The Winter Solstice may be my favorite day of the year. As time passes on, I grow ever more grateful for this day which calls us to honor stillness, darkness, quiet and reflection. In a hurried world, slowing down is a powerful and deeply needed medicine.
It as with honor and gratitude that I share this yearly ritual with friends near and far so that we may all take time to align with the rhythm of the season, and allow ourselves the gift of The Sacred Pause.
On the 21st of December, the Northern Hemisphere celebrates the darkest, longest night of our year.
As this season flows, we acknowledge the circadian rhythms of our sacred planet, and how our body, mind and spirit respond and reflect to the patterns of our universe.
In our present times, we are often encouraged to abandon these natural tendencies.
We feel busier than ever; with such heavy, demanding loads in direct opposition to what the world calls for, many of us fall into illness, and seasonal emotional fatigue and sorrow.
The earth sleeps beneath a blanket of snow and the thin veil of cold air.
Tonight, let us honor the stillness and the darkness; let us, too find rest, respite and quiet, in communion with the web of life, knowing the sun will soon make our days long and our energies high once more.
"To be wise, we have to examine our intention to ensure that it is free from delusion. The ends do not justify the means. If our actions will bring harm to others, even in the service of some 'good', they are almost certainly deluded. If our actions do not come from a kind heart, from loving courage and compassion, they are deluded. If they are based on a distinction between "us" and "them", they stem from delusion. Only to the extent that we act from the wisdom of no separation, understanding how we are woven together, will our intention bring benefit." (Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart, 264)
When I first became a formal student of plant medicine over a decade ago, I immediately fell in love with the medicine of burning plant material -- smudging, as it was introduced to me. I was transported into one of my childhood memories of building and burning a fire made of hard and soft wood, pinecones and dried needles, and the feeling of comfort, protection and purification that accompanied the warmth and beauty of smoke and flame.
Molly Jo Stanley
Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability