Winter Solstice is the time when the “Sun stands still,” the shortest day of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, days become shorter from June 21 on, until around December 21st, when the sun seems to rise and set in the same place for a while. Then slowly the sun begins its journey towards the south again, and the days grow longer until the peak of sunlight at the Summer Solstice.

The longest night of the year bears within itself the promise of the return of the light, the “rebirth” of the Sun. Thus, the Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the darkness of the womb from which creation arises. We honor the cycles of life, death and rebirth, the dark night of the soul and the rebirth of new hope and vision. When we move deeper into the darkness instead of avoiding it, we find the gifts the darkness holds. To some, that may mean moving into the shadow aspect of self. What needs to be released, to be brought into the light of our awareness? Even in our darkest moments we can find the seeds of growth and healing within.

The darkness of the long winter nights that culminate in the Winter Solstice is also a time to honor and celebrate the world of the unseen, of dreams and of intuition. When we cannot see with our physical eyes, we learn to trust the inner vision, the power of insight and inner knowingness. The journey into the darkness prepares the way for celebration: in gratitude we rejoice in the return of the light, the promise of the Sun/Son lighting our path, the promise of new beginnings.

A Winter Solstice Meditation:
Begin by taking a deep breath in and then exhaling slowly. Relax as you release the breath. With each breath you take, you move deeper into the silent space within, into your inner world.
Imagine yourself now walking through a desert landscape at night. The moon is not visible to light your path, and at first your steps are unsure and tentative. The more you attune yourself to the silent world around you, the more your senses begin to perceive details along your path. The desert air is clear and cold, fragrant with the aroma of sage. Now you move with confidence, you can “see” with your inner eyes. You are comfortable with the darkness that reveals its gifts: you can hear sounds of life around you – what do you hear? You see things you have not seen before – what do you see? You trust your inner sensed, your intuition guides you on your path. Answers reveal themselves as you surrender to the power of the unseen. You feel safe and protected.

A warm feeling starts to bubble up in the your solar plexus. The warmth spreads to your arms and legs, to your whole body. A pleasant tingling sensation accompanies the warm glow that now seems to emanate from your body, creating a field of pleasant vibrating energy throughout and around you. The source of light and warmth is within, always accessible, your internal sun. You are equally comfortable with the dark as with the light. You are balanced, in harmony with Mother Earth and Father Sky.

As you turn your eyes toward the night sky above you, a blanket of brilliant stars illuminate the sky. Gratitude washes over you as you open your heart to the beauty of this sacred time and space. A granite bolder offers a place to rest and relax. Hours seem like minutes, a sense of timelessness prevails.

Yet, almost imperceptibly at first, you notice a change on the horizon. The light of the stars begins to fade, and toward the east, the first light of dawn colors the sky with shades of purple, pink and orange. Slowly the landscape around you reveals a new face of beauty and harmony. Soon the radiant disk of the Sun appears and bathes the desert in its warm glow. You are reborn to this new day, and you greet it with joy and gratitude. You can trust the sacred circles of nature that always offer new beginnings. Bless the return of the light as you have blessed the womb of darkness that preceded it.

With you next deep breath slowly begin to bring your awareness back to the here and now. Feel yourself grounded, balanced and in harmony. When you are ready, you may open your eyes, fully back in the here and now, bringing with you the gifts of this sacred journey. And so it is. Thank you God.

~Rev. Uki MacIsaac, MA,
Copyright 2007, Published in the Heart of the Holidays book