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The Gifts of Darkness: An Invitation for Self-Care and Connection

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Image by Catherine Hyde

Image by Catherine Hyde

During the Winter Solstice we experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. This time of extended darkness (the longest of the year) can bring about mixed feelings depending on your situation. For some, having longer nights brings about little disruption to daily life. However for others, this time can brings discomfort on many levels.  In either case, the Winter Solstice can serve as a time to ground and honor where we have been, and where we would like to go.

Darkness of all sorts serves a purpose. Seasonally, the darkness allows for rest and rejuvenation. Emotionally, the darkness can facilitate a stillness we can harness to turn inwards, dream, connect, and reflect. Like the plants that feed on the sun’s energy, so do we need a break from the light. This break brings about balance, rest, and an opportunity for deep connection to ourselves. Dreams are born here in this place of darkness. The Winter Solstice becomes an invitation to access these gifts that darkness brings by taking a pause, turning inward, reflecting on what is, and birthing dreams of what can be.

The day after the Winter Solstice, we begin to see longer days, and shorter nights. We slowly begin to feel more of the sun’s light and energy allowing us to move forward from our dream state. In these days after the Winter Solstice, we can be in the planning stage of manifesting our newborn dreams, and begin to take action on bringing them to light.

I also like to think of this time as a reminder that, no matter how dark our days, there is the promise of light. When in the darkness, it can be hard to imagine anything different. However nature always serves as a living example of how life works.

If time allows, I invite you to take this opportunity to connect with yourself, especially if you are about to step into holiday festivities where you will be surrounded by family and/or friends. A moment of connection in any manner (prayer, mediation, silence, journaling, etc.) is a beautiful way to practice self-care as it can really help ground you before stepping into relationships with others. The added bonus is: others then get the best you available.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, this year’s Winter Solstice will be on December21 or 22 (for your exact day/time go to: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html).

Here are some suggestions on ways to acknowledge the Winter Solstice and connect with yourself:

 Simple Activities:

  • Make a big pot of soup rich with grounding vegetables (i.e. potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables) and warm spices. If possible, eat early

  • Drink warm liquids, ideally something sweet, spicy and grounding like chai

  • If you have a fireplace, light a fire and spend time in prayer, mediation, or silence

  • Light those special candles you have been saving (use fire-safe precautions)

  • Spend time in contemplation through journaling, drawing, or other creative outlet. Explore your year and write down what you’d like to see in the new year.

  • Hang an evergreen wreath on your door (evergreens are a symbol of protection, prosperity, renewal, and the continuation of life)

 Rituals:

 Intention Setting Ritual:

  1. Clear the space by smudging sage, or by noise through clapping or ringing a bell 3 times.

  2. In silence, settle into your body by taking a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

  3. Allow yourself to let go of the day’s thoughts and worries.

  4. Ask yourself, “What do I want to manifest in the next six months?”

  5. When you have several intentions, write them down on small pieces of paper.

  6. As these intentions come into being, place them into a container. In 6 months, open your container to review what dreams you manifested.

You can also do this ritual at every New Moon and collect manifested dreams throughout the year. At the end of the year, open your container to review what dreams you manifested.

 Releasing Ceremony:

This ceremony is best done out doors, or indoors using a fireplace. An indoor option is also offered in the instructions.

  1. Light a fire outdoors in a grill or fire pit, or use an indoor fireplace.

  2. Light candles and clear the space by smudging sage, or by noise through clapping or ringing a bell 3 times.

  3. In silence, settle into your body by taking a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

  4. Allow yourself to let go of the day’s thoughts and worries.

  5. Ask yourself, “What do I want to release? What does not serve me?” This can include habits or patterns that get in the way of manifesting your intentions.

  6. On small pieces of paper write down what you want to release. At the end of each item write “Be Gone!”

  7. Read each item out loud (or to yourself silently) and toss them, one by one, into the fire. If indoors you can use a fireplace, use s shredder, or cut into small pieces using scissors.

  8. Give gratitude for new beginnings and the light that is on its way.

 Welcoming the Light Ceremony:

  1. Place one large unlit candle at the center of the table, and several smaller unit candles (such a tea light candles) near you.

  2. Turn off all the lights and spend a moment in darkness, as a symbol of honoring the gifts of darkness and welcoming the light.

  3. Light the large candle and offer a blessing.

  4. One by one, light each small candle from the main flame and place each one in a circle or spiral around the main one.

  5. When all candles are lit, give gratitude for new beginnings and the light that is on its way.

Are you a woman who would you like deeper, more personalized guidance in letting go of what no longer serves you, and bringing in more of what you do want into your life? I offer 1:1 coaching programs designed to help women release emotional blocks, and step into their power and voice. To apply go to: http://www.medicinanepantla.com/#!strategy-session-request/s57j1

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