You may be reading this in the time of the Winter Solstice (around December 21st). But if you are an introvert, it is good to read this at other times of year. Introverts need to find a space to restore their energies on a regular basis.
We are moving into the time of dreaming.
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 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 about the sun. This 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 you can feel enclosed by the darkness 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 breathe 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. You may not feel comfortable with the kind of symbols they use, so find symbols that feel comfortable to you. This is part of the renewal process. Of letting you of the old to give birth to the new.
They see this as the place of rebirth. And this is important for us in modern times. We experience so much that depletes us. Stress, anxiety, depression, emotional distress, trauma, distraction, and disturbances . And very little that deeply restores us.
This is what I am inviting you into.
So first create your space fo rebirth – this can be the darkness you’ve just imagined or you may want to create a different place that represents renewal.
As you sit in the space of rebirth, imagine a male symbol of masculine power. Traditionally this was represented as the Blade. Swords of all kinds are symbolic of the power and strength within us. They have the potential to protect and defend. They don’t need to be symbols of violence or aggression – and the Druids didn’t see them like that. They can be good at helping your to find your ability to face your challenges and to protect yourself from harm. 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. This is about being able to restore yourself, to find the energy that will enable you to meet your challenges. Again your symbol may be completely different. What is a symbol of powerful feminity to you? Trust whatever comes to you.
Allow now the two symbols you have chosen (or 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. Or anything else that feels positive to you
What they are fertilising is the “new sun” which appears the following morning. This is representing hope.
Breathe in the energy of the new sun and whatever it represents for you.
Here is a moment from a Solstice Workshop I ran many years ago, 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 their hope for the coming year.
Imagine yourself with them wrapped up warmly in the cold night looking at the fire and contemplating what the night might bring. What would you have of this union of the masculine and feminine power? What do you wish to manifest in your life? 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, which 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. Edited December 2023
© Claire Schrader
If this article has spoken to you, or there’s something you’d like to share please do leave a comment. I love to hear from you.
If you want to nurture your hopes and dreams for yourself, I suggest you check out my upcoming events or contact me, and I’ll suggest how to get started.