Happy Solstice to all my Pagan Friends.
First I must say that I celebrate not only the light returning as our great mother earth turns again toward Sol...but I celebrate this night, the longest, the womb of the dark.
Winter_solstice by Jecowa at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
We have such light seeking impulses. Probably as it helps with life sustaining. But there is also the wonder of dark. The resting. The dreaming through nights that are so much longer than daytime. Do you have dreams?
I've been having sexual dreams lately. At 73 I guess I've got the thoughts still, those juicy exciting urges that bring a burst of physical joy after effort. I won't go any further into details, but let you realize that the same urges that began with the hormonal impulses of a teen ager do continue throughout our lives.
Dreams belong to the dark nights. Darkness is not bad...however it is coupled with many of our fears. I chose to look at the darkness as a shroud of safety which offers supreme restfulness. Don't misunderstand me that I'm out roaming any dark streets at midnight, nor the woods.
I have observed darkness most when in nature. But I haven't explored it lately. There was a time when I found I could walk at night in a woods with just starlight, or cloud light providing the difference between the solid trunks of trees and the clearer greyer places where I could pass. It's easier with some light from a moon, but not necessary.
If you've never walked between tree trunks in the dark, never experienced all the permutations of blackness to grey, you have yet to stretch your night vision. Seriously. You see not so much by looking ahead, but by scanning side to side, as that way you gather more information from the sides of your eyes.
So this city gal did go camping for many summers, and now remembers those trips from tent to bathroom in the middle of the night.
But back to Solstice and celebrating the dark.
A ritual is called for, at least if you want to really get into celebration mode.
No not to sing songs, or eat a feast, or wake up early and see if any presents are under a fake tree in the living room. Think of what we're going to celebrate. The Dark.
A long night of it. Lots of comfort for sleep. Maybe a cup of hot cocoa before sleep. Maybe a nibble on something that's soothing, cookies perhaps. Dreams come when we're moving into a REM-state or waking, then returning back to deep sleep. So preparing for a comfortable sleep is important...wearing your jammies, having the best sheets and blankets and pillows...having the heater set just right so you are totally comfortable.
That's what the Dark needs of you. Comfort. A small candle light before turning off all light is soothing. Be sure to close all blinds and drapes to the intrusion of outside street lights. Do some slow deep breathing, perhaps meditate, perhaps say your prayers. Welcome the darkness with all her qualities.
What does the dark mean to you? For me (as you see) there's the sense of a womb, being closely supported by invisible forces, a place of growth and nurturing, stillness, receiving rather than giving, resting, listening to your sub-conscious through dreams, being alone rather than in community, connecting to your own sense of the Source of all life, and above all, rest.
If you want to record your dreams, prepare to do that as easily as possible, with your journal and a pen near your bed. Plan for a short awake time right after a dream, to write a few notes, then back to snuggle into the dream-state again. In the morning those notes can remind you of the full extent of a dream. And another great fun thing is to actually go back into a dream. You can just go back to sleep with thoughts of the dream, and maybe intentions to do something "next". Dreaming is such fun. If you don't have time the next morning, you can do a bit of "lucid" dreaming when you go to sleep that night.
A dream journal is a place to find out what you are telling yourself. I kept one for about a year, and shared on a weekly basis one of my dreams with a Dream Group. Yes, about a dozen people would share their dreams, and discuss what the dreams might mean to themselves. Nobody gave a stock "meaning" to another person's dream, but would share how it would have meaning for themselves. Thus, no snakes were considered obviously phallic. As Jeremy Taylor said, "It is my assumption that all dreams come in the service of health and
wholeness and that only the dreamer knows for certain what his/her dream
Oh, did I mention that Rev. Taylor wrote the book that started our Dream Group? Here is a link to his work.
Since my involvement in that group was about 20 years ago, I'd say it made a definite impact upon me. I no longer journal my dreams...though I have mentioned some of the more potent ones to my best friend. We understand each other pretty well.
So may your dreams be of most use to you, yourself. And may you have total rest and relaxation from the hurly burly world we live in these days. May the dark offer you comfort and nurture.