If ever there was a day of the year calling out for ceremony and celebration it’s the winter Solstice, December 21st. The shortest day of the year and the longest night, it’s followed by the gradual lengthening of the days, the return of the sun.
An organic and indigenous holiday not trivialized by materialism and Hallmark greeting cards, the Solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years on all continents—in Antarctica beginning with penguins who were later imitated by overwintering researchers—by ancestors as a reflection of their conscious participation with the rhythms of the natural world and their sacred orientation toward existence. It’s the epitome of restorative practice.
The Solstice offers a perfect opportunity to link nature-based practice with mindfulness, gratitude, and community. Even the simplest, homemade ceremonies on such an occasion can help connect us to ancestors, the earth, and the energy that makes life possible. It could be a bow to the rising and the setting sun, a night walk with a prayer for the sun’s return, a few extra moments before eating a meal to appreciate the sun and earth, the processes, and all the beings that make that meal possible. Such ceremonies are as meaningful as we make them.
Ceremonies are a way to step into the flow of the universe, the Tao. They are a given within the life-affirming worldview of people the world over and one way we can undermine the life-denying worldview internalized as a fundamental aspect of industrialized society. May you have a restorative and joyful Solstice.
I’ll close with words from D.H. Lawrence that have been inspiring me for a long time:
“Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and equinox! This is what is the mater with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of Life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table.”