The longest night of the darkest day, the land sleeps. While we may sleep at night, some of us synchronized to the turnings of the earth, the absence of the sun, we often don’t take the time to think about the land.
Winter has been a depressing time of year for me the last few years. As I’ve moved out of the city and into the country, as I’ve grown more accustom to my connection to the land, I feel the loss of life around me. The world is not dead, I can still hear the yips of coyotes, the chirping of birds who refuse to leave, the trees that resist the urge to dump their leaves, mostly long and needle-like, I do feel it sleep. The ground freezes. The flowers disappear, and all I’m left with is those nocturnal creatures of the season, not the night. Those that refuse to give up, but go on. I myself am resisting the urge to sleep.
As the solstice approaches, I feel depressed. I miss that light. This feeling starts in June, at the Summer Solstice and progresses, grows slowly until it’s height in December, the Winter Solstice. As it approaches, my mood grows dim, reflective, dark. But once the Winter climax hits, I light up with hope. I now know each day will be more, each day contains a bit more energy than what proceeded it. It is the new year!
This year hit me harder than expected. Last year was the height of my winter depression. Those of us in the hinterlands call it cabin fever – the result of being holed up inside in one place too long. But this year was different. I hit a new height, one of reflection and introspection.
On the height of winter, the solstice night, I felt a strong awakening. A calling like no other. The year ahead is going to bring unfathomable and unstoppable change. It is a year of initiation. A year of rebirth. This year is a year of direction.
I can feel the spirits and the land flowing through me. I can feel the awakening of all. This year didn’t contain the usual depression for me. It was still dark. It still chose to put the land to sleep, but I somehow awakened.
We have a tradition in our house. On the spiritual holidays, we take the time to stop and reflect. To talk with one another, to take stock and discuss our lives. I feel like I’ve started on a path, one that feels right, one that sweeps me up along the way. I have no desire to turn back. I may look, take stock and reflect, but onward I walk. I have come to the crossroads and chosen my path. Onward I march.
This past year has had many a sadness to it. The passing of my father. The passing of my ma (not my mother, but my extended mother). But all of these changes are milestones I have passed. Markers on the road. Field stones I turned and found new strength, new resolve and much love.
I don’t mean to be sappy about any of this. My path is a hill to climb. There are obstacles ahead, most of them manifestation of myself, my own fear and challenges to conquer. But onward I march, into the light, into the spring and the summer that awaits.
Winter is not death, that is fall, the falling. Winter is the sleep between death and new life. It is the in-between place of reincarnation. It is the time where we decide which way we will go. Do we stay in the comfort of sleep, or do we awaken. On to our spring, our rebirth. On to life.