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Remembering the old ways, the wild ways

This weekend we celebrated the longest night of the year at Winter Solstice. An invitation to soak up the healing balms of winter darkness and to harness the rites and rituals of mid-winter, the traditions of retreating to rest, reconnecting by candlelight and bringing our darkness into the light ready to clear out and make space for new life and new beginnings.

At mid-winter long dark shadows preside over the bare wintery lands inviting us to retreat to the warm, soft glow of fires and candlelight. The long dark nights gently drawing us inwards inviting us to tend to our inner lands and as we embark on this inward journey we may find mirrored here the long dark shadows of the outer lands.

Darkness, the essential partner to light but a force that left unseen and untended has the capacity to grow and become overwhelming. At the low point of the year, the ebb of the seasonal cycles it is darkness that calls our attention until we listen, until we respond to the call that all of nature hears, the call of mid-winter, a call to rest.

Can you feel and trust that the darkness of winter is clearing you out for something new? That the depression and loneliness, grief and heartache are a mirror for the harshness of ice and frost and snow. That winter is an essential aspect of the life death life cycle and that all of nature is at the mercy of its cutting winds and scarcity of nourishment and to deny this essential ebb is to restrict the flow.

Women all around the world are rising up to reclaim the old ways, the wild ways. Women all around the world this weekend gathered together for private solo rituals and group gatherings to honour this longest night as a sign of the returning sun, and the new life, hope and possibility of spring.

Women all around the world are remembering what it is to move move with conscious awareness through the wheel of the year, to surrender to the seasonal cycles of nature and of our own bodies and lives. We are remembering what it is to approach this darkest day not as something to be avoided or rejected but as an invitation to dive deep into the depths of the essential respite of winter. We are rising up and reclaiming the dormant cyclical wisdom lying deep in our wild bones of the importance of growth and abatement, emerging and retreating, darkness and light, activity and rest.

We have been raised by a culture that requires consistency and proliferates a mind-set of perpetual growth but we can and we are choosing to say no, to arrive at the door of mid-winter feeling fully ready to step in with both feet, to buck the trend, to drop the expectations. Saying no so that we might feel empowered to give full and explicit permission to harness this season for all that it was intended; to slow down, to allow space, to sleep more, eat more, nap more, to rest, feel and heal. To remember the ancient cyclical wisdom of ebb and flow, wax and wane.

We are seeing clearly that it is neither healthy nor sustainable to ignore the season’s change and continue to live as though we exist in a perpetual summer but it can be difficult to feel that it is possible to assert these needs in a society that prioritises performance and productivity over health and wellbeing. So we’ve come to live in a culture that feels it is normal to ignore and even dominate the body, to ignore and suppress sickness, to push through pain, to disregard tiredness, to look down on naps, to cage sleep from the wild rest it is intended to be to a contained constricted captive version, to view women’s cyclical natures as an inconvenience and disturbance, to view emotions as weakness and to keep on going until there is nothing left to give.

We are beginning to return to living in cycles, to reject the imposed rhythms of society, to refuse the era of exhaustion and to reinstate the sacred sound of our own inner rhythms. We are choosing to thrive and not just survive, to swim downstream, dance to the beat of our own drums and sing in harmony with nature.

Carly x

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