The Alchemy of Winter Solstice
This time of year always brings to my mind the Integration of Shadow and Light. The inner Shadow is something that is blocked or repressed. It is the darkness inside of us and in the world. It’s when we are turned away from the Light, the Sun, or something is blocking the Light, and that creates a Shadow.
What’s most interesting though is that we couldn’t live in this world without Shadow. It’s part of the makeup of our world, something we experience every winter solstice when our hemisphere is turned away from the Sun and we experience the shortest day of the year, the day when we have the least amount of Light.
Yet, we celebrate this day of the Shadow as something Sacred and Divine. It’s no coincidence that Christmas is so close to the winter solstice, which the pagans called “Yule,” when the shadowed half of the year relinquishes to the light half. At sunrise the next morning, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun's "rebirth" is celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become longer.
This day reflects the inner experience of Shadow and Light. The Light is something that we naturally turn toward, enjoy, and even worship. We think of it as Divine. And it’s not just a thought, it’s an actual experience.
I know because I used to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I tended to become depressed due to the lack of light, which caused me to shut down, making it difficult to connect with others and feel love. So I had a real experience of the Divinity of the Light. When it returned, my heart lightened, and I was once again able to open up, connect, and feel love and joy.
I do not separate Spirit from Matter, but rather see them as Matter-Energy or Particle-Waves, and the emotional experience we have when interacting with Matter-Energy is often one of Love and Divinity. Why separate them?
The same can be said of Shadow and Light. The Shadow is already the separation of the self. It is what we reject and repress, what causes us feelings of guilt, shame, fear, and judgment. Yet our attempts to rid ourselves of it only separates us and fragments us even more.
It is the Integration of Shadow and Light that empowers us and enlightens us. It opens us up so we are capable of connecting and embracing all that exists in a loving way.
Even in non-violent communication, we honor the Jackal. We’re not trying to tell it to go away. Instead we are trying to listen even more deeply to what it has to say. In this way, we bring Light to the Shadow parts of ourselves and others, and Integrate those parts, thus empowering and loving ourselves and others more deeply.
I embrace you and wish you a season of Love, Light, and Connection, a Happy Yuletide, and a very Merry Christmas!