Today (December 21st) is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year and the longest night. This day marks the beginning of the sun starting its ascent once more towards its highest point in the sky. For the Ancients, this was a sign of great hope and cheer, for it meant that despite being in the midst of winter, there was already a natural movement towards lighter days of spring. Changes were coming and new life possibilities were on the horizon!
Christmas, as many of you already know, is in fact a Festival of Light, and this time of year was celebrated as a time of great festivity long before the dawn of Christianity. These ancient celebrations were known as the Festival of Yule. Much of this was centred around the belief that the rising of the sun at Winter Solstice was a metaphor for overcoming darkness (or evil and bad situations) and the idea of re-birth. There were family gatherings and goodwill was shown towards all. Homes were decorated with evergreens to symbolise the fact that the earth never dies, but merely sleeps in winter until the green shoots of new life appear in the Spring. It was a time of feasting and merriment and the burning of great logs (known as Yule Logs) to symbolise the return of the Light.
This year, the day of the Winter Solstice will be a very special occasion for there is also a lunar eclipse on the same day and it will be the first time this has happened since 1638! (The next total lunar eclipse at this Solstice will be in the year 2485(!) – so as you can see, this is an extremely rare occurrence.) In addition, there is also a full moon, so there will be some very powerful energy around today. Solstices are always thought of as turning points; full moons are times for being in touch with your feelings and revitalising your relationship with yourself and the world; and eclipses are about letting go of the past in order to move on.
Why not try tuning into all these powerful influences and aligning yourself with them? You could do this by taking yourself through the following guided meditation:
Winter Solstice Meditation
Sit yourself down in a comfortable position (cross legged or in the lotus position if you are able to stay in it without becoming uncomfortable for about 15-20 minutes.) Otherwise, sit in a chair with cushions supporting your back and your feet placed flat and firmly on the ground.
Keeping your back straight and your shoulders relaxed, spend a few moments just noticing the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out.
Close your eyes and bring to mind the darkness of winter. Imagine a dark winter’s night with a large moon shining up in the sky. See the snow-covered landscape and the darkness of bare branches against the light of the moon.
Imagine the darkness as a cloak which is warm and protective. The more you embrace the darkness, the warmer and more comfortable it becomes. Feel its womb-like protection, embrace the safety it gives you. You’re in a cradle of security, where you can grow and unfold into your true self. Enjoy being there in the darkness. Nothing can harm you. All is well.
Then little by little, let yourself become aware of the light of the moon. Gentle moonbeams are lighting up your darkness. The silver light grows in intensity, filling you up and surrounding you. Allow your whole being to be filled with its light. Feel your mind getting clearer and clearer and your spirits getting lighter and lighter.
Allow the silver light to change to gold and then to a warm pink. Then place both your hands on your heart and enjoy the warmth of your hands for a few moments. Come back slowly and notice how you are feeling.