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Restoring connection with nature: Marking the solstice

In the past few weeks we’ve been exploring how a disconnection from nature can cause us to undertake activities that harm our planet. So this week I’d like to explore an way of restoring connection!

There’s something about camping, whether you’re in the midst of the wilderness or something a little more luxurious, that restores our connection to the wide world. We start to live more by the rhythms of light and darkness, our activities are driven by the weather, and we hear and see nature more as we sit quietly in the midst of it. It’s so difficult to do this in the winter, in cold climates at least, as we’re driven indoors and exist by manmade light.

I’m not sure about you, but it’s been an incredibly hectic and stressful year personally and professionally, and filled with health challenges as we and our children emerged from the pandemic bubble and experienced (it felt like) every cold and flu that ever existed.

So if you’re in a period of healing and recovery and in need of some rest and connection with life, our environment and those around, then join me as we contemplate past practices and traditions with their focus on rest and intention for the coming year, and how we can adapt them for our lives.

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What is the solstice?

The winter solstice is when our planet is at it’s maximum tilt from the sun, which means that it is the day with the most darkness and least light in the year. One of these occurs in each hemisphere, meaning that there are two per year.

restoring connection
Source: Canva

Historic and cultural significance

This period of the year was commonly seen as a time to mark death and rebirth as the days begin to lengthen after this point in the earth’s cycle. As such, many cultures had winter festival celebrations around this time. In fact, the timing of many Christian celebrations correlate with these ancient pagan festivals as the church sought to, effectively, over-write older practices. And Christmas is no exception!

Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun/Invincible Sun”) was originally a Syrian god who was later adopted as the chief god of the Roman Empire under Emperor Aurelian. His holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25, as are several gods associated with the winter solstice in many pagan traditions. It has been speculated to be the reason behind Christmas’ proximity to the solstice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice
Cork Yoga Mat

Ways this event was marked

Source: Canva

The transition from increasing darkness to light has been marked for centuries – even millenia – by cultures around the world. Some ways this time is celebrated include:

  • Dancing
  • Purification rituals
  • Gift-giving
  • Eating special foods
  • Staying awake all night to welcome the sun
  • Feasts
  • Lighting fires or candles to ward off spirits

What can we do to to honor and move forward

Activities (or lack thereof!) I was planning to make time for include:

  • Taking time one evening to sit by candelight (with no devices) and just be present
  • Go for a walk, gather greenery, and decorate my home by bringing the outside in
  • Do some reading about traditions past and incorporate them into my Christmas routines this year
  • Have a mini-lantern festival with my kids by creating lanterns and writing on them things we might want to leave behind in 2022

Have you ever thought about marking the solstice?

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