• Janell Sachi Renshaw

Winter Solstice 2021

Honoring the Light that arises out of Darkness

"Winters Cloak"

This year I do not want

the dark to leave me.

I need its wrap

of silent stillness,

its cloak

of long lasting embrace.

Too much light

has pulled me away

from the chamber

of gestation.

Let the dawns

come late,

let the sunsets

arrive early,

let the evenings

extend themselves

while I lean into

the abyss of my being.

Let me lie in the cave

of my soul,

for too much light

blinds me,

steals the source

of revelation.

Let me seek solace

in the empty places

of winter’s passage,

those vast dark nights

that never fail to shelter me.

Joyce Rupp



Winter inspires both joy and woe. Some people can't wait for the cooler weather, snow, skiing and ice skating, curling up by a fire, and the holiday spirit. It's a time when we notice a peaceful sort of silence.

For many, Winter begins to feel endless after a while. The frigid temperatures, blizzards, and wild weather. Winter often means shoveling, snow-blowing, dealing with bad roads, and sometimes unbearable temperatures in colder regions. In warmer regions, the winter temperatures become very mild or cool, and places like Florida fill up with people escaping the harshness of a northern winter. We call those people Snowbirds…like me

Winter, in a sense, creates a sacred space for nurturing our capacity for joy. Days are shorter. Nights are longer. Things around us look dead. No "visible" signs of growth. More grey days than sunny days. It looks like nothing is happening to the naked eye, yet so much is happening!

If Winter had words, I think she would say,

"Every season in life is very, very important. Don't dismiss me!"

In my view, Winter is the first season, it is considered the dark of a night, the void before the first boom of "let there be light." The winter season is the most crucial to honor if you are to have an abundant fall harvest. The Winter Solstice officially begins the winter season. It is also known as Hibernal Solstice. It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Celebrated by thousands of cultures and communities across the globe as an invitation for humanity to move out of darkness and into the light.

The Winter Solstice occurs when the path of the Sun is farthest south in the Northern Hemisphere. Once The Sun reaches its lowest point, an interesting thing happens: the Sun appears to stall in the same position of rising and setting. This pause created the names for the Solstices. The word "solstice" brings together two Latin words: sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The "Sun Stands Still." The Suns pause lasts for three days, and then it begins the journey of increasing in light.

In the early days, cultures worldwide feared that the Sun would never return. Some believed that evil spirits swallowed the Sun and would leave them cold and lost in the dreary darkness. During the Winter They would hold ceremonies that lasted for weeks to persuade the Gods to bring the Sun back.

Winter festivals and personal observances of the solstice often involve these contrasting themes:

  • light amidst darkness

  • death and rebirth

  • turning inward to reflect

  • looking forward to new light and warmth

In many places, it became customary to hold loud, cheery celebrations at this time of year. Our ancestors celebrated with food and drink, sang songs, and told stories before enormous fires, imagining that the din would convince lurking evil that there were just too many humans gathered in this one place to take on.

In ancient traditions, the solstice marks the rebirth of the Sun King or Sun God after a journey through the underworld, which is the southern hemisphere. The northern hemisphere's Winter Solstice occurs just days before Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light of the world. Festivals including Hanukkah, Shab-e Yalda, Soyal, Yule, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve all reverberate the themes of light, warmth, community, and hope amidst the winter darkness.

Yet, for all the light and joy of Christmas and other solstice celebrations, darkness has always been the birth of light.

Winter tucks us all in. Making us look at the bare bones of our lives. Asking us to strip away all the layers we have on and get to our core purpose—our undecorated, hard, and stripped selves. Reminding us that the deeper our sorrow, the wider our capacity for joy. This is painful, yes, but soon—at Winter's end—new growth will come and overwhelm us with unimaginable joy. Spring—

An emergence of Light from the Darkness.

Om Shanti-Shanti-Shanti-Om

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