By: Jodi Levine
Happy Winter Solstice!
We are moving collectively toward the longest night of the year. This is a time of inward reflection, an opportunity to call in our intention for the upcoming year, and to release things that we no longer wish to carry with us into the new year.
In a few short days, after the Winter Solstice, we will slowly start to notice that the sun will set a few minutes later each night, giving us longer days until we reach the Summer Solstice in June.
Last year, I shared a solstice ritual that my children and I do together, a practice to bring our inner light to the darkest night. We light a candle, or sit around a campfire, and share what we are grateful for and name something that we want to let go of. Sometimes we write down what we want to let go of on a small piece of paper and throw it into the fire. Sharing gratitude shifts our mental focus and helps us feel good. And naming something we want to release allows us to acknowledge something that was challenging, and be heard in our intention to let it go. Connecting with the element of fire, and with those we care about, can have a beneficial effect on us as well. This allows us to step into the new year with a sense of joy and peace.
Fire gives off light and heat. It has the ability to transform anything it touches, which can be devastating, or beneficial depending on how it is used. Indigenous People of southern California worked with fire to tend the land. Small fires were set intentionally to clear weeds, insects and fungus. This enables the oak trees to stay healthy and continue to produce acorns for centuries. Small fires in the meadows also help basket weaving plants receive more nutrients so that they can grow abundantly. These small fires have an important ecological purpose. Over time, when cultural burns were prohibited, and fires were suppressed, excess material accumulated around the oaks. Now when fire spreads in our natural areas it grows larger and hotter, and gets out of control. We have seen how these huge wildfires can be devastating for human and natural communities alike.
In our day to day lives, we sometimes feel sadness, grief, loss or hardship. When we fail to tend to those feelings, they accumulate like the weeds and dried branches piling up around the base of oak trees. If we fail to acknowledge those feelings, they can easily spark into anger and disconnection, which, like a wildfire, can destroy what it touches – the connection we have with ourselves and those around us.
Giving myself and my children an opportunity to sit with our feelings, near a candle or sitting around a campfire, saying what we want to let go of, is an entryway to tending ourselves in the same way that a well-tended small fire clears out what is no longer needed on the land.
Acknowledging that there is difficulty is an important part of being human. Feeling it, and releasing it is a way of tending to ourselves, so that we can show up for ourselves and those around us with more clarity and ease. Once a year is not enough for me, but the longest night is a good motivation to bring the family together in this way.
Sunset at Big Oak Canyon
Please join me, from wherever you are, to light a candle, sit around the fire and tend to yourself and those around you. Share what you are grateful for, and what you are ready to release as we move back towards the light.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for the earth and all the ways I am cared for.
I am grateful for the Earthroots community.
I am grateful for you.
Happy Winter Solstice,