Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
The opening lyrics to The Sound of Silence accurately sums up the winter solstice, a time when we acknowledge the longest night as a metaphor for our internal darkness. Culturally Australia, the sunburnt country, is uneasy with the murkier emotions of sadness, depression and introspection. We are a country that worships the sun and the “she’ll be right” attitude discourages dwelling on the melancholy.
But for one night of the year, even in one of the brighter spots in the world, the darkness reigns. On the 21st/22nd of June, take a moment to sit quietly, meditate or write a letter to the universe (or yourself) letting go of hurts and annoyances. This is the time to sit with our “stuff” and acknowledge it before symbolically letting it go. If you have a fire, it’s a great ritual to burn the letter.
The second part of any ritualised acknowledgment of the winter solstice is embracing the light. The date marking the longest night, also heralds the slow return of the sun. From now the days begin to get longer, eventually the weather warms and the atmosphere lightens.
Solstices are also a good opportunity to practice gratitude. Share with your friends and family, or write a journal entry, what you are grateful for. You may also like to make wishes for the coming year.
In Australia the winter solstice comes a week or so before the end of the financial year. As a practice of gratitude I use the 21st of June as a prompt to remember to make donations to my favourite charities. Don’t forget that even small donations to a registered charity can be claimed as a tax deduction.
Some of the organizations I like to support include:
The Smith Family: Their learning for life program works locally to effectively break the poverty cycle. The organisation also has a number of voluntary positions for those who’d like to donate time instead of money.
The Fred Hollows Foundation: You can restore someone’s sight for as little as $25 – how cool is that?!
Kiva: an ingenious organization that helps alleviate poverty through micro business loans.
Happy winter solstice.