At this time of year, many of us are caught up in the busyness of social gatherings of friends, work and family around Christmas and the New Year, and our connection to the more-than-human world takes a back seat.
So, I’d like to share an alternative orientation for the returning of light at the Winter Solstice. Recently, during the month of November I participated in a month-long Plant Diet with Elder, a journey that particularly relates to experiences of grief, and dying. Every day, I would partake in a few doses of Elder tincture, and take time at my sit spot, reflecting over the last year. I also journeyed, a form of meditative practice, asking Elder to be my guide. In one such journey, a deer appeared to guide me through the forest, and through a forest fire, passing through a tunnel of light. The deer had great antlers, and at first I assumed it to be a Stag, but then a story of the ‘Deer Mother’ was shared with me.
From the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, across the land bridge of the Bering Strait, she was a revered spiritual figure associated with fertility, motherhood, regeneration and the rebirth of the sun (the theme of winter solstice). From this, I gained a new perspective, and have felt a greater sense of connection with my ancestors.
Jon Young, founder of the 8 Shields model, describes the movement of the seasons through a lens comprising of eight directions - East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, Northwest, North, and Northeast. In the northern hemisphere, the sun rises in the East, moves through the South to set in the West, then through the North to rise again in the East. In the northern hemisphere spring ~ East, summer ~ South, fall ~ West, and winter ~ North.
Each direction has its own characteristic archetypal energetic feel. To help get an embodied sense of these, you can visit your sit spot at different times of day, and pay attention to the energy of that time.
The following is adapted from Chapter 9 in Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, 2nd Edition.
Northwest: Reflection and Release - We look back on what has been, and release what we need to let go of in preparation for what is to come
North: Distillation and Integration - We refine and hold the wisdom achieved through the culmination of our experiences and the filtering process in the Northwest
Northeast: Invisible connection between End and the Beginning - We connect with the mysterious source of creativity as we transition from one cycle to the next
I hope this sharing helps you to value your experiences this year, and move
into the new year and decade that is upon us.
Wild blessings from Amanda and the EU Council team.