The Winter Solstice Within

I’m in New Hampshire, looking out my window as I write. The night flurries have left the pines sugar-coated; the peninsula juts out into the frozen river of white and grey.  Clouds drift heavily in the sky, casting shadows on the path that winds through the woods like a white ribbon. The winter landscape is a palette of endless shades of gray.

 The winter solstice, December 21,  approaches, the shortest day of the year. With the darkness comes an invitation to sink deeper into ourselves, to visit the stillness within. As a culture, I think we are starved for the stillness where deep truths lie, where the pulse of Mother Nature throbs within us.

 This time of year is like the cocoon phase of the Iron Butterfly journey. We all know the hero’s journey and how s/he embarks on an adventure, learns lessons along the way, and returns home to share them. An Iron Butterfly’s journey is a journey into the heart and mind and soul and it often begins with a personal crisis, an unexpected event that rocks her/his world and stops her/him in their tracks.

 For many this manifests as depression, a sense of being lost, alone, disoriented. It’s a very vulnerable time, when all that was held true comes into question, where beliefs once held dear to one’s heart are abandoned, where realities once clouded and ignored, come full face.  It is a time to be, to pause, to honor the pause so that new growth can emerge, a more authentic self can come into being, and when one’s purpose can become clear. It is a time of emptying out all that is not you.

 When we are in this cocoon phase, it often feels like nothing is happening. But actually a lot is happening. In the stark wintry landscape of the soul, we can come home to ourselves, uncluttered.  

 In our fast-paced, action-oriented, always-connected culture, we don’t value pauses like we value action, but they are equally important. I cannot stress enough the importance of honoring the pause in the rush of life. At this time of year, it seems even Mother Nature in her own way reminds us to sink deeply into the dark, the quiet, the still, so when the spring comes we will be renewed and refreshed, when the seeds sown in winter begin to sprout. 

As I listen to the stillness within me, it makes me a little sad. Why have I neglected what most nourishes? But then I let it go and let it be.


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15 Responses to “The Winter Solstice Within”

  1. Walter says:

    Happy Solstice!

  2. Shelly Jackson says:

    You’re a great writer Birute. I love your description of the Winter as you look out your window 🙂

  3. The Dark Prince says:

    I have felt more things, more deeply. I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn’t work for me, the answer would be a simple no… and it would be an answer laced with terror.

    “But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated. I honestly believe that as a result of it I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences, more intensely; loved more, and have been more loved… laughed more often for having cried more often; appreciated more the springs, for all the winters.

    • It’s so true that without vulnerabilities we don’t know strength, that opposite emotional experiences shed light on each other. We are wired for struggle and without struggle we wouldn’t know joy. Thank you, dark prince, for your bright light of insight.

  4. Hallucinogen says:

    I love the Winter Solstice. The best known celebration/festival during late December is Christmas, but it is a recent festival added to the list. Its date was set by the Roman Emperor during the Fourth Century to coincide with pagan rituals and celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice. There are great similarities to the “Birth of the Son” and the “Rebirth of the Sun” beyond the obvious similarity of words…

  5. Muffy says:

    The cocoon and what not begin to touch on what I’ve been thinking about lately. I have also begun to gain tremendous insight into many things, including my spiritual life. It is in the spiritual sense that I have really begun to see that depression can be a great thing.

  6. Kim Ades says:

    The mildly depressed appear to have more accurate views of themselves, the world, and the future than normal people. [They] clearly lack the illusions that in normal people promote mental health and buffer them against setbacks. Looking deep within yourself, in the silence, can also yeild these same results. EXCELLENT post!

  7. Goldfinger says:

    The pulse of Mother Nature throbbing within us… I’m writing a novel for adults right now and I think I can use that…

  8. Charlie Brown says:

    As a scientist, I can say that as the human species moved further away from its tropical birthplace, the impacts of the short winter days became important and the event woven into the social, cultural and religious fabric as well as the species’ biology.

  9. Iron Butterfly and artist ChiChi Uccelli of Peru asked me to post her sensitive, sensual comment.

    I can`t express myself as I would like to, I admire you always having deep feelings to share with “your iron butterflies”
    Really, for me, stop running around the world, to feel how the earth smells, how the snow falls, how the winter change the colors of the
    air, to feel the cold and the darkness are not signs of depression. To be in this status of reflection, enriches our minds and our souls.
    On the contrary, I can`t understand how we all can live without stopping to hear the silence. Our eyes are tired of looking at terrible things,our ears are contaminated with those incredible noises, our mouths sometimes are better off closed. We need to rest from this chaotic way of living, running from one place to the other, without having time to look at something beautiful like a bird or a
    flower, without stopping to say hello to a friend or without giving a kiss to a child. You, Birute, with your reflections put us in PAUSE,to rest, before someone puts us in ON , carrying us again to the unforgettable routine.

  10. The pulse of Mother Nature throbbing within us… I’m writing a novel for adults right now and I think I can use that…