Winter is the most yin season of all, the time to be receptive and move inward, into darkness, stillness, and contemplation. Yin is the night, Moon to the Sun.
Yin and Yang are dynamic, flowing, each existing within the other… everything is relational. Neither one is “good” or “bad” as together they make the whole.
In our modern world, we see and experience disproportionately more yang. This distorted focus is active energy, the extroverted, the go-getter, not saying no, filling up the calendar or space with conversation, and busyness for the sake of being busy. This imbalance is manifest in many ways, including our relationship with ourselves, our well-being, and the way “the world works” mindset. Energy flows and ebbs, and there is a need to rest and rejuvenate that often gets ignored, suppressed, and even ridiculed. Do you honour it in your life?
What the flow of Yin and Yang reminds us is that there is a season for everything. In every cycle, energy is transformed. So it is with ideas, projects, relationships, and life.
Winter is another season, for allowing what must die to die, as Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes. This is a challenging concept and experience for many people. It is our existential fear. About becoming no-one. Who am I, if my ego is dissolved? Who am I if I don’t stand for a cause, a belief, a system? Who am I, if I’m not all these titles/labels, accomplishments, trauma, and people I have attached myself to? Perhaps this is a question for your contemplation this winter.
Some people are terrified when they get the Death tarot card or crystal skulls. Despite a long tradition that spans all cultures, we have become disconnected from death and dying. We no longer respect and honour the bardo process. Mostly we have funeral homes take our loved ones away and dress them up.
Death, however, comes in many forms, and not just physically. We die many deaths each day, on the cellular level. We die to old beliefs, ineffective ways of thinking and being, and phases in life.
So now, just as Persephone does each Winter, we travel to the Underworld and like her, we emerge and rebirth in the Spring. This is the time to withdraw from activity, the yang. Perhaps we sit by the fire to enjoy a mug of hot cider or a bowl of stew. This is a natural slowing down, with the earlier descending of darkness and the later rising of the sun. The air is cooler, even in warmer climates.
Darkness, stillness, silence – these may appear to the antithesis of modern living. These metaphors and spaces of the tomb and womb are for deep regeneration. A pause, contemplation, leaving a field fallow allows for a shift.
Of course we do not cease completely – even within yin there is yang – and this is the archetype of season and cycles. Ideas still get birthed though it is in stillness of the mind, undistracted by the noise in the mundane world. Winter is also the night of each day, the end of a cycle or a project; we experience winter all the time, even if we do not label these times as such.
As the leaves fall in the Autumn, we too remember to let go. As the winter appears barren, we remember that sometimes we must be stripped bare to be reborn. Alas what appears to be withdrawn never is, in Spring we rediscover our eternal youth and the maiden within just as Demeter does and just as Persephone embraces the crone within and the darkness of the Underworld, we too unveil the wisdom that lies in all of us. We sit by our inner sun, as we sit by the fire to enjoy the gifts of the season.
This is the Kidney-Bladder season. Here we find correspondences with the colour blue-black, water, the emotion/attitude of fear …
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