Updated: Aug 4, 2020
By Charlotte Pointeaux, Certified Womxn's Life Coach, Sacred Circle Holder and author of Simply Sacred Self-Care
In Australia and across the southern hemisphere it's almost Winter Solstice, the time in deep winter when we experience the longest, darkest nights and the shortest days with the fewest hours of daylight. The dark triumphs over light, nature lies dormant, having entered hibernation and rest in the cold, energy savoured ahead of a rebirth come spring.
Officially solstice occurs in the middle of the night on June 22nd 2019, and it marks the turning of the Earth away from the darkness, back towards the light when the sun begins a new solar cycle. After solstice, the days slowly begin to expand, and the darkness is replaced by the return of the light as we build once again towards longer, brighter days.
FESTIVITIES OR TOO DARN COLD?
For some people, winter isn't their most treasured time of year - the cold bites, we retreat inside much more, we miss the sun and even feel our emotions knock off kilter. We can miss the pace of summer, of socialising, being outdoors, swimming in the salty sea, and our energetic vibrancy.
This was me - always me. Growing up in the UK I hated winter - well, look I LOVED winter when November came, because it was such a festive time of celebrating, creating precious family memories around a fire and christmas tree, of the German Markets which visited annually for 6 cheery months (our winter pilgrimage into town for the ritual toasting over gluwein, steins of frothy german wheat beer, garlic potatoes and bratwurst was a real highlight of the season). And Christmas was glorious: the one time of year that my family would be guaranteed to return to the family home for at least 2 days (usually a lot longer) to just be together. Nothing else to do but eat, drink, be merry, play overly competitive board games, and linger in delightful conversation with our absolute nearest and dearest.
But January would come, and everything would come crashing down. No festivities. No cash left. Just darkness, freezing cold, depressing wet. The odd chance of snow would raise national morale for a day, before the white powder gave way to miserable slush, soaking our clothes and souls with icy cold. And the sun, it never shone. You might catch the odd glimpse out the office window but certainly not outside of work hours. The light only deigned to join us between 8am and 4pm. No wonder the darkness felt so overwhelming.
Fast forward to 2019 and we left the relatively warm winters of Sydney for the often frosty Southern Highlands, and I returned instantly every year to the memories of winter. Except here, we do have sunshine. We also have a beautiful fireplace to gather around, and the garden still feels a pleasure on a crisp winters day. However it is cold. And dark early. And so with the very real seasons of the south, I'm prompted once again to contemplate the darkness and its effects and power on me.
CHOOSING TO LOVE WINTER ANYWAY
Each month for my womens sister circle I create a theme to guide our practice and ritual gathering, and I am becoming increasingly drawn to honouring the earth's cycles and rhythms and to live in alignment with her energy. And so it was only right that this week we gathered in early June, in the last few weeks of the deepest dark, to contemplate the darkness around us, and within us, and to explore our comfort levels and ability to embrace the dark and our shadows.
In explaining the theme in circle, I talked about how the darkness it is a sacred moment to honour and rest, to feel our emotions and experience our own darkness, our shadows: the sides of our souls, beings, emotions and energies that often contain our fears, tensions, negative emotions, beliefs and traits that hold us back.
By exploring our shadows we surrender to our feelings, our heart and not head, and allow them to guide us towards our inner strength, and inner light. Shining a light into our fears, wounds, and negative beliefs, we enable seeds of new life to be born in our own internal spring. But this isn't easy work, it's often uncomfortable, sometimes confronting especially for those of us who are uncomfortable in the darkness, in dreaming, resting, slowing, with sitting in silence, or by ourselves: for those who crave to live only in the light.
Shadow work, I've discovered, is something I adore. It's my natural way. I'm always one to explore what's lurking within, beneath, to be reflective. I am learning though to be gentler, more compassionate, more at ease with what I discover lurking.
Lurking away in each of our shadows is the kingdom of our intuition. Our guiding compass which never falters from showing us our "true north". Our truth. How we really feel, what we really need. The core essence beyond what we tell ourselves we SHOULD want, need, do and be. Our intuition is always there - we just often can't hear it above the noise of daily life and 'shoulding ourselves'. There's eternal personal power in answering the call of our intuition. The ability to stand strong, raise boundaries and learn to say no when we our intuition demands us to, is one of the most powerful things we can do to know ourselves, love ourselves, and be true to ourselves.
There's so much light inside the darkness. And so we must embrace the dark to uncover the light and self- love, compassion, and the answers we seek.
In circle we expanded our exploration of our personal darkness through journalling. I created these prompts which I'd love to share with you too. You can ponder all of them, or just those which you feel most drawn to, the choice is yours. Perhaps take some time this winter ahead of solstice to reflect on your own winter experience with a hot cuppa, a quiet corner by the fireside or under a snuggly blanket, and allow your pen to do write whatever comes through.....
Honouring our past:
1. In the last year what new things have you learnt about yourself?
2. What inner strengths proved most valuable to you?
3. What are you grateful for?
Trusting the dark and return of the light:
1. When you’re feeling unsure, how can you trust more greatly in yourself and the universe?
2. How can you embrace the darkness, and your shadow?
3. What are you hopeful for?
A WINTER RITUAL
After shadow diving in our sister circle, we completed with the most beautiful winter release ritual by The Seasonal Soul here - this is so lovely, perhaps you'd like to do this after journalling too?
Digging into my dark totally helped me feel more comfortable in the cold, in slowing down. It's like I've won permission not to race around, not to feel like I 'should' be here there and everywhere, to be more present. To allow my body and mind to hibernate instead of being summer-ready all the time. And it feels like such a relief!!
A huge weight gone. And you deserve the same too lovely - slow down and rest. Cosy up, take a nap if you like. Permit yourself to lose sight of that massive to-do list, just for now. Breathe easy. And if anyone asks why you're resting up, just tell them, because nature told me to.
*Charlotte runs monthly Sister Circles for women from Moss Vale Yoga Studio in the Southern Highlands NSW- a beautifully sacred experience for women of all ages, stages and orientations to gather for spiritual reflection, heart-to-heart connection, loving support and relaxation. It's self-care meets community-care! If you're curious about joining the circle please email Charlotte to be notified of the next date*