Winter Solstice


It is winter. We are moving through the earth’s annual cycle towards the Winter Solstice. This year the actual moment of the solstice is December 22nd at 04:48. This is the time when the sun is at its most southerly point after which it will gradually return northwards and the days will start to lengthen. The moment of the solstice has been marked and venerated by our ancestors as the true turning point of the year. It is a time when the veil between the visible and the hidden worlds is thin, when journeys and meditations are particularly powerful, when insights and visions come to us almost unbidden. Magic is in the air.

If we are following the Medicine Wheel the time of the Winter Solstice is when we are most connected to the earth element, to death, to the long hibernation of suspended animation, to that moment of stillness between the outbreath and the inbreath. We eat more root vegetables, hearty soups and stews, stored seeds and nuts, we snooze by the fire, only venturing outside for more logs. It is a time of storytelling, songs and poems or simply listening to the wind, glad not to be out in it.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREWhile we have all four elements as part of our makeup, earthy people have a particular body type; giants or dwarfs, eg Monty Don, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny De Vito. Earth mothers are the female version of this. Earthy types are practical, realistic, steady and reliable; they have their feet on the ground. However, if too embedded in the earth they can be fearful of change, conservative and literally stuck in the mud. Their resistance to change can manifest in depression, inertia and hopelessness, and they have to work hard to make necessary changes so that their lives progress healthily.

Plants associated with Winter Solstice are; Yew, Holly, Mistletoe, Snowdrop (slightly later but still part of the transition). Animals are the herbivores, often herd animals. The earth elementals are the Gnomes – if you are looking for help with any kind of physical change, the Gnomes are who you go to.

On a Solstice Shamanic journey a few winters ago I found myself under the roots of an ancient Yew watching the earth elementals. The Gnomes were not what I was expecting; they were thin, wiry little beings, always moving, always working. What they were doing was taking all the deaths, all the little endings and reforming them like clay into new life and new beginnings. The learning I took from this journey was that the Gnomes need our deaths, they need our endings to create new life. Death is a necessary part of life, it is an ending, but it provides the raw material from which new life emerges.

As we hunker down this Winter Solstice, I would invite you to pay particular attention to your night time dreams and your day dreams too and enjoy the long sleep, waiting for Spring.