Welcoming the Light
“A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle”
- Thomas Jefferson
Once again in the northern hemisphere we are approaching the Winter Solstice. It is a time of stillness and turning inward for rest, repair, and reflection. It is also the Shortest Day. During the Winter Solstice, we see the light fall upon our part of Earth for the shortest time between sunrise and sunset. Winter Solstice is also a time to acknowledge that the light will indeed return and from this point onwards that the days will begin to lengthen again.
This is a time of stillness or standstill. During the cold winter days, we see our beloved Earth become frozen in ice. The flow of water is halted, and dazzling crystals adorn the winter leaves and berries as we are reminded to turn inwards and tend the fires in our own hearts, connecting with family and loved ones.
In 2020 we wrote about lighting up the darkness during this time of quiet reflection: How to Light up the Darkness (resilientpractice.co.uk) and in 2021 we embraced the fertile darkness in which deep growth can be encouraged through connection with our shadow: Embracing the Darkness (resilientpractice.co.uk)
This year we would like to invite you to welcome the return of the light. During the darkest seasons, many cultures around the world celebrate festivals of light. Diwalli is enjoyed in late October, China’s Lantern Festival takes place in February, Loi Krathong and Yi Peng take place in Thailand in November and Hanukkah is celebrated during a period that encapsulates the shortest day.
The existence of these warm, bright human rituals clearly shows a need for us all to come together in celebration and offering up gratitude for the light.
When we talk unconsciously about light, we use its symbolism to illustrate a greater understanding of the world. We use phrases such as ‘shedding light’ or ‘seeing the light’ or that something has been ‘illuminating or ‘enlightening.’ Not only is light symbolically associated with clarity, but also positivity and connection with the Heavens. We talk about ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ and ‘lightening up’ when we want to create an uplifting mindset and there is a whole ‘love and light’ movement on social media which seeks to bathe the world in good vibes.
Look around you. There are few towns and villages that are not yet decked with brightly coloured twinkling lights in the shape of some of our oldest symbols of hope.
The darkness is profoundly helpful for growth, but we all need beacons of light to show us the way.
Winter celebrations are a festival for the senses. During this busy time, remember to bring yourself right into the present moment. Rather than projecting yourself into next week or worrying that you have not done enough – take time to stop and look at the lights. Soak up the smell of pine and spruce, gingerbread, cinnamon, and seasonal berries, savour the tastes and sing along to the old Christmas favourites. Be in the moment because, like all others, it will pass.
Choose a means of welcoming back the light.
This might be a candle. It can be as simple as a tea light, or you could choose one in a favourite colour or with a scent that is special to you. It may be one that you have been saving for a special occasion such as this – there is no time like the present.
You might choose a tabletop fire pit or an indoor fire feature.
You may choose to go outside and kindle a fire in your garden or back yard.
Please be mindful of health and safety as you do this. Take all necessary precautions to mitigate risk.
Create a quiet space where you will not be disturbed as you carry out your ceremony.
Take your awareness to your breathing.
Sit quietly for a few moments in reverence and gratitude for the darkness and all its wisdom.
Now begin to ignite your flame whether it be to simply strike a match and light your candle or to build and kindle your fire.
Once your fire is alight you can begin:
Candle or fire gazing is one of the oldest and simplest forms of meditation
You watch the light
If you find your thoughts wandering, you simply, compassionately bring your focus back to the flames
Notice them dancing but give them no meaning or analysis
Simply allow them to be
Allow yourself to be
Rest for a few moments like this
Dissolve into presence
Imagine yourself bathed in light and hope as you welcome the return of the light with gratitude
And with it, a new turning of the wheel
And a chance to begin and see all things anew.
As you blow out your candle or extinguish your fire, keep in mind that in ancient times, it was believed that all wishes made during candle magic could be directed to their destination with the breath so you can do this mindfully too.
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