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WINTER SOLSTICE: Time for a pause!

winter solstice

Happy Winter Solstice!

Or, “Happy Summer Solstice” if you are in the Southern Hemisphere! Whenever it is for you, the winter is intended to be a timeless time of year — a space, a pause.

WINTER SOLSTICE CHARACTERISTICS: 

DIRECTION: North
SEASON: Winter
TIME OF DAY: midnight
TIMELINE: timeless
CHAKRAS: base chakra
PLANT CYCLE: seeds, bulbs and roots
ANIMALS: herbivores
SENSES: smell
STAGES OF LIFE: eldership
HUMAN: body
CHALLENGING EMOTIONS: fear
ACTION: completion, finish
LEARNING CYCLES: conclusion
STICKING POINTS: immobile, no new ideas
CAUSES OF BLOCKS: fear of change
HEALED BY: being embodied and here, being sane
CORE CONDITION: grounding
STRENGTHS: reliability

HONOURING WINTER

CONNECTING TO THE TIME OF YEAR

“On the day after the winter solstice, I went for a walk to my axis mundi, the place in this world which I use as my starting point for my shamanic journeys. It is, for me, a place where the veil that separates this world from the other worlds is thin, and where I can easily step into the shamanic realms. It is a place I have visited many hundreds of times and know well. This time was magical though. Normally, the place is alive with birdsong and the noise of wind and animals rustling in the trees and undergrowth. Today though, was a bitingly cold, clear and crisp winter day and as I entered the area, I was struck by an almost overwhelming sense of silence, hanging thick and heavy in the air. I felt it push against me and slow my pace as I walked into it. The only sound I could hear was the noise of frost crunching under my feet. I stood there for as long as I could stand the cold, breathing in the peaceful stillness and welcoming it as it soaked into my body. At the same time, as I stood there, I was also aware that only a mile away, in the center of town, tens of thousands of people were rushing around in a stressful frenzy of Christmas shopping. The contrast could not have been more stark.”

That was 24 years ago and I am still struck by the contrast between the human busyness of Christmas and the stillness of nature. Winter is meant to be a time of quiet and inactivity. Of conserving energy. Of turning inward. Of stopping and ending, to allow for renewal and a fresh start in the spring. So, if this is winter time where you are, then maybe really embrace the energy of this time of year and, if you can, go with it and spend time slowing down and being quiet and still. And if it is summer where you are reading this, plan ahead! Maybe make your next winter a much quieter time. And if you live nearer the equator where the seasons are less pronounced, or where you don’t really get a winter as such, your body and soul still need times of winter-like energy if possible. At least a month or so every year when you can stop doing, and just be.

SHAMANIC JOURNEYING

As Winter is connected to the Earth element, those familiar with shamanic journeys can significantly benefit from doing burial journeys, a transformation practice where we surrender to Earth. 

Working with Earth element can help us when we:

  • are ungrounded in any way.
  • are not feeling that we really ‘belong’, or that we do not have a place on the Earth. Maybe at some level, we even feel we have never fully ‘arrived’ here.
  • struggle with being fully present in our body and tend to live in our head instead, or are prone to feeling dreamy and spaced-out.
  • need help strengthening and deepening our connection to Mother Earth.

Also, journey and be Winterbe dormant plant beneath the snow-covered surface, be a hibernating Bear, or a frozen Lake or bare Tree. In winter, the natural world takes a strategic pause, a period of conservation and rest, setting the stage for the eventual renewal that will unfold with the arrival of spring. Remember, from an animist perspective, Nature is our greatest teacher and healer. Do all you can shamanically to immerse yourself in it.

Learn how to do a shamanic journey here.

winter solstice
winter
winter solstice

WHERE DO WE GET STUCK?

Remember: health is based on the free flow of energy around the Wheel of Life. We get ill when we get stuck in a particular point on the Wheel or when we overuse a particular element. Often, we grow up finding an element that “works” for us in our particular childhood situation, whether it’s to be really fiery, or conversely, to sit on our Fire, for instance. Or to be overly emotional (watery), or to avoid the Water element by hiding our emotions. Or to be airy and ungrounded and avoid Earth (avoiding really being here). However, in adult life, the pattern we learned in childhood isn’t going to work all the time. Indeed, what often brings people to therapy is they don’t understand why what they’re doing isn’t working anymore. In this case, what we need to learn is how to draw on the appropriate element for a given situation. We need to learn how to use the elements we’ve been avoiding or blocking.

