Once the Yule log has burned out, the wine has been drunk, the feast consumed, gifts opened and songs sung by family gathered and now disbanded again – the darkness of the season finally sets in. It really is the most wonderful time of year, but on the other side of the holidays, there’s a struggle waiting to be wrestled with each and every Winter. I’ve always found that the darkness has value – as it allows light to shine, and the cold has value – as it allows the land to restore itself before fruiting again in the Spring, but with this utility comes suffering. I imagine that a diminutive Persephone lives inside of us, our emotional wells drying up with the deep freeze, becoming brittle after giving so much and having more still taken against our wills. Understandably then, we are in need of self-care this month – inner reflection and outward projection of our best possible selves.

light in darkness

A light in the dark: to stand vigil, keep the faith and huddle around together for warmth.

The emphasis on New Year’s resolutions seems to want to address this need, but fails to deliver, as these often turn into hyper-individualized sound bites, encouraged to sell calendars. The point isn’t really for our resolve to be a once-and-done annual observation, this is a call to initiate a lifestyle around honing our inner ‘Focus Pocus’. If we can plant seeds in the present that will feed a future self, our harvest will develop in accordance with how well we can imagine the fruits of our labors. Let this seasonal lull become a time to plan a garden of the self. Rather than advancing the art of navel-gazing, let’s challenge ourselves to work through symbiosis, as nature does, wherein each element relies on the success of it’s neighbor to function optimally. January can then invite trust in the universe, in ourselves and in the process of becoming.

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Denizens of winter: the Corvids keep us company during the dark months.

In embracing my emotional depths, I am also purging mental clutter by sacrificing all the minutia to temporary overwhelm from within the void. Inevitably experiencing some drift – as reorientation to the present is a process, I remind myself that this will soon pass and to take advantage while it lingers. The skies are grey, and the thermometer is the deepest shades of blue, but I don’t have to be. I can choose to use this time to warm my heart by my own fire, so as to love others better through the work that I do. Consciously checking in with myself, I am practicing compassion, allowing self-love, granting a greater degree of patience and understanding for everyone else in my life.

This isn’t something you can be plugged into a device for, it’s something done first in meditation and later inter-personally. Relinquishing last year’s version of self, with all imperfections, we can then become freshly receptive and even vulnerable to what this year’s cycle around the sun promises. As new life springs from the ground, growing silently beneath the snow, precious small and delicate, so does a renewed vision of what we’re about and how we can contribute to the whole. Navigating the path through seasonal-affective disorder sometimes feels like an organic devotional to Hekate, the mother of fruitful darkness and all things magical. She is a constant presence at the crossroads, on the cusps of the unknown and uncomfortable in-between places, and though intimidating, also makes an excellent guide.

 

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