Winter is coming and things are about to get deep. And just like the vast ocean, the deeper we go, the darker it gets. Does anyone else feel like they've been spending an exorbitant amount of time swimming around a bit lost in the darkness lately?
Judging from personal experience, in addition to what I'm hearing from my patients & friends, & the utter shitstorm that hits us every time we turn on the news (pro tip - keep it off!), it seems safe to say that the darkness is begging for some serious attention right now. There's nothing inherently "bad" or "evil" about the dark, but when we neglect it, deny it, & resent it, it festers like a wound in need of healing. That wound can serve as a profound opportunity for discovery, transformation, and healing, but it can only provide such gifts when it is acknowledged & met with light, love, compassion, and care. This can take time, require patience, a trusting spirit, & a willingness to sit with the pain until its purpose has been fully served.
It's normal for feelings of fear to begin to stir when we enter the depths of Winter, the depths of our being, & of our collective (un)consciousness. It is in the darkness that we must confront our spiritual pain.
In facing & embodying your fear directly, drinking it freely, feeling the weight of it drop down into your core as it swirls down your throat, the intelligence of your body can absorb the raw materials for the courage, wisdom & awe that are created out of fear, whilst graciously excreting the toxic components which might otherwise muddy your internal landscape. As the brilliant Alexander Shaia so beautifully puts it: “When we go to the deepest dark, that’s where the grace of fresh radiance will come forth in us by our courage to walk to the place of the deepest dark.”
As we approach the 2017 Winter Solstice on Thursday, December 21st, and the season of the Water element that follows, it is my hope (as always) that we can find solace & wisdom in the cycles of nature happening around & within us. The word Solstice literally means "sun stands still," for this is the most Yin day of the year, "when the forces of contraction strike a still point and give birth to Yang, barely glimmering with its promise of light and expansion.” “Winter teaches us that the only way to fully enjoy the powers of the season is to surrender to it and learn from what it has to offer us. In winter the earth lies fallow; nature appears frozen and dead. In this deep stillness of nature, winter calls us to look into our depths, to reconnect to our inner being, to befriend the darkness within us and around us" (Jason Elias).
When considering the holidays that are celebrated this time of year, one can see how they align with the pattens of death and birth, rest and renewal, dark and light, that are playing out on both a macro- and microcosmic plane: The many Winter Solstice celebrations that exist across cultures & history "speak to the life-giving power of light, and its symbolism of goodness, wisdom, and life itself for all people" (Andrea Thompson McCall). And as Belsebuub writes in The Path of the Spiritual Sun: “They speak to us of a mysterious and universal understanding of spiritual transformation … The rising of the sun on the winter solstice, out of the darkest day of the year, echoes the birth of light from the dark void” within each of us.
In Chinese Medicine, Winter correlates with the element of Water, and the organ systems of the Kidneys & Urinary Bladder. “Water is the most feminine of the five elements and therefore is considered very yin … Water is the most powerful element for it can move around any obstacle in its path without losing its essential nature. Water can, in time, dissolve the hardest mountains…Although water is a very yin element, it can exist in either a yang or a yin state … Water qualities are creativity, sensitivity, reflection, persuasion, effectiveness, and desire for life and sex. Water types value family and social contacts and possess the ability to attract (being receptive, water can attract, rather than pursue). The emotion associated with water is fear. Other water emotions are indecisiveness, vacillation, and uncertainty. Those born in a water year succeed by not allowing fear to block the fullest expression of creativity” (Susan Levitt).
As a human with a strong Watery-Earth elemental constitution, I often find myself pondering the nature of existence. I sense the unseen magic & intensity brewing beneath the surface, and I open myself up to the workings of spirit. When I rest my attention on water, or better yet, rest my body within it, I feel held. Weightless & saturated simultaneously. Curious. Introspective. Imaginative. Impregnated with possibility. Humbled and awed by the mystery of the deep unknown. Cleansed. United. Reborn. Revitalized.
What follows is a compilation of inspiring & useful content related to the physical, psycho-emotional, & spiritual nature of Winter and the element of Water. As we journey through the Solstice in a few days time, may you honor & embrace the darkness within as a womb from which new light will slowly gestate & inevitably burst forth. Happy Winter Solstice, my friends!
