Preparing for Winter Solstice
“There is a tendency to want to hurry from autumn to spring, to avoid the long dark days that winter brings. Many people do not like constant days bereft of light and months filled with colder temperatures. They struggle with the bleakness of land and the emptiness of trees. Their eyes and hearts seek color. Their spirits tire of tasting the endless gray skies. There is great rejoicing in the thought that light and warmth will soon be filling more and more of each new day.
“But winter darkness has a positive side to it. As we gather to celebrate the first turn from winter to spring, we are invited to recognize and honor the beauty in the often unwanted season of winter. Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims. Let us be grateful for the wisdom winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal. Let us also encourage our spirits as Earth prepares to come forth from this time of withdrawal into a season filled with light.
“The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects of winter’s darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you.”
– Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr, The Circle of Life
This Sunday December 21st marks the shortest day and longest night of the year – Winter Solstice. In northern climates, the shifts of the season are often seen in a more pronounced way than we experience them here in the subtropics, and yet, the evidence of the turn of the wheel is still abundant all around us in Central Florida. Those of us who are plant lovers are especially attuned to this rhythm – Plantago virginica, Stellaria media, Pseudognaphalium and Fumaria all peek their head above the soil this time of year, just as Vitex agnus-castus, Callicarpa americana and Mulberry let their leaves lay to rest to nourish the ground beneath them, in response to the waning sunlight and increasing darkness.
In our technology-driven society, artificial light often drives our activities, and it can be easy to overlook the subtle shifts in day and night through this season of the year. In more northern climates, the entry into winter symbolizes a time of rest, reflection, and introspection. To honor this natural rhythm amidst the continued pace of the southern climate, set aside an evening or day to observe solstice in your own unique way. Here are some of our suggestions:
+ Observe only natural light for a day. Rely on candles indoors at night. Use this darkness to appreciate and honor all the light in your life.
+ Hold a fire ceremony by creating a small fire in your yard or fireplace. Write down on a piece of paper aspects of life, emotion, and relationships that you are ready to let go of. Release the paper into the fire as a symbolic act of transmuting that energy into something new.
+ Take time to write in your journal as a reflection of all this year has brought, and to crystallize your dreams and visions for the cycle ahead. The moment we reach Winter Solstice, the light begins to return, so Winter Solstice can be a potent time to set intention with the support of the growing light of the sun.
Join your community in honoring this beautiful cosmic event! We’ll be holding our New Moon circle which coincides with Winter Solstice this coming Sunday December 21st. We will begin the circle early to observe sunset at 5:30 pm. Haven’t been to a circle before? Visit this page to learn more.
Wanted to write this sooner but had pc issues.
Thanks for posting those winter time plant names. Like a good herb student I looked up the two I did not know and the Fumaria happens to be one I watched grow last season but did not get identified, until now…:) Last season as I learned about the chickweed in my yard, two other plants were growing with it. One grew up around the chickweed and I didn’t know what it was but I dubbed it “The guardian of the chickweed” as it seemed to be protecting it. It was at the conference last year that I learned it was wild geranium. The other plant that really took off around it was that fumaria but it was a bit later than the geranium. Now I gotta find that pseudognaphalium, don’t think I have seen that one yet….