We have just past the time of Winter Solstice in the North, when the days are dark, the nights fall sooner, the air is icy , the mornings greet us with blankets of delicate frost and pale fragile sunlight .
At this time of year I can feel the land breathing out , settling down. I can feel gravity pulling me into the ground and a part of me would like to go deep underground, deep into the underworld, and nest and rest and sleep and dream . To escape the madness of this world for a while and steep myself in magic and the turning wheel of creation.
I don’t celebrate Christmas but I do enjoy honouring the land at this time of year .
I used to feel great Joy in bringing in a tree to decorate with hand made stars and shiny lights . The tree for me was what made this season special. I never much cared for the consumption at this time if year . I never understood it , even as a child . The consumerism was never what “Christmas ” was about .
Even in my young child bones it was something much older than the bullshit it is now . It was always a time of silence and retreat. Sitting still. Reading books . Dreaming . And the tree.
The most magical being in the world , invited into our house , decorated with lights and tinsel and wishes . I would sit with the tree for hours , sleep near it , play next to it and always felt like the missing member of the family had finally been allowed in .
I felt at home with the tree in my house . I felt like I wasn’t alone . Trees are good like that . They don’t let you feel lonely.
They will extend their energy out to you if they sense you need it . Because trees care deeply. They care about each other . They care about us . Trees will look after each other in a woodland. They will keep connection to their children , parent and grandparent trees . And if you ever feel lonely and you go walking in the woods a tree will always call you to sit beneath its branches and silently keep you company , share its energy with you and help you ground and reconnect again.
Over the last couple of years I’ve found it hard to justify bringing in a tree , even a potted one I can replant. I used to gather bits and pieces of Ivy and Holly and Pine to decorate the window sills and thread them with lights to bring the outside in. To create a feeling of kinship and magic .
But this year feels like I can’t. I feel the best place for all these beautiful things is exactly where they are . Outside . My inner sense is that we need to preserve as much as we can of what we have left of nature , and leave it alone .
Beyond that my feeling is not to bring anything in at all but to go outside to where nature is . And be with it there.
I don’t know why but it just feels wrong now . Usually the trees and plants have offered themselves gladly for decoration. I’ve been guided to where bits have been cut and pruned by others and been able to make use of whats been left . But not this year . The Ivy in my garden doesn’t want to be cut . The pine tree wants to be left alone . I was allowed a bit of holly but even that feels like I’ve stolen it .
And maybe what it brings up above all else is grief and sadness . All this beauty is being destroyed. The earth is in crisis . Taking whats left to fill the house feels too much like exploiting the land to make myself feel better.
I wanted to avoid buying anything this year for presents etc . I don’t know anyone that needs anything desperately. Its just more consumption thats ruining the world. And whilst for the first time in decades I’ve managed not to feel pressured and obliged to take part in this most destructive time of the year , I have still succumbed to buying a few bits for family.
Mainly because I feel like I can’t not. I don’t send cards , I won’t get a tree, I won’t be over consuming food and alcohol just for the hell of it . It leaves a rather hollow feeling in my soul. I’m struggling to go into shops to buy anything tbh unless its food and essentials.
I won’t be forcing myself to be cheerful. My days of pretending to love this holiday are long gone . I won’t be putting myself into debt so I can give my child the tatt he never needed. I won’t be putting myself under pressure to live a lie for a day.
Every year I get asked “what do you want for Christmas ” and every year for as long as I’ve lived the answer has been either nothing or I don’t know .
Its always bemused me the idea of “wanting things” . I have a roof over my head . I have warmth . I have food . I have family and friends. I have clothes. I’m not sure what much else there is to want.
A world that cares ?
I’ve spent enough years tearing myself apart and struggling under the obligations and social pressures this time of year brings to people. And I am getting to the point where I’d just like to walk away from it all.
I’d like to disappear into the woods for a week . I’ll go out and feed the birds . I’ll walk in the woods and talk to the trees and animals . I’ll sit by the river. I’ll walk the hills and admire the view.
I’ll try not to notice the deep sadness I feel as the earth slowly ebbs away. I’ll remember all the lovely people I know who make a difference. I’ll remember all those who work tirelessly everyday to make the world a better place for everyone.
I’ll feel into how I can better live my life as one of those people without losing myself . Or depleting my own resources. Even if its only in small ways.
Like feeding the birds and leaving the trees alone.
I usually do a little personal ritual to welcome back the light and the lengthening days . Sitting in the dark of the solstice eve , in silence, and just noticing what that brings up.
As the light begins to dawn I light a candle and sit with what this brings with it too. I have a sense that what we need collectively is strength and courage . Courage to face the darkness and the shadows . Strength to face whatever the future brings .
Taking time to slow down and drop into the dark at this time of year is exactly what we need to do. To rest. To renew. To discover what is needing our attention and focus . To come back to our centre , save our energy and make plans for how best to put it to use in the months to come .