For example, when ending things, people who avoid the Earth element try to skip endings altogether. Instead of honouring the ending, they opt for a quick transition to the next beginning, they rush to Air element. In doing this, endings remain incomplete and unresolved, and valuable life lessons remain unlearned. Another way of avoiding Earth is staying stuck in Water, never actually progressing to an end, and staying stuck in emotional dramas and resentments of the past. Whilst this may work for a time, eventually the problems that avoiding an element causes will become an issue.

Good endings are:

• Not rushed or avoided.
• An actual ending! Fully resolved and disentangled from. No hanging on.
• Done with honest appraisal and assessment (including self-assessment)and by facing the truth of things as they really were and are.
• Fully felt and processed. All feelings are allowed, acknowledged and appropriately expressed.
• Done outside of the victim-rescuer-persecutor (drama) triangle. Completed by taking back what is yours and helpful and leaving what is not yours and not helpful. You can’t control; you can’t make other people ending on your terms as well.
• Done with kindness, compassion, and gratitude. This includes self-compassion, kindness, and gratitude towards oneself too.
• Reflected on any useful lessons learnt and taken on board.
• A letting go and surrendering to transformation.

winter solstice
SOME GOOD END-OF-YEAR PRACTICES

1. Reflect back on your goals:

  • What have you achieved?
  • What hasn’t worked?
  • With these, either:
          ◦ Finish them.
          ◦ Let them go (at least for now).
  • What have you learned?

2. Are there any ways you can lighten your load? Declutter? Let go of the old? Clear some space in your life? 

3. Have some time just being still. Do what you need to make sure you have some time for this.

4. Journey on the time of year (and relevant Animals, Plants etc).

5. Tune into Nature.

6. Do gratitude practice(s) for the year. Don’t forget to include self-gratitude!

Upcoming courses:

THE FIRST-STEPS INTRODUCTORY COURSE – January 7th 2024

The essential, low-cost introductory course for anyone wishing to explore this approach. 

Dates: January 7th to February 11th, 2024

Learn:

  • What shamanism is (and what is not)
  • The history of shamanism and animism
  • The key concepts of the shamanic universe
  • How to do a shamanic journey (step-by-step process)
  • How to do a Power Animal retrieval journey and find your own Power Animal
  • The fascinating and potentially life-changing story of why we nearly lost shamanism, why we need it back and how psychotherapy fits in the process
  • The basics of how to do shamanic healing for other people

Course Structure. The course is delivered via:

  • Three live sessions on January 7th, January 21st, and February 4th. The live sessions start at 2pm (UK time). The first is 3.5 to 4 hours long, and covers the first two modules (described below). The second and third live sessions are 2 hours long. All are recorded, for anyone who is not able to attend them live.
  • Five pre-recorded theory modules, delivered by video and accompanying learning materials. These are released at roughly weekly intervals as the course progresses.
  • A website discussion forum and (an optional) Signal group, where students can ask questions, discuss topics, share experiences and additional resources, and get support, encouragement, and a sense of community.
  • A bonus video, answering students’ questions and offering additional teaching. 

AFTER THE FIRST-STEPS – LEARN SHAMANISM AND ANIMISM IN MORE DEPTH

January – February 2024: HEALING THE PAST, CHOOSING THE FUTURE. Healing family patterns, releasing ancestral burdens, and freeing ourselves up to better choose our future path. More details here.

March – April 2024: EXPLORING THE LOWER-WORLD. Go deeper still into the practice of Hollowing-Out. Find a truly Lower-World Human Guide, and maybe your Lower-World Human Tribe too. Discover the healing power of the Elemental Transformational Practices, of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. More details here.

June to September 2024. INNER TRIBE WORK. Shamanic Soul Retrieval and Parts-of-Self Work. Details to follow.

August – September 2024: DEEPER EXPLORATIONS IN THE LOWER-WORLD
Learn more vital shamanic techniques and practices. This includes an in-depth exploration of shamanic Extractions, De-possessions, Disentanglings, Expansions and Just-Being practices. Details to follow.

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