Winter solstice

The longest nights are upon us. The darkness is deep. It accompanies us in the morning when we rise and on our evening commutes. The sun seems distant and faint. Its path in the sky is low, and its rays are weak. Even at its distance from us the sun still has a glorious luster when it shines, but even during the most glorious of our beautiful autumn days, the fact remains we have been on a slow, unrelenting path of diminishing light. Day after day we have descended more into darkness and felt the coldness and barrenness press around us.

And then… this moment… when descent reaches its conclusion.

10:27 pm (EST) last night marked a special point: the winter solstice. The moment of the northern hemisphere’s maximal distance from the sun. It’s also the point we start a gradual return into the sun’s territory. We start our ascent out of the darkness. The system turns inside out. The days now get longer; day by day the light slowly starts to build.

At the actual solstice, the sun and the earth pass through the physical orientation when they are most remote from each other: the end of the descent and the germinal start on the ascent are both present at one moment. The promise of spring is here at this moment even though the ENTIRE winter lies ahead. The most aggressive cold and snow cover are still to come but at least the light has declared its return and builds incrementally day after day. On the solstice, it is common to celebrate the resilience of the light and warmth and the promise of the return of the sun’s full physical power. The solstice mood spreads across several weeks both before and after the solstice when the physical sun is least present and the great turn towards the light is accomplished.

I think this summary of the solstice is nice, but it misses the main point!

More Than a Turning Point

We know the ancients celebrated the solstice. We might imagine they did so for this turning point and light’s victory over darkness, but I say, “Not so fast!” Their viewpoint was more sophisticated than we give them credit. I think the ancients were more connected with the bigger picture than we are. I think they had an eye for the main points.

The great turning point of the year at the winter solstice is more than just a signpost heralding better times and longer days ahead.

Ancient wisdom knows that something happens when the sun and earth are distanced from each other. A different type of solar intensity is evident when the physical power of the sun is muted on earth. The solstice is a celebration not of the promise of what is to come in the future but of what is here now, in this time.

The ancient sages taught that the sun’s physical diminishment in the winter makes way for the nonphysical spiritual power of the sun. The more and more we descend into darkness the more potent the spiritual sun’s influence and intensity toward the earth becomes.

At the solstice, the spiritual power of the sun reaches its high point on the earth.

This is what was celebrated in their ceremonies. This is why their monuments were constructed.

What is the sun’s spiritual power?

Physical and spiritual aspects exist in opposition. Where one advances, the other diminishes, and vice versa. They are polarities. The physical sun acts on us from the outside, and the spiritual aspect is active inwardly.

Where inwardly is the sun active?

The organ that is most strongly connected with the sun is the heart.

There is an inner, spiritual heart powerthat intensifies during the solstice, in the absence of the physical sun.

This is indicative of the change to a new system at the solstice. We return to the light realm after the solstice but not as the same person or to the same world from which we descended. Next year is a brand new year, with our heart’s flame creating what is to come.

The moment of the solstice and the days around it are so special because this inner aspect of the sun and its connection to our inner fire are maximally present. One’s inner flame and individual solar radiance are what we celebrate in the darkness of the winter solstice. This inner flame is aligned with a person’s inner voice, authenticity, and power to create the world anew.

Planning and reflecting

Before electric lighting, heat, and entertainment were everywhere these long cold nights meant copious time alone, under the covers, thinking. The twelve nights after Christmas connect to the solstice mood and are a focal point for connecting with the inner life and planning the year to come.  During this special time consider planning a daily ritual to check in with yourself. Plan some time writing in a journal, painting, or drawing. Plan some time in silence every day.

Anything that is in support of cultivating a relationship with yourself and your inner flame is supported at this time; inner harmony, integrity work, mindfulness, self-examination, and meditation are important. That could also mean supporting the metabolism and cleaning up the diet (sugar, caffeine, or alcohol) if it is time to get on track with that. Organic food, whole food, and fermented foods all support the microbiome and the metabolism’s flame.

Anything that is in support of cultivating a relationship with yourself and your inner flame is supported at this time; inner harmony, integrity work, mindfulness, self-examination, and meditation are important. That could also mean supporting the metabolism and cleaning up the diet (sugar, caffeine, or alcohol) if it is time to get on track with that. Organic food, whole food, and fermented foods all support the microbiome and the metabolism’s flame.

Happy Solstice, and Merry Christmas!