- Messages From Water & The Universe - Masaru Emoto
- If you want a sneak peak into Emoto’s discovery of how water is deeply connected to our individual and collective consciousness, go check out this video
- The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself - Michael A. Singer
- I first read this book around the time it was published 10 years ago. I was fresh out of undergrad, and my beloved aunt & dearest friend, Marlow gifted me with a weekend massage workshop at Esalen in Big Sur, CA (aka heaven on Earth). She also gifted me with this book that weekend, and both gifts had a profound immediate & eternal impact on the trajectory of my life journey & the unfolding of my consciousness. Michael Singer encourages us to explore the internal landscape of our minds, & illuminates the truth of who we really are. The untethered soul is the soul who lives from the seat of the subject, the listener, the witness, the one who is aware of, yet free from the limits of one's thoughts & emotions.
- I've gifted this book to people more than any other book I that I love. It's that good. Trust me on this one - find a way to get your hands on this book asap. And in the meantime, go download 13 free audio files with over 20 minutes of truly inspirational excerpts from the book in celebration of its 10 year anniversary here!
- Winter Solstice Ritual ideas from Mystic Mamma
- One unusual practice in entering into the darkness of your demons involves “feeding” them...
- “The deepest dark is not the place where grace goes to die, but the deepest dark is the place where grace goes to be reborn.” - Alexander Shaia
- “There is a well-known story of the Sufi wise man Mulla Nasruddin, who one night was combing through the dirt under a street lamp in front of his house. A passerby asked, ‘Mulla, what are you looking for?’ ‘The keys to my house,’ Mulla replied. So the two got on their hands and knees searching for the keys, and after another hour, the passerby asked, ‘Are you sure you dropped the keys here?’ ‘Oh no,’ said Mulla, ‘I dropped the keys inside my house.’ Astonished, the passerby asked, ‘So why are we looking out here?’ ‘Because the light is shining out here,’ replied Mulla.”
Favorite Acupuncture Point: Kidney 25 - Shen Cang or Storehouse of the Spirit.
- “The name of the point combines the character shen 神 spirit with the character cang 藏 to store, conceal, or hide. Cang implies not only the storing away of what is valuable for later use but also the idea of hibernation, of going inward, of passing through the lean months of winter by dropping into a deep state of rest.
- The minister who resides at the center of this point cradles the shen like a restless bird safely beneath her silken robes. There, in the dark, the wounded wings of the light can heal.
- In current times, our world often seems too painful to bear, but this point reminds us that gradually radiance will return to the Earth. Deep in the Storehouse, the seeds wait until it is once again appropriate to grow. This waiting is not the same as doing nothing. Rather, it is like winnowing, separating the precious from the worthless, breathing in what truly inspires us and breathing out what we no longer need. In this way, in a time of darkness, we veil our light and yet continue to shine.” - the brilliant Alchemical Acupuncturist, Lorie Dechar, LAc
- You can activate the power of this point, by applying pressure to your chest in an area about 2 inches lateral to either side of your sternum, in the 2nd intercostal space.
Favorite Podcast episode: Robcast Episode 176 w/Alexander Shaia on the Mythic Power of Christmas
- This is full of spiritual, philosophical, creative deliciousness that will surely nourish the Watery philosopher within you.
Favorite Random Inspirational YouTube vids:
Favorite Herb: Cordyceps (Dong Chong Xia Cao)
- Among many other healing abilities, “Cordyceps Mycelium is very widely used for the purposes of strengthening the primal Kidney functions, which include sexual functions, brain power, structural integrity and healing ability of otherwise normal, healthy people. It is a very powerful Yang tonic.”
- I like Dragon Herbs Cultured Cordyceps and Sun Potions powdered Cordyceps, both of which can be found & purchased at Elemental Family Center for the Healing Arts!
Favorite healing tools:
- Tuning fork for deep stimulation of acupuncture points (try it on Kidney 25!)
- My journal
- Acupuncture & Integrative Body Psychotherapy for a guided exploration & honoring of the darkness
Favorite Winter activities:
- Surfing (don't forget your wetsuit, unless you wanna brave it Wim Hof style)
- Morning Tea Ritual
- Magnesium Salt baths
For more on how the Water Element plays itself out in your body, & the best ways to support your Water Element, keep an eye out for our next newsletter on the first Friday of January! Until then, keep growing that light within the dark, my dearest humans. I am here for you & so, so honored to be sharing this journey with you!
In health & happiness,