Every year, from the Winter Solstice
till Spring or so, many of us struggle with our inner darkness. The long nights and lack of sunlight resonate with our own shadows, drawing them to the surface. Like clockwork, yearly, we experience the ebb of light and the rise of darkness within. Just as the oceans, we respond to the rhythm of Nature.
How do we relate to darkness? In ourselves, in others, in the world, ?
Personally, I usually just fumble along. We are not taught how to navigate through our internal darkness, our fears and negativity, our despair, resentment, anxieties, our skewed perceptions of self and reality. We have a label for it now, Seasonal affective disorder, S.A.D., which at least gives us a little bit of comfort knowing we are not alone, nor completely bonkers, but, beyond firing up our happy lights every morning for what seems like a longer period each year, digging up our therapists number from the bottom of the pile, reconsidering antidepressants, (which seem ineffective for most of us), we pretty much have no effective tools for coping with this annual shift in perspective other than hunkering down in our metaphoric bomb shelters till the wave of darkness subsides on its own. This is possibly the only instance procrastination works in our favour.
Eventually the darkness does pass on its’ own. Nothing sophisticated about this approach to maintaining our sanity and equilibrium. It is, in essence, reactive, an instinctual response to threat which just adds to our feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. There must be a better way to navigate through life and our winters, right? How do we heal childhood wounds, pain and grief? Loss? How do we contend with defeating feelings and thoughts that can drive us to drink, escapism, self loathing? How do we eliminate or heal those destructive thought patterns and dark feelings that keep us from being the most we can be? Can we do more than just hang in there and resist being swept away,? More than just get by? We are taught by example to be afraid of the dark within us, ashamed of our “flaws” and “imperfections” . We deny them, avoid and escape them, hide and repress them, project them on others, or express them with self-destructive behaviour. There must be a healthier, more productive and useful approach!
Fellow gardener and blogger Steve, at Naked Nerves, pointed out, in a simple and elegant post, (well worth reading!) “Going within at Sun’s return” that if we attune to the current cycle of Nature and the Winter Solstice, we will find a unique opportunity, and the perfect time to work with our shadows. They are surfacing now for good reason. If we can embrace and accept these dark parts of our selves at natures’ peak of darkness, work in harmony with Her rhythm, we can ride this waning wave of dark, supported by Natures own yearly movement from darkness towards light and renewal. Now, with greater ease than ever, we can work with our fears, our shadows, the monsters under our beds, our shadow selves, and transform them. Acting now, and not resisting the dark winter wave, means we can surf it, propelled forward by the natural crest, of diminishing dark and increasing light. If we can shift away from fearing, fighting, denying or repressing our dark shadows. If we can, befriend the dark inside us, we could ride this wave of darkness, all the way to its’ inevitable destination of light and Spring renewal. A journey, both symbolic and practical, on which there is potential for great personal growth and an increase in our light and happiness. A much more elegant and dignified way to deal with darkness.
Shadow is just as important as light. Nothing to be ashamed of, we are all made of the same stuff, but, some of us cope better, or hide our dark stuff better. It is there in us all. Darkness, in this context, is just as real, and just as much of an illusion as light. We have within us, all the light and joy in the world, and all the darkness and despair. Neither of these is who we are. We are but the observers and experiencers.
Neither is good or bad, and darkness is simply half the duality of life. There would be no bright Full Moon without a dark new moon, no long Summer days, without short winter hours, no lush fertile valleys without bleak frigid mountain peaks. There would be no light or growth, no emancipation or victory within us, if there was no darkness, no challenge, fear or shadow within us. And this, the darkest part of the year outside, is the prime time and opportunity to consciously work with, and grow through, our shadows and darkness. We can ride this natural wave of dark, if we can get past our fears, and our instinctive, reactive responses, and our resistence. We can surf this wave of Solstice dark.
This is one of the great secrets of traditional Alchemy. Timing our actions. Studying Natures rhythms and cycles, so we can harmonize our processes with them, not work against them.
There are obvious correlations here to the ocean, tides, Sun/Moon, the emotions, concious, subconcious, and the element of water. I leave these for you to contemplate and plumb, at your leisure.
Wishing you all an inspired and productive transition to the light. (Winter).
Thank you so much for this, Dan. Much appreciated. Been having a real old battle with my shadow vortices and anxiety, and what you say about surfing the dark wave into the light – or wherever it needs to be – is spot on. This morning itself, I was thinking about the seventh wave, which is Opportunity, and which digs and brings up all the dark interior stuff first into the crest – the trough behind this wave is deepest – and your post gives me comfort and encouragement. Being aligned astrologically with the big Cardinal Grand Cross in April, I am starting to polish my surf board! – i.e.tackle massively overdue housework and clutter, bit by bit.
