Archive for December 2012

Embrace the Darkness to Know the Light.   Leave a comment

If you live in the northern hemisphere you are experiencing the longest nights of the year culminating in the darkest day of all, the Winter Solstice.  Each day afterward the sun will rise higher in the sky and the days will grow longer leading to the peak of light at the Summer Solstice.

I believe the most prominent theme of the Winter Solstice is the symbolic death and rebirth process which happens over and over again in our lives. In fact, on the cellular level you will over time become a completely different human being as every cell in your body is replaced by a new one. Those of us who reside further away from the equator witness the rise and fall of the plants as each year they lay down their leaves into dormancy, only to return when the spring arrives.

The Winter Solstice is a time to reflect upon the past year, spend time with loved ones, and look forward to the future. Hence why so many cultures and religions celebrate this time of year with holidays. (i.e. the birth of Christ) Although the darkness may reign supreme now we know with full confidence the light and warmth shall return.

Now is the death of the year; the vibrant spring and summer days of the year’s youth have past leaving the trees without leaves and the air cold. The animals, including us humans, are experiencing bodily changes in connection with the colder days and longer nights.  We tend to feel more tired and desire more rest. We become more susceptible to depression if we lack enough exposure to sunlight.

The lack of light and increased time spent indoors can also lead us to greater levels of introspection and reflection. There can be an examination of the consequences that have come about from the choices we have made. The outer darkness of the world pulls us to examine our inner darkness, the shadow which resides in all of us. For some people this can be a terrifying abyss to behold. So, distraction in its many forms may take place to avoid a confrontation with the self.

However,  to deny our darkness is to deny a reforging and sharpening of our being. By denying those traits and aspects of our selves which we dislike (laziness, lustfulness, selfishness, fearfulness, etc)  we actually give power over to them. It takes greater psychic energy to repress and keep them in their natural domain of subconscious darkness, where they grow in power and effect us outside of our awareness, than to bring them into the light to be integrated into the totality of our being.

Our shadow not only gains power through our denial but also through our own self guilt. Often we will punish ourselves for sexual thoughts, thoughts of rage, and  selfish desires.  Anything we deem wrong or unworthy about ourselves we may react to in a self-punitive manner. We may also project our shadow upon others. When we perceive someone expressing traits we dislike our reactions are telling. Could the person condemning the lazy actually like to indulge in laziness,? Yet hates this aspect of him or her self for whatever reason(s).

What can your judgements of others tell you about yourself? What does your perceived deficiency in someone else say about you?

Over the course of the year with choice after choice the internal shadow baggage increases within. So to does the outer darkness of the waning daylight. The long nights of late fall and winter pull us towards the inner self and the opportunity for renewal is at hand. The light surrenders to the dark so that it can be reborn and rise again.

This is the quintessential time of the new year, it is why so many people make resolutions for the future. We all sense a chance for a fresh start. The molting of the psyche takes place and reveals a new skin.

Use this time for what it is. Surrender to your mistakes, your weaknesses. Revel in your flaws. Cry, forgive yourself, and be reborn as you return to the vibrant light of the spring and summer within.

These shadow qualities are a part of you just as much as all of your most admirable ones. You would not be you without them. Use that rage as creative energy or to improve your physical condition, use that sexual desire with your partner(s) to liven up the relationship(s) or indulge with your fantasies and discard the shame you associate with them. Be lazy, take a break and rest. Its ok.

You cannot understand the concept of light without understanding the concept of no light. You cannot achieve what Carl Jung calls individuation, or the establishment of your true self that is distinguished from the collective, without integrating your negative traits into your conscious, every day life.If you deny yourself of your less admirable qualities or shroud them with guilt you will be unable to fully recognize and express your admirable ones.

The Winter Solstice and the procession of the Sun represents an immediate and consistent environmental reminder of the death/rebirth process of the physical world. It is a process however, that can happen at anytime of your choosing in the realm of the psyche.

When will you make the choice?