The winter solstice takes place on the 21st of December and marks the shortest day of the year, signalling the return of the sun. Traditionally, this day has been a time for reflection so in this blog I shall be discussing the significance of winter and how light is now slowly returning to the world.
For those suffering with SAD, low mood, anxiety or stress, Christmas can be a mixed bag. Whilst some people love it, others find it challenging and it can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It’s interesting to draw a comparison between this and what is happening out in nature at this time of year. In terms of light, the period of time between the end of October and 21st December is the darkest. Plants have been dying back or retreating into the earth as the colder, darker times allow for little outer growth. Similarly, people tend to retreat inside physically and often become more internally reflective at this time of year. To some, this is a welcome respite and a time for incubating new ideas. To others, it can be a dark and difficult place to go.
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, with the least amount of daylight hours. Traditionally, the Solstice was a time of year to stop, look back and reflect on the year. All can appear quiet and still out in gardens, fields and woodlands but it’s worth remembering that there is plenty of activity underground as nutrients are sent deep into roots and bulbs to prepare for new life.
The Winter Solstice is known as the return of the light, because from this day forward, instead of retreating, the sun is growing towards its peak again (the Summer Solstice) and the daylight hours begin to increase. When people lived more closely to the seasons, this was thought to be the beginning of the active cycle of the year as shoots and buds start to appear in response to the increasing levels of light.
Why tell you all of this? When things seem dark and stuck, it is always worth remembering that life is ever changing even when it is not immediately obvious. The light always returns. Staying close to nature and observing the cycles of the year can be a helpful reminder to us to allow for change, seek new growth and trust that brighter times always come around again.
Why not use the Winter Solstice to reflect on what the return of the light means to you and what you might like to cultivate and watch grow as the daylight hours increase again. Perhaps go out early into nature on the Winter Solstice and celebrate with gratitude the bounty and beauty that our Earth provides.
As our Founder, Alfred Vogel so wisely stated, ‘To find true quality of life, live as far as possible in harmony with the creator and nature and be aware of nature’s power.’