Today is the Winter Solstice marking the point in the year when the Sun reaches its most southernly position, giving us the shortest amount of daylight. The Sun rises but barely makes it over the horizon at this time of year. I have been out most days at sunset over these past couple of weeks, taking hay to our sheep at that time, and on clear days, I have been treated to the most delightful show of pinks and light yellows.
Have you noticed the qualities of sunlight at Midwinter? It is pale, weak, fragile and hesitant. Not at all the showy, radiant, intense light of the Summer Solstice! It comes from the same source, our Sun, but we experience it differently as Earth travels around it throughout the year. It reminds me of the part of me that is shy, quiet, reserved and sensitive, an inner self that is vulnerable, easily hurt and overwhelmed.
We all have a vulnerable inner self that needs our sensitive care and attention, like a small child. Often, it can be completely swamped by more powerful and forceful selves that we developed in childhood in order to help us muddle through – and even survive - our experiences. Our society does not value vulnerability either so we quickly learn to disown our sensitive part that we judge as “too weak” or “needy”. Of course, we separate off our vulnerable self in an effort to protect ourselves from painful feelings but the outcome of that split means that our happiness is adversely affected in the long run. Not only do we get the feeling that something is missing, but also we find it hard to be creative and joyful and we lack love, kindness and compassion - towards ourselves and others.
At the time of the Winter Solstice particularly, Nature can help us reconnect with our “quiet light”: the sensitive part of us that is not at all showy or dazzling, not at all the “all singing and dancing” type but that is, by contrast, unassuming, unpretentious, modest and humble. At Midwinter, darkness still prevails and offers us the opportunity to retreat into ourselves and disengage from busy and outward-looking projects and gives us the space we need to rest. At times, we lead such busy lives and push ourselves so hard that we completely override our needs for rest and relaxation. Life can feel harsh, noisy, crowded and over-stimulating to our vulnerable Inner Child! The Winter Solstice can be a timely invitation for us to stop a while, be silent and give ourselves time and space for thought, contemplation and quiet play. The best gift you can offer to yourself!
As well as being a symbol for the Vulnerable Child within us, the pale and weak light of the Winter Solstice can also be a comforting guide, as we navigate the dark and dreary - but resourceful and regenerative - wintertime, faithfully knowing that the light is there and that it will increase in intensity when we need it to sustain new growth in the Spring.
Happy Winter Solstice!