Every solstice, a small group of women, of which I am one, gather together to mark the occasion. In the summer, we meet in the early pre-dawn, walk down a beach track by torchlight and witness the sun as it rises on the longest day. We meditate, write words and phrases in the sand with driftwood and watch them dissolve in the foam, and then dive shrieking into the waves, before heading back for coffee and a shared breakfast.
In the winter, we gather around a fire and journey into the underworld in a visualisation, where we look at what we need to let go and what wants to be born within us. We drink chai, eat, and exchange gifts, and talk and laugh for hours, warming up the longest night of the year.
This is, I think, the 4th year we’ve been gathering like this, and the group has grown over the years from just three of us, to seven. Mind you, you need to be dedicated to get up before 4am in the summer for our early morning ritual!
Those of you who have been reading me over the years will know of my frustration with most of our cultural rituals. As Europeans transplanted into the Southern Hemisphere, we’ve inherited a whole bunch of northern hemisphere cultural practices (Christmas, Easter, Halloween) which have strong seasonal significance – in the Northern Hemisphere. It feels so wrong to me to have a Spring ritual in Autumn, an Autumn ritual in Spring, and a Winter festival in Summer – it puts my teeth on edge.
The truth is, I identify less and less with our accepted cultural rituals. However, this poverty of options means I truly treasure our solstice rituals. I commit to them, because they provide an important gauge, a pause point throughout the year where I can reflect and check in with myself.
- What do I need to look at? What may I be avoiding?
- To what do I cling? What is holding me back from moving forwards?
- What am I prepared to let go of?
- What new growth is demanding my attention?
- Where do I need to put my energy?
- What seeds do I wish to sow?
This is not the time to rush out and DO anything. It’s still midwinter, and it’s not time to bloom. Send shoots up too early, and the frost could kill them. Instead, incubate your new kernel of understanding, that fragile discovery, whatever it is. Meditate quietly upon it, nurture and make space for it to emerge, naturally and in its own time, like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.
I wonder, what is blooming within you?