Thriving in the Dark – 2014

What a wonderful winter!  Generally, I am not a fan of winter, not because of the impending depression that some people get, but because I do not care for the cold and have a fear of falling. I moved to California in part to avoid harsh winters and a mere seven years after I got there,  my husband delightedly moved us up into the mountains of the Sierra Nevada at an elevation of around 4100 feet.  Since then, I have been through the worst winters I have ever seen, including blizzards that last for days and snow accumulation of (no exaggeration) 10-15 feet over the course of the winter.  We are under threat of snow from October through the end of May and until “the snow has fallen on the dogwood blooms,” we always know there is a danger of being hammered by a freak snowstorm.

This year has been one of those odd, blessed years that happen ever so often where we have very little snow.  Granted, it picks up with a vengeance between February and April, but for now, we have lovely temperatures in the 50s and 60s, dipping into the 40s and high 30s at night. I do not have to think that I am going to fall and break an old woman hip when I go out to get mail or feed the chickens and that is more of a delight with each year that passes.

Winter has been a tremendously creative time this year with two books coming into publication and some intensive soap and candle making getting underway as of this week.  It is unbelievable that we are already almost a month away from Yule and that Imbolc is coming up so quickly.  Time flies and the spiral turns ever faster.

Have you found ways to alter your life, even slightly, for the Dark of the Year?  Remember that our ancestors took this time to be indoors more often, to make necessary repairs to the home and out buildings, to finalize canning and other ways of preserving the harvest to last throughout the year, to share stories and wisdom, and to spend valuable time with friends and family.  There was little work to do in the fields as they are put to rest after Samhain.  This was the time of hunting game to supplement the harvest of sewing and repairing and creating.  This was also a time of recover as the longer nights provided more sleep and rejuvenation time.

Our modern life rarely allows for us to dramatically change what we do each day, but if you search diligently, you will find ways to demand less from yourself and to honor the natural “drawing in” that occurs during the dark of the year.  Read books.  Spend time with loved ones.  Clean your living area thoroughly.  Sort out and discard unused belongings and streamline your life.  Express your creativity in crafts, woodwork, painting, writing, music, and other avenues for your talent to find its way into the world.  Rest and recover from the hard work of the year.  Decline invitations as much as you accept them if your life is overwhelmed with social obligations.  Take time to yourself to meditate and journal, finding your inner voice and giving it recognition.  Take time to really listen to your favorite music.  Spend time with the people you appreciate; not the ones you merely tolerate.

The winter can be a very safe and enjoyable place when used correctly.  Find your “winter pace” and wear it until Spring Equinox when the active part of the year begins again.  Your chi will thank you.

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