Honouring the Rhythm of the Year
Most people’s days have a clear rhythm maybe beginning with a shower, breakfast, commute to work or school and the daily tasks that ensue from that. We also have weekly rhythms with the weekend following a different pattern to the weekdays. Women may be aware of their monthly cycle and the changes in their mood and energy over the course of their cycle.
The Yearly Rhythm
Most people in the Western world live a largely indoor lifestyle following the same routine throughout the year ignoring the annual cycle of the earth’s orbit around the sun and the changing temperatures, hours of daylight and colours that this brings. Paying attention to the seasons, marking the spring and autumn equinox, and the summer and winter solstice, honouring the new moon and full moon are all ways to feel closer to the natural world and the rhythms of the earth and the solar system beyond.
This year the winter solstice falls on the 21st December. This marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. You will notice that much of the natural world has a period of dormancy around this time before bursting forth as the days become longer. Many people turn inwards as the days shorten, feeling a greater need for introspection and stillness.
Our Western cultures barely recognise this need, instead expecting everyone, regardless of beliefs or cultural heritage, to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and all the commercialism and over-indulgence that that entails.
For thousands of years midwinter has been considered a sacred time of ritual, reflection and renewal. Midwinter celebrations date back to long before Christianity; indeed, it is likely that the early Christians chose this time to celebrate the birth of Jesus because it was already a special time. It’s normal to feel sorrow or melancholia as some things come to an end along with the year just passed. But remember, there are no endings without beginnings and new opportunities. Rituals involving candles and fire are often used as reminders of the sun that will return as a unifying source of light and life.
With a bit of preparation it’s possible to enjoy the togetherness that this time of year can bring without ransacking the planet’s resources and still allowing time to honour the beauty and stillness of the season and to renew our relationships with ourselves and with each other. Being together with loved ones of different generations reminds us that we belong to something bigger than ourselves, that we are part of a tribe that was here before us and will continue after we have gone.
Time for Reflection
There are many opportunities for feasting and feeding of the physical body but don’t forget to take some time to nourish the soul and feed the spirit.
This is a perfect time to evaluate your life, reflect on the year gone by and to consider what you want to keep and what you would like to change in the coming months or years.
One ritual that can harness the power of the season is to write down all that is no longer serving you and that you would like to let go. Once you’ve written everything down put the piece of paper into a fire and watch as the flames take it away.
Then write down your intentions for the following year. Store them in a box or jar and return to them at the Spring Equinox in March to see how you are getting on.
See also the blog post on Ethical Gift Giving for ideas on how to show you love someone without destroying our beautiful planet