Celebrating Light and Darkness during the Winter Solstice

During this time of the year, where the days are short, and the darkness reigns, we take time to turn inward and become more introspective. Honoring the natural cycles and rhythm of the earth is innate. Going along with the earth’s natural rhythms is what many creatures this time of year do, as animals fatten up and hibernate during the long winter months, with the deep inner knowing of the return of life and light on the other side of the darkness. 

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The ancient significance of the Winter Solstice 

For centuries, many ancient cultures celebrated the Winter Solstice as the rebirth of the light and often the birth of a god that would bring enlightenment. All over the world, cultures separated by time and great distances built structures that aligned with the sun on the solstice such as the Great Pyramids or Stonehenge. It’s also no coincidence that many religious traditions celebrate the birth of a god or goddess near the time of the solstice. 

Saint Lucia, the Goddess of Light, adorned with a crown of candles is honored this time of year in Scandinavia to carry people through the darkness. The Egyptian Sun God Horus, The Japanese Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu, and the Indian Queen of Heaven Sarasvati are all celebrated during the solstice. Although vast differences separate these traditions, the winter solstice remains central in many spiritual beliefs and shows us that there’s a universal significance to the timing of these celebrations. Aside from the religious or spiritual traditions, the winter and summer solstices are significant natural holidays celebrated by humans for millennia.

The Balance of Dark and Light

Depending on your beliefs, this can be a spiritual time, or the relaxing recharge you need before the New Year begins. While taking more time for stillness, we contemplate the balance of darkness and light within ourselves. This time of year is about embracing the darkness while celebrating the turning point where we will now begin to get a little more light each day. We are coming out of the darkness so to speak. The winter solstice is the time to honor the gifts of the darkness while celebrating the journey back towards the light within. 

But before we call back the light into our celestial rodeo we honor those important aspects of the darkness. For so many people the holidays and this dark time of the year can bring on sadness and depression. Create a space for the sadness and bring forth those emotions in a place of stillness to surrender them to be transformed by the oncoming light. To do this you may want to write about them in your journal or write them on slips of paper which you can burn in your Yule fire. Release your anger, regrets, and resentments to the darkness or to your own.

At the same time, we’re experiencing the dark and heavy aspects of the season, we also find balance in the light. It’s this time of year that we light candles, build fires, and decorate our houses with twinkling lights. With our instinct to turn towards the light in this time of darkness, it’s also a time to turn toward the light within. The stillness in nature evokes a stillness within ourselves to stop and listen, and examine our connection to spirit and purpose. 

What is the spark inside of you that gives you your light? How can you grow that light? When we shine our light on the world it brings out the light in others, and in a way, we all add to the increasing light in the world. Even with the best of intentions, we sometimes end up getting caught up in the movements of spending, shopping, going, eating, and rushing. Maybe, with the right inspiration and preparation, we can begin to move toward the core of what this season is about, in a simpler, natural, and intuitive way, and we can create a deeper connection to the more important things in our lives.