How do you maintain your inner fire at winter solstice, when thunderclouds rumble through the sky and cloudbursts drench the air, bringing plummeting temperatures that set you shivering?
In the old traditions, the answer has always been to gather together, feast and celebrate the turning of the sun at solstice.
Winter is the perfect season for story telling, when ancestors in many cultures would draw close to the hearth as stars glittered in the cold night sky. Families told their histories, and the elders would pass on tribal knowledge and ancient myths.
Children learned the art by listening and absorbing, then joining in when they were ready. Clarissa Estes, eloquent story-teller and writer of ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’, says she was asked to tell her first story at five years old: ‘Come on, your turn now!’
In this digital age, it’s particularly warming to the soul when we nurture old practices that stir the senses. For in the dark of winter the imagination can flare and glow.
A celebration for family and friends
This year our extended family and friends will once again hold a winter dinner around the fire. We range in age from three 3/4 years old to over 70.
In past years we all brought a story about winter to tell. Then we started exploring other themes: ‘a special gift’, ‘a memorable meal’, and this year, ‘homecoming.’
After telling our tales, we like to turn out the lights and each light a candle while making a wish. The children love the magic, and join in eagerly, their eyes big with wonder.
The dancing flames remind us that the sun’s light is gradually returning, and that Matariki, the Pleiades, will soon be rising higher. (The Matariki festival falls in July this year).
What festivities are bringing you good cheer through the storms of winter? I’d love to hear from you, if you’d like to leave a comment.
I wish you rich feasting, story telling, comfort and warmth.
Solstice blessings, wherever you may be,
Stories are medicine. . . They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything—we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes
P.S. You will find some great winter stories in Dancing with the Seasons. Look for stories on the origin of Chinese dumplings (p.111), bees in winter (p. 117) or the three golden hairs (p. 122).
This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.