of a candle lit in a dark room. This reveals the depths of our psyches, our subconscious realms, and the gifts and challenges that are usually hidden from our consciousness there.
Here is a meditation which is especially powerful done at the actual Solstice moment in your time zone, but which is effective throughout the winter months:
Set up a sacred space where you’ll not be disturbed. Have a timer with you that you set to 30 seconds or 1 minute to use in the meditation.
Extinguish all lights but one candle. Close your eyes and imagine that you can feel the Winter rhythms of the Earth, the quiet, reflective energies which call you into the cave of your heart, into the inner realms which are hard to find during the exuberance of Spring and Summer.
Between 30 seconds to a minute before the actual Solstice moment, start your timer, then exhale completely, blowing out your candle as you exhale. Sit quietly in the dark, with your lungs empty, for 30 seconds to a minute, until the actual Solstice moment. Feel and hear the absolute stillness and silence around you, and let yourself be aware of images, insights or visions which emerge into that quiet.
Then, at the Solstice moment inhale deeply and fill yourself completely with breath, imagining that you are also inhaling that first spark of returning Light, feeling and seeing the Light illuminate every cell in your body! Then, as you exhale naturally and gently, light the candle again, imagining that you are exhaling the Light you breathed in the moment before, and that it sparks the candle.
Close your eyes again and imagine that you and the single candle are sitting in the depths of your psyche or subconscious, and take time to note what is in the room with you — gifts, challenges, spirits and memories. After you ask the depth of your being to provide you with wisdom and guidance for the coming year, open your eyes and make notes about the visions, insights and intuitions you receive.
May this meditation begin a year of blessings for you, and for our global family!
In the months ahead your insights will be very helpful.