I seem to be experiencing life in parallel to the weather, with gusting winds, downpours of rain, dull grey skies and biting cold mornings. In contrast, the spells of brightness have been welcomed with gratitude, seemingly restoring hope with the simple acknowledgement that behind all the fog and clouds, the sun shines on. Life is always flowing and therefore all situations, like the grotty weather, pass with time.
So many of us find this time of year a challenge. Life’s pressure seems to weigh down on us. A sense of time running out or needing to do more than is possible to fit into a day. We feel tired, unmotivated, overwhelmed, angst and restless. Winter brings us less daylight hours, leaving us lacking in energy. The change in temperature and weather, make it more difficult to feel comfortable, we frequently move from states of warm and cold, dry and wet. All these factors take their toll, many people you walk pass carry a feeling of stress, a sense of dissatisfaction and a tension and strain that is visible.
As I started to unpick my own resistance, discontent and sadness to this season, l began to see a magic that I had forgotten to notice. By consciously taking the time to observe my inner state and my natural surroundings, I found myself assimilating to the natural flow of energy around me. My struggle lessened and I started to experience moments of genuine inner joy and contentment. My awareness of the energies around me seem to be growing. I use my ability to empathize with the emotion of others, in my job, but this feels more like an awareness of the earth. I am noticing trees, animals, the ground, the sky, with a newness that instigates a pause, captivated by the magnificence. Nature and its astonishing ability to adapt and change, maintaining balance and beauty in the face of adversity, has become my most powerful teacher.
In stark contrast, trying to live in this digital age, encourages us to create an artificial self; a machine like self that battles on, working long hours, getting the job done, meeting demands and ignoring any pain we inflict upon ourselves in the process. I do not believe we were designed to live this way. The need to meet ever-increasing expectations, pushing us to perform like androids. I consider this disregard of our humanness as the root cause of many physical and mental health issues. We are denying our human nature and our need for connection. Many societies value dominant traits, such as arrogance, particularly, in pursuit of desires or achievement. Correspondingly, qualities such as; co-operation, kindness and caring, are considered less than or even weak. We are forgetting the power we have to be conscious, to understanding, to feel and show love and compassion. Furthermore, this dissociation from our true identity, as beings, is largely regarded as advancement. It detaches us from the damage we are doing to the planet and the harm and suffering we are causing one another.
Nature reflects the harshness, scarcity and dormancy of Winter. I am reminded of a need for balance and that seasons occur in relation to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Albert Einstein notably stated that “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another”. This became the Law of Conservation of Energy. I smile with acknowledgement that the forces and energies of life, seem to have an incredible purposeful wisdom. Orchestrating what to do and when, with impeccable precision. The energy flow of the Earth affects us in many ways that we are, for the best part, unconscious of. I think learning to synchronize with our environment and its energy vibration is perhaps an essential part of living well. The elements and celestial cycles seem to have been integral to our ancestors, which inspires me to want to learn more about their significance.
Winter is, perhaps, the season of energy conservation. However, Winter’s message is not one of woe, rather an invitation to be retrospective and allow yourself time to pause and to rejoice in the blessings afforded to us, with gratitude and love. A time to let go of things that don’t serve us and find space in our lives and inside ourselves, to reconnect, so that we may move forward with purpose and hope.
As with Autumn, the change in season can be seen overtly in the trees. Trees and plants are masters at adapting to conditions because they can’t move location. As the orange leaves dry out and fall, trees are left looking barren, some plants appear to die off completely, residing under the soil. The trees adapt to conserve energy, becoming dormant. Similarly, the squirrels in the woods, that were busy building food stores a short while ago, now are largely unseen. The hedgehogs along with other animals are hibernating. The more you look, the more evidence of the natural world slowing down, snuggling away and simply doing only what is essential. Being human attaches us to an unnatural world. It is not possible for us to batten down the hatches and do the same as the other animals, nevertheless, this is a time to be aware of our reduced energy and be kind in the expectations upon ourselves.
In Yuletide Celebrations, evergreens such as pine, holly, mistletoe, ivy are cherished as they represent hope, showing us that life goes on. The tradition, of bringing evergreens indoors, influence the symbolic Christmas tree. During a break in the windy rain, I headed out in the woods and collected pine cones and evergreen branches. I took an afternoon out and created my own decorations, to remind me of natures hopefully message and to celebrate my belonging to the natural world.
The Winter Solstice signifies the shortest day and longest night of the year. Yuletide was a celebration of the returning light. It is said that at this time the movement of the sun appears to pause for three days, followed by a gradual daily increase of light until the Summer Solstice. Like many others, I find the lack of daytime rather depressing, and have taken to lighting candles to brighten my evenings. The dancing of the soft warming flame bring comfort.
Light is a symbol of the divine energy source, representing love and peace, and in many faiths, associated with hope and miracles. Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of light is celebrated, in late November, early December. Light symbolizes God’s miracle in the story. In Christianity, Jesus is said to be the light of the world. A Reverend once told me, light can always overcome darkness. Even in the darkest of rooms, the smallest of lights can illuminate. Humans seems to be fascinated by light. Spiritually, scientifically and functionally, light is fundamental to life and remains a source of wonder.
In Britain, this time of year is all about Christmas. However, I would suggest that what we call Christmas has little relationship to the message of hope you read about in the bible. Christmas is a commercial enterprise,that can feel impossible to opt out of. The marketing is intense and emotive. The emphasis is on showing loved ones how much they mean to you, with an expensive gift. Spending money you can ill afford, on things you don’t need. Seems rather nonsensical and yet, to some extent, we all follow the flock. Immediately after Christmas, we are hit by mass sales and more encouragement to purchase stuff.
I can not deny that Christmas does still reflect aspects of charity and good will. Maybe it can be said to bring people together, giving us an opportunity to show gratitude and love. However, for some Christmas can highlight limitation and lacking, with some people feeling desperately left out and alone. Expectations of what Christmas should be has been hyped to such a level, that it has lost it’s magic and it’s message.
Following Christmas is the New Year celebrations. Ideas of resolution are considered to originate from Babylonian traditions, dating back 4000 years. It is suggested that debts were paid, loyalties renewed and borrowed items returned. The idea is to start a new year without remanence from the previous one. It is suggested the Babylonian new year began in March, in line with the sowing of crops. In 46BC, Julius Caesar made January the beginning of the year, after a God – Janus. The Roman idea was not dissimilar, promoting reflection over the passed year, with a view to the future. This is a theme I can see reflected in nature.
I believe Winter reminds us to slow down, to pause and conserve energy. It encourages us to go inside ourselves, perhaps meditate or get creative. To take time out from all the hustle and bustle of life and let go of things that are not important. To do what is necessary but to prioritise self-care and creating comfort with a cosy environment to rest in. A time to share love, show gratitude and rejoice in our blessings. I have enjoyed getting creative with evergreens, being comforted by candles and using them to create my own uplifting space to relax. The benefit to my emotional state, was far greater than I could have predicted.
I consider there to be a united message in the many celebrations that take place within Winter. A message of hope and love, that signposts us to recognise a divine energy which interacts in a meaningful way in our lives. A message to slow down and take the time to look within to gain clarity. It is perhaps a time to consider our humanness, our purpose and the kind of energy we give out. Living in a world that seems evermore crazy to me, these reminders seem to hold profound significance, and should perhaps guide us into creating a better tomorrows. My hope is that 2019 will bring increased harmony worldwide, within ourselves, with each other and with the planet.
Whether or however you celebrate at this time of year, I would like to end my last blog of 2018, by thanking you for joining me. I wish you hope, happiness and love. Until 2019 – many blessing!