by Jennifer Dodge
Winter solstice brings us the longest night. Here in the Northeast, the cold weather and darkness force the world to slow and drive us inside for comfort and survival. We are a part of nature, and as such, we evolved to respond to the annual, and daily, shifts between light and darkness. Our circadian and circannual rhythms are affected by the changing cycles of light and darkness. Right now, we are mired in darkness. The darkness outside can be a catalyst to bring you into awareness of your inner dark spaces.
Symbolically speaking, this darker time of year, when we’ve slowed down in the outside world, is a perfect time to turn inward. The dark and quiet present an opportunity to rest from the busyness of the physical world, and address our shadow, those darker or unhealed parts of our psyche. Darkness and shadow are a necessary part of both our natural world and our inner worlds. Darkness has become associated with the negative, but it is an important part of the turning of days and seasons.
Similarly, darkness and shadow are a normal part of everyone’s emotional life, and recognition and integration of our shadow, is an integral part of growing in self-love. Denying yourself time with your darkness, can make it difficult to find inner balance. No one can continually remain solely in a state of love and light. How can you know your light, without also knowing your darkness?
Winters can feel cold, long, and dark, so it’s important to keep in mind that as the wheel of the year turns, the light returns. The return of the light, and the lengthening hours of sunlight and increasing warmth eventually signal life to sprout from the earth, and animals to come out of hibernation. The wheel turns in our inner lives in the same way, the darkness and light will eventually balance, and as the result our growth will be abundant.
Appreciate the beauty of the shift of the balance of light in the dusk and the dawn. Find gratitude for the shift of light and darkness in yourself, as well. Snuggle up with your shadow. Let go of what no longer serves, love yourself in your darkest places, and celebrate the return to your light.
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Photo credit: Joanne Delabruere