In ancient winter solstice celebrations, trees played a large role in ceremonies. Evergreens were brought inside as a symbol for life, and gifts were hung on their branches to encourage the sun to return.
As you probably know, this winter solstice also happens to coincide with a near full moon, which looks magical.
The moon reminds us that life happens in cycles, pulling us one way and then another. In some cultures it’s a symbol for the subconscious mind, going through all phases of illumination or illusion.
This can be a time to reflect: In what ways am I resisting change? What am I holding onto that doesn’t work for me anymore? What do I need to safely feel, so that I can begin to release it?
Our minds have what some neuroscientists call a default mode network. This is our wandering mind, running through all the thoughts and worries that we’re used to having, and which tend to make us pretty miserable. When we’re focused on just about anything else, we unlock our mind from its default mode. We can be at peace, feel more alive.
This time of year also has me thinking about the value of some of my own struggles with mental health. Had I never felt stuck, needing to change something up, I wouldn’t have found most of the things that enrich my life, infuse it with meaning I wouldn’t have gone looking for otherwise. I think about that whenever I’m down. How do I make room for this dark space? What does it tell me about my values? And from that place of awareness, what gifts can I hang off my trees? What do I welcome into my life?
If you need to be cheered up on this shortest day of the year, click here.