Winter Solstice: 21 Alchemical Reflections from Carl Jung to Pema Chödrön

Out of darkness, new light (and life) is born.

Alchemy… a transmutation of matter.

Each year we enter into a time of great darkness, and each year we are invited into the path of shadow to seek and discover the illumination for the life that will begin to birth as we welcome back the light.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), hence it is said that the sun will seemingly stand still in the heavens before reversing direction. There are two solstices within every 12-months and is either the longest day of the year (in summer) or the shortest day of the year (in winter) — this pertaining to any earthly location outside of the tropics. The December solstice is known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere.

In the northern hemisphere, this solstice occurs during what is typically the coldest season of the year. Throughout history winter has been regarded as the season of hibernation, stillness, melancholy, famine, dormancy, darkness and cold. The symbolism of the winter solstice to-date represents the coming of lighter days and potentially elevated optimism, energy and hope.

For many, the return of the light is a reason to celebrate the continuation of nature’s cycle — and the participation with it.

The winter solstice, and the acknowledgement of the dark, has influenced the lives of many people over the centuries, particularly through art, literature, mythology and religion to participate in rituals that are focused on a celebration of life and the return of light. Winter solstice — light vs darkness, cold vs warmth, abundance vs shortage, life vs death! The process slow, patient! A transition from oblivion to prosperity, we are invited to turn within. We seek our inner light for survival. We sleep more, hibernate, huddle, slow our actions and wait.

Shakespeare said, “Darkness has its uses.” This seems appropriate as the winter constellations light up the evening sky to inspire our minds and make up for the loss of daylight. Each day representing the journey into darkness and every waking, an increase of light.

This time is also powerful for meditation, healing and for turning our vision silently inward. It is a profound time for listening deeply to desires that emanate from the core of our being.
May all of us find the courage and trust to embrace the darkness, connect with the light within and find our way.
Aum
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

O Divine mother, our hearts are filled with darkness. Please make this darkness distant from us and promote illumination within us.

And so we begin the journey of 21…
#1 “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” ~ Carl Jung
#2 “And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” ~ Rumi
#3 “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.” ~ Swami Vivekananda
#4 ”In the darkness, I am light.” ~ Unknown
#5 “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
#6 “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~ Plato
#7 “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” ~ Bram Stoker, Dracula
#8 “Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. ” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
#9 “If you don’t take the lamp of awareness with you, you are going to create a hell around you. Light your lamp wherever you go — courting, not courting, that is not the point. Wherever you go, whatsoever you do, always do it in the inner light, with awareness.” ~ Osho
#10 “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe
#11 “Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.” ~ Helen Keller
#12 “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino
#13 “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” ~ Aristotle Onassis
#14 “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
#15 “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” ~ Robert Frost
#16 “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
#17 “Character is what a man is in the dark.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
#18 “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” ~ Henri Frederic Amiel
#19 ““Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda
#20 “It is in this darkness that I have found all light— somehow become so bright, a shooting star on a stormy night.” ~ Coco J. Ginger
#21 “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön

Originally published here: http://www.rebellesociety.com/2013/12/21/winter-solstice-21-alchemical-reflections-from-carl-jung-to-pema-chodron/

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