winter solstice: letting go

Solstice1

Today is the first day after winter solstice. My favourite day of the year.

The winter solstice, for many around the world, is a time to turn inward and reflect on our lives, grieve our losses, and create a vision for the upcoming year.

It is the rebirth of the light and warmth, and, of our own creative force.

Known as Yule, rooted in pagan traditions and symbolized by the wheel, the solstice is known as the “seed time of year”, a time of rebirth, hope, and creation. There is a tradition of fire festivals- burning the “old” and making space for the new.

It is a time to set an intention for the upcoming solar year. Many of us do this already on New Years day- January 1st on the calendar year- in the form of resolutions. I am no history major, but it seems to be that the two must be linked. From doing a little reading online this morning, New Years celebrations and resolutions seem to be an ancient phenomenon.

The Babylonians back in 2000 BC– celebrated the “new year” in March, linked to spring and the beginning of the harvest year and they made promises to their gods at this time. The Romans- who also originally celebrated the New Year closer to spring until they linked it to January 1st, which corresponded to the god of Janus; the god of change and beginnings, also made promises to be better people.

I do not wish to ruffle any feathers but from the looks of it a lot of the other traditions we have around this time of year pre-date Christianity, such as lighting fires, sharing food, giving gifts, and generally being festive.

It is a meaningful time of year for many reasons, is the point. This time of year can be particularly painful for many of us, especially those who have lost loved ones, as tradition calls for us to be with the ones we love. My own dad passed away many many moons ago, but it can still be a tough time year for me as I grieve the loss of the cultural ideal of what a family is supposed to be.

But I choose to celebrate this time of year for what it is. Part of the cycle of nature and life. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year and the longest night. With the coming light and warmth I give myself the chance of renewal.

I do believe in setting intentions for the new year – creating a vision, although I’m not really a “goal-setter” anymore. My partner and his son and I usually write on a piece of paper something that we would like to manifest in the upcoming year, and burn it in the fire on the winter solstice. This year I will set my intentions based on what feelings I want to have more of in my life. Based on what feels good. Mishedup wrote a great post about coming up with a word of the year that guides her for the New Year- a fabulous idea. I like the idea of simplifying it down to one concept as I’ve usually had several and I usually end up forgetting about them.

But, more importantly, at this time of year, I try to connect to the idea of letting go. I light a candle to remember and then let go of my struggles. I let go of my grief, my turmoil, the thoughts of what life “should be”. I try to let go of all that stuff so I can make room for the new. Or just to make room for the present moment too.

Since I have gotten sober, and started meditating, I am starting to become more aware of my thoughts. I catch myself sometimes as my brain goes into overdrive and I realize that I don’t have to stay on the run-away train that is my mind. I am not my thoughts. I can just let it go. I am learning to let go of addiction, of craving, of self-sabotage.

As this part of the world moves from darkness to light, I wish the same for you.

May you be happy,

May you be healthy,

May you be at ease.

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11 thoughts on “winter solstice: letting go

  1. I love winter solstice and in my home city of Brighton they have a big winter solstice festival where the children make paper lanterns that are paraded through the city in a procession leading to the beach where they are all thrown onto an enormous bonfire and burned while fireworks explode overhead. If you Youtube Burning the Clocks there’s some great video footage of it and I miss it now I don’t live there xx

    • Wow that sounds so cool. I have been to Brighton once- great place! I love the idea of lanterns and a bonfire for celebrating Solstice. Sounds very cool, I’ll check out the video!

  2. I love your thoughts about tying it into the solstice.
    I have my word…so maybe i’ll do a private ceremony and start today, announcing it on the first because that seems to be my tradition, at least!
    A hint tho..metta, loving/kindness is part of mine too.
    That is my favorite meditation, and I always throw all you sober blogger friends into it when i do it!

    • I still haven’t decided on my word- I have a few floating around in my brain. For solstice, i just wrote a few ideas down and burned them all.
      Yeah- I am loving the loving kindness meditation right now. Practicing it towards others and towards myself during meditation. I find it really powerful to practice it towards people that I find challenging.

  3. A beautiful post, and a nifty history lesson :). I lost my Dad in 1998, I miss him every day, but as you said it is a tough time of year. I love that you use the word “intentions” instead of “resolutions” for New Years; I think I shall use it too. My mind wanders into overdrive too, and I like to say I wish my brain had an “off” switch for those times. I hope you have a lovely, peaceful holiday. xx

    • I wish I had an off switch too! But I am finding that if I can catch myself and tell myself to stop it is helping 🙂
      Sorry about your dad… It is so hard to lose a close family member. it gets easier with time but still hurts. even after all these years.
      Hope you have a great holiday too!

  4. I love this post, Clearlee. You have articulated many of my thoughts over the last few months of not drinking ….the ideas of letting go of the struggles, the resentments, the “should be”s, the not getting caught up by the run-away mind … and yet somehow I have really lost track of all this in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so this has been a really timely reminder for me. I love the way that you tie these ideas up with the winter solstice – I too believe there is something special about reaching that shortest day, and reminding ourselves that it does not keep on getting darker forever, but that the sun will return. Wishing you much peace and joy for 2015. xx

    • It’s cool isn’t it, how it seems to be easier to work through stuff and sort out struggles when sober. Although it’s still a major work in progress, I really find that I have more control over my mind than I used to. Before I was just too shitty all the time! Too hard.
      Solstice is so special! Reminds me of our connection to nature and the universe. The cycle of life. Something bigger than just us humans 🙂
      Wishing you the same, MTM! xo

  5. Love this Lee…I don’t know anything about the Winter Solstice, but I learned something here! I really enjoyed what you said about letting go, and release and the new cycle of things. I am not a “goal setter” either. I picked a word this past year (a la Mished Up – she inspired me too) and I was amazed how it manifested itself for me this year (it was “patience”). Sounds like you’re getting into a more serene place, lee. That’s fantastic – I remember you not being quite there when we first “met”…lol. All our brains are hyper, especially early on. I still need meditation and stillness. Always will. That’s how I connect to my HP and my inner conscious.

    Thank you for this – just loved it.

    Paul

    • Omg, when we first “met” I was a total mess! I am definitely getting into a more serene place. Grateful for it every single day.
      Patience is a great word! so many good ones to choose from- hard for me to narrow it down. I used to set a lot of goals but it I don’t like having my life planned out and always focused on the end result. I’m all about the journey and placing more emphasis on how I feel each day.
      Thanks for stopping by as always Paul 🙂

  6. Such beautiful, introspective thoughts on the progression of seasons, in the world and within ourselves. Letting go, wow. I wonder why I tend to need permission to do this. Your ritual of letting go, of allowing yourself to let go, is inspiring. Thank you.

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