Winter Solstice takes place on December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. From our vantage point here in the dark, things can seem quite unsettling. Much is unknown, tensions are high, the stakes are high. Although Winter Solstice is traditionally marked with celebrations of light to honor the lengthening of days and return of the sun, I am inspired by Vera de Chalambert's essay on being with darkness in the collective Dark Night of the Soul in America. She writes,
Before we rush in to reanimate the discourse of hope prematurely, we must yield to what is present. Receptivity is the great quality of darkness; darkness hosts everything without exception. The Dark Mother has no orphans. We must not send suffering into exile — the fear, the heartbreak, the anger, the helplessness all are appropriate, all are welcome. We can’t dismember ourselves to feel better.
This Solstice in honor of the Dark Mother, the divine feminine principle of potential and possibility, the mother of compassion and ruthless dismantling of broken structures, may we dissolve our fearful associations with darkness and learn to be with it. May we create space to allow for the exiled emotions of turmoil to move through. May we come to reconcile with the discomfort of feeling unsettled in the unknown darkness before calling back the light. In the darkness of these waning days of 2016, I offer two meditations, on going into darkness and bringing back the light.
Inspired by Vedic Enter the Darkness meditation, the intention is to enter the darkness within as a well of receptive potential and the source of existence.
Step 1 (20 minutes): Sit or lie down comfortably and close your eyes. With our eyes closed, our attention goes within. The internal landscape becomes available to us, in images or words, in feelings or thoughts. As you become aware of these, blanket them in darkness. Let the inner darkness be the focal point and allow this to expand. The intense darkness within is the same potential energy as within your mother's womb, and this darkness contained the potential that became your causal body, the energetic space surrounding your physical body. Stay with the intense darkness, and if your mind wanders just bring it back. Be with the darkness.
Step 2 (5 minutes): Open your eyes and bring your inner darkness outside of you. With your eyes open, see the same potential space that you saw in the intense darkness within.
The Winter Solstice is an ideal time for dream-seeding and intention-setting, and for working with fire as a transformative element. If possible, light a fire in a fireplace or fire pit, or work with a candle in a glass as a focal point of meditation. Scrying is a method of meditation using an object such as a candle flame to focus the mind and allow the gaze to soften. Relax and allow the flames from the candle to draw your attention deeply. Soften your gaze to allow the second attention to come to the forefront. Second attention is awareness of non-ordinary reality, allowing for access to the unconscious and connection with sources of support and guidance. Allow this awareness to open you to dreams and intentions for the year to come.
Blessings on your Solstice and new year!
For more mind-body meditations in a structured self-care survival toolkit, sign up for my 6-week 2017 Radical Self Care program beginning January 5th.