Winter is the time when Big Yin is free to develop, unhampered by yang's effects of doing, being busy, and moving quickly.  

In aligning ourselves with the seasonal cycles, we are wise to take our cues from nature: The animals are in hibernation. The plants are going down into their roots - some of them digging so deep as to reveal nothing of themselves above ground. Water freezes and the shamans are in retreat. Winter time is an opportunity to fall deep down into the depths of the ocean of the unknown, the Mystery.

Listen to the winter solstice ritual on soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/bronwyn-ayla/a-winter-solstice-ritual

It's a time to turn inward- the time of the water element, which corresponds with the kidney and bladder organs and meridians. The winter seasonal cycle offers a tremendous opportunity for recovery of the body, mind, and spirit when we take the time to slow down.

A healthy water element is comfortable immersing in the darkness. An unhealthy water element keeps going and doing, recklessly pushing the perpetual fight or flight mode, and thus taxing the adrenals as it pushes on, despite the season's call for quiet, and stillness.

Now is the time of year when we can consume the autumn foods we've stored, such as squash and root vegetables. Bone stock makes a wonderful supplement to the autumn harvests. Fresh foods do not give us all the resources we need for the winter months. This time provides us with an opportunity to access a different quality of nutrient than those we access during more yang times of the year.

Protect and warm the kidneys by wearing a hara maki. A Hara maki (hara=middle, maki=wrap) is a cloth band worn around the kidneys for warmth and protection. It is hard to imagine how wonderful this feels until trying it. Any scarf, or similarly proportioned cloth will work.  

The holiday season is a time when in many traditions we celebrate the light. We light candles, we put up holiday lights, and immerse ourselves in social activity and the business of the season. However, we do not celebrate the dark at summer solstice. Winter is our opportunity to be with the dark, stillness, and silence.  

My invitation is to sit quietly, be with the long dark nights, and resist any temptation for distraction.  Let go of summer's yang tendency to set intentions and new years resolutions. Instead of dreaming up what to manifest now, wait a month or so. Simply be with emptiness, the not knowing and the dark. When we take the time to listen to our silence in the winter our spring manifestations will be aligned with our deepest prayers.

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