As we’ve passed the Autumnal Equinox, the nights are getting longer and longer. We can feel the chill of winter begin to creep into the air. We are nearing the dark time of the year.
In the natural world, the squirrels are gathering nuts for the winter. The hedgehogs are gorging themselves, building up fat reserves to nourish them through the long dreaming days of hibernation.
As humans, how can we prepare ourselves for the dark time of the year? How can we live more deeply in harmony with the seasons and grow and shift along with the Earth?
If we take nature as our guide, we can see that the dark of the year is a time for rest. Like the trees releasing their leaves and the animals hibernating, we can simplify our lives, let go our distractions and focus our attention inward.
The stillness that fills the world in winter provides us with a chance to explore our own interior worlds so that we can learn about ourselves, our spiritual gifts and our purpose in the world.
Many people in the modern world keep very busy. In our fast-paced, technological world, we are often taught to keep moving, keep doing, to fill our minds with new information every second. But the rhythm of the natural world is motion and stillness, action and rest, day and night.
The Darkness as a Nurturing Force
We are sometimes taught to fear darkness, to fear stillness, to fear the quiet, still, resting night inside of us. The gathering dark of the year is an invitation for us to challenge these fears and enter more deeply into our own souls.
In order to move through our fears, we may need to let go of our old stories about darkness being evil or harmful.
Try instead to think of darkness as something natural, as necessary as the rhythm of day and night. Imagine darkness as the wide open sky, full of mystery and possibility. Imagine darkness as the safe, enclosed space of the womb, nurturing that which is small and growing and not yet ready to emerge into the light. Think of the darkness beneath the soil, nurturing tiny seeds.
Get in Touch With Yourself in Winter
Held by the sheltering darkness of winter, what do you hear? Can you listen to the soft, wise voice of your own intuition? This is an excellent time of year to strengthen your connection to that voice. Consider beginning to work with a new divinatory tool, such as runes or the Tarot.
You may also want to start a daily practise of listening. This could be as simple as setting aside ten minutes every morning to sit in quiet meditation. If you’re interested in doing so, all you need to do is find a comfortable place to sit. Focus your attention on your breathing. If troubling thoughts or emotions emerge, allow them to pass through your mind like clouds blowing across the sky. This practise can create a deep calm within you, mirroring the calm, reflective nature of the world in winter.
The dark half of the year, with its long nights, is also an excellent time to explore dreamwork. Your dreams can reveal the depths of your own heart to you, and may also contain the seeds of spiritual wisdom and glimmers of the future. The nights also provide ample space to explore spiritual realms.
In the quiet of the winter, it can be easier to hear the voices of spirit guides, guardian angels and spirit animals. You can tap into conversations with these beings through practises such as shamanic journeying, guided visualisations and prayer.
Friends, Warmth and Light
While you’re venturing into the hidden spaces within yourself and into the spirit world, it’s important to keep one foot in physical reality. You don’t want to get lost in the vast, wide darkness. As the Equinox reminds us, there is a need for balance between dark and light.
You need to cultivate some warmth and light along with the solitary introspective dark.
One excellent way to do so is to create a winter circle of friends. You could meet once a week or once a month to share food, laughter, and stories. Such a group could be a place to share your experiences of wandering in the dark, and a place to recount the beautiful treasures you find there.
By Allison Grey
[StormJewel] Thanks Allison for that great article, it’s really inspiring to me as someone who feels the cold and loves the light of summer! This serves as a reminder to me that as Pagans it’s important to embrace natures rhythms and it’s clear that if we learn to love the changing of the seasons we will find it very rewarding!
Do you prefer winter or summer? What things do you like to do in winter? Let us know below!