December in Minnesota is a perfect example of Yin and Yang. The short, dark winter days combined with the quiet beauty of a blanket of snow personify Yin. Add Yang energy with glowing holiday lights that brighten and twinkle, and you have a season of Yin and Yang. In balance, Yin and Yang contribute to the beauty we so enjoy at this time of year.
But just about the time holiday fervor is threatening to create an imbalance of Yang energy, along comes the Winter Solstice. The word “solstice” is Latin for “sun-stand still.” The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year and represents the official beginning of winter. Yin energy reinstates itself!
Saturday, the 21st of December, I attended a Winter Solstice celebration, and in so doing, connected with the energy of other cultures around the world that have celebrated solstice festivals since ancient times.
This year, I joined a gathering of eight women at a mutual friend’s home. While not everyone knew each other, the camaraderie was instant. We shared delicious food as we engaged in “getting to know you” talk. Then we settled in to focus on the purpose of getting together: acknowledging the Solstice and sharing gratitude. Our hostess first invited each of us to shine a light on what we were grateful for in 2013. A candle was lit, bringing light to the darkest day of the year. As the softly glowing candle was passed from one woman to the next, intimate stories of healing and insights were shared. Each person talked about challenging and difficult times experienced this year and how those darkest of times brought the greatest lessons learned. The light shone brightly for each of us on gratitude for the subsequent insights, wisdom and understanding gleaned from those lessons.
After sharing gratitude, we participated in a solstice tradition of writing on a piece of paper what we wanted to release before entering the new year: arrogance, ego, selfishness, poor health, self-doubt, negative thoughts and so on. These pieces of paper were then tossed into a fire to be set free. This ritual provides a powerful sense of release.
I am grateful for friends who afford me an opportunity, in the midst of the holiday rush, to take time to pause and acknowledge the transition to a new season, to appreciate nature’s celestial beauty and wisdom, to speak my gratitude in the presence of others and to symbolically release what did not serve me well in 2013.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer
Happy Solstice! Happy Holidays!