In mythology, the waning sun was often depicted as a dying king who would be replaced after Winter Solstice by his twin brother or a newborn son. For those of us who thrive in the heat and light of summer, we can feel the pinch of being forced to hunker down inside. I'm one of those beings who can sometimes resent the colder and dimmer seasons of the year, even though I know that it is only because of winter that I can truly enjoy the rebirth ushered in with spring. However, I have learned that winter offers us a special opportunity to turn inward, and like the earth bound plants, do the good work that brings abundant blossoms in the spring.
I like to think about how we lived before we eliminated seasons in our homes. Traditionally, his was the time of year for serious sewing, repairing leather, improving the home and outbuildings, and for sharing stories and songs. It was and can be a time for self-reflection, self-care, and living close.
This is the time of the year that I like to think about those forgotten projects I keep thinking I will get to, but don't when the weather is good. This is the time I like to give myself permission to sort pictures for hours, snuggle into a huge book, work on new recipes, or try, once again, to become proficient on the guitar.
This is also a good time to go within for soul projects, as well. Journal writing, artistic activities, meditation, yoga, reading poetry or the I Ching & other mystical texts, or tracing a labyrinth board are good ways to help us turn our vision inward. This is a good time to turn down some social events or spend some quiet time in your room. This is the season for going down and within, and the earth is sharing in this process with you. Holding winter's space across the upper half of the world.
In his autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl Jung reflects that "The older I have become, the less I have understood or had insight into or known about myself....Yet there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things. In fact it seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me from the world has become transferred into my own inner world, and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself" (358-59).
What's great about the darkness is that, as the business of the external world quiets, we can hear our inner voice--inner wisdom, inner needs. In the dim light our vision softens, and we can feel what's in the remote regions of our hearts and minds--those unfamiliar places. We can hear the voices from our inner corners. We can discover them through silence, aloneness, inner vision, and then explore them through art, song, dance, writing, or by doing nothing at all. I am writing this to remind myself and hopefully inspire you to cherish the gifts of waning light, cold nights, and a warm hearth. For in the dying light we can feel the subtle pulse of our heart, refocus to our inner vision, and hear the whispers of our soul.