By the way, your winged sun pic hasn’t come through – not to here, anyway – you might want to re-load it? And is that you and Nathan on the wave!
Peace and vigorous germination for 2014 – as Hades throws up Persephone, yet again.
Hi Jane, Sorry to hear about your challenges. Here I thought it was just me going through the shadows!
I hope the upcoming Grand Cross isn’t stressing you out too much. I really should get my act together and get you some Frankincense Neglecta oil!!Especially effective with anxt and anxiety.
I will see what I can do… Also will see what I can do about that winged sun disc, this is the third version, a new upload from my desktop, and still not showing!! I will check its links, hopefully it is something obvious. Thanks for letting me know, I was sure I had corrected that already. Twice! Good to hear from you my friend.
Hi Jane, Is the winged Sun Disc up now on your end? Let me know. Thank you for the reference to the trough aspect of the waves, I hadn’t thought about it that way! Obvious as it is now that you have mentioned it! It’s depth would of course be in direct proportion to the height of the wave, perhaps giving us an idea of what to expect. Also, I think I am resigning myself to not visiting London, (or Israel), this season :-(. Finances are at an ebb, and though I realize anything is possible, it feels unlikely.(Perhaps my own shadows colouring perception.)
I have 2 types of Myrrh tincture to send you, and hope you can give me your impressions on the “Holistic” version, and the resin heavy batch. The Frankincense Neglecta oil I made last month, not only works just as well as my Spruce/Fir version for respiratory distress, it has the effect of reducing those sharp pangs of panic and anxiety in the chest. Though logical in hindsight, a very pleasant and welcome benefit. Again, I would love your input and feedback.
Yes, the Sun Disc is now risen – lovely!
What a beautiful and engaging post Dan. You’ve really delved deeply into this difficult subject, pun intended, and made it more accessible to the rest of us. I wish you all the best in the challenges ahead this season. I know that you’ll do well at befriending that dark part of yourself and come out the other side in good shape, based on your own words. You’re very in tune with the cycles of Nature and that’s so evident in what you have to say here and elsewhere. I understand these particular struggles all too well myself… We do the best we can, and still the Dance goes on!
Thank You for mentioning my post so kindly.
PS. The Winged Sun Disc looks fine to me.
Thank you Steve! My intention after reading your post, was to simply re-blog it. Originally, I was only writing an introduction for it. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone!! I do tend to ramble! I hope I added something of value and didn’t just rehash what you had already written succinctly! :-D!!
I read a couple of your posts on Naked Nerves and really enjoyed them. I am very happy to have discovered that side of you! While I still enjoy Gardening in Greenwood, I think Naked Nerves is where you really shine, and though I too am a gardener, and relate to your garden posts, I find reading Naked Nerves speaks to me on more, and deeper levels. I look forward to reading future and past posts. Thank you.
Wishing you a productive Winter waning and peace on your journey.
Thank you for your kind words, Dan. You wrote far more than I did and it’s great! I’m glad you like Naked Nerves and I agree that it does show a deeper side of myself. I’d like to show my gratitude to you for your words by adding this bit to this post. I couldn’t find your About page again so here it is here. As always it’s up to you but I hope you accept….
Greetings friend! I’d like to thank you for commenting, liking or following my blog. As such I want to nominate you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. Please go to this site: http://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/the-dragons-loyalty-award/ to read the rules and decide if you want to accept it or not. It’s your choice and I hope you will, but it’s up to you. Mostly I want you to know that I appreciate your loyalty to me and my writing. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much Steve! I am very flattered that you thought of me for this award. Especially since the pleasure has already been mine, reading your posts, communicating with you and getting to know you. I already feel gifted.
I am happy to accept the “Dragons Loyalty Award”, though having learned somethings, (about myself mainly), from the Very Inspiring blogger award,I would like to take a little more time working with this one. I realize there is some room for individual improvisation, and I hope I don’t stretch the envelope too much. If you think it’s O.K..I would like to take a few weeks to distribute it thoughtfully, where I think it would serve best, rather than rushing to get it done as quickly as possible as I did with the VIBA.
You’re most welcome, Dan. I really do appreciate all you’ve had to say to me in your comments, both here and on my site. I feel a kinship with you that is quite nice. Of course it’s OK to do the award however you choose. I know what you mean about the learning process. I just received another award too and I don’t quite know what to do just yet myself. So I may just accept and not nominate or take awhile as you’re doing. I’m just pleased that you’ve received this award and that you are there blogging, period! 😉
Blessings of the New Year to you!
Thanks again Steve. Yes, I think I felt a little overwhelmed in the moment.
The feeling of kinship is very much felt and appreciated on this end! Thank you, for your support, your kind words and for being such a cool guy :-).
Wishing you and Louis all the best, and a wonderful, bountiful, happy new year.