As each day closes we are aware of the darkness descending, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Maybe our sleep gets deeper, and our dreams become more vivid. Or we awake each morning knowing we have been somewhere in the night, scarcely remembering our dreams, we just know we’ve been somewhere deep and dark.
This is an important time so let yourself sleep and let yourself dream….
It is the time of the Winter Solstice – of the sun standing still – this is what “solstice” means. Except of course the sun is always still – it is just us that moves – which shows us how unreliable our perceptions are, and how mistaken we can be sometimes about the real nature of the way things are.
A Winter Solstice Journey
Let me take you on a journey into this darkness, so it can be a place of renewal for you where you can restore any depleted energies.
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Breathe down into your body and let go of everything with your out-breath. Breathe in the darkness.
Take your imagination to a place that is somewhere bleak and dark, maybe a cave or somewhere where the blackness is complete, and where you can feel enclosed by the darkness that is all around you. Notice how the darkness is holding you, creating a womb of safety.
What is the Power of Darkness
In the druid rituals the Druids asked: “What is the power of darkness? what are the fears that still linger in us? The claws of unknowing?”
Let yourself be in a place with everything you don’t know – and let go of everything you do know. Allow yourself to be completely empty…. utterly empty.
One of the things the Druids knew was that where there is the greatest power and potential there is also the greatest fear. In their rituals, they honoured this fear – they let themselves experience it.
So let yourself breath into any fear that is within you, let yourself be with it, let yourself be okay with it, embrace it, hold it. It is this fear that will take you forward and it will try to stop you because your ego will try to stop you from going into this fear. But in fact if you are fearing something right now, this is what you need to move towards. So see within the fear and just let its true nature reveal itself.
And now with your breath, breathe deeply into the darkness and the fear and the unknown. What is the creative possibility that lies within the darkness of the earth, the womb of nature – in this place of rebirth? Be open to what comes into your mind.
If you can let yourself go down in this darkness, there will be a point in which the renewal process will be triggered in the same way as the seeds in the earth begin to sprout in the dark, damp earth. The seeds of this renewal, this new birth are deep within you – they are waiting, sitting there. They are beginning to sprout even as you read this. Welcome them.
Masculine and Feminine Power
The Druids celebrated the symbols of male and female power at this point in their Winter Solstice Ceremony. This was a very important aspect of the event so as you sit in the space of rebirth, imagine a male symbol of masculine power. Traditionally this was represented as the Blade, a symbol of masculine potency and gallantry, which also had the potential to protect and defend. Your symbol may be very different. Trust whatever comes to you.
Imagine now a symbol of feminine power. This was traditionally represented as the Chalice, the sacramental cup in Christian tradition that receives the wine – that is sought after in the legends of the Holy Grail. The Chalice is receiver, it holds the nectar of life. Again your symbol may be completely different. Trust whatever comes to you.
Allow now the two symbols you have chosen (the Chalice and the Blade) to come together in your mind. See how they might be connected. In the druid rituals mistletoe was used to fertilise the union of masculine and feminine. The fluid within the white berries was compared to semen and was seen as having fertilising power. (This is how the tradition of kissing beneath the mistletoe emerged, a powerful fertility rite. If you kiss someone this Christmas under the mistletoe you might notice how different it feels, now you know its true meaning!) Imagine the mistletoe being held over your two symbols, fertilizing them with its ancient power.
Here is a moment from my recent Solstice Workshop where participants created a celebration of ancient masculine and feminine power.
The New Sun
The Druids would traditionally stay up the whole night. They would experience the darkness, they would light the fire and stare into the flames musing on things of power and potential.
Imagine yourself with them wrapped up warmly in the cold night looking at the fire and contemplating what thr night might bring. What would you have of the union of the masculine and feminine power? What do you wish to be conceived? Just let yourself dream …. let your wishes and desires float into your mind, they might appear as symbols that you scarcely understand or as powerful gut feelings…
Now see the darkness getting lighter lighter lighter lighter…and lighter as daybreak comes. You are standing in a place where you can see the sun coming up. You see the light in the horizon but you can’t see the sun quite yet but you feel it is coming. Feel that expectation and hope for this new sun. This is a winter sun so it not strong like in the summer.
The sky gets lighter and lighter. Then there is a moment as you are watching the horizon, you can see the little golden orb just beginning to rise above the horizon. Feel the joy of seeing it slowly move up in the sky, this new sun rising…. up and up and up.
It is time to celebrate the arrival of this new sun, that is the bringer of new beginnings. It will feed the seeds that you have planted and will bring forth your wishes for the coming year. Imagine the little shoots of your wishes beginning to sprout as the solstice sun warms them.
Traditionally this was the time when the Druids would celebrate. They would sing and dance, and share food together. Allow yourself to imagine and participate in your own celebration of this new sun arriving.
When you are ready light a candle to symbolise the new sun bringing forward your wishes and intentions.
May this be a time for you to transform darkness, fear and contraction into creative potential.
© Claire Schrader 2011
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