The End Before the Beginning
Marked by the longest nights of the year, the solstice season has always been defined by a profound pause. In Latin, the word “Solstice” translates as “sun stays still.” If you watch the sunrise on the days around the Solstice, it appears as if the sun is halted in one place on the horizon. For the ancients, this time of cosmic pause was one of depth and descent, a moment of potent inner ritual within the larger cycle of rebirth. During this year of pandemic many of us have been in a perpetual solstice. Paused on the horizon line of the futures we once saw before us, we have been relegated to an extended dreamtime, a stillness that has left us with nothing to do but stir the embers within and see what coals are glowing in the depths.
This year, perhaps more than ever in our lives, we are getting a chance to steep in the deepest magics of solstice— slowing down so we can reconnect with our dreams, feed the seers within and embrace an inner reset of truly cosmic proportions. As we walk into the darkest nights of the year, and the last days of 2020, we are all collectively entering a profound experience of what the solstice really means, and the revolutionary healing it can bring. Because these are the last days of darkness before the return of the light.
When I was in the midst of dealing with chronic pain and illness I repeated a mantra every day: “Nothing happens to me, everything happens for me.” It was this exact reorientation that helped me befriend the pain and the illness, and ultimately open myself to the transformation they were here to help me achieve. This year has demanded that I adopt this mantra once again.
As we move into the final season of being gripped by the pandemic, we have an opportunity to pierce the last veil, to gather the gifts that were uncovered by this tough experience so we are ready for the new era to come. In the next weeks, as the sun slows down to its lowest arc, and the daylight wanes to a standstill, we enter a kind of final twilight— a shaman’s in-between, an interstitial, intercoastal, liminal place of knowledge and metamorphosis. We are in the cave of dreams, and on the brink of a rebirth.
Lately, the stars have been shining brighter. All night they glow like quartz tips outside my window, with the most recognizable constellation slumbering right above the horizon line— Ursa Major, the Great Bear. Every winter, since time immemorial, bears go into hibernation. Here in the mountains, mid-December is when the black bears begin to disappear into their dens. Much like the lockdowns of this past year, when bears hibernate they go into an extended stillness called “torpor,” a trance-state that causes everything to pause. We may not be bears, but research shows that rest is equally as vital for our wellbeing. Rest is essential, not only for the general functioning of our body, but the very plasticity of our brains. We literally cannot process the information we receive, or continue to grow cognitively, until we receive enough down time to decompress. Rest is, quite literally, the gateway to expanded consciousness and understanding.
In many cultures around the world bears are emblems of strength and wisdom. This is due to their physical brawn, of course, but part of what makes bears such emblems of power is their profound mastery of hibernation. As some of the largest and most physically formidable creatures left in our forests, bears teach us that our greatest power is only equal to our greatest capacity for rest. For many of us, 2020 has come in like a bear exactly because it has so much to teach us about how to rest. This year was the opportunity to learn how to pause and reassess, embracing the richness that can come out of a compulsory hibernation.
As we move into the winter, and the last gasp of pandemic lockdowns, we are being given an opportunity— to go into this final cave willingly so we can come out on the other side powerfully changed. In my new video, I share how to embrace the bear within by using three tools to create a truly transformational wintertime cave. To harness this last opportunity for a soul-changing shamanic hermitage. Because if the solstice teaches us anything, it is that when we can embrace the gifts of the darkness, this is when the light returns.
Just like a story, there are three phases to a ceremony. A beginning, a middle, and an end. We often focus on the excitement of the beginning or the profundity of the middle, but the end is where we finally retrieve what we’ve been seeking. It is when we integrate all we’ve learned, bringing back the golden seed. The end is when we open a new chapter of our being.
As this year closes, you have the power to create a potent transition. An ending that honors your soul and everything you’ve been through. A conclusion that empowers the return of the light, the great shifting bodies of the planets, and the courage of the bear within you. This is the completion of a very hard journey, and it is here to deliver you into a new beginning. Trust it.
This will be my last post until the new year, so until then take good care of your heart. Remember how brave you are and how magnificently you have faced the hardships of this past year. Celebrate who you’ve become and nourish your dreams as the light returns.
I just felt lost in businness, and all the happenings in the world, wanted to stop and turn inwards but couldnt really
find the way. And there’s your video….thank you very much and have a blessed solsticetime, dear Asia
And a blessed Solstice to you Irene! Thank you for bringing your light to this space.
Such a beautiful video to celebrate this special winter solstice time of year. Thank you, Asia. Love the angelica recommendations.
Thank you for reading Jeannine! Much love to you in this season of light.
Thank you Asia for this I will try to get a tincture or possibly make one.
Thanks for reading Barbara! If you end up making one let us know how it goes 🙂
Beautiful insights. Thank you so much
Thank you for reading Heather! Much love to you in this solstice season.
Thank you for this beautiful post. Several years ago I began creating more space for rest, and making my bedroom into a cave was my first step! My room is on the 3rd floor of a 100+ years old house, and walking in there is like entering a sanctuary for me, dedicated to quiet time and rest. The lights are dim, the windows covered, the temperature just right, plenty of cozy stuff, reading & knitting materials, and space for quiet spiritual practice. I’ve learned that I sleep more soundly if I take time to wind down in the evening, so when I’m done teaching & practicing and have had dinner, I disengage from electronics, spend some quiet time alone in my room doing relaxing activities, take a dose of my homemade Passionflower Glycerite, and sleep & dream deeply. In the morning I give myself time to enter the day… journaling, breathwork, stretching… whatever feels right in the moment. I especially love sleeping this time of year, I love the slanted winter light, and the winter darkness.
I used to stay up super late getting excited about my creative projects, go to my room way overstimulated mentally, and struggle with falling and staying asleep. Those days are gone, regardless of the time of year, and I have a lot of gratitude for the gifts that being well rested have brought into my life. I’m still inspired and creative, but I have a lot more clarity and focus.
Your room and rituals sound divine! Thank you for sharing Terri!
Thanks for the much-needed insight about moving into our inner cave! I am definitely going to start thinking of this time (especially given the current situation of staying inside) as a way to explore more closer to home – dreams, personal aspirations, time with my family. I think I will approach it as I do when we go out into a cabin in the middle of winter, really cut off from the outside world. It is always warm and snug inside, and we are made to see each other, not through screens or the business of life outside of ourselves. I love a good mug of mulled wine before bed this time of year — infused with warming spices and damania. I may have to try a bit of angelica root next batch.
Beautiful Kelly. I love the image of a winter cabin, warm and snug. How lovely.
Thank you, this is a beautiful way to approach the season!
Thanks for reading Ginger!