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.