Since ancient times, the solstices have been seen as an opportunity to show respect for the polarity of yin and yang energies, which becomes more visible through the play of darkness and light. People would gather to acknowledge both the flow and transience of nature and their unity with it. The winter solstice in particular was of great importance to human communities, as the night of the longest darkness heralded the return of light and the renewal of hope. In addition, people were reminded of the importance of patiently waiting for the birth of light, like a future mother is waiting to greet the life that is still growing in her.
During the winter, the voice of nature becomes louder, and its calls for slowing down the pace reach every corner and all living beings. The earth becomes calm and quiet, thus offering a refuge for every seed and animal that is now resting, sleeping or hibernating. The same message reaches people too, although most of them will not be aware of it due to their blurred mind that forces them to run frantically through shopping malls or engage in all kinds of activities, instead of following the call of Nature to rest. Modern culture intensifies the conditioning of the mind, and the values of hyperactivity and excessive chatter rise, while silence and calmness are considered a sign of laziness and social incompetence that inevitably leads to unproductive and meaningless life. However, no conditioning can stop the natural flow, which goes through occasional periods of rest, calm and withdrawal of energy towards the center in order to enable regeneration, growth and maturation.
When the darkest night of the year reaches the northern hemisphere, we must remember that everything is constantly moving, changing and transforming: day and night flow into each other, changing their length constantly, weather changes from one moment to another, our physical condition is in continuous transmutation, as well as our mood and everything else in our lives. Each of these changes give us the opportunity to learn how to accept impermanence without suffering and live-in peaceful harmony with the natural flow. But the most obvious lessons have always been the cyclical manifestations of cosmic and seasonal changes. The natural patterns that kept coming back, had created solid roots from which ancient wisdom, healing, and spiritual teaching could grow.
Winter, which is characterized by yin energy, is marked by attributes such as darkness, cold, slowness and redirection of energy towards the center. This makes winter the perfect time to immerse yourself in silence, to observe the inner flow and listen to its whispers. During immersion, however, we often discover fear, which is buried under the layers of impressions and sounds of everyday life. Therefore, it is not surprising that winter is associated with this strong emotion. Yet, fear is always multi-layered, intertwined and complex, and its roots are usually not immediately found or recognized. Thus, for example, the constant need for company and activity or the avoidance of meditation and solitude is often just a masked fear of silence that grows out of the fear of facing deeply buried memories. Yet no one can escape the energies that reign during the winter and that force us to turn attention to our inner space and face our own darkness.
Especially during this winter, turning inwards and facing one's own fears is inevitable, because natural energies are strengthened by pandemic restrictions. Activities, travel, or social contacts commonly used to prevent dealing with one's own demons are no longer available. As a result, a large number of people currently express excessive anxiety, which manifests itself in various ways - through increased depression, aggressive behavior, loss of self-confidence or a feeling of endangerment of their own freedom.
This effect will also be intensified due to the upcoming cosmic constellation. Namely, as 2020 comes to an end, so do the two huge planets, Jupiter and Saturn, approach each other, following their cosmic orbits. This spectacular event, during which the planets are so close to each other that they seemingly create a "double planet", last happened almost 800 years ago, and only our future generations will experience it again. The cosmic energies that are the result of such a great and rare conjunction, carry the potential of global transformation because they inevitably and powerfully affect every living being. However, the direction in which individuals and humans will be accelerated depends entirely on their own.
Therefore, this winter, the solstice is extremely important for all of us. Namely, it can not only help us shift our perception so that we can see the darkness as a promise of light, but it can also support us in facing everything that is hidden deep inside and that otherwise creates fear. And although, at this very moment, nature forces us to turn inward, it also offers an additional help so we can understand better all the manifested fears - whether they are arising from past traumatic events or they root in our imagination. The gates of heaven are now wide open and the bright light that enters through them reveals everything that has hitherto been hidden in the darkest corners of our souls, but it also dispels all the shadows that our fears cast on us.
The winter solstice is also an opportunity to deepen our practice. As we sit in Zen meditation and let go of everything that our mind and our body encounter, we will find that practice gains on intensity. But the emotional eruptions that may now arise are also more quickly transcended into insight and wisdom. With every inhalation and exhalation, as well as with every incense stick and every candle that burns during the ceremony, we are now connecting much stronger than usual with nature. Even more so, when the ceremony takes place outdoors, next to a campfire, when this connection becomes almost tangible. So, if you happen to be sitting outdoors tonight, listen to the whisper of playful sparks and the stars that light up the heavenly carpet that unfolds over your head. Their whisper will tell you – “The light will return. "