Closure of the past and start of the new year – part 2: Winter Solstice

This is the second part of a three part series about nature connected rituals for the end of the year. If you want to learn more about the closure of the past and start of the new year, you will find that in part 1 – closing nights and part 3 – rawly nights. There is also a german version of this post.

This year, the shortest day and longest night of the year is on the 21st of December. This doesn’t only mean that – according to the calendar – now the Winter starts. It means so much more.

In Nature it means that the plants pull back to their safe and stable core, go to their roots. They trust, that whatever they have grown over the year or years is stable and durable enough to survive the winter. They decide that, because there is less energy available, they will only nourish the absolutely necessary (lebenswichtige) parts of the organism. The rest is left to their devices.

In the animal realm it is not much different. The focus is on retreat. Pack animals come closer together and use the energy and warmth of the group so that overall they need less. Lone animals look for other ways to cope with the reduced food supply. But for them it’s also necessary to conserve energy.

The meaning of winter

Winter in the wilderness often looks only like a grim fight for survival, and of course it is for the most part. But in nature, nothing happens without without also having some use as well. Therefore, there are also aspects of the winter that can be seen as positive for the animal and plant-world from a holistic perspective.

The cold, and therefore reduced food supply and low solar radiation lead to the plants and animals adapting to that changed environment with a reduced energy expenditure. With every step they take or move they make, they consider very carefully, if it is really necessary or not. This reflection and reduction to the absolute necessities is not only vital for their survival through the winter, but also strengthens the whole organism.

With a tree, you can see it very easily. For example, if the tree grew more than usual in a year, because of good conditions, the whole system of the tree might not be able to cope with that strong growth, because of the growhing nutritional needs also in the coming years. So he would wear himself out if not equipped well enough for that growth. But since winter is a part of the natural cycle, tree retracts his energies into the roots and focusses on the most essential, the survival. If single branches or twigs die off, it is not fatal to the whole lifecycle of tree and therefore negligible, and maybe even important, because then the energies can focus on less branches and strengthen them more.

But what does that mean for us?

Also for us, it is important to regularly take time out of our busy lives, to reduce our organism (in relation to profissional or other activities) to the bare essentials, in order to see more clearly what is really nessecary for survival. What we cannot live without. So if we step away from all the daily doings for a predefined part of time, our body, mind and soul can see more clearly what is really important.

Since we created certain amenities in the form of heated rooms, electrical light and the like, we removed the necessity to pause. Therefore it is our own responsibility to create those islands of peace and quiet in our daily lives. And the dark season is ideal for that.

As an inspiration, I have a few questions for you:

  • What is ist that I want to strengthen and keep, because it is vital for me?
    • and what is it that I can let perish?
  • How much energy do I need for those most vital functions?
    • and are they really all essential for my survival?
  • Where did I grow disproportional in my doing in the last year because of special circumstances?
    • and am I able to provide enough energy to those actions also in the long run?

For your reflection, you can for example write down all the answers on a sheet of paper, and then hand it over to the elements (either fire, water, earth or wind) for transformation. I personally see fire as allowing the most powerful transformation. But with the form of the ritual, there are no limits to your creativity. Everything you feel comfortable with can be used for it.

I wish you a powerful and energetic shortest day, and a transforming longest night that will strengthen the light so that it can grow and come back for the next spring.

I’d love to read about how the rituals worked for you and if you found the tipps and questions useful for your own way of spending that time. You can leave your story in the comments, or write an e-mail to office@followyourwildheart.org

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