This letter brings my heartfelt wishes for a truly joyous holiday season and an abundant New Year. In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21st is the time of the longest night (it is the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere). The Winter Solstice is universally honored with lights the world over. People have burned oil lamps, candles and bonfires, and now, electric light bulbs are strung around our homes. My mother used to tell me as a child that these traditions reassured us that days of longer sunlight would be returning.
Yet there is much to appreciate in the dark. Indigenous wisdom holds that darkness is simply the other side of light and there is great creative power in the void. The following lyrics capture this:
On the longest night, we search for the light
And we find it deep within
As we open our eyes, we embrace what it wise
And see the light of our souls shining
Enter the night and you’ll find the light
That will carry you to your dreams
Enter the night; let your spirit take flight
In the field of infinite possibilities
From Lisa Thiel, Circle of the Seasons CD
The current fascination with Shamanism in this time reflects a desire to delve into that mystery. The word Shaman refers to ‘one who sees in the dark.’ There are many forms of Shamanic practices but they all include Shamanic journeying, which is traveling through other dimensions to learn great truths. It can be through conscious dreaming, through sacred plants, through using trance promoting tools such as drumming, Tibetan bowls, gonging, prolonged dancing or breathing techniques.
The best path to on-going wellbeing is to begin or increase your meditation practice, which can lead to deeper insight. The word ‘insight’ literally means to see from within. You develop awareness, which is sustained wakefulness. If you listen to a sound, such as your breath, a voice leading a meditation, chanting, drumming or Tibetan bowls; your awareness is “that which knows the sound.” You are in present moment and if your mind wanders you gently bring yourself back to focusing on the sound.
The experience of staying focused in the present moment doesn’t necessarily mean nothingness, because we often receive insight. Yet, it is the inner knowing that emerges and we are gifted with that wisdom. Of the many benefits of meditation, this is my favorite.
May you have many blessings this holiday season: the company of friends and family and also some wonderful quiet time to allow for receiving that gift of wisdom.
Blessings of the Solstice, Linda